Our most powerful, sexy, responsive and attractive sexual organ may be the mind, but it is through the body that we express and experience our sexuality. Our body is our first and primary home; whether we truly feel at home in it is another matter.
The simple truth is that my body and I are having an affair. We each obsess about the other, ask questions and desire each other so much, that it often borders on the shameless. My body is more in love with me, I suspect, than the other way around.
Waxing my body for the first time last year to have silky skin like the women on Veet’s box but ended up with rashes instead.
Both sexuality and disability are complex terrains, offering a realm of possibilities that are often made unnecessarily complicated and unattainable by the mental maps we draw of them and the artificial barriers we erect.
I cannot let anyone see the stretch marks, the cellulite, the saggy breasts. I cannot reveal my hideous body. I feel anxiety well up inside me even as I visualise this eventuality. I read about ten ways for a fat person to have meaningful sex. I learn that throwing a cloth over the bedside lamp will help hide my flaws.
What vindicates the argument that women with disabilities (WWDs) should be deprived of sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights is scary. Harmful stereotypes of WWDs include the belief that they are hypersexual, incapable, irrational and lacking control. These narratives are then often used to build other perceptions such as that WWDs are inherently vulnerable and should be ‘protected from sexual attack’.
In the spirit of the Games, I watched the Netflix film Rising Phoenix which documents the history of the Paralympics and its impact on the world in making visible the topic of disability. It also tracks the personal and professional journey of some of the top Paralympic athletes who share their challenges, frustrations and motivations.
Everyday Feminism’s comic illustrates the complexity and diversity of sexuality, revealing how sex can sometimes be pleasure-affirming and sometimes not, and asks us to talk about ALL KINDS of sex – the good, the bad, and the hilarious.
Dr. Lindsey Doe debunks myths around disability and sexuality, at once carving out space for affirming and inclusive discussions and challenging negative and harmful stereotypes. Emphasising the sexuality of people with disabilities as rich and diverse, Lindsey wonders what inclusive sexual and reproductive health and rights really mean.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“I feel comfortable with who I am,” he responded. “I’m at ease with myself. I don’t wake up and hate myself. I can’t tell you how amazing that feels.”
“I know how that feels,” I told him.