Pleasurable is a community of disabled peers, researchers, practitioners, activists, allies, students, artists, and others who believe that access to sexuality, pleasure, and intimacy is a fundamental human right. As per the historic rallying cry, Nothing About Us Without Us, we are majority-led by persons with disabilities.
The aim of Pleasurable is to bring disability-specific issues around pleasure and sexual access to the fore of social justice conversations. By extension, Pleasurable seeks to empower more disabled people to contribute, as professionals and peers with lived experience, to the fields of sexology, sexual health services, and sex-positive communities/ conversations. In this time of increased body-positivity and body awareness, the topic of disability is often segregated from public dialogues around sexuality. This is unacceptable. We believe that disability justice is inclusive of sexual freedom and true sexual freedom cannot exist without disability awareness.
Pleasurable envisions a future where it is a given that:
- Sexuality research, as well as social initiatives that broaden erotic intelligence and health, must include disabled people as board members and/or on planning committees;
- Panels and conferences on sexuality, as well as entertainment-based events like porn awards and swingers’ cruises, will be inclusive of people with disabilities;
- The media will be educated on how to report about the sex lives of people with disabilities;
- People with disabilities will have access to study and specialize as sexologists or sex educators in schools.
Through community organizing, consulting, and resource-sharing, Pleasurable will bring the disability liberation perspective to sexual freedom and the sexual freedom perspective to disability liberation.
We bring together a team of certified sexologists, disabled sex educators, and many others, to curate or create a range of opportunities in our seven core focus areas of the Sex & Disability Archive, Members-only Resources, Networking, Public Resources, Advocating for Accessibility, Education, and Supporting Others:
- Sex and Disability Archive.
- Members-only resources.
- A provider director of our members.
- Classified ads; decentralized (not on social media or 3rd party app) forum for private discussions.
- Ongoing collaborative skill shares on how to improve accessibility and inclusiveness.
- Access to a massive event calendar. What used to be this enormous spreadsheet of conferences and other events will now be on DASANetwork’s site and updated weekly.
- Events (virtual and in person).
- Promoting the work of our members.
- Public resources.
- A member-directory for press inquiries and speaking opportunities, etc.
- Product reviews for anything pertaining to disability and sexuality including toys, kink gear, books, zines, movies, etc.
- A Q&A section where site visitors can submit questions about disabled sexuality (similar to a frequent advice column).
- A knowledge base that integrates with the public and members-only sections of the website — this provides an accessible dictionary for our content so that terms need not be repeatedly explained and also creates a section of the website like a dictionary or Wikipedia where all of our defined terms will be in one place.
- Advocating for accessibility
- In our own work.
- At events.
- In organizations.
- Education services and resources.
- Accessible pamphlets, booklets, presentations, zines, etc. that can be downloaded and shared from our website.
- Webinars for various skill/education levels.
- Workshops that members can teach anywhere.
- AASECT Core Knowledge Areas on disabilities.
- Sexual Attitude Reassessments (SARs) on disabilities.
- Certification programs for sex educators about disability.
- Certification programs for independent living center providers about sexual health.
- Continuing education credits for medical practitioners about disabled sexuality.
- Supporting Others
- Provide sponsorships and scholarships to disabled people involved with sex/uality projects.
Pleasurable was conceived as a response to issues within the fields of disability and sexuality.
ISSUES WITHIN THE FIELDS OF DISABILITY AND SEXUALITY
We are calling for greater radical inclusion for those thinking and speaking about disabled sexuality as well as greater cohesion among those of us in these fields.
Sex and sexuality events and organizations tend to not include disabled people as board members or on planning committees. Neither do they focus on disability (as presented by disabled people) as part of events and other programming. Most importantly, the perspective of disability liberation is absent when discussing sexuality and sexual freedom.
Disability events and organizations tend to not include content about sex and sexuality from sex educators and sexual service providers. When this content is included, it is either from academics and researchers (many of whom do not identify as disabled) or from advocates who identify as disabled, but have a limited sexual education knowledge. Most importantly, a focus on disability from the perspective of sexual freedom is almost always lacking.
PRINCIPLES FROM Pleasurable
1. Center Disabled Sexuality
We purposefully talk about disabled sexuality with the public to break the taboo against embracing the sexuality of disabled people. We value and believe in upholding both the Declaration of Sexual Rights (as written by the World Association for Sexual Health) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (as written by the United Nations’ Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner).
