You Deserve Pleasure

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S3E14 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Mark: Welcome back to the wonders. Science-based paganism. I'm mark. And I'm one of your hosts.

Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

Mark: And today we're going to talk about pleasure and sensuality and how we relate to that psychologically and what we can do for ourselves in order to more deeply. Enjoy our lives in essential sense.

It's spring time and it's getting warmer out and people are wearing less clothing and it's just kind of feeling like everything's getting going again and we're coming up on Mayday or bell pain. So we thought this would be a good time to do this episode.

Yucca: Exactly. Yeah. It's definitely something for any time of the year, but particularly right now it feels, it feels like a good moment for it. And yeah. And we'll come back next week. We'll be talking more about Mayday or belting and some of the themes that can go along with that, which will, we're getting into a little bit today.

We're going to focus more on that physical pleasure side today.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah. Next week we can talk about rituals and observances and all that good kind of stuff for the holiday. But thematically, this is something that's kind of a bigger human issue so where should we start?

Yucca: Why don't we start with the idea of pleasure, because this is something that in. Paganism. We tend to have a different take on then much of the over culture does. And a lot of the other religions

Mark: Yeah, that's certainly been my experience. I mean, one of the earliest things that I heard when I entered the pagan community was that one of the things that defines us as different from the predominant over culture is that we, our pleasure pauses. And that is it's principle 10 of the atheopagan principles.

It's something that I have not only observed broadly in the community, but also have taken into myself as something to embrace. Not without struggle. I should say. And we're going to talk about that a lot.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But fundamentally from a values standpoint, we don't think there's anything wrong with enjoying. Quite the contrary,

Yucca: Consensual, right. Few episodes back. We talked about. About consent and all of that. And we're, this is all assuming that this is consensual, you know, this is, or we're talking about in yourself, but in no way, are we saying that, you know, it's okay for you to just do something that hurts somebody else? Cause you like it.

That's not what we're

talking about. We're saying that it's, it's okay for you to feel good. In fact, it's probably really, really good for you and good for everybody around you and the rest of the world, because. Miserable people are not good company and aren't very effective that change.

Mark: No, no. And having spent many years in the activist community, I can testify to the. You know, the sort of bitter angry zealots that that are interspersed amongst the activist community, who they just, they don't have a positive word to say about anyone or anything. And you can just tell that they're miserable and you know, really what they need is a lot of kindness.

And. A lot of pleasure to just kind of transform the idea that they have of the world is a horrible place.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And it's, you know, we're not saying, we're not saying that there aren't horrors in the world because there are so, you know, we're not implying, oh, you know, feel good, have a great time. By itself.

You know, this is within the context of understanding that there are terrible things in the world that we need to change and we need to work to change. But while we're doing that, we're living our one precious life.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: precious life is to be enjoyed. It's it's, you know, we have all of these nerve receptors all over ourselves, not just to Not just to tell us when something is injured or hurts, but also to bring us pleasure. Right. Otherwise, a massage wouldn't feel good. Sex wouldn't feel good. A delicious pastry wouldn't taste good,

Yucca: Long bath or,

Mark: Or.

Yucca: a nap in the sun. Yeah.

Mark: all those wonderful things. We have pleasure centers for a reason and it is perfectly okay for us to stimulate them. And there's no, there's no downside to that. So long as everybody who's involved is consented, which kind of brings us to.

The the over culture. I mean, we just talked about the pagan culture and we can talk more in examples about that, but. The over culture has a radically different way of looking at this. That's rooted in Christianity and Christianity, particularly Protestant Christianity, since the Protestant reformation is deeply suspicious of pleasure.

And in many cases shaming about it.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: It, there are lots of arbitrary rules about where, when you are allowed to feel pleasure. And when you're not

Yucca: And what specific times? Right?

Mark: there are arbitrary times of year when you're supposed to deny yourself things that you enjoy, just because reasons,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And all of this conspires to inculcate within us, this feeling of discomfort at the least, but in many cases, real shame around enjoying ourselves in a sensual sense.

And that is crippling to people. It's very, very hard to be a happy person. If that's the context that you, you live.

