As the sun sets on the first week of 2022 with the promise of new and exciting moments for pleasure-based sexual health, we want to take a moment to look back on the past year and reflect on all the amazing pleasure progress made in 2021. Keep reading for a roundup of some of our most exciting moments.
The Pleasure Fellow Scheme
In May 2021 we launched one of our most exciting projects of the year, The Pleasure Fellow Scheme. This fellowship was made possible through the support of three amazing, pleasure positive organisations: DKT International, Case for Her, MissChiefs. After receiving an overwhelming 193 applications, we selected our 12 Pleasure Fellows pictured above. You can find out more about each fellow here.
From Chile, all the way to the Philippines our fellows partook in sessions to hone their skills as pleasure advocates in mutual learning environments. As fully-fledged Pleasure Fellows, they will now advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and provide expert and diverse outlooks on pleasure that account for different cultures, societies and geographies. Each fellow is now undertaking their own pleasure focused project to enhance the mission of achieving universal pleasure-based sexual health. These projects range from research into pleasure after abortion to digital communication campaigns about sexual health aimed at men who have sex with men. Each project is unique and pleasure pioneering and something to keep updated on through our website and social media channels where our fellows regularly feature promoting their exciting content and ideas. If you are reading this as someone who would be interested in being part of our future pleasure fellow scheme, please follow us on social media for updates on exciting opportunities to come in 2022.
The Pleasure Hub
With the rise of so many pleasure activists we decided in 2021 we needed a new space for pleasure enthusiasts to communicate, share ideas and keep updated on all the exciting work happening in the pleasure world! So, we created The Pleasure Hub on LinkedIn as a space where pleasure positive professionals can share knowledge, exchange tips, spark conversations and advocate for the importance of pleasure inclusive sexual health. This year, we will be introducing a pleasure pick of the month where members will bring a topic to the page to be discussed with the wider group. If you would like to become a member of the Pleasure Hub please get in touch with us on LinkedIn or at [email protected]! We can’t wait to expand our community of pleasure advocates in 2022.
Through the eyes of a pleasure activist
In 2021 we started a talk series titled ‘Through the Eyes of a pleasure activist’ to amplify pleasure positive pioneers’ work and voices to the wider pleasure community. Last year we had the opportunity to host two amazing talks.
The first talk with Paromita Vohra, Founder of Agents of Ishq was extremely eye-opening. The talk explored how we can learn about sex, pleasure and consent in a way that is fun and pleasurable through different mediums such as video, music and dancing. With examples shown of this through Agents of Ishq’s work in India and some of the amazing pleasure positive movies they have created. Showing how being positive allows us to move forward and pleasure helps us to break many binaries.
The second talk was with Shereen El Feki, Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at UNAIDS in conversation with Dr. Sandrine Atallahm consultant in sexual medicine, a certified psychosexologist and a hypnotherapist. This session was wonderful, thought-provoking and inspiring. Bringing us an exciting conversation on religious differences in sexual relations, cultures of pleasure and pleasure marriages in Shia Islam. Exploring histories of pleasure in Islamic literature to how pleasure is regarded with modern realities in the Arab world.
These talks always leave us with a smile on our faces after hearing about all the inspiring pleasure activism going on in the world. We love creating new ways to ensure we can connect with people across the world via pleasure. If you’re intrigued to find out more, contact us to find out more about our next talks and opportunities to speak.
2021 meant forging a wonderful partnership with Amplify Change, an independent non-profit organisation designed to support grassroots advocates for SRHR in the Global South. The Pleasure Project joined them as technical experts to help test the integration of pleasure and sex-positivity into existing programming. We have been working with the Amplify Change team and selected grantees through a series of sessions and individualised support on pleasure positive approaches and documenting best practices. You can find more information about our partnership in the article here.
At the end of 2021, we also entered into a formal partnership with IPPF Africa Regional Office to advise them on an exciting campaign they will be launching in the region in 2022. While we cannot reveal too many details at this point of time, we are really thrilled to be partnering with one of the leading providers of quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services in Africa, and a strong and resolute sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocacy voice in the region.
