A deeply entrenched issue in Indian society, the monster of caste, as Dr. Ambedkar called it, derides, tramples upon, rips asunder, and rapaciously brutalizes not only potential matings and marriages but also the most delicate and fragile burgeonings of desire as well as the aspirations of those who seek being other than what they are…
Traditionally, marriage and sexuality have been bagged together and tinted with a bed-of-roses romance that has, over the last century or so, been unpacked and critiqued for propagating oppressive societal structures of gender, class, caste, and sexuality. Indeed, marriage isn’t just about two wedded souls matched in heaven, but about earthly ties that reach far beyond the couple it binds together. What happens when the roses are let out of the bag? This month’s issues of In Plainspeak on Marriage and Sexuality invite us to lean in and take a whiff.
When recently reading about the spouses of H1-B ‘skilled guest worker’ visa holders, certain themes resonate with me. These women discuss how it was not just their CVs that suffered from the forced career break – until 2015, spouses on restrictive H-4 paperwork were forbidden from pursuing employment in the U.S. – but that their core sense of self took a hit.
How much do our parents teach us about ourselves? If science and psychology have proved that sexuality and sexual development grow and bloom in the course of our lives along with our other faculties, what role do our parents have in what we learn about sexuality? And, as parents, surely there’s so much we learn about sexuality, ourselves, and everything else from essaying the role? To parent is to learn how to teach what we already know, and to be able to receive more than a few surprise lessons ourselves.
Where perhaps attire traditionally demarcates community identity (one’s tribe, religion, caste, class, etc.), it has in more recent times (along with other identifiable commodities) come to also be used to express, assert, assess, control and contest individual identity. How does sexuality come into play in matters of attire and identity? And how do they all relate to how we live and connect with each other?
With Assisted Reproductive Technologies, science has managed to use technology to prise apart previous associations between reproduction and sex. With gender, class and queer theory, the social sciences have prised apart previous associations between gender and sex. We have found that knowledge through science, like knowledge of sexuality, can’t be pinned down to absolutes. “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know,” said Aristotle. While science may value the systematic and objective, it cannot escape the baffling convolutions of lived experience. How does life influence knowledge, and knowledge influence life?
Medical abortion is a threat to scientific authorities because it is technology easily used without the help of a medical provider. Since there is doubt that women will use the drug safely without supervision (even though they did it before and are still doing it), some think the kinder option is to remove their opportunity to fail.
Is there a relationship at all that cannot be defined by love? And, if we were to begin talking of relationships other than romantic love, how would we speak of sexuality? Upon this deliberation, we realised that our Love and Sexuality issue seemed to revolve around romantic love and sex. The departure this issue on Relationships and Sexuality makes is to try and incorporate forms of relationships that might not be about romantic love but have their own kind of romance, and facets of sexuality that might not be about sex per se but will place its interest in alternate relationships to it.
Not only has evolving discourse on sexuality influenced the fate of how sex work is understood, but also with the growth of sex workers’ rights movements, discourses on sex work are now being able to influence how we think about sexuality. In our issues on Sex Work and Sexuality this month, we hope to be able to traverse some of these convergences.