Sexual Rights: Pleasure is Not a Four Letter Word
As a society, we have a difficult time discussing sexuality and relationships in general, but when the topic of the right to sexual pleasure is talked about, some people can feel really uncomfortable. Let’s back up a bit and focus on the word pleasure. Do we as a society encourage pleasurable experiences? We often feel guilty or undeserving of pleasure, but why? Not only do we get messages about sexuality as a negative, but also pleasure in general as negative, all work and no play. We need to change that because learning what gives us pleasure and not just sexual pleasure helps us all live fulfilling and satisfying lives.
“I have the right to be safe and feel good when having sex or sexual activities.”
For self advocates: to explore what gives them general pleasure and sexual pleasure.
For parents and professionals: To find ways to support those you support and care for about pleasure and explore what barriers you face in discussing this topic.
3 Suggestions that Support the Learning Objectives
- What Gives us Pleasure. We can start with making sure we or those we support have general pleasure in their lives. We can explore this by asking, What do you enjoy? What makes you happy? What makes you feel good? What makes you satisfied? This is different for everyone. For some it is snuggling up on a couch and reading a good book on a rainy day. For others it is cooking a delicious meal and sharing it with friends, or dancing, listening to music, playing basketball, painting our toenails or going to an art museum. This is an opportunity to explore all of our senses as well. What smells do you enjoy? Tastes? Sounds? Sights? Touch? Again, this is different for all of us.
- Introduce Sexual Pleasure. It is just like other pleasures, it is different for everyone and part of having a full, happy life. What sexual acts make you happy, satisfied? What sexual acts do you enjoy? People don’t have to share these details with you, but you can have them think about it on their own. You can give examples of what others enjoy. Some people love to kiss another person and rub their bodies against one another. For others it’s oral sex (putting their mouth on another’s sexual parts), holding hands, giving foot rubs, rubbing our own or other’s sexual parts, or having vaginal sex. The important message is sexual pleasure is different for everyone and knowing what you like and don’t like helps you be a strong sexual self advocate. Also, if you don’t know what you like or don’t like, exploring through masturbation can help you figure that out.
- Talking about Sexual Feelings. Explain that many people have sexual feelings and want sexual pleasure in their lives, but not everyone. Sexual feelings are when people’s sexual parts feel tingly and alive and the person may have the desire to touch their sexual parts, have someone else touch them or do sexual acts with them in a private place. Other words people use are “turned on” or “horny.” Both masturbation and being sexual with another person can increase our sexual feelings and be bring us lots sexual pleasure. Sexual pleasure can lead to orgasm, but doesn’t always. An orgasm is a build up of sexual feelings and a release of those feelings. This involves muscle contractions of the sexual parts and lots of warm, happy, relaxed feelings.
Self advocates will understand the pleasures of life and sexual experiences. They will feel happy, satisfied, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Self Reflection/Call to Action
Pleasure and sexual pleasure is something all of us can enjoy and is an important part of living a full life.
Self Advocates: Pleasure, of all kinds, makes our lives better and happier. What gives you pleasure? What makes you feel happy, satisfied, and you enjoy it? Sexual pleasure is another way of getting pleasure in our lives. Think about what gives you sexual pleasure. It is different for everyone.
Parents/professionals: Explore the idea of pleasure in your own lives. Do you feel guilt when you experience pleasure? Do you have enough pleasure in your life and, if not, how can you change that? Does talking with others about sexual pleasure feel uncomfortable to you? Explore why this might be and think of sexual pleasure as just another form of pleasure, not this other thing that is somehow bad or different. Just like I refer to sexual parts as just a body part. Sexual pleasure is just about pleasure and good feelings.