Yucca: Yeah. And I think one of the sources of this is control, right? It's a way of controlling people. Shame is a way. Making sure that that system, that structure is maintained. And when you have people feeling bad and shameful about the things that they could be doing that might, that might make them realize that they don't need to be doing what you're saying, or don't need to be following this, or it's, you know, that, that, that whole system starts to crumble when people just.

Don't feel bad about these things that they're supposed to. And, and you mentioned this coming from a lot from the Protestant and I agree, but I think that it, it comes from that a lot, but it influences all of us today, whether we're from those particular religions or not, that has a huge influence on everybody.

And especially if, if you went through the school site, Right. There's a few, a few folks out who might have that this point been unschooled, but pretty much everybody else went through the school system, which was designed to control you based on, on a lot of different things. But one way denying you from, from enjoying things and punishing you for enjoying those things and making you do these other things.

Mark: Right. And teaching you about obedience to authority and denying yourself in the name of somebody else's rules.

Yucca: Right. Don't question, right. That's not, you know, it's not whatever, it's not respectful. It's not proper. It's not don't you want to learn what are all these, these things. And so I think that, that it happens that has happened to all of us to some degree. Yeah. That we are making the conscious choice as pleasure, positive Higgins.

That's a nice one. That's a piece in there that, that we don't want to agree with that, but it's something that we have to think about not necessarily every day, but think about because it's, we're surrounded by it. We're steeping in it, it slips back in without us even thinking, without realizing, being conscious of it.

Mark: right. Yeah. I mean, even after 35 years of being a pagan I, I confront this on a daily basis, right. Because the window of my room faces onto the parking area of the complex that I live in. Now, people aren't generally walking around, it's unusual for somebody to actually pass in front of my window, but I have to get dressed. And I don't sleep with clothing on. So, which is pleasurable by the way, at least it is for me, which is why I do it. Just

Yucca: know about you, but the nice sheets, this like

Mark: Oh yeah,

Yucca: And you get underneath the sheets and you can like rub your legs together. And it's just wonderful.

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: That's one of my favorite things.

Mark: Huh. yeah.

so, Okay. Agreed. But then I have to get out of the bed and suddenly I am on display to the neighborhood and. I work very hard not to have that impact, you know, so that I'm not rushing. I'm not, you know, running to the closet to get myself a pair of pants. I'm not doing any of that. I'm taking my time and doing the things that I want to do in the morning. And by God is somebody outside gets offended. Then I'm going to deal with that when it comes along.

But yes.

Yucca: Okay. Yeah.

Mark: Yeah. So, and you know, thus far, no one has seen me and we've been here for almost a year. Because you know yeah.

Yucca: depend that long. Wow.

Mark: well, yeah, we moved in in oh, no. We, we got noticed that we had to move in. May we moved in July,

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: so it's 10 months.

Yucca: No, it's practically a year. Wow. Okay.

Mark: Time flying. So, you know, here's, here's a perfect example.

It's like at this time of year I mean, we just had a little rain here, so it's a little chillier now, but we've been having days that are like 75 degree days

In the best of all possible worlds. Other than maybe a hat and some sunblock, I wouldn't wear anything. I would just go outside and walk around.

Cause it's nice and the sun feels good on your skin, but we live in a culture where you can't do that. And it's actually enshrined in law that you can't do that for no reason. Other than that, the V over culture, which is driven by Christian ideas. Encourages this idea of shame of the body and shame of central pleasure. And it's just, it's a shame. But when you think about it, it's a pretty clever con

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: because, okay, we're going to make you ashamed of. These natural things that you gravitate towards and we're going to call them sins. And then the only way you can get the sins taken off is through our institution.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Right?

It's like, it's rather like having a car where the parts are only made by. The particular company that manufacturers your car. And so you will keep going back to them for parts over and over and over again. So we were talking about this before we started the recording and there is a word for this. There's a term for this, which is purity culture. And you had said some really interesting things about that Yaka.

Yucca: We were talking. Places where we see this. And one of the places that I see this is in is around diet culture, whatever the particular diet is. You know, people talk about, you know, clean eating and you know, clean lifestyles and all of these things. And I think that that framing is a, is a really destructive and harmful framing.

