In a cramped studio inside Florida International University's student union, two friends sit side-by-side in swiveling office chairs and sidle up to the microphone. Six spotlights radiate from above as one of them presses the "record" button.
"Hi, you're listening to Ellie," one of the hosts says.
"And Linda Lust," her cohost chimes in.
"And you're listening to Pleasure Theory on the Roar Miami, FIU's student radio station," Ellie says.
"Pleasure Theory aims to expand conversation that is intersectional, inclusive, and educational," Linda explains up top. "Today we have a pretty interesting show. We're gonna talk about sex, and we'll be talking about consent, and we're also going to talk about relationships."
The hourlong program, which airs every Friday at 10 a.m. on 95.3 FM and online, was born out of a student project in FIU professor Vicki Burns' class on campus sexual assault. The show was over a year in the making and finally hit the airwaves in late June.
Cohosts Ellie and Linda Lust (who use pseudonyms) are double-majoring in psychology and women's and gender studies. Despite their generational differences — Ellie is 20, and Linda is 45 — the two met in class and instantly hit it off.
"We would sit in Feminist Theory and come up with different reasons as to why we thought something was so," Linda says. "At the end of the conversation, it was an exchange of ideas... It's so important to have the different perspectives and to challenge them and to grow from it."
On Pleasure Theory, Ellie and Linda get real about sex. They discuss a wide range of topics, from pleasure to trauma. Consent is a running theme: On a recent show, news about the arrest of Palm Beach sex offender Jeffrey Epstein led to an exchange about society's often indifferent attitude about sex crimes.
"We know that unless you're an adult, you do not consent," Linda said during the recording, "especially with what's going on with Jeff Epstein and the amount of turning a blind eye to what he's done and basically gotten away with: sex-trafficking girls that were 13, 14 years old. They were not in any way, shape, or form able to consent at any time."
Linda calls herself a "survivor leader." She's an activist involved with the National Organization for Women and a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Ellie, on the other hand, grew up homeschooled and didn't have comprehensive sex education until attending college. Through their radio show, they hope to educate each other and their audience in a frank, sex-positive, LGBTQ-inclusive way.
"If they listen to our show and we mention something that they're not sure about, the hope is they go further and ask about it and have conversations with their friends about what we talk about," Ellie says. "I think it's up to our listeners to have their own conversations — just we kind of ignite it."
Although the hosts of Pleasure Theory are women, they say they hope to frame each show in a way that interests male listeners and generates a larger conversation on FIU's campus and beyond.
"Important to the formula of ending rape culture is bringing men to the conversation," Linda says. "What I hope is that they find learning about women's sexuality interesting enough, perhaps gaining a benefit from it, to know what women want — that they'll listen and then they can, by the same token, listen to all the other things. And now we're having a conversation between men and women and everyone in between."
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