I was recently at the University of Guelph for their annual Sexuality Conference. I was asked to close my eyes, put a chocolate in my mouth, slowly suck on it and savour the moment.
This was the easy part.
I was also asked to make noise to show everyone else how much I was enjoying the chocolate.
This was the hard part.
I realized I was not 100 per cent comfortable making a lot of noise. I was comfortable making a bit of noise, but not too much. Why was this, I wondered? I’m a vocal person. I am not afraid to speak my mind. Why was this so hard for me?
It turned out I was not alone. Many others in the room were also uncomfortable making too much noise, or any noise at all.
The point of the exercise, according to Jessica O’Reilly, Ph.D, a Toronto based sexologist, was to make a connection between pleasure and our comfort with expressing it. We need to let our sounds go to fully feel pleasure.
She further discussed how pleasure is celebrated in most parts of our lives: food, art, sports and physical beauty, among other things.
But, she argued, when it comes to sex, pleasure is not celebrated as it should or could be. If we truly celebrated sexual pleasure, it would increase our overall sexual health and our happiness within relationships, because we would not be uncomfortable discussing sexuality with our children, healthcare professionals or partners.
Imagine a world where physical, emotional and sexual pleasure was taught, respected and celebrated. Think about how much happier and relaxed people would be.
We would not slap children’s hands away when they touched their genitals.We would teach sexual health in a positive and inclusive way to everyone, never leaving the clitoris out of the anatomy lesson. We would talk about orgasms and how to have more of them. We would not have to buy sex toys in a special store, they would be available everywhere. You would not be judged for what you wear or the sexual activities you enjoyed.
Our society tends to think of sexual pleasure in terms of the penis, the young, the able-bodied and the beautiful. This obviously leaves out the vast majority of people.
According to O’Reilly, we need to think of pleasure in the way we think about food.
What brings one person pleasure may not bring another person pleasure. Some of us love Indian food. Some of us love Italian. We can’t always have a seven course meal, and sometimes a quickie at the counter is just as satisfying. This is ok.
Do not feel guilt or shame around pleasure. Pleasure should be present in many parts of our lives, including our sex life – self-pleasure included.
So go on and make noise without excuses, without shame, without guilt and enjoy the last lazy days of summer.
Stacey Jacobs has been a Sex Educator for almost 2 decades. For 13 of those years she worked as a Sexual Health Educator at Planned Parenthood. She teaches in the Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies Program at the University of Waterloo and when not educating, she enjoys reading, walking her dogs and eating good food. The life of a Sex Educator is usually not as interesting as people assume.