Kaitlin Barkley ‘20
It is just another Friday night and I am sitting at my desk finishing up the last section of my hair. Summer Walker is in the background singing about how we cannot trust these men, and Bry Reed, in her usual spot, is spread out on the couch catching up on her thesis readings.
As if it manifested from thin air, Bry looks up from her packet with the question, “So would you ever do anal?”. A smirk immediately comes to my face, but before I can even formulate a thought, Bry hurls the packet towards me and says, “Black Anality by Jennifer C. Nash. You need to read it”.
I start off with this very real anecdote of that regular Friday night because when people ask me about the inspiration for the Pleasure Podcast, I cannot help but laugh. This podcast is the brainchild of years of wine nights, homework sessions and after-hookup debriefs. In theory, this podcast has been in the works for years because, among my Black women friends, we are constantly having conversations about all types of pleasure.
In a community that does not hide its disdain for Black women, it is within these spaces that we are able to unpack this trauma and talk about what really matters to us. Although, we have somewhat jokingly talked about having a podcast or radio show before, it was Bry Reed’s thesis on depictions of Black women in literature that truly kick-started this podcast.
Connecting the literature from what we read in class and what Bry is reading for her thesis to events in pop-culture, the Pleasure Podcast was born to be a sex-positive Black feminist podcast. With help from different special guests, we discuss a range of topics from love and intimacy to religion and porn.
However, I must restate that this podcast is about pleasure in all forms. The Pleasure Podcast is often misunderstood as a longstanding sex talk and that sometimes discourages people from engaging with its content. So let me be clear, we do not try to center sex, although it may come up in conversations. At the end of the day, we aim to talk about areas in our lives that bring us pleasure.
As a recurring special guest, the Pleasure Pod has felt like a safe space to talk freely about what makes us happy. During the recordings, I often forget that the episode will be posted on the internet and that my parents might hear me talk about sex, religion, or maybe porn. It wouldn’t have changed what I have already said but it is always something I am conscious about.
Nevertheless, I think it is important to have these conversations about pleasure, whether it be with us or your own friends. For me, pinpointing what makes me happy helps me appreciate the little things in my life that bring me joy but I often forget. In a society full of sorrow, it reminds me that there is still so much joy.
And so, as we take these conversations to a public platform, I hope it has the same effect on the people listening. The topics we discuss are extremely personal, and to be honest it is hard opening up to a bunch of faceless listeners. But regardless of what was said on the podcast, the format opens the door for dialogue in places where the door is usually shut.
Kaitlin Barkley ‘20 is an Africana Studies Major from Orange, New Jersey. She can be reached for comment at email@example.com