“Lust. Eine Erkundung der weiblichen Sexualität” (Pleasure. An exploration of female sexuality) by María Hesse is one of these books that has been on my TBR for ages. The first time I heard about it was about two years ago when my favourite book blogger reviewed the Portuguese edition of the graphic novel.
A beautifully illustrated, feminist graphic novel about sexuality? I immediately knew that I had to read this book. But unfortunately, my Portuguese is not the best. So I’m very excited that “Pleasure” has finally been published in German – and even more so that I have the privilege to review it!
“Pleasure” is – as the title already indicates – about pleasure, sexuality and all the other things that stand in relation with it such as menstruation, puberty, anatomy, and sex toys. With her graphic novel María Hesse takes her readers on a journey through her youth, becoming a woman and the development of her very own relationship with sexuality. Through the connection of individual anecdotes and feminist nonfiction the graphic novel creates a very accessible and personal approach to female sexuality.
“Pleasure” is by far not the first feminist book (or graphic novel) on sexuality that I’ve read but what makes it stand out are the autobiographical elements and the stunning, colourful illustrations that make the book look simply beautiful. Just turning the pages of the graphic novel is already a great pleasure and is inviting the reader to dive into the book. I can imagine that because of this quality the graphic novel would also make a beautiful gift (at least I would’ve been happy to receive such a great gift).
Besides the lovely illustrations I also liked how accessible the writing of the book is. Because of the autobiographical anecdotes from Hesse’s youth and sex life it was easy to get lost between the pages. Because of that the novel is also understandable for new readers, who might not have read any other feminist books on sexuality yet. Its mix of personal, historical, mythological and pop cultural elements is also quite entertaining.
Personally, I also liked the different portraits of inspirational people. And for the foodie in me the tortilla recipe that Hesse included was just the cherry on top which made my reading experience even more special!
Despite all praise and excitement about this really great graphic novel I also have one major point of criticism: On one page of the book there are several illustrations of genital mutilation and clitoridectomies without content note or trigger warning. I would have appreciated it if the publisher had chosen to put a content note in the beginning book that informed its readers that these illustrations are included so that people, who feel the need to skip this part, simply can.
Apart from that “Pleasure” is a wonderful book that I can highly recommend – as introduction to the topic but also for those readers who already know more about the topic. Despite my previous knowledge the book brought me great joy and I hope that more of Hesse’s works will be translated into German.
Do you think you’d like this graphic novel? And what is your opinion on content notes?
Thank you Heyne Hardcore for the review copy! You can learn more about the book here. It has also been published in French, Portuguese and Spanish.