A spider’s web is a beautiful thing, an intricate work of patience and a beautiful example of interconnectedness. In this issue of In Plainspeak we bring you articles that illustrate how some of the silken skeins that make up our delicate yet tensile webs of sexual wellbeing are the support systems that enrich us, that offer us the freedom and safety to articulate our sexual desires, fantasies, and sexual agency; the processes of self-care and self-pleasure we perform; and the ways we perceive our bodies and how we exercise our bodily autonomy.
Sexual wellbeing is subjective, in that it is something each of feels or doesn’t, is unique to each person’s experience and cannot be ‘objectively’ measured, but as some of our contributors show us, it is affected by the larger context we live in – by structural factors, gender and class imbalances, access to resources, and societal hypocrisy. Radhika Chandiramani wonders if seeking wellbeing is a selfish conceit and expands on the analogy of the spider’s web to arrive at an answer. Ratnaboli Ray talks to Shikha Aleya about wellbeing in the context of mental illness and psychosocial disability and exposes some of the gender and class biases that operate, whilst also bringing us ideas about support networks that her organisation has created as well as telling us stories of sexual affirmation. It is not only people with mental illness who need networks of love and support; all of us do, and Vinay Chandran writes about what he discovered when he asked people over the course of a year, who they talked to when they felt sad. Using the Incels (involuntary celibates) as a springboard, Mahesh Natarajan muses about what could trigger off seemingly random acts of violence. Yes, sometimes the web may indeed be destroyed.
But, fortunately, most times, even when a couple of strands break, the web holds together. Arpita Das shares her reflections about discovering the importance of self-care for activists while she moved from a perspective of victimhood to one of wellbeing. Rituparna Borah writes about the challenges of living as an activist with an invisible disability and how she has found ways of carving out time and space for self-care. That self-care for activists is extremely important but still so little emphasized is also borne out in Nazariya’s review of the research literature on this subject and the preliminary work that they have begun to do to address this gap. It is exactly because most often activists are too busy caring for others and pay little or no attention to their own wellbeing that they end up with burnout. Read a review of a book called The Idealist’s Survival Kit on how to avoid this. And in case you are wondering about your own emotional health, watch this video.
You know all about foreplay hopefully. What about aftercare? Know what that is? You can find out more about in the comic strip in Brushstrokes (pun intended).
In the Innovations corner is an article about products designed to help women heal from sexual assault or from bodily discomfort and reclaim their physical sensations.
We also have some of our latest translations of older articles into Hindi.
Take a little time out and keep your web strong!
In the mid-month issue on Wellbeing and Sexuality, we bring you an article by Jai Ranjan Ram sharing what he learned in his psychiatric practice from a self-identified pansexual homoflexible adolescent. And, an interesting collection of blog rolls. Read about people being scared of fat women, sympathy being debilitating and unwanted, postpartum depression, why mental health practitioners need to have a queer feminist understanding, and how therapists themselves experience burnout or ‘compassion fatigue’. In the Corners, we debunk some common myths about sex and sexual health and bring you news of a community that practices mental first aid. Plus, we have Hindi translations of this month’s articles by Arpita Das, Rituparna Borah and Vinay Chandran.