I have no idea how she missed the memo that said pleasure was something to hide. And it would be years before I understood why her guttural sounds embarrassed me so much. All I knew, back then, was that I preferred to display more palatable emotions, like joy and happiness, because neither of those made me feel ashamed.
For all its associations with simplicity, pleasure is pretty complicated. It can be a burden, a locked room, an open door. It can make you feel weird or wrong or more alive than you’ve ever felt. The denial of it is the basis of some religions — and kinks — and the guilt it induces is so prevalent it spawned a popular phrase. And then a resistance to that phrase, because why should pleasures be guilty? Yet those who pursue it too freely are urged to seek professional help.
Entire communities form around common pleasures; it’s a driving force of human nature. But that doesn’t make it easy to embrace, because to groan and to sigh with your eyes closed is to be completely, presently vulnerable — and to relinquish control of the string-pulling that defines more civilized interactions. Jenni understood that freedom a long time ago; I’ve just been playing catch-up.
This month on Man Repeller, we’re going to explore the joys, politics and oddities of pleasure. When and why we feel it, and the idiosyncrasies that define our private relationships with it. Is there such a thing as a guilty pleasure? Are we allowed to make pleasure a priority? And what happens when the wires of pain and pleasure cross? We’ll be exploring all these things and more over the course of March, but we want to hear your ideas, too. What piques your interest when it comes to pleasure?