Pleasure Activism Book Summary - Pleasure Activism Book explained in key points
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Pleasure Activism summary

adrienne maree brown

The Politics of Feeling Good

3.2 (172 ratings)
20 mins

Brief summary

'Pleasure Activism' by adrienne maree brown is a transformative book that argues for centering pleasure as a political act. It offers insights on harnessing pleasure to create social change, and exploring the idea of a world where joy, freedom, and justice are intertwined.

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    Pleasure Activism
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Pleasure is about feeling whole and satisfied – not about indulging in excess.

    Pleasure is freedom. To feel happiness, joy, and satisfaction – in short, to feel pleasure – is to know you are alive and liberated. In this regard, pleasure can be political, especially if you identify as a woman, femme, LGBTQ+, or have had to live in an oppressive environment. 

    Experiencing pleasure as an act of defiance is where the term pleasure activism comes in. In the author’s own words, pleasure activism is “the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy.” As someone who identifies as a queer, Black, mixed-race woman, the author has had to learn ways to understand and move through childhood traumas. Finding pleasure, and finding a way to her yes, has been central to that process.

    The key message here is: Pleasure is about feeling whole and satisfied – not about indulging in excess.

    Many of us have grown up with certain beliefs that have trained us to equate pleasure with indecency or needless indulgence. We’ve been taught to repress our desires for pleasure so much that any sort of allowance is seen as excessive. As a result, when people hear ideas about embracing pleasure, their thoughts often immediately turn to these negative perceptions. But that’s not what pleasure activism is about. The author and those she interviewed like to say, “everything in moderation.” So, while we extol the virtues of pleasure, try not to think of it in terms of excess or overindulgence!

    Alana Devich Cyril’s story is a great example of this mantra. After being diagnosed with late-stage cancer, finding pleasure and experiencing satisfaction despite feeling sick a lot of the time became more important than ever.

    For a while, the cancer and the chemotherapy left Alana feeling betrayed by her body, and pleasure was something that seemed inaccessible. But thanks in part to friendly health-care workers, her friends, and her loving partner, she was able to gradually bring pleasure back into her life. There was pleasure in having friends over, throwing a karaoke party, and eventually reengaging in sex. It took effort to once again open herself up to these experiences, but, for her, they were life-affirming.

    As Alana sees it, a big part of being a human being on Earth is to experience pleasure. And when she advocates for “everything in moderation,” she emphasizes the “everything.” Through her journey, we see that adopting pleasure as a practice can help when we feel dissociated from our bodies or find ourselves slipping into depression. 

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    What is Pleasure Activism about?

    Pleasure Activism (2019) offers an introduction to the politics of pleasure. It explores the ways in which we can break free of repression and marginalization – and instead embrace the feelings of freedom. It offers ways in which we can gain a better understanding of past traumas and move forward with a deeper connection to our bodies and our communities.

    Pleasure Activism Review

    Pleasure Activism (2019) explores the intersections of pleasure, politics, and activism, offering a fresh perspective on creating positive change. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • By emphasizing the importance of pleasure in activism, it provides a radical approach to social change that challenges traditional methods.
    • The book encompasses a wide range of topics, including sexuality, creativity, and joy, offering a holistic view of pleasure's role in transforming society.
    • With its thought-provoking essays and personal narratives, it ignites a fire of curiosity and inspires readers to reimagine their own activism through pleasure.

    Best quote from Pleasure Activism

    Pleasure activism is about learning what it means to be satisfiable, to generate, from within and from between us, an abundance from which we can all have enough.

    —adrienne maree brown
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    Who should read Pleasure Activism?

    • Anyone dealing with past trauma or oppression 
    • People interested in the politics of pleasure and sexuality
    • Marginalized people looking for tools of empowerment

    About the Author

    adrienne maree brown is a writer, doula, and activist who’s been involved in numerous community outreach programs, including the Harm Reduction Coalition and the Ruckus Society. She was previously a columnist for Bitch magazine and is the author of Emergent Strategy and coeditor of Octavia’s Brood – both of which draw on the work of award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer Octavia E. Butler.

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    Pleasure Activism FAQs 

    What is the main message of Pleasure Activism?

    The main message of Pleasure Activism is that pleasure and joy are essential for fueling social and political change.

    How long does it take to read Pleasure Activism?

    The reading time for Pleasure Activism varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Pleasure Activism a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Pleasure Activism is a powerful and thought-provoking read that challenges conventional ideas of activism. It offers an inspiring perspective on how pleasure can be a catalyst for social change.

    Who is the author of Pleasure Activism?

    The author of Pleasure Activism is adrienne maree brown.

    What to read after Pleasure Activism?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Pleasure Activism, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Shameless by Nadia Bolz-Weber
    • The Science of Kissing by Sheril Kirshenbaum
    • Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori A. Brotto
    • Sex for One by Betty Dodson
    • How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton
    • Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas
    • He Comes Next by Ian Kerner
    • The Mindful Body by Ellen J. Langer
    • The Power of Fun by Catherine Price
    • Resurrecting Sex by David Schnarch