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As the first month of 2021 comes to a close, we have reflected on memorable events from 2020 and what we can learn from them.

#2020 was in so many ways a challenging year for the globe, but amazing strides were made in de-stigmatising pleasure and showing that #pleasurematters. 

January – wanking for free

In a Wired article discussing what Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop Lab gets right, and wrong, about the vagina, vulva and masturbation The Pleasure Project was quoted. Discussing the commodification of masturbation by companies, The Pleasure Project said, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to have a wank so don’t put these pressures on it.”

We believe masturbation can be sexy, free and fun.

February – Switched On

We were invited to speak and run a panel at  UNESCO’s switched on forum in Istanbul, that sought to improve how sexuality education and information is being delivered . We joined up with the brilliant Sex School Hub on how to focus on pleasure inclusive sex education, and who’s accessing it and how.

As the pandemic further increased around the world, many of us turned  online for new parts of our lives and this conversation about the positive and negative implications of digital technology was timely, and important. We pushed the message that learning about sex and love comes from the increasingly merging worlds of digital technology, sex and education – and its important to hear from young people themselves.

March – Sexy Self Isolation

When the advice was to #stayhomebesafe The Pleasure Project quickly put out tips on how to enjoy sexy self-isolation. and opened discussion around the globe through our social media platforms.

The Pleasure Project quickly helped people during lockdown with pleasure positive articles and tips that highlighted the safest ways to enjoy yourself sexually during the pandemic. Reminding the virtual world of the benefits of masturbation with tips on how to be safe and on the importance of fairtrade porn.

Photo from Badoo’s Flick for Victory Campaign with artists Alice Skinner and The Romans to celebrate masturbation during lockdown.

April – a pleasure portal launched

 April 2020 saw exciting new advances with the launch of our brand new, sexy, website. A one-stop shop pleasure portal where you can find many tips on sexy, safer sex and our global pleasure map. A great place to explore what we do, find more information on pleasure and safe sex and what organisations, where, are promoting pleasure and safe sex in the public health world!

May – Under the Duvet

We kicked off May by launching our ‘Under the Duvet’ series on Youtube We had interesting conversations with influential experts in the public sexual health world whom we spoke to about pleasure and sex during the time of COVID 19. Get cosy under the duvet and tune in to our chats for an informative, chill conversation about all things sexy, pleasure and public health.

Gerda Larsson from The Case For Her getting cosy under the duvet to record Episode Two

With the whole world still in lockdown, we decided to give everyone a sexy, helping hand and made our very own Spotify playlist. Updated every week with sexy new songs to create the perfect vibe for a night in with yourself, your partner or your vibrator. Enjoy.

Photo by The Pleasure Project

July – Where is the Pleasure at AIDS 2020 ?

Find our daily recaps from the conference here!

At the AIDS 2020: 23rd International Aids Conference we looked at the listed programmes asking the big question: ‘Where is the pleasure?’  Out of 600 sessions, only 3 explicitly mentioned pleasure. See the stats we generated below.

August – I tell them that sex is sweet at the right time

In August we published an article in Global Public Health: ‘I tell them that sex is sweet at the right time’. A Qualitative Review of the pleasure gaps and the opportunities in sexuality education programmes in both Ghana and Kenya.

Follow the link above to read our very interesting research which highlights that when sex is viewed in a more positive way people are more likely to practice safer sex and use contraception consistently and have higher self-esteem. We learnt from sex education in Kenya and Ghana how to enhance sex-positivity for better sex education. 

September – Sexual Pleasure in the Times of COVID-19

World Sexual Health 2020 focused on Pleasure !

We had a busy September with the first every world sexual health day focused on pleasure! Woo hoo ! We finally felt we had made it.

The World Association of Sexual Health has a webinar focused on pleasure that we were featured in with many other amazing speakers.

We were stunned by all the amazing organisations promoting pleasure inclusive sex education. Watch IPPF’s amazing video on what is sex and pleasure for young people and get involved with The Case For Her Twitter chat on prioritizing pleasure!

 We launched our campaign asking you – what is your 2020 pleasure declaration ? You can see all the amazing responses on our Instagram (@thepleasureproject) we can’t wait to hear more of them this year 😊

The conversations, information and insight provided around world sexual health day paved the way for an amazing month with Forbes writing an article on how ‘World sexual health day is shining a light on the importance of pleasure during coronavirus.’

To top September off as an amazing month for #pleasure even the Pope was quoted in the news saying the pleasures of sex and eating are completely divine! We couldn’t agree more!

October – The Pleasure Declaration one year on

The Pleasure Project’s main mission is that all sex education addresses the ability for sex to be both safe and pleasurable. We believe that putting pleasure at the forefront of educational matters, including the motivations behind sex: pleasure will allow for a more holistic conversation and a better desire for safety and contraception.

Large progress in this mission was made in 2019 when the World Association of Sexual Health declaration for sexual pleasure was published in 2019. This was a great step forward to creating a common understanding to guide everyone in this mission. The 16th of October 2020 marked one year on from this momentous occasion in the pleasure mission. In this year, the next steps have been made collating more evidence on what actually works in supporting sexual pleasure. The Pleasure Project has been supporting this effort through our work on reviewing evidence with the World Health Organisation and  through the World Association of Sexual Health webinar series this year, supporting the pleasure declaration on Facebook and celebrating the first EVER world sexual health day which focused on pleasure. Quite the feat and the pleasure wave continues to build.

November – Australian Pleasure

In an amazing moment for The Pleasure Project, we delivered a speech as a keynote speaker at the Australian AIDS conference. As per usual we were extremely passionate in talking about HIV/AIDS prevention from a #sexpositive standpoint. In hope that the tide was turning after years of frustration in witnessing endless AIDS meetings where no one spoke about pleasure and people’s reasons for having sex.

Reclaiming, valuing and promoting pleasure in the public and private conversations was something the audience agreed with due to the extreme implications it has for public health:

‘People with more sexual confidence and know what they want are also able to say no to unsafe sex they don’t want’

December – Remembering Pleasure Pioneers

The 1st of December marked World Aids Day 2020. The Pleasure Project took to social media to continually remember why people have sex and support the promotion of pleasure because #safesexissexy and good for you! We commend Avert and the World Association for Sexual Health’s video that promote pleasure in sexual health conversations.

Moving towards 2021

To conclude the reflection of 2020, we cannot end without remembering two amazing women of pleasure who we sadly lost last year, Shere Hite and Betty Dodson; two pioneering feminist sex educators. Both advocated research into female sexuality, pleasure and sexual experiences. Both devoted their lives to debunking myths about female sexual pleasure, educating on the female orgasms and of course Betty’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Orgasm technique.

We hope to build on this legacy. As we reflect on the outstanding work of these two women who championed the sex-positive movement.

Rock ‘n’ Roll into 2021 and more sexy, pleasure progress in the coming year.