Sex, Ethics and Morality – The ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ of Sex

In my experience, morality is the number one problem preventing people from being able to achieve a happy, healthy and fulfilling life both sexually and in all other areas of their lives.

As a Holistic Sexual Wellness, BDSM Wellness and Trauma Recovery Specialist the question of ethics and morality around sex comes up daily for my clients. However, before we can get into this very interesting and uncomfortable conversation, I need to make sure we are on the same page around what the definition of these three words are for the purpose of this article : Sex, Ethics and Morality.

Sex: Is any sexual activity that creates feelings of sexual arousal, sexual stimulation, or sexual gratification that may or not lead to an orgasmic release.

Ethics: Doing no physical, emotional or psychological harm to yourself or others with intent.

Morality: Beliefs, thoughts and judgements that make the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behaviour based on external cultural, societal and parental influences.

In my experience morality is the number one problem preventing people from being able to achieve a happy, healthy and fulfilling life both sexually and in all other areas of their lives. Morality is fluid and is ever changing which makes it impossible to truly achieve with so many variables like geographic, religious, economic status, gender, age, historical. What is right or wrong for one person may not be right or wrong for the next. The idea of morality makes sure that others get to decide what is ok and not ok for you, which breeds self hatred, shame and judgement.

When it comes to sex and sexual desires morality causes lots of problems like:

  • Self hatred and loathing
  • Shame
  • Guilt
  • Isolation
  • Self harm
  • Sexual issues – ED, PE, EE, not being able to experience orgasms
  • Low sex drive
  • Sexual addiction
  • Porn addiction
  • Fear of intimacy
  • Feeling like something is wrong with you
  • Not feeling lovable

That is not a complete list of what happens when we move with Morality when it comes to human sexuality. So instead of Morality, my clients, students and myself, we look to ethics for healthy sexuality. It is no longer about the behaviour or desire being right or wrong, but does this serve me and my life.

Ethics are created from your own internal influence of doing no harm to yourself or others. We each get to define what behaviours and sexual practices are harmful Physically, Emotionally and Psychologically for ourselves. I like to call this your ethical code of conduct.

Now the concept of doing no harm to others can be tricky because each person has a different definition of harm. It is not for me to judge what that means for others, only for myself. That is why it is important when you are engaging sexually with others that you find out before you explore, what “Do No Harm” means for them and to make sure you are on the same page.

Example: Spanking: One person loves it and as long as safe words are used and everyone is consensual that falls under do no harm. Another person doesn’t like pain during sex so spanking would be harmful. Neither person is right or wrong, however if either one imposed their behaviour on the other that would also be doing harm to others and to themselves. They just are not a good fit for one another!

Creating your ethical code of conduct can be a little hard and feel overwhelming at first as you have to pull away and untangle the years of morality programming and judgement. It can be helpful to get support from a sexual wellness professional to help you through this process.

Once you have your ethical code of conduct of doing no harm to yourself or others, now sex, sexual desires and sexual expression have no more right or wrong, good or bad, which means no more shame, self hatred or self loathing.


Here is a little tool to start changing from Morality to Ethics

Take one of your sexual desires that you feel shame about and ask yourself:

  • Do I carry judgement of whether I am good or bad because of my desire?
  • Where, when and who did I learn that from?
  • What if I could see this desire as neither right nor wrong… it just is?
  • Next step is to brainstorm as many ways your desire could be explored or expressed without doing harm to yourself or consensual adults

This will hopefully start creating sexual self acceptance and freedom for you.

Until next time, have a safe nonjudgmental bum wiggling day!

Gaia Morrissette- Holistic Sexual Wellness Specialist

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