Tearing up the rule book
Updated: Aug 31, 2022
In my role as a Sexological Bodyworker, I work with people from a wide range of ages, sexual and romantic orientations, gender expressions, professional backgrounds, and experience levels. And what, do you think, unites these people from diverse walks of life?
The one thing that stands out for me is that they all carry - often unconsciously - a rule book that tells them what they should experience in relation to their sensuality*.
This in itself is not unique to the people I work with. Each of us carries a rule book influenced by our upbringing, the messages we receive from others, and our direct lived experiences. Thousands if not millions of co-authors have added their rules to it, from parents to past lovers, and from religion to social media. These rules or "norms" tell us how we need to be in order to belong in society. In this context, the rules set expectations around sex, pleasure*, intimacy, relationships, gender, our body image, how we dress, and so much more.
What may actually be different about the people who are attracted to this work is that for them the weight of carrying this rule book is becoming too uncomfortable, too restrictive, or downright unbearable. The people I speak with are often asking themselves things like "What does pleasure even mean to me at this age/in this body?".
When we start to acknowledge that we have a whole bunch of beliefs around what we should do/want/have based on our rule book, we can begin consciously assessing which bits of this are actually serving us. Perhaps there are many parts that feel good and we can confirm our alignment with those values. And there may be other parts that don't sit so well with us.
The breakthroughs can come from realising that this is OUR book that we can edit, add to, cross things out of, even tear the whole thing up and start over, if we like!
That for me is at the very core of this role - empowering the people I work with to become the editors and authors of their own rule book (no wait, scrap that) - Pleasure Manifesto, guiding them to find the language that works for them, and giving them space to explore and practice their own ideas and values safely before taking this out into their lives.
So, what would be in your own self-written Pleasure Manifesto?
* When I speak of sensuality, I mean "the enjoyment, expression, or pursuit of physical pleasure" and pleasure in its broadest sense "a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment"