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The Power of Pleasure: A Smarter Conversation on Sexual Health

This past week, I participated in a training on anal sex and pleasure. Yes, you heard me right; I spent two full days engaging in intimate and educational conversations about butt sex. Admittedly, it was quite an exhilarating experience talking about such a taboo topic in American society. My interest was definitely peaked, I mean, how often does one get to actively discuss the anatomy of their anus and how to appropriately pleasure it? The training wasn’t just rebellious fun though; it was also incredibly engaging and thought provoking. I walked away feeling empowered and informed.

Sometime during my drive back home, it occurred to me, in my AIDS United AmeriCorps service I’ve been going about prevention education the wrong way this whole time! Instead of talking about safer sex, I should be talking about “smarter sex.”

“Smarter sex” is the revolutionary concept that the best way to educate others about their sexual health is to focus on the pleasure rather than the risks. Science has proven that people are more likely to engage and show interest in a conversation if it focuses on what can be gained rather than what can be lost. In the case of reproductive health, this means a conversation on how to enhance one’s pleasure and performance, rather than how unprotected sex can lead to the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases. My experience at the anal sex training demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach to reproductive health education.

A smarter sex approach to anal health taught me things like stroke not poke, to tickle it before you stick it, how to keep one’s tailpipe as clean as a whistle, and that 45⁰ is the optimum angle of insertion to stroke that special spot in a guy or gal. I also learned that anal sex is practiced by more heterosexual couples than gay, lesbian, or bisexual couples and that the only way for a guy to achieve a full body orgasm is to stimulate his prostate! Think about that the next time you find yourself giving or receiving oral sex: just a little finger action to stimulate that special spot will exponentially increase the receiving partner’s pleasure! Just make sure to lube your finger and trim that finger nail first.

Not once during our intensive two day agenda did we discuss the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and yet I still walked away with new harm reduction techniques to eliminate tearing, bleeding, and exposure to feces. As one of my fellow participants put it, “I literally learned everything about the butthole that I ever wanted to know but was too afraid to ask.” I can’t remember the last time a client responded to an education session of mine in such a positive and affirming manner. Isn’t this the goal of every education session, to increase a client’s knowledge, empower them to take control of their health, and have them walk out excited and thankful to have come in? I think so.

In my role as an HIV-STI prevention educator, I sometimes catch myself losing track of the reality and social context of sex and this renders my message unrealistic and uninteresting. In order to be an effective educator, my messaging needs to recognize that sex is mostly about pleasure, intimacy, and social expectations. Going forward, I plan to use the power of pleasure to convey my message of prevention and enhance the health of my clients. Smarter sex is the new safer sex, after all.

Posted By: Joshua Kratz, AIDS United AmeriCorps Team Cleveland - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

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