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’.
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.
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.
The nature of the labor that goes into performing femininity is that it’s invisible. Or at least it’s supposed to be. As a culture, we expect women to look glossy and shimmery and smooth. We don’t want to know about the time and money that goes into this presentation.
Do you love your eyes and hate your knees? Or do you sometimes wish your XXX were different? Replace XXX with any body part of your choice. We have all been there – griping, never satisfied, and never owning our own beauty. How do we perceive and evaluate our own bodies? What do we love? What do we loathe? And why?
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.
But a few days before her historic Oscar win (for the first movie she’s ever been in!) Lupita accepted an award for Best Breakthrough Performance at the seventh annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon hosted by Essence magazine. It was there she delivered a speech on beauty that every little girl should hear.
Today I do not know whether I want to grow out my hair or keep it short; I am just trying to breathe and be in the moment. To enjoy the journey rather than worrying, and waiting for the destination!
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beauty gleams in unexpected places, but its effulgence turns to tawdry glitter when it is shaped and squeezed into form-fitting frames. Rigid ideas of what is beautiful or desirable can reinforce oppressive structures. However, when these concepts are more flexible they can be subversive as well.