You have a lot to be proud of. You have taken strides to explore your own pleasure, which isn’t easy when so much about female pleasure is misrepresented and minimized. You have an active, erotic imagination and are familiar with your own body. But, because you know this much, you suspect there is much more to learn and explore. It’s a good ol’ Socratic paradox. Consider thinking about how you can embrace & assert your desires.
Our ideas of sexuality and pleasure are deeply informed by our cultural contexts. As a result, even sexually progressive individuals are affected by self-criticism, societally-imposed judgments, and medical misinformation. Your challenge may be navigating these factors to better tune in to your desires—and to learn to trust your body. It may be to stop compromising on your pleasure. Consider that achieving greater pleasure can look like minimizing negative experiences or associations, instead of only increasing pleasurable ones.
As writer, activist and poet Audre Lorde writes in her revolutionary essay Uses of the Erotic:
“When we live outside ourselves, and by that I mean on external directives only rather than from our internal knowledge and needs, when we live away from those erotic guides from within ourselves, then our lives are limited by external and alien forms, and we conform to the needs of a structure that is not based on human need, let alone an individual’s. But when we begin to live from within outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within ourselves, and allowing that power to inform and illuminate our actions upon the world around us, then we begin to be responsible to ourselves in the deepest sense. For as we begin to recognize our deepest feelings, we begin to give up, of necessity, being satisfied with suffering, and self-negation, and with the numbness which so often seems like the only alternative in our society. Our acts against oppression become integral with self, motivated and empowered from within.
In touch with the erotic, I become less willing to accept powerlessness, or those other supplied states of being which are not native to me, such as resignation, despair, self-effacement, depression, self-denial.”
Some questions for Embrace & Assert profiles: Are you honest with your partner(s) about what you want? If not, what about talking about sex makes you uncomfortable? Are the partners you’re choosing receptive to conversations about your desires? Are they prioritizing your pleasure? Do you have any erotic fantasies that cause you conflicting emotions? Do you have notions of what sex “should” be? Do those notions serve your pleasure? What are some experiences in which you’ve felt uncomfortable, and why? In the future, how can you communicate that discomfort or avoid it altogether?