Mark: Because what is, what is dirt? Right? What is dirt? Dirt is soil the most miraculous stuff on earth.

Yucca: it's earth. Right.

Mark: the stuff that gives us life.

Yucca: Yeah. And, and also stuff that gets used, like cheat meals and things like that. I'm like cheating. Like what you, what are you implying by all of this?

Mark: Right. Yeah,

When, when you say cheat, you're automatically asserting a moral framework, right? There is a virtuous behavior and there is an unvirtuous behavior. And the virtuous behavior inevitably has to do with some sort of shame-based thing You can see it on the labels of food products. You know, it'll say natural or low fat, or, you know, low sugar or, you know, all these things.

Yucca: the thing is.

Mark: Whenever the thing is that are, that is. directly keyed to a shame response that you have within yourself because you learned it because you learned it from parents, from authority figures, from the society at large, from advertising. And for one thing, there's no such thing as purity. There just isn't, it doesn't exist.

It's

Yucca: Yeah, it's made up. It's not.

Mark: an arbitrary and destructive idea, just like virginity, it's an argument. It's a, a destructive idea that doesn't help anything. It just doesn't help anything. For another. It, when it's pursued to its logical extremes, it has very destructive impulse impacts. I'm sorry. I mean, certainly you see it in ever angelical Christianity where teens are being bombarded with these messages about their bodies, about sexuality, about relationships, about all this stuff. And it is so.

Harmful. And there aren't countervailing voices in many cases to provide an alternative perspective.

Yucca: it's not even just starting with the teens, it started way, way younger than that.

Mark: You're right,

Yucca: Yeah. It's you know, that we will start to hear about it from the teams because sometimes there's the team because of the teams will start to talk about. Right. But the younger, the kids, they don't know that they don't have platforms to talk about it yet, but but yeah, there's just some, there's some stuff out there that's like, wow.

Like, oh, that, that hurts just to think about, you know, just the, the you know, just being. Ashamed of your body, of yourself, of your gender, your sex, whatever you are, you know, on top of just all of the other things about how, you know, we're with the advertising about, that's always there to try and convince us that.

Not good. We're not perfect. And here's the thing to make us perfect. And, and even once you get the thing, it doesn't work because you never, that never was the problem in the first place. And there's just all of this about just trying to tear the person down. And we just internalize that even when we're aware that it's happening, it's a conscious effort and fight to not internalize it.

Right.

Mark: Yeah. I mean, we, in this culture, we encourage people not to like themselves too much.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Right. Because that's pride, right. Heaven. Forfend that? You should be proud of who you are.

Yucca: Especially if you're a woman,

Mark: Well, particularly if you're a woman Yeah.

Yucca: I mean, it happens to everybody,

Mark: Or gay or non-binary or trans yeah.

It's. I D I, I get worked up when I think about this, it it's so destructive and it's so completely unnecessary.

All that it is, is a set of tools that were used to perform social control, starting thousands of years ago, certainly centuries ago in its latest incarnations. And we are still stuck with it. And one of the things that is really outraging the Christian right wing in the United States right now, is that the younger generation ain't having it. They're just not, they're not, they're not viewing these authorities as authorities. They're not following their moral codes. Pursuing new relationship structures. They're experimenting sexually there. They're just not doing it.

Yucca: Yeah. And those older powers are freaking out.

Mark: They are.

Yucca: Yeah. That's where a lot of these ridiculous, you know, don't say gay and bills and things like that are coming from.

Mark: right. Yeah. I mean, Presuming that we're still around in 50 years. I think we will see that this time will be seen as kind of the last gasp of the evangelical. Right. Because they. They're trying to nail down everything they possibly can for their agenda now, because they know that their voting power is dwindling rapidly. It'll only be a few more election cycles when they, you know, when their generation has dwindled away enough that they're no longer able to call the shots. That's my theory anyway, and I'm, I'm cautiously optimistic that that's what will actually happen. So, pleasure it.

Yucca: circle back around with think it's good.

Mark: we think it's good.

