fireworks as a metaphor for pleasure

Pleasure in “Orange Is The New Black”

Emi Canahuati sexuality education

If you are like me and a whole lot of other folks you are watching Orange Is The New Black on Netflix. I just finished watching Season 3, Episode 10, “A Tittin’ and a Hairin.” There are many disturbing and upsetting things in this episode, including the assumption that women don’t take pleasure in sex.

(trigger warning: sexual assault and spoilers)

Pennsatucky Learns About Pleasure

We get some more insight into Pennsatucky’s childhood and adolescence. When she started her period, she had no idea what it was. “Mama, I’m dying,” she says as she shows her bloody underwear. Mom replies, “You ain’t a a little grubber no more. Now you are like a case of pop. You got value.”

WHAT!!!????

Her mother also tells her that now she is “a tittin’ and a hairin” boys are going to look at her differently and also “do” her differently. Mom continues, “The best thing is to go along with it and let them do their business, baby.

However, what it does is highlight what happens when we leave pleasure out of the education we share with our children. If we don’t help guide them around what a healthy pleasurable sex life looks like, how can they know what to ask for or look for?“Emi
If you are really lucky, they will be quick like your daddy…It’s like a bee sting. In and out, over before you knew it was happening”. Pennsatucky responds, “But, bee stings hurt” and that’s the end (presumably) of any kind of “sex education” she got.

The rest of the episode shows the repercussions of that interaction. In it Pennsatucky,

  • uses sex as a transaction for a 6 pack of beer
  • gets assaulted twice
  • gets no pleasure out of sex
  • has no knowledge about her clitoris
  • doesn’t know what a loving mutual relationship looks like

And let’s not forget that the reason she is prison is because she shot a nurse who made a comment about her 5th abortion! Hello! Birth control education access much?

Why we can’t leave pleasure out of the conversation

Admittedly this is fiction and probably not most people’s experience. However, what it does is highlight what happens when we leave pleasure out of the education we share with our children. If we don’t help guide them around what a healthy pleasurable sex life looks like, how can they know what to ask for or look for? We leave them to their own devices, stumbling around and figuring stuff out by accident. Let’s not just teach them that sex carries possible danger and consequences. We have to tell them the other side. It would be like only telling people about the bad side of being a parent and none of the good stuff. What would be the point of the sex or parenting if there was no good stuff?

So conversations about sex and sexuality should include:

  • sharing information about pleasure
  • what intimacy really looks and feels like
  • what healthy relationships are like
  • how to care and respect another person
  • what responsible sexual behavior looks like
  • how to set boundaries and respect others

Otherwise we are leaving it up to the world, to television and other misinformed peers. None of that looks that good.

Here is an example of including pleasure talk in a simple conversation:

My 7.5 y.o. daughter asked me the other day, “Mommy, why do you still have boobies if you don’t have milk anymore?” I responded: “Well, breasts are not just for feeding babies, they are also very sensitive for some people and can feel good when they are touched or kissed”. She thought that was cool.