Pleasure is taboo in our society today. It is associated with laziness, self-indulgence, selfishness, and being "un-spiritual".
By teaching ourselves to marginalize or ignore pleasure, we find ourselves disconnected from our bodies, from joy, and from our inner guidance system which is designed to lead us toward things that feel good and that we feel good about.
Today I'd like to focus on the most taboo aspect of pleasure and that is sexual pleasure. We can empowering sexual well-being and health in children and youth by teaching and modeling that pleasure is a good thing.
What are the some of the messages girls hear about sexuality?
· Wait. You’re too young. You’re not married. It’s wrong. It can ruin your life.
· You’re a slut if you do, a prude if you don’t.
· Boys want only one thing. Boys just want to use you.
· If you want to be liked (be cool, etc), you need to service your boyfriend
· Don’t be sexy.
· Do be sexy.
What’s the result?
· Confusion - focused on trying to please others (impossible) as compared to tuning into one’s one wants and needs
· Shame – feeling inferior, embarrassed, even humiliated
· Lack of sexual agency – the ability to choose who, when, and how someone gets close to her
· Lack of assertiveness – to express their desires or their limits
· Lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
What do girls need from parents, mentors and teachers?
· Comprehensive sex education explaining the changes of puberty for boys and girls, menstruation, female reproductive anatomy, sexuality, masturbation, pregnancy, birth, birth control and STD prevention
· Positive messages about self-pleasuring from aged zero forward. That it is normal, healthy and good.
· Acknowledge of body sovereignty
· Encouragement to be assertive – to express their feelings, needs, wants and opinions
· Encouragement to set limits
· Encouragement to tune into her intuition, her inner guidance system, her body wisdom and to her own pleasure
It’s time to empower adolescent and pre-adolescent girls to pay attention to and honor pleasure.
Pleasure is one part of a healthy and functional inner guidance system which also includes instincts, intuition, and emotions - and is informed by our beliefs and values. When we teach and model to our young people to tune into their inner guidance system, we empower them to make healthy choices that they feel good about. We likewise empower them to notice and correct their mistakes which are after all an essential part of learning and growing.
And so, if this has stimulated some ideas or pondering, please respond to these questions, or say whatever you'd enjoy sharing.
What's your relationship with pleasure?
What are the typical messages about pleasure that children in your community receive?
What "pleasure-positive" messages and activities would you enjoy sharing with the young people in your life?