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What is Pleasure – bakamoono.lk

9 September 2016 Posted by No Comment

“Sexual pleasure, like sex, is difficult to define. It can involve orgasm, but does not have to; and it is influenced by an unlimited range of factors. In many cultures, satisfying sexual activity is defined in relation to what gives men pleasure (Marcus, 1993; Gordon and Lewis, 2005), and there has been disproportionate focus on the idea that ‘sexual pleasure equals orgasm’. Overall, the public health sector has dealt with the concept of sex – or more specifically sexual activity – largely in the context of penis-in-vagina penetration for the purpose of procreation, or penis in anus or mouth, while ignoring the wide range of other activities that people find sexual or stimulating.” –  The Pleasure Project

by-lovis-corinth-1897

In Sri Lanka with the reluctance to discuss basic sexual and reproductive functions, discussions around pleasure are wholly absent.

““[a]ttempts to introduce concepts on this subject [sex and reproduction] have been resisted by certain school principals, teachers, administrators and parents. Objections are on grounds of cultural sensitivity.” – Sri Lanka Country Profile 2015 on Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health

If we’re not going to discuss HIV prevention effectively, or what the menstrual cycle is, and does (there is a perception that unfertilized eggs are released every month, akin to a chicken), what hope do we have for a teacher to discuss the function of the clitoris? In Sri Lanka pleasure is viewed as something a man and woman are supposed to discover after marriage. Do teenage pregnancies, sex work, the abortion rate, or even divorce due to infidelity form more complex narratives of pleasure in Sri Lanka? Is our rate of sexually transmitted infections indicative of pleasure? What of our search for sex online, can this be indicative of pleasure?

An answer would merit a discussion, at the very least, on masturbation – what is it, and what of the myths that surround masturbation?

The Sri Lankan Health and Physical Education Curriculum developed by the National Institute of Education has no specific reference to masturbation. The 2015 Revised (Eight Print) of the Health and Physical Education (Part II) textbook for Grade 8 (pg 36), has a chapter titled Changes during Adolescence, and in this they discuss the physical changes for boys and girls at adolescence, including secretions from the penis – ejaculation. Girls are not entrusted with ejaculation, and have only vaginal secretions. Ejaculation appears to be only for men and boys..

Girls

Boys

 Increase in height and weight

Pimples begin to appear on the face

Muscles become spindle shape at hands  & thighs

Hips widen

Genital organs become large

Hair appears in armpits and genital areas

Vaginal secretion

Smelly Sweat

Attainment of age, menstruation

 

 Increase in height and weight

Pimples on the face

Broad shoulders

Muscles grow larger

Adam’s apple becomes visible

Genital organs become large

Hair appears in armpits, genital areas  and chest

Beard appears

Smelly Sweat

Secretions from penis – ejaculation.

spThe Health and Physical Education Curriculum does not mention the word clitoris, nor does it contain any external depiction of genitalia, male or female. Students who want to know about the clitoris and penis will have to resort to online resources. What might they encounter if they google search clitoris and/or penis?

“The clitoris is a part of your vulva that’s devoted purely to sexual pleasure. It becomes swollen when you’re aroused (aka “turned on” or “horny”). Only the tip of the clitoris can be seen at the top of vulva — the rest is hidden under a part of the labia called the clitoral hood.”  – Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood also discusses questions adolescents have in relation to the penis. The sole function of the clitoris is pleasure, and in essentially a patriarchal world, a harsh reminder of this is female genital mutilation, which includes a clitoridectomy.

“[The] partial or total removal of the clitoris (a small, sensitive and erectile part of the female genitals), and in very rare cases, only the prepuce (the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris).”   – WHO Female Genital Mutilation Fact Sheet 2016

Sri Lanka is spared this brutal practice. Yet there is both a lack of information on sexual pleasure, and/or limitations to information that does make it into the public sphere.

“What is orgasm? – It is the climax or the peak of sexual satisfaction. It is an automatic reflex. In the male it is usually associated with ejaculation, the expulsion of semen. In a female the degree of satisfaction can vary. Some can have more than one orgasm, while some do not have any. If both partners are happy and lead satisfactory sex lives then it should not be a problem. Self stimulation to gain an orgasm is called masturbation. This is not considered abnormal unless it becomes an obsession.”Mediscene, Sunday Times, 2010

At the moment, sex in Sri Lanka is – “Do it, but don’t talk about it.”  Also – “You better be straight or heterosexual.”  And of course, – “Don’t get caught.” 

Government text books distributed to students across Sri Lanka, contain explicit instruction in reference to what is termed Socially Unexcepted Sex Conduct

sp2“Sri Lankan society does not accept unnatural sex conduct. by engaging in this type of behaviour leads to the loss of parents, other family members, relations, and also to repent throughout one’s life. in front of the law one will be convicted. the future becomes bleak. Without a proper education and will become a socially unacceptable person. One will have to live in frustration.”   Health and Physical Education, Grade 10, pg 5

This apparent reference to sexual orientation and section 365a of the Sri Lankan Penal Code doesn’t take into account the science, nor does it heed a public health approach which is to ensure less stigma and discrimination for people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identitiy. The text book suggests that a gay person has no right to sexual pleasure, even though since 1990, sexual orientation is no longer classified as a mental health condition by the World Health Organization. Rights activists and public health practitioners may want to address this systemic underming of their equal rights messaging, advocacy and prevention strategies.

The Pleasure Project provides excellent resources for educators and also adults on understanding pleasure in relation to sex and also pleasure focused public health education. Information and resources are sensible, straightforward and inclusive.

 Courtesy bakamoono.lk

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