Consent and pleasure are concepts that go hand-in-hand and are key to engaging in a satisfying sexual experience for both parties. Often, consent is framed and taught as a check box during sexual education courses. While consent is a mandatory aspect of any sexual experience, it is important to recognize that pleasure should also be equally emphasized.
The core principle behind consent is that it’s present when you can clearly see that your partner is enjoying themselves, their desires are met, and they are excited to engage. In our current societal views, a woman’s pleasure is viewed as unpredictable and less common during sexual experiences. However, this must be re-evaluated as different aspects of pleasure should be discussed in formal or informal education sessions. Formal education would entail discussions in school. This starts with teaching youth and younger children to challenge hetero-normative ideas of what pleasure is and to recognize that pleasure is not one sided; both parties must be satisfied. Too often, we are taught that most sexual activities revolve around cisgender men and their desires. However, the sexual experiences of the 2SLGBTQ+ community are often not discussed, and their ideas of pleasure are disregarded. We must do more to educate youth on what pleasure means for different people and different bodies. After consent is discussed, it’s important to have open and honest conversations regarding what feels good and how you can work with one another to ensure desires are met. Not only does it ensure that we feel confident in communicating our thoughts regarding sex, but it also builds our confidence in understanding what our bodies need. Informal education entails having conversations at home regarding pleasure, consent and sex. It means being able to speak to someone or family members regarding these topics.
Another problematic approach in society regarding sexual pleasure is derived from the porn industry. Many individuals who watch pornography sometimes think of aggressiveness and dominance as equivalent to pleasure for all parties. Not only does this perpetuate acts of violence, it also attempts to convince viewers that folks find pleasure in that. While some individuals may genuinely prefer different levels of aggression, there are others who would like to be asked what they want and what they like. Many youths turn to the porn industry in order to understand what to do as they grow into their sexual experiences. This becomes their source of knowledge as pleasure is not really taught in school curricula and as previous blog posts have discussed, pleasure and consent are not discussed in some homes either. The reliance on porn for understanding people’s bodies becomes problematic as it sets unrealistic and inaccurate depictions of what pleasure entails. In reality, what must be done is honest communication with partners and discussions of comfort. In my next blog, I will discuss how certain types of pornography can perpetuate sexual violence and what that means for survivors.
Written by: Shreeya