It was a refreshing and enriching experience to be talking about sex and pleasure unapologetically. The two day workshop by Love Matters and GAB was held at Zorba, The Buddha at Ghitorni on the 29–30th of August. Facilitated by Vithika and Gunjan and coordinated by Surabhi and Khushboo from the Love Matters team, this workshop was among my best 5 workshop experiences till now.
Sexual Pleasure is an important topic that is not discussed as often and with the right essence as one would like it to be. Sex as an act is mostly colored with secrecy, fear, taboo or coyness. Bollywood, where Sharukh and Sex sells like hotcakes, has also got it all wrong. Pornography is another form of sex exploration that is pretty debatable. Thus leaving erotic literature, there may be not much avenues for a person to understand, comprehend and acknowledge ones sexual needs in the right manner.
This is the gap that Love Matters is trying to bridge. For me, two things stood out in the workshop. One, we went right into the discussion from the moment go! The second thing I loved most was the honesty of participants. There was absolutely no inhibition in the group and people put their ideas as truly and clearly as possible. The workshop instantly became a safe space for all of us.
Through the discussions each one of us explored what ‘sexual pleasure’ meant to us. Since we are all different people, our sexual preferences also differ. Those which I might find appealing may feel uncomfortable to the other and vice versa. Also, questions like, ‘what does it mean to have good sex?’ were asked which had varied answers. Some people said feelings of being loved and cared for made the experience great, some others liked pain, some liked conversations and to others it was all about action. It was also good to see how many of us came to a point where we could say, ‘emm…I don’t understand this form of sexual activity as yet’, rather than dismissing the other’s preference as “weird” or “wrong”.
I, for one, gained a lot of knowledge. I did not know what MSM, Kothi and PREP meant. Aspects of ‘pleasure based messaging’ in comparison to ‘fear based messaging’ were also discussed. I have always irked a bit at the photos of breast oozing women on posters selling condoms, because I would really love the messaging to be real (my kind of real!). Though the contrast can be seen in everyone else who is associated with in any way with the sexual pleasure industry. The gynecologist to the chemist has their eyeballs out if you happen to be unmarried and sexual active. Everyone has a commentary on the sexual lives of other people which are delivered to propagate fear and not safety.
Since, the motive of the workshop was to begin a larger conversation around sexual pleasure and see how the participants could use that in their work, discussions were directed on to the ‘how’ of the process. Some important points like creating policy level changes, changes in the way doctors, health workers, community mobilizers and other stakeholders speak about sexual pleasure to their clients/ service receivers were highlighted.
There is an urgent need to removing the unnecessary clouding around peoples different sexualities and create more safe spaces where people can freely talk about sexual pleasure.
I, as a writer and storyteller, am looking forward to having more informed conversations with my peers and learn/read a lot more about sexual pleasure.
Thank You! Love Matters for the opportunity and Durex for the goodies you shared with us!