A digital magazine on sexuality in the Global South: We are working towards cultivating safe, inclusive, and self-affirming spaces in which all individuals can express themselves without fear, judgement or shame

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A photograph of two yellow flowers blooming amid grass. Dark green leaves are emerging from behind the flowers' petals.

Editorial: Representation and Sexuality

We are, all of us, trying to hold steady, and to hold space for each other and for ourselves. And so, instead of trying to put together a collection of ‘all new’ articles, this time we are republishing some ‘ever fresh’ ones on the theme of Sexuality and Representation.
On a peach coloured background, a woman of colour jumping. She is wearing purple ballet shoes and a purple one-piece swimsuit with white-grey patterns scattered on it. Her eyes are wide open and her hands are stretched open on both sides. Her hair is brown and open. She is throwing multi-coloured confetti. Beneath her is a blue circle. In a semicircle to her right is the typography, in purple: Throw kindness around like confetti!

Interview: Kripa Joshi

There have been several recent examples of actors, movies and events being called out because of their lack of representation, like for the Oscars. With social media it is easier to create and distribute diverse art and also to voice the need for diversity. So it needs engagements and awareness in society. Change will happen once enough people demand that change.
A photograph of a white bedsheet with blots of maroon-burgundy lipstick stains smudged across it.

Following Aladdin’s Genie

The lip colour then enters into a rather queer state of existence as it refuses to stand by the label it is expected to conform to. It moves and escapes categorisation. In its queerness, it renders itself as a paradox. At the heart of paradoxes is the understanding that something is what it is also not. Similarly, the colour of this lipstick is nude, but it is also not. It is possible that it is because of this slippery nature of the paradox that my sexuality as my identity too remains slippery, in motion and fluid.
Wall-art of a face till the bridge of the nose. The face is coloured in peach, grey, and shades of blue. The eyes, green, are lined in black and have spots of yellow, brown, and blue colour around them. Under the left eye, there are yellow dots. The hair is streaked with purple and blue.

Probing the Screen: Pleasure in the Virtual World

The virtual world allows me to challenge the hold of patriarchy on my ‘effeminate’ body; in a sense, it allows me to evade the policing of desire that my body shares with another, its flows and slippages, the messy and the unkempt. While virtual sex offers a window to revisit the sensual, it is also not immune to limitations and insecurities.
A photograph of an individual with a book. Their face is not visible. They are flipping through a seemingly old book, and are turning the page using two fingers. They are wearing a cream top with a brown scarf and a ring on their finger.

Finding Feminism

As I began to read about feminist methodology in academic research, it felt like I finally found words to articulate my experience. Feminist methodology addresses problems in traditional forms of scientific and social research, such as giving high regard to objectivity and rationality, and the power equation in the researcher-subject relationship.
A still from the film 'A Kid Like Jake'. In a city-background with houses to the right and a car to the left, three figures: a blonde woman wearing a black and white striped t-shirt, blue jeans, and a beige coat, carrying a brown bag on her shoulder is holding a child's hand from the left. The child is wearing a purple, glittery tutu and a blue shirt. Their arms are outstretched and on the right side, held by a man wearing a peach shirt, blue hoodie and blue jeans. He has black hair. Both the man and the woman are looking at the child.

Review: I see you

My friend’s son, too, likes wearing tutus and frilly skirts. Every time they go shopping for clothes, he heads to the girl’s section and picks out the frilliest outfit. At check out, invariably the cashier asks if the pretty outfit is for his sister and he confidently says it is for him. Often he wears these outfits to school. His confidence comes from his mother’s acceptance of him and her understanding of his gender expansiveness. It helps that she is a sociologist, but there is a constant pushback from society including from his peers at school who bully the little boy. But it is the constant support from his mother and family that allows him to remain confident and thrive whilst being different.
An illustrated poster depicting a black woman with exaggerated body parts, wearing a yellow bandana, carrying a stick in her left hand, and facing sideways. She is wearing a patterned half-robe and smoking. On her hip rests Cupid, toying with their bow, and a speech bubble saying 'Take care of your Hearte' in cursive. They are on a green path of grass.

Freak Shows: Looking at Human Bodies on Exhibit

No two human bodies are alike, and our different bodies arouse curiosity. But our fascination for the aesthetics of the perfect human body has historically created a space within art, science and religion for the examination of the ‘abnormal’ and the ‘imperfect’.  As a result, some bodies are normalised while others become oddities. Freak Shows, and to a large extent, circuses and even exhibits in medical or anthropological museums particularly stand out for dehumanising and objectifying these different anatomies, and oftentimes subjecting these bodies to violence and discrimination.
A screenshot of an advertisement. It depicts a woman in a red saree with a dark blue blouse. She is wearing necklaces. She is squatting and seemingly washing clothes. Beside her, to the left, is a steel bucket.

Review: What Does Clothing Have to do with Sexuality in the Media?

Attire and sexuality in the common imagination and approach as represented (and also as received) by the mainstream media tell us a lot about prevailing attitudes to both. Advertisements bombard us with all kinds of representations, negative and positive, of human sexuality, sexual expression and desire. In the creation and marketing of attire and fashion, there is a great awareness of sexual buy-in or rejection by the market – that’s us.
A screenshot of Kalki Koechlin's rendition of 'The Printing Machine'. The background has a fade-effect of newspaper headlines. To the left is Kalki's face till the beginning of her shoulders. She is looking directly at the camera. Her hair is tied with strands across her face. To the left, in big red lettering: KALKI an underneath it, in black and strikethrough: UNBLUSHED. 'BLUSH' is bold.

Video: Kalki Koechlin: The Printing Machine | Unblushed

Sharp and evocative, Kalki Koechlin’s spoken-word poem The Printing Machine lays bare the cycle of ceaseless and desensitised consumption engendered by the media. Kalki’s short and hard-hitting sentences, keys tap-tap-tapping, and the chrrs and grrs of printing machines bring out the urgency and sensationalism media narratives embody, turning incidents of violence into a stream of headlines that make us gasp and forget, gasp and forget.
An abstractly made illustration of a landscape with mountains depicted in yellow, and below, a blend of green-blue to depict oceans. The texture of the colours evokes waves as well as ice. On the left is a paper boat, yellow-white with blue-green hues, carrying a red rose-like flower in the middle.

Swipe me left, I’m Dalit

Dalit women are primarily viewed as victims and survivors of various kinds of violence. Reification of the Dalit identity has led to the boxing of our existence whose dimensions are solely defined by the savarna (dominant caste) gaze. Our self-assertions of identity are commodified to create a warped limiting of our lives, creating an image that is voiceless in the minds of our potential suitors. We are not seen as being capable of desire, love or happiness; we don’t exist as individuals outside of violence.
An illustration of three women against a blue background with bubbles in white. The three women are looking in different directions and close together. The front-most woman has long purple hair and is wearing a black top. Her face is turned towards the left. The woman behind her has short yellow-blonde hair and her eyes are not visible. She is wearing a black top too. The woman behind both is staring into the camera and has purple eyeshadow. She has short copper hair. On the right-most corner, in white letters, is written "(gaysi)"

The Legend Of The Invisible Lesbians

Of course, one needs to acknowledge that this word did not magically turn up in the vocabularies of the ‘good girls from good families’ that came to a convent school to learn ‘good things’ everyday. The extensively gendered environment which promised to manufacture highly-marriageable ‘young ladies’, aided by the insistence of middle-aged spiteful teachers to absolutely destroy any kind of existence that does not constantly bow it’s pretty, two-plaited head to the heteronormative male gaze, created a suffocatingly toxic atmosphere.
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