Happy New Year! As we step into a new year amidst uncertainty and instability, we bring to our readers the hope and possibility of SISA spaces – Safe, Inclusive and Self-Affirming spaces. We envision SISA spaces as non-judgmental, inclusive, rights-based and affirming spaces wherein people’s sexuality, their identities, wellbeing, choices, desires and pleasure are respected. By being a safe platform for our readers and contributors to share their ideas, thoughts, feelings and experiences, In Plainspeak attempts to be one such space.
This anthology issue, therefore, brings to you the numerous ways in which our contributors have imagined SISA spaces. For Anjali Hans, risking intimacy and being vulnerable in sexual and/or romantic relationships creates a space wherein we can begin to understand ourselves and negotiate what makes us feel comfortable and safe. In an interview with Shikha Aleya, Shruti Arora of the YP Foundation explores the ways in which we can collectively build safe, inclusive and self-affirming spaces for young people both online and in our healthcare systems.
Elsa Marie D’Silva further highlights this in her review of the documentary Hot Girls Wanted and the six-part docuseries Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, both available on Netflix. Elsa discusses the need for creating online spaces where people can confidently and safely access accurate information about sexuality and their rights. Sheena D’ Lima, in her review of Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, takes us to erotica, where through diverse fictional narratives, we can begin to explore our own sexuality and our relationship with it.
In another article, Sheena also opens up a different SISA space for us – the self. Drawing from her own experience of keeping a journal for decades now, Sheena emphasises that creative journalling is a radical practice of feminist self-care, especially as we grapple with a global pandemic. Journalling becomes a space through which we can journey into our internal selves and imagine a “radically different way of being” that is in our own best interest and that of those around us. Asmi questions the concept of support, and asks, “How much support is enough?” especially when it comes to sexuality, dependency, and learning to set and respect boundaries.
What are some of other ways in which people build SISA spaces and navigate through them in our cis-heteronormative world? Neel explores her identity as a womxn, and how, in becoming a womxn, she has had the space to practice a politics of pleasure in order to belong, to be embraced and to also resist. For Ghausia Rashid Salam, queerness and the Islamic philosophy of kun faya kun offer a space where the loneliness of non-conformity can be escaped through self-love and platonic relationships. One of our anonymous contributors discusses how queer friendships and intimacies provide a space for gender-nonconforming people to find belonging, safety and security – emotionally, financially and socially. Rohini Banerjee points to how sexuality-affirming narratives in erotic fanfiction destabilise heteronormativity, and can become a great source of reassurance for young people grappling with the complexities and diversities of sexuality.
In Hindi, we take to you back to a translation of Ankita Khanna’s article on the urgency to create an inclusive and comprehensive sexuality education curriculum that accommodates the needs of young people with disabilities.
In Brushstrokes, we revisit a comic by Everyday Feminism that urges us break the silence and take into consideration the good, the bad, and the hilarious aspects of sex. A heartwarming School of Life video encourages us to consider self-love and self-compassion and be a friend to our self.
May 2022 be the year we become a true friend to our self and explore various ways to build safe, inclusive and self-affirming spaces that encourage us to play with our sexuality, pleasure, desires and fantasies.
We wish you a joyful, pleasurable and fulfilling 2022!
Cover Image: Unsplash