By: Riley Fortier, M.Ed.
What is pleasure?
Pleasure is anything that makes your body feel good. We’re only earthside for a short time so might as well make it feel as good as we can. Many people when they hear the word “pleasure” immediately assume sex. Can pleasure be from sex? Yes. But does it have to be? No.
Even just quickly searching for articles related to pleasure for this blog, 99% of them were “how to make a woman feel good” or specifically focusing on orgasms. Orgasms can be great, but this is such a limited view of what pleasure is and can be!
Why learn about it?
Researchers have found that including pleasure as a part of sex education can make people more like to engage in safer sex practices. An open acknowledgement that sex feels good allows young folks to learn to experience sex in a safer and pleasurable way.
Now, it is a very hot button topic when pleasure is brought up for youth (usually in the context of sexual education). Again, this is because many people automatically assume pleasure = sex, and get very concerned about teaching a 7 year old about sex.
Sexual education should ALWAYS be age-appropriate. What that means is that you’re not going to be explaining explicit sexual details to a kindergartener. Age appropriate education for a kindergartner would be things like: learning anatomical names for all body parts, learning what safe touch and unsafe touch from other children and adults is like, and learning basic communication and boundary skills.
You might be surprised that pleasure is wrapped up in that too. Sensory input for children is talked about often in the neurodivergent sphere, and even when children aren’t neurodivergent, they still have sensory needs. They have sensations that feel good (like a soft teddy bear) or ones that don’t (like the fire alarm going off at school).
Pleasure is something that is applicable to all ages and can be a fun way to explore new things.
Ways to feel good outside of sex
I’d challenge everyone to think of pleasure OUTSIDE of sexual activity, only because typically that’s not the first thing many folks think about. It’s easy to break it down into the five senses:
Taste – Are there certain food textures that are really enjoyable to you? What are your favorite comfort foods?
Sound – Do you like ASMR? What other types of sounds or music do you enjoy?
Sight – Do you like watching the sunrise (or sunset)? What about looking over the city from a tall building at night? Or walking through a forest?
Smell – Do you have a go-to candle scent that reminds you of home? What about the smell of coffee in the morning? Or your favorite childhood meal cooking? Or a favorite perfume?
Touch – are there particular clothing materials, blankets, or sheets that feel really good to you? Do you have a pair of pants you donned your “comfy pants?” Do you enjoy giving or receiving a massage?
Pleasure as Sex
And yes! Sex can be included in any one of these scents and categories. One way that folks can increase pleasure is to focus less on a specific end goal (like an orgasm), and instead focus on the journey. Pressure to orgasm can create stress for a lot of folks, especially those with vulvas.
Additionally, try focusing on different sensations rather than specific acts. How about incorporating a new toy, some dirty talk, reading erotica beforehand, or playing with feathers or light versus heavy touch. The possibilities are endless!
https://medium.com/alchemize/how-to-find-pleasure-c42e35261d74 (talk of weight/fatphobia)