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Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good (Emergent Strategy)

4.34  ·  Rating details ·  2,364 ratings  ·  258 reviews

How do we make social justice the most pleasurable human experience? How can we awaken within ourselves desires that make it impossible to settle for anything less than a fulfilling life? Editor adrienne maree brown finds the answer in something she calls "Pleasure Activism," a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just an

Kindle Edition, 441 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by AK Press (first published February 24th 2019)
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Pleasure Activism is a collection of essays, interviews, poetry, and art composed and/or collected by adrienne maree brown. The structure and organization of the book is well thought out as it spaces each of these mediums apart so that the reader is not over-saturated. The book is very Queer and trans- inclusive and most of the entries and interviews are with women, gender non conforming, and/or* trans people of color. There is one somewhat academic essay but the rest of the entries involve peop ...more
Enjoyed the last quarter of the book and some essays along the way but felt mostly like a missed opportunity to go deeper into nonsexual pleasures and explore the dynamic nature of pleasure in all kinds of bodies. Food in particular felt like a glaring omission in a supposedly fat positive book. Also in general lots of assumptions about the universality of sexual experiences and pleasures. Missing an understanding of asexuality, of disability, and of sexual trauma that doesn't just get immediate ...more
Joshunda Sanders
I designed a course called Subversive Joy: Writing the Senses as Resistance and am teaching it for the first time this semester. I have been following adrienne maree brown now for a few years and love her work, so I was delighted to see this new book, even though it wasn’t ready for me to teach directly from this semester. The synchronicity between my syllabus and the pleasure politics outlined in the book was amazing - Uses of the Erotic and Joan Morgan’s Black Scholar essay, How We Get Off mir ...more
What are the main ideas?

- liberation work must be driven by pleasure, not by avoidance of pain or harm.
- many of us doing justice work have forgotten the above. we are activated by making things less bad for people (including ourselves). however, if we don’t actually know what pleasure feels like, we could fight against bad things forever and never actually know (a) what liberation feels like and (b) if we’re actually getting closer.
- if it doesn’t feel good, it’s not sustainable. period.
- oppre
May 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a super amazing book, more non-sexual pleasure stuff would have been nice to see, but my main issue is small but repeated food moralizing (once the literal phrase "eating clean") - what a devastating sentiment to bring to pleasure activism! A really distracting bummer to find in 3 separate places in the book, but outside of that, really really invaluable conversations, interviews, and short essays around pleasure, intent, growth, dreaming, joy, and non-capitalism-based self care.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had so many positive visceral and cognitive reactions while reading this collection of essays and conversations about pleasure. During the first chapter I was wondering aloud, "have I found my bible?" I had never before had so many of my beliefs recognized and expanded upon all in one place.

Within the first pages, the author, Adrienne Maree Brown, had outlined the Pleasure Principles:
-What you pay attention to grows
-We become what we practice
-Yes is the way
-When I am happy, it is good for the
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Phenomenal anthology of radical and liberation-focused essays. Something I have always, always appreciated about adrienne maree brown is that she is so invested in the decentralization/despecialization of knowledge: she knows what she knows, and that’s a whole lot, but she never suggests that she is the most scholarly when it comes to Octavia E. Butler, speculative fiction, Black liberation work, or pleasure activism. She is ALWAYS thanking her teachers and naming the political legacies in which ...more
Leigh Kramer
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Leigh by: Adriana Herrera
Shelves: nonfiction
This was such interesting reframing around pleasure and how we experience and cultivate it. It was much more academic in tone than I was expecting. It’s a mix of essays, guest essays, and interviews, some of which work better than others but I liked the variety of perspectives. This would have been particularly valuable to have read at the start of my social work career and I’d particularly recommend it to anyone who works in a helping profession.

There is a lot of compassion and grace around tra
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, favorites
Wow wow wow. This book shifted something in me. Never has a book felt this essential since the first time I read This Bridge Called My Back.
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was written for Adrienne Maree Brown by Adrienne Maree Brown. It was an excuse to interview people she likes and admires, and and excuse to talk about how woke she is.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing. On the contrary, sex positivity is something that is sorely lacked. Sex isn't something a lot of people are comfortable talking about... even with their romantic partner(s). And there were some bits in this book I enjoyed: the pole dancer who loves what they do; the unpacking of polygamy
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book with amazing homework and points of praxis, I definitely see myself returning to this book to refresh myself and realign my desire and pursuit in living a pleasurable life.

The only reason I don’t give it a 5 is because there were a few too many transmisogynist dog whistles (in one essay a contributor uses the term “womyn” rather than “woman”) in this book for my liking. I believe adrienne maree brown herself does a good job of being inclusive in her writing and placing a disclaimer
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So grateful for this book and its affirmation that pleasure and sexuality are important, and not frivolous, parts of life. There's a tendency in left communities to treat pleasure as something that inherently amplifies capitalist bullshit, and sexuality/eroticism as inherently traumatic and unredeemable, and the book did a good job of addressing these issues and asserting a place for pleasure and joy.

