Self Pleasure Club is a creative grassroots collective on a mission to empower women and AFAB people to boldly step into their pleasure. Their signature event is a monthly themed workshop dedicated to pleasure education and conscious sexuality. Sensuali chatted with Valentine, who founded Self Pleasure Club back in 2022 to find out more.
Valentine, who founded Self Pleasure Club in 2022 is a creative iconoclast who approaches the collective with an open mind, and a value for community collaboration. We sit down for a chat to find out more.
Why did you start Self Pleasure Club?
It was born very spontaneously. I’m an activist and was involved with feminist activism for years whilst living in Paris. Then I moved to London 2 years ago and tried to do the same sort of thing but the activism in London is very different to in Paris, so I decided to change direction here.
Inspired by books that I was reading about feminists in the 80s who would hold women-only meet ups, I wanted to do the same. The topic I wanted to focus on was masturbation.
Why did you want to talk about masturbation?
Masturbation for me has always been a natural, self-care practice from early on. I realised from talking to friends that this wasn’t the case for many other women. I also remember that in school for the boys, masturbation was a case for bragging about. They would do ‘competitions’ and even masturbate all together.
And for girls, we were of course not doing that at all. We didn’t even dare to talk about it, so we missed out on that experience of sharing and expressing things about masturbation and sex- which is essentially a form of pleasure education. So I wanted to create a space for us to experience what we earlier missed out on.
Masturbation is important because it’s more than just masturbation. Experiencing pleasure is body acceptance, it’s a healing practice and it’s important for our hormones and nervous system.
Self Pleasure Club has evolved in that it isn’t just about masturbation now, but about feeling pleasure in every sense, on a holistic level. This journey has taught me how beneficial pleasure is for our overall health.
What do your pleasure education workshops look like?
The vibe is casual, I wanted it to feel like people just chilling, sat on the floor with a beer or a glass of wine, sharing and talking about sex.
The process normally starts with breathing and getting focused into the space. Then breaking the ice, getting to know each other, removing all the tensions. Then usually the workshop is a good balance of somatic body practices, and sharing and reflecting verbal practices. It’s a different topic every month, so it also depends on this.
What’s your go-to technique to bring you back to your body?
I have a few. My dominant sense is touch. I think you need to learn what your dominant sense is first. I normally do a 2 step process. First I try to bring my focus back to my mind. I might do something like try to scan the room around me and pick out everything that is yellow, for example.
Then after that I would go into my body. I would do some breathing exercises, close my eyes and then incorporate my dominant sense- so for me that’s touch, this could be as small as me touching my legs and just feeling that sensation of me touching my legs. You can do this 2-step process anywhere, which makes it really helpful.
I also really like barefoot walking- that’s a big grounding practice for me.
Read: Pleasure education and intimacy coaching with The Queer Sensualist.
What questions should we ask ourselves about pleasure?
What is pleasure for you?
What brings you pleasure? Create a list of those things, sexually and non-sexually.
What could potentially bring you pleasure, that you haven’t yet tried?
How does pleasure feel? Next time you do something that brings you pleasure, it’s about noticing those sensations in your body- think of the 5 senses.
What are the norms that we have learnt about pleasure that you don’t feel align with yourself? This is about unlearning things. For example, the heteronormative idea that penetration is the be-all and end-all of sex.
Let’s talk about your retreats.
I have only done one so far and it was a test retreat with some girlfriends. We went camping for the weekend and we had this huge field just for us. It was a big feeling of sisterhood. We spoke a lot about pleasure, we did bonfire rituals and pussy-loving yoga where we all started very spontaneously and naturally undressing during it and by the end we were all naked with the sun shining on our skin. It was really cool. More summer retreats to come!
Whilst last year, Self Pleasure Club was a very DIY vibe, this year, I want to do a bit more. We’re going to create a website, and have an online membership with extra tools. I also want to experiment with the format of the events and collaborate with others!
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