Over the past few months, we have dug deep and mined our lived experiences in order to share advice. As we’ve said in the past, we don’t have all of the answers (and honestly who does), but hopefully, we were able to enrich the lives of our community.
For most, 2020 has been one of the most challenging, chaotic, and fallow years. Still, we continue to push forward.
To close out the year, we decided that instead of our usual advice column we would take a moment to reflect on the role that pleasure activism — which has been one of our guiding principles — has played in our lives.
Between ongoing state violence and a dire public health emergency, this year has reinforced the vital need for pleasure activism.
Coriama (Founder): Pleasure activism has been the sincerest form of self-care during such unprecedented times for me. So many personal things on top of this pandemic have forced me to do a lot of root/sacral healing to push through the painful realities of being queer, black, and femme during a pandemic. Pleasure has reminded me that feeling good has a purpose and is solidified in my willingness to address what makes me uncomfortable. There is a process of soothing one’s pain that is guided by our embodied wisdom. Pleasure activism reminds me to listen to the ways I need to self-soothe. It gave me space to affirm as a Black femme, It is okay to only have the capacity to deal with myself at this moment. Often, the world pressures us to be the nourishment during collective suffering.
As a healing modality, pleasure activism has enabled me to find the voice to say I am in process — I am still learning how to trust my process. It also reminds me that community is sustained by a commitment to liberation, not connection. Relationships have their way of changing shape, some last, some don’t and some transition into other forms of relating to align with authentic love. The more we are committed to liberation the more we can show up for our communities with the unwavering support of our gifts and talents we have to offer. Our communities are susceptible to contributions based on flattery and performance when we put a higher value on connecting. This is inherently negligent. It’s what makes a community feel compartmentalized in the ways one may experience a “clique.” Feeling like you have to adhere to some unstated bylaws to belong. This isn’t to negate the fact that we may align with different people for different reasons. It’s to say, despite differences in a community the vibe should feel like an embrace because the community exists to uplift you as you are with intention and accountability.
Pleasure activism is the conduit for change that reminds me I belong, even when connection is fleeting. Especially while facing the realities of connection during the uprising, pandemic, and scarcity culture that exists because of exploitation, to say the least.
Courtney (Executive Video Producer): Pleasure activism taught me that I don’t have to treat my needs as earnings and that I am always deserving of the exact things that bring me joy and pleasure. In this pandemic, I lost my job but what I gained was the time to make space in my day for pleasure. A couple of friends and I started a group chat where we send videos of ourselves dancing in no particular way other than how our bodies lead us. Since moving my body more, I feel more in touch with myself, my inner wild child. Movement especially helps with restlessness from being indoors. Allowing myself to find the fun without the shame has been eye-opening, and now it has become a necessity versus an earning!
Nicole (Impact & Outreach): I recognize pleasure activism as advocating for creating and sustaining liberatory spaces where pleasure can thrive. The work of pleasure activism must center the voices and experiences of marginalized people without tokenizing their personhood. Examples of pleasure activism include advocating for the decriminalization of sex work, advocating for and creating comprehensive sexual education in schools, and hosting all POC play parties that are accessible, safe, and encourage healing and liberation through pleasure. We as pleasure activists must rely on our strength of adaptability to continue our work of providing such spaces in crisis while re-defining intimacy, particularly touch, and safety.
Capitalism promotes the idea that our worth as humans comes from how much labor we can provide, and how much profit can be gleaned from this.
Joyce (Editorial Director): Between ongoing state violence and a dire public health emergency, this year has reinforced the vital need for pleasure activism. It was a reminder that throughout everything, centering joy and pleasure is crucial to living. This feeds our humanity, especially at a time where many of us are on the front lines of fighting for Black liberation.
Capitalism promotes the idea that our worth as humans comes from how much labor we can provide, and how much profit can be gleaned from this. Labor isn’t inherently bad, but capitalism has definitely corrupted this. It places individualism above all and erodes community.
In the past, I’ve tied so much of my worth as a person to this idea of “usefulness” — constantly moving and constantly working. I felt guilty for needing moments that allowed me to take care of myself. This year, I finally let go of this.
That said, I’m a work in progress. I’m still learning how to get in tune with and take care of myself.
— Til next year!