Last year we worked on a critical evidence piece for pleasure based sexual health along with WHO. Over most of 2021 we engaged in a systematic review to explore “Do sexual and reproductive health interventions which incorporate sexual pleasure improve relevant health outcomes?” This work was funded by our amazing feminist pleasure partners, The Case For Her. The results will be published in early 2022 in PLOS.
Last year we became members of the World Association for Sexual Health which was a momentous occasion for The Pleasure Project. Throughout 2021 we worked closely with WAS as part of their pleasure task force working on the technical document to accompany the Declararion of Sexual Pleasure which was ratified in September 2021.
We also became members of ShareNet International. Helping us to expand our reach with more pleasure positive organisations and share more knowledge! This will be a great help in 2022.
25th Annual WAS Congress
The 25th annual World Association for Sexual Health Congress was a seminal moment for pleasure advocacy with the ratification of the WAS Declaration of Sexual Pleasure on the 10th of September. As the leading organisation pioneering a pleasure-based approach, The Pleasure Project, therefore, had a big role to play in this Congress.
The congress began with a big moment for The Pleasure Project as we received the WAS award for excellence and innovation in sexuality education. This award shows that the pleasure wave is building, and more people are recognising that pleasure matters. What an amazing moment for pleasure recognition.
Pleasure at the congress
Pleasure was a notable topic of conversation at the congress. The Pleasure Project had three talks at the congress: Pleasure propaganda: introducing ‘The Pleasure Fellow Scheme’, Pleasure Principles Symposium and, The Pleasure Principles for Pleasure in Practice. Our talks all received great reception and pleasure advocacy surged. As well as our talks our work was also mentioned in talks by Tim Sladden, Tlaleng Mofokeng and Ian Askew. We got lots of mentions on social media which can be found on our feed here and Instagram live with Lisa Walsh, WAS Comms officer, can be found here.
The Pleasure Principles Launch
The most exciting moment at the WAS Congress for The Pleasure Project was the much-anticipated launch of our Pleasure Principles on the 11th of September in conjunction with the acceptance of the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure. We have designed these living principles to support and help more individuals and organizations to make sense of, design and conduct their work on sexual health from a sex-positive and pleasure-based perspective. We aim for plain language, clear examples, and practical tools to explain the aspirational declaration into easy-to-understand steps in everyday work and journey as a pleasure-based sexual health professional, sex-positive sex educator and pleasure positive and curious researcher. The Pleasure Principles have been officially recognized as the third integral document to put the Declaration of Sexual Pleasure into action, along with the WAS Technical Document. A great first step towards holistic incorporation of pleasure based SRHR.
More details of each principle can be found on our website here. Over the last few months, we have been collecting feedback from a variety of groups and gathering resources, tools and evidence for each principle. We will be publishing the full text of the principles in the first quarter of 2022 along with the campaign for organizations to endorse the Principles. Keep your eyes peeled on our social media handles for announcements about the principles.
Social Media Moments
The Pleasure wave surged in 2021 and this was deeply reflected in our amazing social media content on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Some of our personal favourite posts from 2021 have been the thought-provoking blog posts tackling the intersection of pleasure and key social issues which happened in 2021 such as: why pleasure should be part of the solution and sex pleasure and the climate! We also had some amazing guest appearances on our blog and Instagram. Our fellow Ana Santos did an amazing Instagram takeover where she talked all things pleasure revolution and interviewed the sex-positive author Carolyn Lee Arnold who also wrote an amazing piece for us on leading a sex positive life as an older woman. If you haven’t already, go have a browse of all the amazing content we have to offer and become immersed in our pleasure positive world.
We have loved giving a platform to pleasure and welcoming the voices, insight and work of amazing pleasure advocates from around the world so there will be much more to come in 2022!
Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022
As the door closes on 2021, it opens to 2022 giving a glimpse of the simmering potential of a pleasure packed year. In 2022, we welcome our new intern from Bath University Amanda Tetty, a transgender rights activist from Uganda. We can’t wait to see the amazing pleasure activism she brings to the team.
We have lots of exciting announcements lined up for 2022. Watch this space for news about the final launch of our Pleasure Principles, the WAS technical document and publication of some of our very exciting research! Watch this space to see how we continue to ride the surging pleasure wave in 2022.
Lots of love,
The Pleasure Project