Monday, February 13 2012

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pleasure is all yoursauthor – Yep Crew

Yes, putting the U in pleasure, or even the pleasure in U – It feels good to say! And just a little bit naughty.

I think it’s funny how words can have such a different meaning, depending on the context they’re expressed in.  For example, saying to someone, “It was a pleasure to meet you,” means something completely different to, “I can’t wait to be pleasured by you.” And I can’t imagine ever saying the latter one, even though I probably can’t wait!

Why does it feel a bit wrong to think about pleasure? Why does it feel wrong to seek out pleasure? I think it probably stems from the fact that society freaks out about young people having sex, and hurries to warn us about all the dangers of STIs (sexually transmissible infections) and unplanned pregnancies. Magazines such as Dolly and Girlfriend, even Cleo and Cosmopolitan, hide away the ‘sex talk’ in their sealed sections. What sort of message is that sending us? From the beginning of our lives as sexual beings, we’re either explicitly told to keep that part of ourselves tucked away and not acknowledge that it exists, or we can see examples of pleasure in pop culture (through movies, video clips, the internet) but we’re not sure how to get it for ourselves or how to talk about it. In my opinion, it’s not fair to only give us half the pieces to the puzzling exercise that sex can be! If you can’t let yourself enjoy something that feels good, you’ll end up living a half life.

I think I should rewind a little. Just so we’re all clear on what I’m talking about and why.

What is pleasure?

Pleasure is what makes us feel good and creates a feeling of enjoyment. We experience and understand pleasure in many ways, not just sexually. (I mean c’mon, have you ever eaten Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel Ice cream? So much pleasure in one little mouthful!). Today’s blog is part of the YEP Crew series ‘Safety, Pleasure, Respect’ for Sexual Health Awareness Week 2012. Check out our previous blog KISS – Keep it safe, sugar looking at sex and safety -  in this post we’re focusing on pleasure and sex!

I just looked up the word pleasure on urbandictionary.com and this is what I found:

Pleasure

1. to enjoy oneself
a. by influence of others
- She filled me with pleasure
b. by self-stimulation
- My one-armed workout gave me extreme pleasure
2. word used often in Bruce Almighty
- Pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable, pleasurable.

Did you know that you have a right to pursue a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sex life? You do, according to the World Health Organization, and they know what they’re talking about!

Sex can evoke a number of feelings in young people. Feelings such as apprehension, guilt, shame, excitement and desire. It’s important for you to remember that you have a right to pursue pleasure, whether you find it by self-stimulation (masturbation and touching yourself) or with a consenting partner.

You time in the pleasure hub

info graphic dpeicting mastabastionIt’s also okay to masturbate. Whatever your gender identity, sexual orientation, a virgin or not, you’re allowed to masturbate. It’s a great way to learn about your own body and your responses to stimulation. I remember hearing a debate that masturbation should be promoted to young people in schools, as part of sex education. I can’t even imagine how that would have gone down at my school, it was already embarrassing enough, but it is an interesting concept though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s so important to learn about our own bodies before being with other people. This way we’ll certainly know what feels good and what doesn’t, and when it comes to having fun with our partners we’ll hopefully feel more confident to be able to talk about it with them or show them. That might sound like something too awkward to bring up, but if your partner respects you and wants you to enjoy yourself too, then they’ll probably thank you for handing them the ‘cheat sheet’ to gaining full marks in your pleasure test!

A friend of mine told me she could make herself orgasm long before any partner could. I think there’s something really great about that. It’s like you’re taking charge of your own needs and desires, in a safe space, and then when you’re ready, it can be easier to be intimate with other people.

Then there were two

You should feel comfortable to talk with your partner about what feels good and what you’re not okay with. It’s good to talk about how you can improve (or begin) your sex life. Maybe some water-based lube will help? Maybe you would prefer to kiss and cuddle. It could be that you’re really into S&M or fetish and you’ve just got to find the right partner who’s also into the same things. Sometimes we can feel like we’re meant to know everything about how to please our partners, even before we’ve engaged in any sexual activity! This is totally unfair because as we mentioned at the start, we don’t get told that information in sexual education classes and you don’t know what you don’t know! There is total silence around young people’s desires and we need to start shifting the balance so that there is equal talk about the great side of sex, as well as the risks. Ask your partner what they like, and you open the door to the conversation. This way you know, and you don’t have to play the guessing game! Try different things and keep checking in with each other that it’s okay for you both. If you want some tips on how to have this conversation, check out this AMAZING comic called ‘Sex Talk’ to get you started.

If you only take one message away from this blog, let it be this – sex isn’t only about procreation, it’s also for recreation! Pleasure should be sought in an atmosphere of safety and respect, and remember that it’s about the pleasure of each person involved, so always check in (by asking, and also by paying attention to someone’s facial expressions and body language) to make sure you’re both enjoying what’s going on.

YEP Crew is a group of young people aged between 16 – 25 years old with the mission of actively engaging with young people (online and in face to face outreach settings in Perth W.A) around sexual health, relationships and blood-borne virus topics, in order to give young people the info and resources they need to be able to make safer and informed choices in their sexual and romantic lives. You can like us on Facebook by checking out www.facebook.com/yepcrew.

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