The Pleasure Bank is an initiative of the Share-Net Netherlands Community of Practice on Sexual Pleasure. In 2022, we set out on a mission to move beyond the realms of pleasure positive language, to a new era of pleasure positive imagery. As Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights experts and advocates, we knew all too well the reality of how difficult it can be to find the right images to support our work and how limiting it can be to not have the right images which showcased the spectrum of sexual pleasure, including the spectrum of wonderful diverse bodies, genders, sexualities and emotions! And so, we set off by hiring a youth consultant to scour the internet to see what would surface when looking for pleasure-focused imagery and needless to say, the results weren’t great (ie. Unrealistic, cis-heteronormative, and dehumanising). With this finding in mind, we developed parameters for what we consider to be crucial in assessing whether an image is pleasure-focused or not and we put them into a guide to help other pleasure pioneers with their work. These measures are captured in our guide – Beyond Bananas, a Guide to Identify Good, Pleasure-Focused Imagery.
We decided that if the images we wanted to see weren’t easy to access, then we would get the ball rolling and commission some that were. And then we thought, what if there was one communal place where all these images were compiled and organised, in an easy-to-use gallery? What if we reached out to the pleasure community and asked them to contribute to a digital pleasure library that we could all benefit from and invest in? What if there was a resource which meant that we could move beyond bananas and grapefruits to using images which normalised sexual pleasure, were realistic and celebrated the diversity and emotion which sexual pleasure encompasses? Well, now we no longer have to think what if.
We are so proud that we could kick-start this initiative and we hope that it gets taken up by the pleasure community. We hope that it improves the quality of work that is done around sexual health and rights and that it promotes the work of amazing creatives and illustrators who give us the gift of visualising what sexual pleasure can look like.
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