2. Uphold “Nothing About Us Without Us“
We are committed to the principles behind “Nothing about us without us,” which is a populist slogan with origins in European politics of the 16th Century. It was popularized in English in the 1990’s by disability rights activists. It expresses the idea that policy shall not be made by any representative who does not identify as a person whom the policy would affect. Therefore, policies affecting the social, cultural, medical, and certainly sexual rights of people with disabilities should not be made by those who are not disabled themselves.
3. Disability Justice, Accessibility, and Crip Time
We are deeply grateful and respectful of the Black, brown, queer, and trans disabled creators of the term ‘disability justice’ (many of whom went on to form Sins Invalid), among them: Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, Stacey Milbern, Leroy Moore, Eli Clare, and Sebastian Margaret.
We believe in disability justice — a movement beyond the world of disability rights — because not everyone has access to “rights” or the capacity to fight for them in bureaucratic systems.
We acknowledge that accessibility is only one aspect of disability justice and that conflicting access needs exist.
We take on projects that will establish a framework for a stronger organization and will enable us to take on bigger projects in the future, whether or not they are entirely successful. We plan to the best of our abilities and know that sometimes, shit happens. We are not afraid to change course — neither when more information becomes available, nor when we need more time, Crip Time. We recognize that Crip Time happens and we encourage those of us who need more time, to take it. It is for this reason that we chose the organizational structure of a workers cooperative.
4. Pay Solidarity
We are committed to practicing pay solidarity. Within Pleasurable, the total pay differential between the lowest and highest paid member shall not exceed a factor of one to four.
5. Transparency and Accountability
We are dedicated to financial transparency; monthly budgets are available to the public.
We highly value and welcome input of various formats, public and private, from our communities. We want to respond directly, via the commentator’s preferred channel of communication, to the needs and concerns of those around us. We accept responsibility for our actions as a group and as individuals within the group, outside of the group, and before the group existed.
6. Focus on the Present and Act for the Future
We are believers in the possibility of a better world. We will not yield to pressure or circumstances, nor be appeased with tokenized “progress.” We will persist, regardless of setbacks, and will continually check-in within our organization and within our communities to be sure that we are continuing to meet our communities’ needs.
We believe that people and groups can change over time and we are open to learning about those changes. We welcome restorative and transformative justice processes.
PRINCIPLES FROM the international cooperative alliance
Pleasurable, while not yet a cooperative, envisions its future as both a voluntary membership association and a worker cooperative.
Our values and principles are based upon the cooperative model defined by the International Cooperative Alliance (ACI) (below).
(Please note that we have edited the original ACI words to be more inclusive of our vision. Our additions are in brackets [like so]. One principle’s definition has been substituted with a definition from another source; a citation has been included.)
From the International Co-operative Alliance (ACI):
The International Co-operative Alliance is the global steward of the Statement on the Cooperative Identity – the Values and Principles of the cooperative movement.
In 1995, the ACI adopted the revised Statement on the Cooperative Identity which contains the definition of a cooperative, the values of cooperatives, and the seven cooperative principles as described below.
Definition of a Cooperative
A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others.
SEVEN COOPERATIVE PRINCIPLES
The cooperative principles are guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
Cooperatives are voluntary organisations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without [age; carer and parental status; disability (including physical, sensory and intellectual disability, work-related injury, medical conditions, and mental, psychological and learning disabilities); employment activity; gender identity; consensual sexual activity; sexual orientation; sex; marital and relationship status; physical features; political belief or activity; pregnancy and breastfeeding; race (including color, nationality, ethnicity, and ethnic origin); religious belief and activity; or personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics], gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.
2. Democratic Member Control
[“The cooperative system is based upon the equality of member-workers or cooperators. Aside from limited and special circumstances all workers must be members. The cooperative is democratically controlled on the basis of one member, one vote; its governing structures are democratically controlled and are also responsible to the general assembly or other elected body.” — Cooperation Jackson]
3. Member Economic Participation
Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative.
4. Autonomy and Independence
Cooperatives are autonomous, self-help organisations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organisations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
5. Education, Training, and Information
Cooperatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives.
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
Cooperatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.
7. Concern for Community
Cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.
Statement on Climate Change
Climate change has already impacted the planet and the most vulnerable inhabitants of Earth have been the first to feel its blows. We can’t stop the melting ice, rising temperatures, or global disregard for any action that would be beneficial at this late point in time.
We acknowledge that as disabled people, we are highly at risk in times of climate crisis.
We also acknowledge that some may consider focusing on sex/uality and sex education to be trivial during disrupted times, but we counter-argue: what is disabled life, if not that of disruption?
We live in a world that rarely considers us in its evacuation plans; we are all but forgotten in emergencies. And so, let those of us who wish to, continue to focus on disabled sex education and advocacy, which shall remain important as long as people continue to live.