NSFW: Pleasure As A Ritual of Self-Love

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

"Say yes to that kink.

Say yes to whatever pleasure looks like to you."

Part One

They turned my mouth into a rainbow and tasted like an explosion of sweet fireworks. With flavors like “Strawberry,” “Extra Sour,” and the elusive “Cola,” they’d hypnotize me and my friends for the first few minutes before pushing us to unleash hell on our parents. I don’t think I ever once stopped to consider why they were shaped like feet, I just knew that the shape was funny and that, even though they’d give me “raquiña,” (rashes on my legs that would itch like crazy) they were my favorite candy at the store. Still, I would start scratching until I drew blood, prompting the grown-ups to remind me that I couldn’t have as much candy as the other kids.


Was this when I learned to associate pleasure with punishment? Was this when I learned that if you’re not careful, pleasure comes with pain?


The origin of that myth in my own life is unclear to me, but as a Black and Brown woman, the reminders are everywhere. We exist in a culture that shames women of color from experiencing any sort of pleasure. From slut shaming to the endless critiques over what working-class people spend money on, at every turn society is telling us we are undeserving of pleasure.


And within our own cultures, stories of our people enjoying themselves “too much” can often feel like cautionary tales, to the point where even the simplest pleasures can feel like gluttony.


And today I want to beacon us to say yes to pleasure. Say yes to sex, yes to masturbation, yes to candy and chocolate.


Say yes to a long hot bath after putting your kids to bed. And to not cleaning up the tub the next day.


Say yes to taking that extra moment to meditate before your next zoom meeting even if you’re 5 minutes late.


Say yes to sitting on his face and actually stay there until you come.


Say yes to that kink.


Say yes to whatever pleasure looks like to you.


We deserve to savor all of those moments that we live for, particularly after this hellish year.


You see, when we give ourselves pleasure, we are undoing myths about how deeply we are allowed to love ourselves.


Because that is what pleasure is, an expression of self-love to the point of devotion.


A kind of devotion that doesn’t feel available to us anywhere else, because for marginalized groups—it really isn’t anywhere else. Pleasure can feel like overcoming punishment, because it is a form of loving ourselves in a society that is hellbent on reminding us that we are unworthy.


For those who suffer from systemic oppression and endless microaggressions, pleasure can also be despojo and a cleansing.


It is no wonder that so many ancient spiritual rituals, particularly those meant to invite love into our lives, involve just that–pausing in a long herbal bath, or breathing in the scents of rose petals, agua florida, and pussy juice, or saying affirmations in front of a mirror.


So, babe, it’s time to unlearn all that BS and say yes to that thing you love to give yourself. And if one day you become allergic, there’s plenty of other candies and sweet things to try.


And you are worthy of them all.




Part Two

I’m a sin vergüenza so I’ll be the one to say it, one of my favorite things to do is masturbate, and when writing this article that is the first thing that came to mind—the pleasure right at our fingertips.


Sometimes I kind of just do it right before bed, other times I tell myself “no, don’t be lazy, I want to pause and pleasure myself and be intentional with it and really enjoy it.” An episode on the latest season of Big Mouth, “The Funeral” is about how Andrew has an entire ritual for masturbating. While the show covers the ups, downs, and hilarity that is puberty, it also takes on so many taboos, and in the spirit of their audacity, I want to invite you to create a masturbation ritual for yourself for those nights when you really want to love yourself harder than usual.


Do you have one already? Perhaps you do and haven’t considered it. If you don’t, here’s some ideas to get started:

1. Take some time apart just for this: Make sure you’re not thinking of a meeting later in the day, or that you have to be somewhere at a certain time, or in a situation where you’re checking the clock—this is your you-time.


2. Create a distraction free space: if you’re using your phone, make sure to put it on silent. If you’re not using your phone, put it on silent and throw it somewhere far from you where you won’t be distracted.


3. Set the mood: you should do this in a private space where you feel safe. Take a moment to light a candle and do something to help calm any anxiety from your day or nerves—though to be honest what you’re about to do IS calming. But, taking an extra step to curate the space with music or some incense can activate that part of your brain that’s like “okay now we relax.”


4. Grab a tool: I say tool because yes, it can be a sex toy, but maybe you want a mirror this time around so you can stare at yourself, or you want a human sized pillow, or some lube. Whatever works for you. Need some ideas? Check out healing crystal dildos by @chakrubs, organic intimate body products by the Black-owned @organiccloven, or pull up your fav porn website, videos or gifs, I personally love the ones that focus on women’s pleasure and this one directed by Young MA does not disappoint.


5. Take your time: engage in some foreplay with yourself! Caress your whole body and let yourself feel every sensation. Once you begin to touch yourself, surrender to the moment.



Meet the Family

Amanda Alcántara is a Caribbean writer and journalist. She is the author of “Chula” (2019). Her creative writing and journalistic work has been featured in the anthology “Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century USA,” the poetry anthology "LatiNext" and several media publications like Latino USA, Remezcla, Afroféminas, The San Francisco Chronicles, and others. In 2017, she obtained an MA from NYU in Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She is also a co-founder and previous editor of La Galería Magazine. Alcántara is a Libra who loves exploring nature and being close to the sea.

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