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Editorial: Friendship and Sexuality

The statement “We are just friends”, does it make you wonder? Just friends? As in – merely friends? As in – friends not lovers? Even so, why the ‘just’? Is being friends and not lovers a lower category? While lovers are falsely privileged over friends, the truth is that friends may last longer than lovers do. And even if they do not, why is it that when sex enters a relationship it takes on a magnitude not accorded to other relationships? Surely it is not just the initial thrill of new-found passion? Why do we treat friendship and sexuality as two separate domains? The notion of casual sex or no-strings-attached-sex or ‘friends with benefits’ appears to be more acceptable than the idea of erotic friendships. Starting with the ramifications of growing up in the 90s with Hindi cinema’s depictions of pyar (love) and dosti (friendship) occupying mutually exclusive spaces, Shweta Krishnan writes about The Love Laws: Lessons from Shah Rukh Khan and Others and wonders what would happen if the love laws were not followed.

Not only are pyar and dosti confined to different boxes (in cinema of various kinds and in real life too), the boxes are also marked according to gender pairings. Dosti can happen only between two people of the same gender (and if they happen to be men, the dosti may be accorded a value higher than pyar). Pyar happens between two people of different genders, and according to this logic, a man and a woman can never be friends, and a woman who claims to want friendship and not romantic love or sex is surely lying, deluded or does not know what is good for her. Shruti Arora examines norms and intimacies in Friendships Between Women and opens for us the possibility of extending our imagination to a new ethics of friendship. In Shaifali Agrawal’s review of two Hindi films, she comes to the conclusion that a man who cannot take no for an answer from a woman friend, isn’t any better than a stalker.

The contours of friendship and its connection to sexuality are determined not only by its demarcations from romantic love or sex, but by the emotional content of shared laughs, joys, hurts and pain. On a more personal note, the multi-faceted Sridhar Rangayan discusses various dimensions of sexuality and friendship in an interview with Shikha Aleya that spans personal experience, friends who have stuck together for thirty years, and intergenerational friendships (grannies figure here) among other interesting issues, and in The Sisterhood of Sexuality, Aakriti Pasricha recounts, with acerbic wit, her criss-crossing travels that have taken her from being a ‘good girl’ to a proud ‘slut’.

We need our friends! We have friends we have deep conversations with, friends we can count on for a good belly laugh, those who have the ability to put a different spin on things, those we can be silly as well as wise with. And sometimes we may need kinky friends. Go to the Q&A Corner to learn why.

There’s more. The video page has an orientation video to welcome new entrants by Saathi, IIT Bombay on the theme ‘Friends of Queers’. In Brushstrokes we have a series of comic strips framed as conversations between friends; take a peek here to see what they are about.

The Book Corner has a lovely story about an unlikely friendship told and illustrated with utmost tenderness – it will leave you with a smile on your face and a lump in your throat, and maybe a welling up of love for your friends. Friends are special creatures; they are not ‘just’ friends!

In the mid-month issue, we have Kaustav Bakshi in Friendship, Sexuality and the Auden Group revealing how a ‘(homo)sexual’ friendship among three British writers produced a plethora of great literary works. In Dosti, Main Love and Someone Special, Sonam and Ekta Oza tell us about their research with young people in two resettlement colonies of South Delhi and how these young women and men perceive friendships and romantic relationships and the lines they draw between different kinds of relationships. Leaving aside the lines between friendship and romance, even within friendships certain lines may be difficult to cross as Asmi highlights, from personal experience, the complexities of broaching a topic like BDSM with one’s friends in Pyaar, Dosti, Sex aur BDSM.

In the blogrolls we have an article by Tanya Manglik on slut-shaming and friend-zoning being two sides of the same coin, one by Nisha Susan on being in friend-love, Shreya writing about how and why she reclaimed hugs, and to bring us back full circle to the questions we began this editorial with, about being “just friends”, a chapter from The Book of Life that ends with, “I am so sorry, couldn’t we just be… lovers?” Read on with Agents of Ishq’s line up of songs celebrating friendship playing in the background.

Have fun!

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TARSHI supports and enables people's control and agency over their sexual and reproductive health and well-being through information dissemination, knowledge and perspective building within a human rights framework.

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