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Editorial: Mobility and Sexuality

An abstract painting of various shapes on a canvas

The spaces we live, travel, work, loiter and play in can be fun and sexy. At other times, they can seem threatening and unsafe. The same is true for the internal spaces we inhabit and move around in. Sexuality itself is mobile, expanding (or constricting) in these spaces around us. Our contributors write about how they experience their sexualities while they move through different spaces, sometimes enjoying sparks of desires while at other times feeling unsafe. We have in this issue of In Plainspeak articles that include stories of sexual stares exchanged in public transport, lipstick stains transporting layers of meaning in their journey from lips to other surfaces, as well as darker stories (with hope-filled endings) of restricted mobility for fear of sexual assault.

The degree to which we have the freedom to be ‘mobile’ in a space can often determine whether our sexuality can truly be expressed in the way we want to express it and whether it can flourish. Reciprocally, our sexuality may also restrict or expand our mobility. Shikha Aleya unpacks what mobility could mean in this context and raises many interesting and important issues around physical, social, geographic and other sorts of mobility, including the mobility of thought, spirit and connection. To be able to connect to others is a sort of mobility, clearly not always of the sort that involves taking a bus, though sometimes a good public transport system does help.

For some people, mobility is restricted, not so much because of a lack of a transport system, but because of the restrictions we place on them on account of our own assumptions. Jeeja Ghosh, disability rights researcher and activist, feminist, parent, writer, scholar, actor and trainer, talks with Shikha Aleya about breaking assumptions around mobility, disability, romance, sexuality, parenthood, travel, and independence.

Manvendra Singh Thakur takes us on a ride on the Delhi metro, a space where (some) people can explore their desires. Muskan Nagpal explores her desires by wearing different shades of lipstick that travel leaving stains, that like her own sexuality, do not promise to stay the same. And then, unlike these two articles that are about a certain sort of freedom for a certain sort of person, there are others that speak of restrictions, and happily also about what can be done them about them. Yuleidy Merida points to the restrictions imposed on young women on account of fears of sexual violence and the new strategies and programmes that are helping them gain confidence and assert themselves. Ritwika Patgiri writes about mobility and the ‘missing women’ in the labour force.

For our Hindi readers we have two new translations – one is a translation of Mansi Wadhwa’s article looking at mobility through the lens of migration, and the other is of Shweta Krishnan’s article about how finding a toilet becomes an ordeal for a woman while travelling.

We know that Dalits experience a range of oppressions, including restrictions on their social mobility, but did you know that Dalit women are multiply oppressed, sometimes by their ‘own’ compatriots? In the FAQ Corner, read about why Dalit women are needing to brew a social revolution.

In Brushstrokes, see how a smile, a simple smile, could be misinterpreted if it comes from a woman, and in the Video section, watch an interesting Tamil short film about the mobility of sexuality, shifting relationships, the conflicts they engender and their possible resolutions.

In our mid-month issue, Mahika Banerji describing herself as being ‘massively function-less’ and as having ‘no mobility’, takes us into her world, not a world of sob stories but one that holds promise of fulfillment, even if that lies in a simple cup of tea! In Hindi we have a translation of Shikha Aleya’s article focusing on common misperceptions about mobility impairment. And then there’s a blogroll about how claiming a seat on the metro can make a woman go through many mental hurdles questioning her own needs and existence.

Happy reading!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Cover image: Pixabay

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