This podcast features an excerpt from the book Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children From Sex by Judith Levine
This is a powerful and much needed book about the perils of censoring sexuality from the lives of children. This was one of the primary texts I used when writing my thesis about sex education back in 2003, and it is just as relevant today as ever. I highly recommend this book to anyone involved in the raising of children. It covers not only sex education in schools but also the importance of how adults respond to incidents of sexual abuse, children’s masturbation, sex play between children and many other topics that tend to cripple a mature adult response. In this book, Judith Levine provides wise and much needed advice on how to handle children’s sexuality in a respectful and loving way.
In the final chapter of the book, Levine provides a section called What Is Wanting? This section offers up suggestions for what is much needed but seldom provided in sex education for children. Because these topics have so long been missing, many of these topics are highly relevant for adults as well.
In a section titled “Desire Resides In The Body” Levine reminds us that we need to remember that desire is within us, not just a response to a prince on horseback. Far too many women spend their lives waiting for someone else to wake up their desire rather than learning how to source it from within.
The truth is, no one can give you pleasure that you aren’t willing to receive. No one can wake up desire that you aren’t able to feel. So in order to feel more desire and more pleasure, we all need to practice feeling and receiving. This happens primarily in the micro-moments of experiencing sensual pleasures, in and out of bed. When you start noticing pleasure and allowing your body to fully experience it, you become much more adept at experiencing pleasures of all kinds. But it is also important to work through the emotional barriers that tell you that receiving pleasure is selfish, hedonistic or greedy. You must give yourself permission to feel the fullness of pleasure that you are capable of. You need to identify the shame and guilt that blocks your pleasure and gets in the way of you feeling authentic desire.
For more on responsive desire, check out our interviews with Emily Nagoski: