When healthcare providers speak of sex, it is usually in the context of danger, pathology, disease, unwanted pregnancies and such very clinical concerns.
While that is undoubtedly very important, they also need to learn how to speak to their patients and others about sexual pleasure and everything it entails.
Love Matters India, in collaboration with ASAP, recently organized a workshop in Mumbai which covered topics ranging from the politics of sexual pleasure and other constructs of sex to how contraceptives can easily be a turn on too!
As soon as we got into the deeper discussions it was obvious that 2 days was too less to cover all the topics on fun and pleasure as well as learning about facts and science!
We did try to keep the sessions as interactive as possible
and everybody had some very interesting and valuable points to bring to the table.
On the first day we discussed all about sexuality, sexual health and sexual rights, de- linking them as well as understanding their importance individually. We recognized that sexual pleasure may mean different things to different people but there are certain acceptable and unacceptable things that everybody needs to agree on and for instance at the workshop mutual consent was the winner.
Obviously sexual pleasure does not necessarily need 2 people and while the act of pleasuring self seems to be popular among some, it is still undiscovered by many, owing to the shame attached by society. This is especially true for women who (heaven help us!) want to ‘help themselves’ and might not ‘need a man’ (let’s assume another woman is not even an option for this society).
Interesting myths were busted such as –size definitely doesn’t matter and sex is not more pleasurable for men than women.
However the most interesting part for me was the risk based and the pleasure based approach, specifically in context with contraception.
Arushi from the Pleasure Project, who facilitated the day explained how a balance is required but rarely achieved, with the conservatives only talking about risk (taking the fun out of it) and the other extreme which only talks about pleasure (taking the risk out of it) and often ends up losing the whole point.
The Pleasure Project has been doing some amazing work on making contraceptives sexy instead of a turn off (as is portrayed to us and believed by most men), especially in the porn industry by working on ethical porn for women and encouraging the use of contraception.
On the second day the participants learned about this interesting tool developed by Love Matters, which can be a great support for those in training and education of SRHR or even a couple’s counsellor. The Pleasure Meter asked the person to rate their experiences from 1-10 with 10 marking maximum satisfaction, for a list of questions ranging from ‘The last time you had sex was it pleasurable for you’ to ‘Your consent was taken into account for all your sexual endeavours’.
You might think you know the in and out of all your sexual needs, but this meter will give you a reality check for sure!
Dr Suchitra Dalvie, Coordinator Asia Safe Abortion Partnership took some session on the last day starting with case studies that helped to clear a lot of doubts on how you can practice a more sexual pleasure approach while talking to people by deep diving, through an activity demonstrating conversations between the gynaecologist and a client under given circumstances.
It’s not until you are in the shoes of a provider that you know how open minded (or not!) you are!
Well, the workshop was definitely a success for many present there, but like I mentioned above, just 2 days are never enough to talk all pleasure now right?
This is an amazing initiative by Love Matters to normalize sexual pleasure and encourage more people to talk openly about what they like, how they like it and what their turn off is!