As I plan an upcoming event, Awaken Your Pleasure, introducing women to the 3 pillars of my Sacred Pursuit of Pleasure program (dance, story and the circle, or connecting with women), I am vividly reminded how this pleasure thing puts people on edge.
Larger venues have replied to inquiries with "that isn't appropriate for our hotel" and "What will you be doing exactly?" Their snotty, holier-than-thou tone oozes even across email.
You can read exactly what I'm doing here—but about as racy as it gets is dancing around a fire, or playing in the sand. We move, write, share stories, and release the unspoken. There will be tears, and laughter, and hugs, and transformation.
We remain clothed (although I wholeheartedly encourage late-night skinny dipping!) and in my methodology, sexual pleasure is only one slice of a wide range of pleasure available to us. Do we share deeply within the circle? Are the movements sensual? Aww, hell yeah. Connecting with the sensual, having whole-body experiences is a huge piece of Awaken Your Pleasure.
However, there are none of the—I can only guess—pasties, dildos and group masturbation that an all-women's event dedicated to cultivating and awakening a woman's pleasure conjures in the minds of the average hotel meeting planner.
My company has been denied merchant applications with credit card processing companies because they were concerned about "the nature of my business." Even when it was clear that all I was doing was hosting a bellydance workshop. With a globally-renowned industry leader.
That didn't matter... What mattered was that I used the word "pleasure" in the marketing of my coaching business.
One business mentor cautioned me, "You may want to be careful with that word."
That word... PLEASURE. Which I use with wanton abandon. Intentionally.
You know why? Because
I am a freaking pleasure activist.
I am DONE being careful with the word pleasure. I take a stand for women's pleasure because I know that it is the gateway to the riches of all we desire. It is the necessary first step.
More than that:
Denying our pleasure kills us slowly.
Women sacrificing their own pleasure to make sure that everyone else gets theirs first, putting herself last on the list—if she even makes it on the list—is not only a tragedy, it's dangerous.
Choosing pleasure saved my life. I have seen friends—women and girls—die rather than care for themselves first.
And the research, though tellingly scarce, supports what I've witnessed anecdotally.
A 20-year study examining the correlation between pleasure and health found that:
"Feelings of pleasure and well being proved to be highly predictive of future good health," while "blocked feelings of pleasure and well-being are predictive of later increased illness and premature death." (Thomas R. Blakeslee and Ronald Grossarth-Maticek, Feelings of Pleasure & Well-being as predictors of Health Status 21 Years Later, (http://www.attitudefactor.com/pwitecharticle.htm)
Laura Kubzansky, Harvard School of Public Health associate professor of society, human development, and health is on the forefront of that research. In a different 20-year study, she followed 6K+ men and women aged 25 to 74. She found that:
"Emotional vitality—a sense of enthusiasm, of hopefulness, of engagement in life, and the ability to face life’s stresses with emotional balance—appears to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. The protective effect was distinct and measurable, even when taking into account such wholesome behaviors as not smoking and regular exercise."
But even though consequences are dire... there remains a lot of SHAMING around pleasure. Hence the hotels, credit card processing companies, and other entities that snubbed my business and event based on their own misconceptions and FEAR.
But I think pleasure is scary beyond its risque implications.
Within an entrenched patriarchy, a woman focused on her pleasure is terrifying.
What?! A woman who is no longer willing to pick up the slack? To be happy with leftovers? Who refuses to do and manage EVERYTHING even at the expense of her health, sanity and happiness? Who demands that her own needs be equally met? That would mean a societal overhaul, for Pete's sake. Are we ready for that?
Oh, yes. Because it is a matter of life and death. Because everyone suffers when there is an epidemic of depletion, of women running on empty.
And because when this planet is populated with happy women, so filled up and turned on that instead of running themselves ragged, their cups are overflow with even more to give the people and causes most important to them.
So, vive la revolution!
Are you a pleasure activist? Tell me what you've observed, what radical act of pleasure you've taken, in the comments below!
Love your scars.
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