This Is Pleasure

Written by Erin Klassen, Illustration by Erin McPhee

This Is Pleasure is not a story that wastes time skittering around honesty. It is barefaced and frank, down to the very title itself, repeating throughout like a proclamation. You’ll wonder how it came to be, knowing that desire — those private, sticky moments of longing we keep to ourselves — are not stories that fall out of our mouths so easily. Rerouting (and, blurring the lines of) our personal narratives through fiction, rather than divorcing one from the other, can mitigate our discomfort. This can be a way of setting boundaries we need for ourselves and those around us, so that with time, when we are ready, the sharing will come with ease.

Featured story for August 2019

My first memorable orgasm happened in a pool. I was ten years old. I say “memorable” because there’s no value in counting the small surges of accidental pleasure a young person experiences in a bathtub, or on a swing set, or riding a bike. I say “happened” because I was merely an instrument of its mission, not a strategist or architect of its design.
— Erin Klassen


Erin is a freelance art director, designer and illustrator based in Toronto. She is the Creative Director of The Vault, and has previously worked as the Art Director of Quill & Quire Magazine, and as a contributing designer for The Medical Post, Today’s Parent, and other publications. In addition to her commercial work, she is an amateur ceramic and textile artist, and zine-maker. Her most recent zine Sex Dream (2018) is a playful reflection on queer relationships and sex.



Erin is the founder of With/out Pretend, but she’s also an editor, collaborator, community-builder, and fiction writer. Her work has appeared in a number of print and online publications, including Studio Magazine, CBC, Ephemera Magazine, and You Care Too Much. She enjoys Nina Simone, Italian food, and talking about the future. Recently she learned that she has a name twin in Toronto who gets their hair cut at the same salon.