“Some boys kiss me
Some boys hug me
I think they’re ok
If they don’t give me proper credit
I just walk away”
– Madonna, lyrics to Material Girl
When money can determine so many of our decisions – entire courses of lives – how can it not have a powerful, almost inextricable relationship with sexuality? Money determines economic conditions and social relations, having the power to both sustain and disintegrate value and culture systems.
Sexuality is just as crucial in determining the course and quality of lives. Aspects of sexuality such as aesthetic taste, body image, sexual orientation, desires and aspirations, self-esteem, gender expression, reproductive choices, and more, are all interdependent with the impact of money in our lives and that of those around us. Indeed, our systemic relationship with money has a direct influence on how we ‘value’ ourselves.
So, how is the “material girl in the material world” doing? In Plainspeak’s Money and Sexuality issues investigate just that. Vani Viswanathan in her Issue in Focus article, and Shikha Aleya in her Voices piece give us an overview of the many intricacies of money’s funny bond with sexuality.
In the Video Page short film, money’s intersection with class and sexuality are insightfully drawn up. Manjima Bhattacharjya does a thought-provoking review of the films Indecent Proposal and Aastha: In the Prison of Spring – both ’90s flicks made in different parts of the world but sharing common ideas on how money can complicate the normative marital relationship.
In the Hindi section are republished articles from our earlier issues: Rupsa Mallik’s feminist analysis of reproductive technologies, and the first edition of Meena Saraswathi Seshu and Aarthi Pai’s seminal article on whether sex work is work.
The Food Corner explores disparity in the distribution of wealth and its links with gender relations – how the transition of women from the informal cook in the home to the professional chef in the hospitality industry has its effects on aspects of sexuality.
In the mid-month issue, Sutapa Majumdar and Rohini Sahni assess how the demonetisation that struck India in 2016 affected sex workers. We also republish an interview from last year in which Shaifali Agrawal chatted with Varsha Kale, the honorary president of the Bharatiya Bar Girls Union, on the complex controversy that erupts from dancing for money.
Bhanu Priya writes about how financial access influences her exploration of desires and ideas of desirability. Medha Kalsi addresses the exploitation of house help in so-called upper-class and upper-middle-class homes in India and the particular failure to acknowledge their sexual needs and desires.
The second edition of Meena Saraswati Seshu and Aarthi Pai’s article on whether sex work is work is translated into Hindi by Somendra Kumar.
In the Blog Roll section are three curated articles with interesting takes on the links between money and sexuality: A Critical Analysis Of The Surrogacy Regulation Bill 2016, A Peek Into the Life of Bihar’s Anaarkali of Ara, and How Pakistani and Indian Women in Three Countries Confront Marital Economic Abuse.
The Brushstrokes section features photographs taken by two artists who were inspired by the kind of respect and esteem women garner in the culture of matrilineal communities in Meghalaya, India. The FAQ Corner is a republished section of lessons Meena Saraswati Seshu and Aarthi Pai have learned and written about from the sex workers’ rights movement.
Next month’s issues will be on the Internet and Sexuality, so do send in any ideas for contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until then, happy reading!
The TARSHI Team
Cover image taken from the music video Don’t Hurt Yourself by Beyoncé