Sexual Pleasure is a Right

Sexual Pleasure is a Right

This post is going to involve a lot of carefully defined terms.

 

 

1. There’s a difference between saying that everyone has the right to have sex, and everyone is entitled to have sex.

I’m carefully not using the word “deserves” in that sentence, because it’s a tricky word that has different connotations, depending on the context and who you ask. If I said “everyone deserves to have sex,” some people would read it as me saying that everyone should be allowed to have sex, if they want to and the circumstances align, and some people would read it as me saying that everyone is owed sex, just by existing. I believe the former and not the latter, and that’s what I’m breaking down in this post.

 

2. Pleasure is a human right. We all have the right to feel good and to find pleasure wherever we want, as long as we don’t find it in places that harm other people in any way.

There are a variety of definitions of “harm,” and *I* can’t set a social barrier of what does and does not constitute as harm. I know that there are cases where someone claims harm from something that I would see as non-harmful, like a religious fundamentalist saying that they are harmed by watching two gay people kiss. So, I have lines of where I see harm to lie, but I don’t think I can define it. But if the ways you find pleasure – no matter how unusual or distasteful or boring – don’t harm people, including not violating anyone’s consent, then you have the right to seek your pleasure there.

 

3. Looking for sex, seeking sex, desiring sex – these are all good and healthy things, but no one owes it to you to have sex with you.

If you and your partner(s) are all consenting adults, no one should be able to stop you from having sex with each other. If you want to masturbate and you don’t violate laws against sexual harassment or public obscenity, you are allowed to do that, whenever you want. I’d suggest that you not do it to the detriment of your social activities or obligations, but that’s a choice you get to make, because you have the right to pleasure. You have the right to pursue mutually beneficial orgasms or sexual encounters with other people.

But you are not entitled to physically or emotionally interact with anyone who doesn’t also want that.

 

4. It *sucks* when you want to have sex and no one wants to have it with you.

There are a lot of reasons why that might occur. Maybe everyone you like is already paired up in monogamous relationships. Maybe your lifestyle doesn’t lend itself to socializing with people in your peer group. Maybe there are things about you that make you undesirable to people you’re attracted to. Maybe you’re mean. Maybe you have terrible luck, and there’s no discernable reason why you can’t find a sex partner. Maybe you don’t communicate effectively. Maybe you aren’t making clear your desire to have sex with the people you want to have sex with.

I’m solidly validating the negative emotions that come from seeing or feeling that no one wants to have sex with you. It can be a miserable, isolating experience, and I can understand that one of the reactions to this involves reaching out for sex more aggressively. It is possible that the reason you’re not getting sex is because you’re not reaching out effectively. But I doubt it, especially if you’re a man. It is likely that the people you want to sleep with know that you want to sleep with them, and they don’t want that. I hope that they’re clearly saying “no thank you” as opposed to stringing you along, but I can’t do anything about it if they are.

 

5. I don’t advise reacting in a way that objectifies the people you want to have sex with.

Don’t treat them like a means to an end. The people you want to have sex with are fully realized human beings who owe you *nothing*. It would be nice if they wanted to have sex with you, and if you both respected each other in that context, but you cannot forget that each person is as complex and emotionally capable as you are.

 

5.5. Don’t masturbate to pictures of people you know, if they wouldn’t be okay with it.

Okay, so, this one isn’t a hard limit. I’ll admit that I’m placing a value judgement on something that may not actually cause any harm. I’m a firm proponent of ethical objectification, and if the person whose photo you’re masturbating to never ever finds out, and you don’t allow that to influence how you interact with them, I guess I can’t tell you that you’re not allowed to. But it makes me uncomfortable, to think of you using something that another person created (a photo of them) as… free porn, essentially? When it wasn’t intended that way?

(I wonder if I should remove this section, because I don’t have a good answer. But I believe in letting y’all know that I don’t know everything, and this is a place where I feel discomfort, but not enough of a verbalizable objection that I want to tell you as a sex educator that it’s Not Ever Okay. So, please note and log my discomfort, and carry on.)

 

6. If you don’t have a sex partner and you want to have sex, you can hire a sex worker.

Most sex workers are adults who feel comfortable trading money for services. It’s valuable work, and you can take advantage of the existence of that career by hiring a sex worker to have sex with you. That is one way to have sex with another human being.

If you feel uncomfortable with that, that is fine. Do you only want your sex to happen in the context of a mutually emotional relationship? That’s rad, that’s fine. Don’t look down on sex workers, though.

 

7. If you have negative feelings about sex, do some processing. Maybe with a therapist.

If, when you think about sex, it makes you miserable, you need to do some processing. You might have religious trauma. You might be upset that you’re single. You might have physical pain during sex, or shame forced on your by the patriarchy, or an STI that affects your health, or insufficient sex education. You need to spend time thinking about sex, how it affects you, how you value it and other people. You can hire a therapist. You can talk to a friend. You can read blog posts about sex, or write blog posts about sex. You can hire me to talk with you. You can talk to your partner about it. You can make detailed spreadsheets and lists. But you need to turn your yucky feelings into coherent thoughts. That’s the best way to help with your negative feelings, is to process them through.

 

8. Don’t squash down your thoughts.

Unless you’re dealing with trauma, and you’re giving it some time to settle before you take it out again to address it, you shouldn’t ignore your body when it tries to tell you something important. Listen to your gut. Listen to yourself.

 

9. If you don’t want to have sex or orgasms, that is okay.

You may be asexual. You may have a low sex drive. You may be busy or stressed. You may just not feel like it. If you don’t want to interact with your genitals, or sexually explicit media, that is YOUR CHOICE. If you feel upset about that, go back to # 8, but otherwise rock on. If your partner feels upset about it because they want to interact with you sexually, that’s going to take some communication or negotiating, but it’s still okay. You can get help from a therapist, or from a friend, or by talking it through.

 

10. Pursuing sexual pleasure is a right.

Find things that make you feel good. Explore. Watch weird porn. Touch yourself in new and strange ways. Ask your partners to touch you in new and strange ways. Explore your fantasies. Don’t rope anyone in that doesn’t want to be involved, but otherwise, you deserve to feel good. So do that.

If you want to.

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