I wish that there had been more transfeminine voices, though! It was amazing to have so many di
Rona Akbari
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
grounding, transformative, and healing. i want everyone to read this book.

honoring what she calls her political lineage from octavia butler to audre lorde — adrienne maree brown blesses us with data and knowledge around harm reduction, generative boundaries, transformative justice, and other pleasure activism methodologies.

this absolutely rich text held me and asked me where it hurt, told me it's going to be okay, encouraged me to use my unbridled joy as a compass to move through the unjust worl
rosa guac
a liberatory, healing text that orients and prioritizes pleasure as a way to lead revolutions (internally and externally). what a restorative book that adm gifted to all of us: a text that i know i'll revisiting to remind myself that leading my life with pleasure will be joyous to not only myself, but also to others.

this book fed my curiosity, my yearning for more radical perspectives on how to simply live(!), and my ultimate goal to find myself (like really find myself)

"center pleasure as an
Jennie Chantal
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction

Every year I declare it the Year of *something* or other, and this year is the Year of Pleasure. For me, this means, mostly, being in my body for moments of wonder, awe, curiosity, and pride. Eating something delicious, watching the sun rise or set, the feeling of rain drops or wind on my face. It might be a moment of gender euphoria, of feeling utterly safe, of letting myself rest or asking for what I need without guilt or shame. It might be expressing anger, letting myself cry, showing vulnera
Thais Mather
This book was a major miss for me. I think it had a wonderful foundation of ideas, but never culminated into a fully formed text. Super scattered and many assumptions made; about sex, consent, and queer culture. I felt like it offered a skim of all of these topics- while actually leaving someone who lives these identities feeling kinda violated. It is a slice of life for this particular time- perhaps a slice that isn’t appealing or particularly thoughtful or researched. Where is the editor? What ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know how much I needed to read this.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will read this again and again and again. How grateful I am to live and breathe in a time and space where I am given the gift of tools like this.
Oh — so fantastic, so delicious, so magical - such a constellation of thoughtful and candid and warm and funny and sexy voices. So grateful the book came into my life when it did.

I really enjoyed the burlesque and sex work essays, as well as the essay about pleasure over sixty and the essay on being the second (in non-monogs relationship woo woo), and finally the deeply charming “Are you there, goD? It’s me, Day” by Holiday Simmons. I thought brown’s writing was gentle and brilliant and bright,
Isabella Maria Jayme
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A friend recommended this book (and Adrienne Maree Brown) to me very recently, and I'm so happy she did. AMB's voice and message is refreshing, honest, and open. She emphasizes the realities and struggles of race and identity in our society, and at the same time writes with an overwhelming amount of hope and love.

These essays, poems, and interviews focus on emotional and erotic pleasure and how necessary pleasure is not just in life, but in organizing and healing. She brings together the voices
an important, thought-provoking read.

my biggest advice is to not attempt to read straight through — it’s not a linear read.

jump around from chapter to chapter going where spirit, desire or mood leads.

so much to reflect on here and to discuss with others...
Marie Ainomugisha
Pleasure Activism is an exceptional feat! adrienne maree brown’s collection of essays, poetry, interviews and conversations with loved ones challenges us to rethink the rules undergirding social justice by presenting and centering pleasure as a necessary, life-affirming mode of activism.

Pleasure Activism joins the ranks of All About Love by bell hooks and Alice Walker’s non-fiction with its casual yet intimate and intelligent analyses—illuminating the multitudinous ways that the Black feminist
Katrina Hamann
3.75 stars. More thoughts on this later! Just need to enjoy the fact that I FINALLY finished this one
Jan 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book might have been really great if the author was able to string coherent thoughts together and write in a linear, cohesive fashion which followed the rules of logic. Instead, she wrote paragraphs with broad sweeping assertions which she neglected to support with examples or arguments. Based on fact one, she would then say therefore, totally unrelated fact two. If my life experience happened to support her assertions I found myself nodding along, but if not, then I was wondering how the h ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
adrienne maree brown is helping me get through this current administration and is leading me toward liberation. her books are always teachings. if you have not read Emergent Strategy, then I implore you to go and do so immediately! make sure that you own it, your library owns it, buy it for your friends and your family. Emergent Strategy is so full of everything that we need to be moving towards and i love it.

and i do love this book too and am so grateful it is in the world and it is absolutely
Sarah Ervin
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much and I know my copy is going to be dog-eared and lent to friends until I lose it. I skimmed through some of the interviews, and loved it the most when it’s adrienne marie brown’s own writing. Her call for embodied, radical love of self is the antidote we need. She asks us to live in ourselves fully, prioritize authentic pleasure and self-actualization, and bring those priorities into our community advocacy work. My only critique is that it could have been edited down more sha ...more
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book and read it very slowly over six weeks or so, because there was lots to think about from this read. Not all sections was relevant, but there are so many take-aways here - from pleasure principles to liberatory love to woes (friends who are working on excellence) and so much more. I found that this book was surprisingly relevant - even if the exact topic of the essay wasn't something I had experienced or was interested in, I found I could still make connections to other parts of ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, essay, nonfic
I really dig this book and the way each essay comes at pleasure from a different point of view. I do wish it had pressed deeper into pleasure that isn’t mostly via sex and drugs; I hadn’t expected this, from the subtitle “The Politics of Feeling Good.” I feel like there’s so much more to say that could have been said. This is good, but not what I’d hoped for.
I found this book wholly disappointing and uninspiring
Kayleigh Wiebe
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took my time reading this book, because there was so much to absorb. And I’m glad I did. At first, the book didn’t necessarily resonate with me, very personal, lots of interviews. But as I slowly moved through, everything began to click. adrienne maree brown introduces a framework in the beginning third of the book, asking: what might solidarity and activism look like if we started from what we long for, what we love, rather than suffering (summarized from p. 23, 33, & 48)? And about halfway t ...more
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adrienne maree brown is author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is a writer, social justice facilitator, pleasure activist, healer and doula living in Detroit.

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