Hey everyone, we’re back again with a monthly blog post and, as you can maybe tell from our recent social media series, the theme is climate change.
COP26 recently took Glasgow, Scotland by storm and, as I had the privilege of working at this historic event, I thought I would share my insights from the summit and some interesting thoughts I had while there about sex, pleasure, climate change and our future…
COP stands for the Conference of the Parties and it is a large event that brings parties together to discuss accelerating action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Activists, different organisations and leaders of the world come together to hear talks from notable individuals and communities and have long discussions to come to an agreement about how we can move towards tackling climate change. So, as you can imagine over the two weeks of the summit Glasgow was bustling with important people, activist movements, protests and events centred on raising climate change awareness and trying to help tackle the problem and keep the world from warming more than 1.5 degrees.
For the two weeks of COP26, I was working as a brand ambassador for a product called VIDI. VIDI is an app on an Ipad which, through using augmented reality and a 360 immersive experience, we used to show people what their futures could be like with climate change in Glasgow. The immersive experience showed people a ‘good’ future, which envisioned a sustainable, green, climate-friendly future, incorporating exciting innovative changes such as vertical gardens, e-scooters and Pavegen – inspiring people about the future we could have if we all start making changes to tackle climate change.
However, it also showed people a ‘bad’ future, picturing what could happen if we don’t make any positive changes to help the environment or cut carbon emissions. Highlighting to people what we could lose if we (individuals, businesses, and governments) don’t start making changes to tackle climate change.
On my exploration around the events offered at COP26 I saw some organisations discussing women’s rights, gender equality and climate change. This is a topic I am extremely interested in, as you may have seen from our Instagram posts (some pictured below).
However, although there were some talks focused on SRHR, I saw no explicit mention of what place sexual pleasure could have in the mission to tackle climate change. After working for two weeks helping people imagine what the future could look like, this got me thinking, what place could there be in the future for connections between sex, pleasure, and climate change…
An Eco-Friendly Sex Life
At the pleasure project, we are huge promoters of having safe, consensual sexual relations whether solo or with partners, due to the many benefits it can provide such as endorphins, stress relief and cramp relief. But with the ever-looming crisis of climate change, new thinking has emerged on how to reduce your carbon emissions while in between the sheets.
Firstly, it can be all about just making little switches in the products you use when you can. This can be done by being selective in the products you buy; making sure any sex toys, lube or condoms you are using during sex are organic/non-toxic/ vegan/ biodegradable. Just a quick google search shows that there are condom brands that are out there and good for the planet! Even changes such as switching to a rechargeable vibrator or ethically made lingerie next time you buy something new can have great benefits for the planet. There are even suggestions that this can even extend to the porn you watch through reducing emissions in pirn production. We can’t wait for a future where this is the norm.
These eco-friendly switches can be better for the planet, reduce waste and keep your sex life pleasurable, fun, and safe! But it doesn’t all have to be about the products and spending money. Taking part in sexual acts such as masturbation have little carbon emissions so when done safely and consensually, it’s maybe one of the acts you can do that doesn’t harm the planet.
We can have sex and have a positive impact on the planet – using our own individual sexual agency to take steps towards the positive future we want.
Gender Equality and Climate Change
As our individual sex lives can have a positive impact on climate change, so can the incorporation of a pleasure positive approach to SRHR.
A wealth of literature states that we will not be able to tackle climate change without achieving equality as initial inequality causes disadvantaged groups to suffer disproportionately (Islam and Winkel, 2017). One specific group at an increased disadvantage is women. We live in a world where gender inequality is deep-rooted in society; the majority of those living in poverty are women (Ho, 2019), women serve as heads of government in only 22 countries (UN Women, 2021), and young women are twice as likely to acquire HIV compared to young men (Avert, 2021). Furthermore, due to many intersecting factors, those groups, such as women, who face socio-economic barriers have increased vulnerability to climate change disasters (Women Deliver, 2021). It is thus clear that women are disproportionately impacted by climate change, in fewer positions of power and are consistently denied a voice on key issues which impact them (Ho, 2019). Therefore, we must strive to achieve gender equality to help tackle climate change and create positive, climate-friendly futures. With gender empowerment, women and all minority genders can be elevated to a status of equality and have a voice in their own futures.
A pleasure-based approach to SRHR can help achieve this. A pleasure positive approach champions gender equality and women empowerment. By promoting dialogues on sex that are positive people are taught about their right to achieve consensual, safe sexual experiences free from STIs, pregnancy risk, violence and coercion. Allowing them to communicate not only what they want but what they don’t want, giving them the knowledge on how to protect themselves, decide how many children they want, and ask for consent. Achieving empowerment and helping take a step towards gender equality.
Equality and sustainability go hand in hand.
We can also change the way we think about climate change and the planet, incorporating more pleasure in an attempt to help save our futures; making love to the planet to help save it.
Ecosexuality is a new way to think about the intersections between sex and ecology. Pioneered by the fabulous Annie Sprinkle, the main premise is that you see nature as your lover, not as your mother. Because “you might give your mother a hard time, she’ll put up with it, but with a lover, it’s a question of give and take.”
Sprinkles says the approach is to try and get people to love the earth more. Hosting joyful weddings to the earth, sun, moon, sky, and other natural entities Sprinkles wants to promote treating the earth like a lover to save it. Sprinkle wants people to love the earth more: “See the earth as a source of pleasure in life and health.”
This sex-positive, pleasure celebrative approach of ecosexuality is what Annie says the world needs to help save it from climate change.
In the wake of COP26, reading and learning about how the work we do as individuals and collectives to be sex-positive and promote pleasure in SRHR can have an impact on the planet has been inspiring. Climate change uniquely intertwines with so many issues our work aligns with such as gender equality and safe, good, sex! Even just seeing how when we think about the planet as a source of pleasure and love we can promote saving it gives me hope for our achievement of a positive future where the climate crisis has been stopped pleasure-based sexual health is incorporated in all SRHR.