In theory, the concept of the app is a great one – it provides women, queer people, and people belonging to oppressed castes the tea-stall, cigarette-shop type of public spaces for conversation that are available to upper-caste cis het men. The relative anonymity acts like a safe cover, and the app affords a certain autonomy and agency to marginalised people to regulate the kind of conversation that goes on in rooms moderated by them.
While we are struggling with the vicissitudes brought on by the pandemic we are also forced to spend more time online, to look for resources in terms of health care or caregivers, to reach out to people and build a communities of care, to take a break, or to try and hook-up online for a while.
Apart from systematic exclusions faced by individuals, evidently the mandatory use of a biometric-based digital ID has also reshaped the understanding of an individual’s agency and right to bodily autonomy. Gender and sexuality seem to no longer be matters of an individual’s right to privacy. With digitisation, disclosure of one’s gender and sexuality has become a hindrance to accessing one’s rights.
You see, numbers are tricky, data is tricky. More importantly, data is dehumanising. Add sexuality and intimacy to this and the waters get even murkier. Maybe it’s good to leave a few things unaffected by too much data. Maybe we do not want to talk about data and sexuality. Maybe we instead want to talk about why data around gender and sexuality must not be recorded, and instead, maybe focus on why we should honour every kind of sexual preference which is within the purview of the safe and consensual.
Online dating can be great fun but it comes with some risks. This quirky and in-depth Digital Security Guide by Access Now on How to Date Online Safely tells us how we can engage with fellow dating-app users while making sure we are safe from harm.
Japleen Pasricha, founder of Feminism in India, lays bare the violence women, LGBTQIA+ folks, and historically marginalised communities face in online spaces, ranging from identity theft, bullying, trolling, to having our private photographs and details disseminated without our consent and being blackmailed.
Period tracking applications can also inform you about your general reproductive health and also caution you in case of an anomaly with respect to it. As menstruators in our undergraduate years, the primary reason I saw my friends using period trackers were to keep a track of when to carry menstrual products to college or avoid the risks of pregnancy.
Around the world, LGBTQ+ activists, queer ‘sex-positive’ feminists, sex-workers, artists and educators are leading the charge against the increasingly complex webs of regulation and censorship of sexuality online, where corporate policies intersect with restrictive state law.
To claim the public then in arbitrary, messy and oppositional ways, whether on the streets or online is to challenge the neoliberal impulse which is located in the creation of order. To create place, to stake claim, thwarts the desires for the sanitised neoliberal city and is a politics.