Emma started her internship at Pleasure Pie only a little over week ago and has already done so much.
Emma helps to keep Pleasure Pie connected to you by:
My favorite things about working with Emma so far:
-Nicole Mazzeo, Pleasure Pie founder and director
Q&A with Emma!
Emma Glassman-Hughes: Hi everybody! I’m Emma, the new Pleasure Pie intern, and I’m very eager to introduce myself to this community. As a way for you to get to know me, as well as my place in the world of sex positivity, I’m going to answer some questions for you.
Nicole Mazzeo: So Emma, why is sex positivity important to you?
EGH: Though I’m an Atheist by mentality and a Jew by heritage and sense of humor, my family still celebrates Christmas for the hell of it. My gift this year from my dad, fully embracing my burgeoning feminist pride, was a book called The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lapore, which highlights one of America’s most beloved superheroes, while masterfully weaving in the comic’s shining feminist subplot. Though I’m not yet finished with all 300+ pages, I was struck by the introduction of the wife of William Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator, named Sadie Elizabeth Holloway. She was supposedly very independent and an avid reader of the ancient Greek poet Sappho, a feminist of her time who is described in the book as “the symbol of female love.” Holloway was deeply inspired by Sappho, this feminist symbol, and it is speculated that Wonder Woman is inspired by Holloway. Thus, by my calculations, Wonder Woman is, by association, a superhero whose true super power is the power of female love. To me, this proved very important. I had never thought of my love—my sex, my friendship, my passion—as a power before.
So I suppose I would say that sex positivity is important to me because it helps me see the power in owning my sexuality, and it reminds me that sex is more than something that society simply expects for me to give; my sex is my autonomy. I’ve always had trouble embracing my own sexuality to its fullest potential—learning to effectively communicate with partners, let go of self-consciousness, and separate myself from sexual shame are just a few of the things I have had to work toward. And, while that struggle is far from won, my continued learning about sex positivity has helped unwrap the happier, healthier, and more self-aware woman that was hiding under layers of limiting societal pressures. The power behind female love is a more extraordinary phenomenon than we are taught to believe in school (my third-of-a-year-long high school sex [read: abstinence] education was, needless to say, a letdown), and I am thankful for sex positivity and for Wonder Woman for showing this to me.
NM: What’s your take on intersectional activism?
EGH: As a feminist, one of the most interesting things about keeping up with media coverage in times of nationally heightened racial tensions (such as the recent uproar about how police brutality disproportionately affects black victims) is hearing black activists talk about black men the same way that feminists talk about women. I hear so many of the same buzzwords, like “victim-blaming,” and it becomes difficult for me to see a separation between the two issues. Racial injustice and gender injustice are inextricably tied, and you simply cannot have true feminism without an anti-racism component. It is also important that sex positivity in particular embraces intersectionality (I hope this is a word because I like it) and specifically tackles racial injustices because the sexuality of people of color has historically been controlled, commodified, and exploited in this country.
Though racism is often at the forefront of my thinking due to its growing coverage on different forms of media, people who face other kinds of oppression also need feminist advocates. Because I grew up in Southern California, an area with some of the country’s largest homeless populations, as well as a very close proximity to the Mexican border, I began thinking about class and immigration issues at a young age. Disadvantages in people’s lives can lead to unhealthy views of sex, which contributes to the anemic and destructive overarching sex culture in our country. People of every background deserve to be knowledgeable about sex, to love their bodies, and to know how to give and ask for consent. People of every background deserve to feel safe and free from sexual violence. People of every background deserve to know how to make themselves happy. Eradicating the oppression of all people is the real business of feminism, empowering those who have historically been silenced will lead us all to a better future. Intersectional activism, to me, is the only activism worth pursuing because it unites diverse voices in order to more effectively create change.
NM: What do you want to accomplish by doing this internship?
EGH: Not only am I a fabulous Pleasure Pie intern, but I am also a fabulous college student and young woman with a lot on my mind. As much as I would love for these things to not belong in the same sentence or even the same blog post, as a female student, I am constantly reminded of rape culture. Need I even mention the obscene statistic that approximately 1 in 5 female college students will be sexually assaulted before she graduates? People of all sorts and genders (yes, this includes men *gasp*) suffer in a society that refuses to promote healthy sexuality and instead fosters sexual violence. I would love to live in a world where people can come into their own sexualities free from fear, judgment, entitlement, and shame. This sexual utopia can be achieved, I am convinced, if we improve the conversations that we are having about sex, and if we embrace a healthier and more informative sex education curriculum that covers all kinds of varying sexualities, gender identities, and contraceptive choices, which is a lot of what sex positivity is about. As a sex positive intern, I would love to learn new ways to make this topic more accessible for a variety of people with different backgrounds, to help eradicate rape culture, to work to improve sex education in schools, and to do my best to create a more accepting and all-inclusive sex culture through productive and forward-thinking conversation. Working for Pleasure Pie is my way of entering this conversation with purpose, and, of course, a wealth of nifty zines to guide me through it.