Why Pleasure is Your Birthright

Pleasure is essential for your joy. It is your birthright.

For women, pleasure is often viewed as secondary, selfish, even shameful or wrong. It is extremely important to discuss pleasure openly to create a holistic approach (mind, body and spirit) for ourselves and our relationships. As a sexual health educator for over ten years, I've built my career on the importance of putting pleasure first.

Pleasure makes life more fulfilling. It reduces stress and helps us stay present and mindful. There are many levels of pleasure, from an incredible toe curling orgasm, to a sensual bath with rose petals. You get to define your own experience of pleasure and what it truly means to you.

I've been a huge proponent of pleasure for as long as I can remember . I watched Dirty Dancing, a movie about a young woman coming into her sexuality and power at a very young age. It was, and continues to be, an inspiration. I remember the first time I had an orgasm at 7 or 8 years old. I was terrified because I didn’t understand what had happened. But it felt so good that it became a favorite past time (especially while watching Johnny Castle do the lift). The scenes portraying sensual dancing,freedom, and people taking joy in their bodies and one another was the beginning of my understanding of the importance of pleasure.

I continued my journey of studying pleasure as a high school volunteer educating my peers about safer sex and pregnancy prevention. I loved dispelling knowledge with humor and debunking the awful myths we learned growing up, such as masturbation makes you go insane, or will make you sterile, or give you hairy palms. I decided I wanted to become an advocate for masturbation and self-pleasure. Putting a condom on with my mouth with a banana wasn’t a bad gig either. It always led to a multitude of questions and awe inspired glances. I continued this work in college, as an HIV test counselor. I met with my peers every week and asked the most intimate, private questions during the testing process. How many sexual partners did you have over the last six months? Did you have anal, vaginal or oral sex? Did you sleep with men, women or both? Did you use protection? I loved sitting across from a stranger and creating a safe space with my presence, compassion and empathy as they told me their story.

After graduating college I began working at a local adult toy and lingerie boutique. My colleagues and I created fun, educational workshops that taught people about their bodies. We developed blowjob, anal play, g-spot stimulation and female ejaculation classes that focused on anatomy and physiology. I would visit the local university and teach workshops to students. Every day, I spoke with hundreds of people who had different concerns about their sexual health and wellbeing, whether I was presenting to a health class or a sorority house. Women often worried they were too dry, others worried they were too wet. Some women had never had orgasms, but their partners had no idea. People began revealing their deepest secrets to me, things they had never told anyone because of their fear or shame of being different, or thinking something was wrong. I had women burst into tears of relief when they learned they were normal and healthy. They just didn’t have the correct information.

Media has taught us in many ways that there is something wrong with our bodies. Advertisements are selling us the idea that we need products to improve ourselves.

Capitalizing on making women feel as though we are not enough. We are told we are too big, too hairy, too sexual, not sexual enough. When we have the opportunity to learn information about how our bodies work, it can open doors and allow opportunity for our pleasure and well-being.

As I continued teaching workshops about G spot stimulation, female masturbation and sex toys, I encouraged women to open up about their sexuality. Again, so much shame, pain, fear, and trauma would arise. I spoke with women who didn’t know if they had ever had an orgasm. I taught a woman where her clitoris was located and why it is so important for female-bodied pleasure. Did you know there are 8,ooo nerve endings located in that tiny marvelous button?! Most women can only come with clitoral stimulation. Get to know that magic spot. It can bring you a world of joy.

It's essential to get to know your own body so you can better understand what you do and don’t want and what feels good. This can help you better communicate to a partner or a lover. It also puts the control back in your hands, literally. (You can make yourself have an orgasm anytime, anyplace!) And when you have a better sense of your body, you can really be in tune with your health and wellbeing. You will notice if something isn’t right and will be able to address it more quickly. You will begin noticing patterns that go along with your menstrual cycle. You can start tracking your moods with your cycle and have a much better sense of your mental health throughout the month. This can prepare you for those days that might feel harder because of the hormone shifts happening. You become the expert of your own health and wellbeing. Because YOU are the expert on your own body. The more you know, the more empowered you are.

There is a plethora of women-focused, research-based information out there. With the click of your… button, you have a whole world of pleasure at your fingertips. There are amazing stores that have a wealth of knowledge that can be explored, with toys that you can touch and feel. There are incredible educational books and websites , podcasts, and porn made by, and for, women. There's erotica focused on female pleasure, and counselors you can talk to about anything that feels challenging. As someone who has explored the dynamic, layered world of sexual health education, I have found that focusing on pleasure and self -love is truly life changing. I urge you to explore what brings you joy and learn how to cultivate more pleasure in your life. It will help you navigate this world with more passion, presence and possibility.

Laurie Dievendorf

Laurie Dievendorf has over ten years of experience as an integrative wellness counselor. She enjoys working with people in partnerships to create better communication and increase intimacy.

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