A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is branding her surprise on-stage guest-performance with Lizzo last week an “act of political defiance” serving as the “epitome of pleasure activism,” a new liberal academic concept.
Professor Sami Schalk, who teaches women and gender studies at the university told Vox that her twerking with the popular singer is the embodiment of what it means to derive pleasure from defying societal standards of beauty, otherwise known as “pleasure activism” according to Schalk.
“Pleasure is the way I love and take care of myself. And to publicly love a body that the world says I should be ashamed of is a political act of defiance,” Schalk wrote.
Schalk describes pleasure activism by quoting the academic who designed the concept.
“Pleasure activism asserts that we all need and deserve pleasure, and that our social structures must reflect this. In this moment, we must prioritize the pleasure of those most impacted by oppression,” according to theorist Adrienne Maree Brown.
Schalk argues that the new concept pushes back on a society that apparently suppresses the happiness of those who fail to fit modern day standards of attraction.
We deny pleasure to most marginalized groups: women, people of color, queer people, trans people, disabled people, poor people, and fat people. Pleasure activism pushes back on these norms, and it demands that part of social change needs to involve not just ending suffering but allowing pleasure for those who are oppressed.
The university professor explained how she did everything she could to get on stage with Lizzo for her grand protest against society. Creating a homemade outfit just for the occasion, Schalk posted a video that went semi-viral on the internet wearing a skintight purple romper with a silver cape reading “100% THAT BITCH” to grab Lizzo’s attention before and during the show. Schalk’s work paid off and landed her a spot on stage with the pop star to perform her awe-inspiring “act of defiance” to more than 2,500 people.
“When Lizzo joined in, booty to booty – my butt blessed – it was pure Black Girl Magic. Joy reverberated upon joy throughout the venue,” Schalk wrote. “It was the epitome of pleasure activism.”