This stigma of caste, class and sexuality is a pervasive amalgamation of socio-cultural mindsets that take root and function in myriad complex ways, and paint working women in broad, sweeping, agency-less brush strokes.
For the two-part interview section of this month's In Plainspeak, Shikha Aleya spoke to a few individuals who continue to push the boundaries of their work, art, and social norms, and expand the understanding of diversity and sexuality.
It was a million dollar question. Literally. The Hollywood film Indecent Proposal (1993) had actors Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson playing, respectively, Diana Murphy, a real estate professional, and David Murphy, an architect, who are childhood sweethearts just within grasp of realising their dream house when recession strikes. They lose their jobs, default on house…
Five sex workers – four women and one man – along with the filmmaker/narrator embark on a journey of storytelling. Shohini Ghosh’s Tales of the Night Fairies explores the power of collective organising and resistance while reflecting upon contemporary debates around sex work. The labyrinthine city of Kolkata (Calcutta) forms the backdrop for personal and…
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.
For many of us careening to adulthood at the time, these films pushed us to confront our own biases. They asked us to stand in Diane and Mansi’s shoes and ask ourselves, what would we have done? Would we spend one night with a man (Robert Redford, no less) for a million dollars? Would we be able to resist the option that opened up to Mansi? And the truth of it was that this was a difficult question to answer.
She was 17 when she was rescued from a dance bar. Now she's 18 and she wants to go back. As an adult. And dance again. That's what Alisha wrote in a letter to the Child Welfare Committee. Alisha’s letter may be one of a kind. It doesn’t matter. It may even be a scam of sorts, in that she was pushed to write it. Doesn't matter. What’s interesting is the jumble that it throws up, if you look at her choices through eyes that are not hers.
The feminist classic sex work vs prostitution debate was played out in this context in a way that was different from what happens in cis feminist spaces. In the eyes of this narrator, cis feminists who have never engaged in sex work have a lot to learn from travestis and trans women. First of all: the respect.
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.