Helen Hunt might not be the first person that springs to mind when it comes to educating the public about sex positivity. But the actress recently told The Hollywood Reporter that while interviewing a sex surrogate upon whom her next movie role is based, she heard the phrase for the first time and it struck a chord:
“She used the term 'sex positive,' ” Hunt explained. “And I went, 'Wow, I want to be sex positive. I want to be part of a movie that is that, I've never seen that.'”
The movie, “The Sessions,” is about a journalist in his late 30s who has polio and is trying to lose his virginity. Hunt's character, Cheryl Cohen Greene, comes on the scene to help, and sexual chaos (or rather, sexual exploration!) ensues.
Sounds like a pretty awesome film, right? And at the same time, the movie and Hunt's subsequent fondness for the term “sex positive” is also a huge step forward for healthy sexuality in this country (a quest that is near and dear to our hearts).
The seemingly innocuous phrase “sex positive” tends to be associated with people who have, or write about, or think about sex for a living (such as yours truly). But the reality is that being sex positive just means dropping some of the shame and stigma of sexuality – especially because, as Hunt points out later, getting busy isn't all Playboy and soft lighting. In fact, she noted to the Reporter, it's often the opposite:
“Sex is never perfectly elegant, and the light isn't just right, and the underwear doesn't fall on the floor perfectly, and the hands don't clutch, and you don't come at the same time — it's all bullshit, basically.”
Indeed! While we wouldn't go so far as to call it bullshit, sex certainly does come with it's own set of potential mishaps. And that's exactly why someone like Hunt, and a movie like “The Sessions,” has the power to really change the conversation.
See, Hollywood plays a huge role in how we think sex should be, whether we realize it or not. Because of that, real sexual encounters — complete with their gaseous emissions and stray hairs and quick finishes — are generally not on view. Perhaps some of us prefer it that way, and don't want to blab to the world about what we do between the sheets. But without portrayals of real-life boning on the big screen, it's entirely too easy for people to feel embarrassed, ashamed or awkward about what they want to do – and how they want do it – whilst getting their freak on.
And what happens when we enter embarrassment, shame and awkwardness into the equation? A sexually repressed society, that views this perfectly healthy and normal part of humanity with a mistrustful side-eye at best, and a pearl-clutching disgust at worst.
But sexually repressed folks don't tend to be happy folks, and that's why Hunt is doing us all a favor by taking on this film and extolling the virtues of being sex positive. Hunt, in other words, is actually creating a happier America, one filmed, realistic roll in the hay at a time.