We, we think your body was built for pleasure and you should be having some.

And what that means to you individually can vary widely You know, for some people it's like, you know, elaborate sexual escapades for some people it's having their head scratched. You know, for some people it's a foot rub for some people it's, I'm sitting in a hot tub, for example, or I'm having a massage or eating something delicious without feeling guilty about it or.

Taking some kind of recreational drug, which as a sovereign individual, even though it may not be your, your legal right, is your right as a person, you, you have the right to make choices for yourself about what happens with your body. And that's one of them. You have a Right.

to make.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: You just have to be careful in relation to law enforcement.

If it's not one of the sanctioned drugs in our society

Yucca: walks, right. Just getting that, it's getting some fresh air and breathing that in, or you know, Sandra between your toes or I was joking before getting, but there's a serious, if you've never tried, it is one to give bag of rice and put your bare feet into a bag of rice and just wiggle your toes around.

That's one that is just delightful.

Some

Mark: have to try that out.

Yucca: Yeah. I mean, some people don't like that kind of sensation, but it's, you know, a bag of rice or a bag of beans. Some people really like that. There's just something about it. Or But just something that, that feels good and that you experienced, you know, in your body, right?

Those that there's mind pleasures too, but there's also something about just being really present with your body, enjoying whatever this feeling is.

Mark: Right. Right. And, and that doesn't have, you know, as, as the examples that we've been talking about make clear, doesn't have to be a sexual thing. If you're an asexual person or any romantic person, it can still be, you know, those, there can still be these central pleasures that, you know, that, that fill your body with those good feeling chemicals.

The The Mary Oliver poem, very famous Mary Oliver poem. Wild geese says you do not have to be good. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. And that's that's truth. That is really true. You do not have to be good by the lights of this culture. I mean, don't get yourself in trouble because then you won't be getting pleasure.

Yucca: Sure.

Mark: You know, being punished arbitrarily for things that shouldn't be punishable. But just let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. And, you know, for some of us it's work, you know, we have parents that drilled into us that, you know, various things were shameful. Don't, don't let that slow you down.

No in your heart that you deserve the pleasure that you have, and that it's okay for you to do something just for that purpose. It doesn't have to be productive. It doesn't have to be it doesn't have to, you know, be economically contributing. It doesn't have to make anybody else happy. You, you know, if you're doing it with anybody else to know it's presumed that you have consent, but it is enough just to make yourself feel pleasure.

Yucca: Yeah. And to let go of that deserve not deserve stuff. That's just a way of, of just trying to maintain control over you. You deserve it, but

Mark: It's that inner critic again, right? That inner critic will tell you that you don't deserve something or that You should,

feel shame about something. And as we talked about before, the critic is not on your side, it's the voice of, of culture, of authority, of parental messages. It's not on your side.

And

you do, you deserve to come out from underneath. The oppression of what that voice wants you to believe. You can be more than that and you, and you should be I'm I'm I'm I getting my I'm wagging my finger at you and saying you should be because you are more and that's, that's the important point is that you are more than that.

And and your life is more than that. And so live it live it.

So, do we have more to say on this topic or shall we save it for next week?

Yucca: I think this is a good place to pause and come back next week. So we'll, we'll return to this a little bit next week, but we'll also talk about the other side of. What it, what belting or may day or all the many different names, again, whatever this, this may holiday is. There's a lot to say about that.

So

Mark: Yeah, absolutely. One more thing yeah, which is the century retreat, which the last day of is a month from the day today that we're recording. So it's in four weeks, but if you're thinking of going, you really need to get your registration in. The deadline for registration is April 25th because we have to tell the retreat center How many meals we're ordering. And so we have to have a count by April 25th. So, go to the atheopagan society website, which AP society.org and go to the events page. And there's a link there that will take you to everything that you need to know about the event. But and we hope that you'll join us there both Yucca and I will be there.

And I talked with some other folks this morning at the Saturday zoom mixer who are going to be there and we're all getting really excited.

Yucca: Yep. Just around the, really around the corner

Mark: It really is. Yeah. So

thank you, Yucca. Thanks for a great conversation.

Yucca: likewise.

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