In the call for contributions for our February issue we said, “In some relationships, sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy may be closely bound; in others, sex may not predicate emotional intimacy and vice versa. Do the ways we experience and express our sexuality foster intimacy? Do experiences of intimacy nurture our sexual wellbeing? Can we experience sexual wellbeing without being in a sexually intimate relationship?” In response, we have received a range of thoughtful and thought-provoking articles. So without further ado, let’s dive into them!
In the Issue in Focus, Madhavi Menon quite literally takes issue with the framing of the theme as ‘Intimacy and Sexuality’, unpacks each of these two concepts, and pointing out quite rightly that they may not be the happy couple they are assumed to be, proceeds to uncouple sexuality and intimacy, making some intriguing arguments along the way.
Be that as it may, for Kumam Davidson intimacy is inextricably linked with sexuality as he tells us in an interview with Shikha Aleya on the search for intimacy while being at the margins in more than one sense, growing up in conservative Manipuri society during the times of insurgency, his writings, The Chinky Homo Project, and the challenges of working “from the periphery of the already peripheral northeast India”.
There are many peripheries and many margins, but it seems that in writing from or about these margins (and we know that the two are not the same), for most of our contributors intimacy and sexuality are indeed linked, though may be not always in the ways they would like. Writing from another periphery, that of kink, Asmi, in a personal account, unravels the intricacies of intimacy, penetrative sex, sexuality and BDSM. Prachi Srivastava reflects on the challenges to assert his right to love and desire, faced by a young man on the Autism Spectrum, and she offers some suggestions on how to work with people who are not used to ‘grey area thinking’.
And, Pavel, now an out and proud queer man, reminisces about the beginnings of his pursuit for intimacy and how his wish to be special to someone, at one time, translated into short-lived romances with women.
At a more conceptual level, Abhaya Tatavarti talks about how intimacy has been reviled, ridiculed, and assigned to the domain of the feminine and why the language of intimacy must be part of the creation a new cultural grammar around sex because it values personhood. Intimacy is not only about what we may aspire to in our relationships with others, but also in our relationship with ourselves – how well we know and are attuned to ourselves. Just as intimacy with other people is nurtured when we are each being genuine, intimacy with ourselves is nurtured when we are able to be true to ourselves. And so, in Hindi in Navintam Lekh we have Dipika Srivastava’s take on the ‘art of extreme self-care’.
In her review of the Indian Netflix series, Little Things, about a cohabiting couple, Shweta Krishnan tells us that she found it refreshing because it portrays the subtle negotiations in a relationship and shows how intimacy is not an end state, but rather, ebbs and flows through everyday negotiations.
In Brushstrokes we have Amanda Oleander’s poignant depictions of the small yet significant intimacies that couples share. But arriving at an ease with intimacy can be quite scary as it requires us to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. This short video offers some wisdom on the challenge of being close.
In the FAQ Corner read about The 36 Questions That Lead to Love, and in the Media Corner, Meet ‘Intimacy Consultants,’ Who Teach Actors The Right Way To Make Out. Fascinating? Yes!
In our mid-month issue, Rahul Sen writes of the impossibility of intimacy, of the gnawing pain and underlying cruelties it may unsheathe and how it is at best an illusion while Pavel reminds us of how, in our search for intimacy, we keep bits and parts of our lost loves and they keep parts of us, and how through being loved by them we learn also to love ourselves. In Hindi, Ashmeet K. Bilkhu reflects upon society’s interpretation of intimacy and sexuality, highlighting the language of heteronormativity in (medical) textbooks and other writings on sexuality.
And in the Blogrolls we have one on the intimate sweetness and tenderness that may be found in a casual relationship (read non-serious, non-monogamous, non-everything society tells you a relationship should be), another on the romance of small intimacies and how making plans can be an end in itself and one on what happened when a self-proclaimed vegan asexual bookworm got on to Tinder to (guess what?) find friends.
Stay well, stay happy!
Cover Image: (CC BY 2.0)