Let’s do away with ‘guilty pleasures’ – it’s time to redefine what brings us joy

There is a puritanical fear of simply enjoying something sensual or delicious that we need to get rid of, writes Katy Brand

<p>‘I wrote a film called <em>Good Luck To You, Leo Grande </em>starring Emma Thompson as a widow who after a bad sex life, was looking to experience the thrill of it for the first time’</p>

‘I wrote a film called Good Luck To You, Leo Grande starring Emma Thompson as a widow who after a bad sex life, was looking to experience the thrill of it for the first time’

Pleasure should never be guilty. That is the conclusion I have come to over the past two years. And I have been thinking about it a lot. Partly because during lockdown I, like many others, had to redefine what I considered to be a good time. And this led (for the want of literally anything else to do) to a closer examination of what I really enjoy, and what really brings me pleasure.

But it’s also a wider conversation I have been having with myself through my work. In January 2020, I wrote a film called Good Luck To You, Leo Grande about a widowed woman in her sixties who, having never experienced good sex, decides to hire a young male sex worker for a night to see if she can discover what all the fuss is about. It was made in 2021, starring Emma Thompson and recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to some absolutely lovely reviews.

What struck me in all that feedback was the response to the idea of a woman pursuing her own pleasure, for its own sake, and ultimately without apology. And how people seemed so thirsty for something like this. It made me think about what an odd relationship to pleasure so many of us still have.

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