Pleasure Activism 101
Updated: Apr 21, 2021
This book is life-changing, epiphany-generating, and paradigm-shifting. Please consider adding it to your personal library and bringing it into your worldview.
I’m a person who feels most grounded when I have an incredible book to read, and this book is that book. “Pleasure Activism” by adrienne maree brown is simply life-changing. It’s a collection of essays, interviews, art, poetry, and so much more - and it’s all centered around this foundational principle called pleasure activism. So, let’s get into it.
What is pleasure activism?
Here’s the author’s definition: “Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and supremacy” (brown, p. 13). Pleasure activism can be thought of as a multi-functional framework to guide us in activism and community work, while also guiding us in our moment-to-moment decisions, daily habits and routines, and life-long purpose. Pleasure activism teaches us to shift the grounds on which we make our decisions, and to consciously choose to experience pleasure. As the author writes,
“Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure and that our social structures must reflect this” (brown, p. 13)
And now I have a question for you, reader of this blog post. What is your definition of pleasure? adrienne maree brown describes pleasure as the feeling of “happy satisfaction and enjoyment” (brown, p. 13). What does it mean to you? And, while we’re on the topic, who may have impacted your definition of pleasure? Often when we think of pleasure we might immediately think of moments of indulgence, or excess. adrienne maree brown argues that this is a common understanding of pleasure, and that this understanding is born out of restriction. Because we live in a society where a tiny amount of people hoard an enormous amount of wealth and resources which creates a false scarcity. Under these circumstances, the definition of pleasure may have shifted to mean something more similar to abundance, indulgence, and excess.
But, as adrienne maree brown puts it,
“Pleasure is not one of the spoils of capitalism. It is what our bodies, our human systems, are structured for; it is the aliveness and awakening, the gratitude and humility, the joy and celebration of being miraculous” (p. 16).
I’m excited to keep reading this book and updating as I go! Please consider purchasing the book yourself (preferably from a black owned bookstore like https://www.esowonbookstore.com) because reading this book feels like a personal therapy session / kick back with adrienne maree brown. Up next, I’m going to be writing about her idea of pleasure lineages, and how we can trace a map through our past to figure out what feels most pleasurable to us, and who inspired us to feel this kind of feeling.
Brown, Adrienne R. Pleasure Activism: the Politics of Feeling Good. AK Press, 2019.