#MeToo. Before it was a hashtag, popularized by celebrities, it was a movement started by a woman named Tanara Burke, an activist working with young sexual assault survivors. The movement began over ten years ago, but only recently have some of us been willing to listen to the people who need to tell us that their sexual agency was disregarded, ignored and violated.
While some victims of sexual misconduct are finally being heard, there are still entire groups of people: folks of colour and indigenous people; trans and non-binary folk, people with mental illness, people with disabilities; poor folk; and youth who are overlooked in these conversations – even though statistically they are at greater risk of being sexually mistreated.
Our culture doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to prioritizing sexual consent. And that is, at least in part, because our culture doesn’t prioritize sexual pleasure.
Instead of treating sexual pleasure as a human right that we’re all entitled to, historically our culture has taught us that sexual pleasure is something that drives men, that for them it’s inevitable, and the rest of us are responsible for managing, navigating, negotiating and avoiding the consequences of the male libido.
Pleasure is important. No matter what your gender, race, ethnicity, body-size or ability, you are entitled to choose to have partnered sex or not. And if that’s your choice, you are entitled to feel good about the sex that you’re having. Pleasure is about feeling good in your body. It’s also about feeling good emotionally, ethically and spiritually, if that’s part of how you move through your life.
On the flip side, if we want to get with someone sexually, whether it’s flirting, playing touching, going down on someone, intercourse, whatever, we need to care about that person. If we want to express and explore our desire for someone, we need to start by giving a shit about their feelings. We need to approach them with basic human respect. We need to honour their right to their own pleasure. If their version of pleasure doesn’t include us, or the things we want to do – that can be disappointing, and frustrating and sad but we’ve gotta deal with that because while we’re are entitled to pleasure, we’re not entitled to getting it at someone else’s expense. If they’re not into what we’re into, we need to back off. If we’re not sure, we ask. Even if it’s awkward or weird. We ask anyway.
How do you feel about the MeToo and TimesUp movements? How do you we make sex and sexuality happier and safer for people? Comment below and let’s chat about it!