What Is Pleasure Activism?
Pleasure is a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment. Activism consists of efforts to promote, impede, or direct social, political, economic, or environmental reform or stasis with the desire to make improvements in society. Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/ or supremacy.
Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure and that our social structures must reflect this. In this moment, we must prioritize the pleasure of those most impacted by oppression.
Pleasure activists seek to understand and learn from the politics and power dynamics inside of everything that makes us feel good. This includes sex and the erotic, drugs, fashion, humor, passion work, connection, reading, cooking and/ or eating, music and other arts, and so much more.
Pleasure activists believe that by tapping into the potential goodness in each of us we can generate justice and liberation, growing a healing abundance where we have been socialized to believe only scarcity exists.
Pleasure activism acts from an analysis that pleasure is a natural, safe, and liberated part of life—and that we can offer each other tools and education to make sure sex, desire, drugs, connection, and other pleasures aren’t life-threatening or harming but life-enriching.
Pleasure activism includes work and life lived in the realms of satisfaction, joy, and erotic aliveness that bring about social and political change.
Ultimately, pleasure activism is us learning to make justice and liberation the most pleasurable experiences we can have on this planet.
What you pay attention to grows. This will be familiar to those who have read Emergent Strategy. Actually, all the emergent strategy principles also apply here! (Insert eggplant emoji). Tune into happiness, what satisfies you, what brings you joy.
We become what we practice. I learned this through studying somatics! In his book The Leadership Dojo, Richard Strozzi-Heckler shares that “300 repetitions produce body memory … [and] 3,000 repetitions creates embodiment.” 12
Yes is the way. When it was time to move to Detroit, when it was time to leave my last job, when it was time to pick up a meditation practice, time to swim, time to eat healthier, I knew because it gave me pleasure when I made and lived into the decision. Now I am letting that guide my choices for how I organize and for what I am aiming toward with my work—pleasure in the processes of my existence and states of my being. Yes is a future. When I feel pleasure, I know I am on the right track. Puerto Rican pleasure elder Idelisse Malave shared with me that her pleasure principle is “If it pleases me, I will.”
When I am happy, it is good for the world.
The deepest pleasure comes from riding the line between commitment and detachment. Commit yourself fully to the process, the journey, to bringing the best you can bring. Detach yourself from ego and outcomes.
Make justice and liberation feel good.
Your no makes the way for your yes. Boundaries create the container within which your yes is authentic. Being able to say no makes yes a choice.
Moderation is key. The idea is not to be in a heady state of ecstasy at all times, but rather to learn how to sense when something is good for you, to be able to feel what enough is. Related: pleasure is not money. Pleasure is not even related to money, at least not in a positive way. Having resources to buy unlimited amounts of pleasure leads to excess, and excess totally destroys the spiritual experience of pleasure.