Finding Pleasure in a World Set on Destroying You

It’s Time to Dive Deep into the Things that Bring You Unadulterated Pleasure, Even When Nothing Around You Makes any Sense

There’s something powerful and reaffirming about living at the intersection of three marginalized groups. A queer Black woman. Historically being a member of any of these groups was met with ridicule and persecution. While things have gotten better over time in some regard, it hasn’t in others. We are still fighting for our right to exist peacefully. With such hatred still prevalent, it can be hard to just be. The importance of existing solely for yourself and your own pleasure is crucial. The very act of being happy in your own self, in your own pleasure is revolutionary.

“Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy.”

― Adrienne Maree Brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

So how do you find pleasure for yourself in a world that is set on destroying you?

Sex is activism. Thriving is activism. Pleasure is activism. 

My own personal activism hasn’t looked like much in my eyes, but the very act of existing, not only to live, but existing for the sake of pleasure and self is one of the most radical things you can do. Sex is activism. Thriving is activism. Pleasure is activism. To have the audacity to own your sexual pleasure while society is so actively trying to control the narrative of how it should look. Fuck that. Love on yourself in all of the ways you can. Love on other people in ways that are most pleasurable for them. Try out the scary things. Venture into unknown sexual terrority. Understand it can be nerve wrecking when you have no idea where to start. Yourself is always the best place. Learn your own body. Touch, caress, feel on your curves. See what turns you on. Buy a sex toy for yourself. When I decided to buy my first sex toy, I’m not sure how many variations of best cheap sex toys, cheap vibrators, affordable adult toys I put into Google. Eventually I came across a suction vibrator that literally sent me into another realm of bliss. It felt like every nerve ending I had came alive all at once. It was audacious to be in control of that level of pleasure for myself and it was my God given right. Saying it felt rebellious is an understatement. At first, I felt shame. The shame that the patriarchy drills into your head that it’s wrong for you to cum solely for yourself  if it isn’t in a heteronormative dynamic or for the pleasure of men. Pushing past that shame is work that requires gentle but firm self assurance of what you rightfully deserve. What’s on the other side of that shame is sexual liberation.

What is most important in regards to sexual liberation is there is no singular way for it to look. It could vary from only enjoying sex with yourself to preferring to involve several other people. It could also look like abstaining from sex all together. The beauty in it is, the choice is 100% yours. Your liberation gives you the agency to enjoy sex and pleasure in the way that works best for you. It reaffirms the agency over your body as it is your inalienable right. You are the creator of your own sexual narrative. This is the time to be as selfish as possible. My own pleasure journey was messy and complicated. An adventure to say the least and it was specific to me. Sexual agency doesn’t have to be loud or quiet. It can exist as both. It can be silent and resilient. It can be loud and brash. How you own it is completely up to you and that’s the very beauty in it. It is all yours and no one can dictate how it should be valued.

Nicci Briann

Understanding yourself and how to best use pleasure for youself also brings about the clarity that sex is not your only option.

This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of.

―Audre Lorde, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

Dance, scream, lounge about, pray, write, paint, read, eat, orgasm, fuck, exist. Let what feels good dictate to your life.

When living in a world that is set on destroying you, understand that sex is not your only option. When hearing the word ‘pleasure’ a lot of the time, people consider it in its most primal form; lust and desire. As a queer Black woman, entertaining the ideas of doing things for the pure sake of self often felt wrong. We are taught that indulging in self is bad and we need to be in a constant state of giving to others, a constant state of productivity. We are trained to go and go, give and give until there is nothing left of us and then we give and go some more. We are conditioned to pour endlessly into others without a thought for ourselves. Even when our cup is bone dry, we find a way to make use of it as we are taught to believe our worth is cemented in our usefulness.

Please. I beg of you. Dance, scream, lounge about, pray, write, paint, read, eat, orgasm, fuck, exist. Let what feels good dictate to your life. Indulge in the activities that bring you peace and clarity and indulge in them often. Audre Lorde said it best (I love her. Sorry, not sorry):

“Another important way in which the erotic connection functions is the open and fearless underlining of my capacity for joy. In the way my body stretches to music and opens into response, hearkening to its deepest rhythms, so every level upon which I sense also opens to the erotically satisfying experience, whether it is dancing, building a bookcase, writing a poem, examining an idea.”  

―Audre Lorde, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power

They had a deep understanding of exactly when I needed to be in tune with the best version of myself.

Finding pleasure within yourself is always a reliable option, but it isn’t your only option. After I taught myself how to control and navigate my own pleasure, I opened myself up to the possibilities of letting someone else control the reins. It would be a great injustice to tell you it was not terrifying. It required a lot of trust. It required a lot of work. But once I made clear what did and did not work for me, my partner never failed me. They gave me a safe space to be my most authentic self and indulge in the things that pleased me in their presence. I was gifted with unimaginable orgasms. I was given the space to have blind trust in knowing they would take care of me and my needs. They were willing to take the time to learn what pleasured me. And I, them. It was one of the first times I felt completely safe in the presence of another. They saw me for exactly who I was and understood my pleasure prinicples. They were willing to do the necessary work to make me feel safe and free. Credit given to their due diligence, they navigated my body with the ease of a cool summer breeze. Their touch electrified my skin and made me yearn for more. They had a deep understanding of exactly when I needed to be in tune with the best version of myself. They had a respect for that understanding and used it wisely and not in their own pursuits. Although that relationship did not last for unrelated reasons, I’ve listed it as one of my most rewarding. They were committed to aiding me in my efforts to bring pleasure to myself and for that I am forever grateful.

Make no mistake, this world is set on destroying you. It is relentless in its pursuit to wear you down. The way to combat that is seeking comfort in pleasure, in the pleasures that light a fire in your belly. In the pleasures that bring you comfort during times of turmoil. Fight the darkness in the arms of yourself or in the arms of a partner that is guaranteed to keep you safe and protect your right to indulge in your own pleasure; for it is your natural born right to exist for yourself, just how you see fit. Show up for yourself and your pleasure and watch the ways in which you will be able to show up for others blossom tenfold. There is freedom in bliss.

“There is no way to repress pleasure and expect liberation, satisfaction, or joy.”

― Adrienne Maree Brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good

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