Maybe two years old was a little too young to learn about sex. Yet, I was that age when Janet Jackson released "The Pleasure Principle" in 1986. Years later, the song's message would resonate with me: Women are entitled to experience enjoyment and satisfaction in the bedroom. It's our fundamental right!
In a male-centric society, women's rights are often culturally suppressed or legally denied. Consider the different responses to a male versus a female when each has had many sexual partners. Most likely, the male was groomed to carry condoms to protect himself and was patted on the back for his conquests. Meanwhile, a female is made to take birth control and warned against becoming a "hoe."
In 2019, Alabama made headlines for creating a law denying women the right to get an abortion even if the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape. This implies that these mothers-to-be will be responsible for child-rearing while being constantly reminded of the circumstances surrounding the child's conception.
How then could a woman feel empowered to enjoy sex?
I mean, let's not talk about sexual pleasure for black women! It is unthinkable that we would desire anything other than being objectified for coins. Still, I feel like a unicorn when I say that I have experiences as scandalous as Rose in the film Titanic and as romantic as Allie's in The Notebook on a regular basis.
Part of my liberal mindset when it comes to sex is due to my upbringing. From an early age, my mother taught my sister and I about prioritizing our pleasure first because "no matter what, he's going to get his." Meanwhile, my G-Ma---her mother---taught us all the things about vaginal health and hygiene using language our teachers would be terminated for (or be caught on video and become a controversial viral social media post).
Though my mom and G-Ma did not shy away from discussing anatomy and sexuality at the table, I did not fully embrace prioritizing pleasure until working with a private yoga client who did adventure therapy. In between poses or as she came out of the final deep relaxation pose (savasana), she would make remarks such as:
"I deserve this!"
"That was yummy!"
"I like how my body felt in that (pose)!"
Not only did she emphasize which positions sparked joy with a sound of relief or vibrant smile, but she also acknowledged moments of discomfort. She would pause to explain where she was experiencing sensations. From there, I would either offer props or move to the next posture.
What would happen if our partners did the same thing?
What if they listened attentively to what is enjoyable and unpleasant, and they make adjustments from there? The thought of communicating your needs can be daunting, and if you're not used to speaking up in the bedroom, your mind may be overwhelmed by thoughts such as:
"Maybe they would be offended."
"Did I just kill the vibe?"
"Am I wrong for wanting to enjoy this as much as they do?"
No, you are not. Let me tell you that it is possible for you and your partner to have enjoyable experiences by understanding the principles of pleasure. As I mentioned earlier, it is your fundamental right to enjoy sex. Was that hard to hear? Let me say it louder for the people in the back:
You are allowed to enjoy sex!
Now, don't confuse this with Freud's pleasure principle in which you seek urgent sexual fulfillment like a newborn screaming for food. Instead, it is a call for you to responsibly explore what feels good to you.
Before you and your partner jump in the sheets or make love in the shower, ponder the following:
- Learning to accept your whole self as you are leads to a good time and freedom to explore.
- Pleasure is not one-size-fits-all. What you enjoy with one may not be enjoyable with another.
- Discussing how you came to understand sex can help to decipher anything puzzling in the bed.
- Don't fake the orgasm. Think twice before you try to "tap out" because your body won't hide it.
- Savor sex through prolonged exploration of positions over time. It's not a race. It's a marathon.
- Resolve conflicts first. Sex is only the cherry on top of a good relationship. It is a poor sustainer of a broken one. (Don't ask me how I know.)
If you or your partner still feel uncomfortable, consider seeing a medical or mental health professional to help you work through underlying issues. Maybe it's you. Maybe it's your partner. Whatever it is, it's up to you to define your principles of pleasure for yourself.
Featured photo by Shutterstock.
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