In tailoring the way we present ourselves to the world – be it as fashionista, frump or an artful fusion of the two – we think we are the ones making a choice about how we express our gender and sexuality along with other markers of our identity.
Clothes for me are our first line of defence. They are also our first act of providing relief.
They use sports, technology, arts, and media to express themselves and to build the confidence to exercise choice and negotiate decisions about their bodies, health and life.
Lack of women’s representation in policy-making institutions has allowed men, often with minimal understanding and empathy, to decide what women in sports can or cannot wear. As a result, these policies have ended up undermining women’s comfort as well as agency.
Marriage also feels complicated when one approaches it through the lens of feminism. Marriage throws in two people and often their families into a system designed to perpetuate patriarchy, subjugate women, and bind men and women (in heteronormative marriage) into strict roles in the marriage.
I now feel comfortable entertaining the thought that my ease with my selfhood does not necessarily have to be threatened by the possibility of love in coupledom. Indeed, comfort with one’s self can actually evolve into healthier forms of love towards the other(s).
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.
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.
Disabled people might not have many spaces where they can speak openly about their sexual experiences or even sexual curiosity. There is a heavy monitoring of disabled young people especially, and this can mean that exploration, which is often how many of us discover sexuality, can be limited. Moreover, since the experiences of disabled people are not seen in popular media such as films, we can (and probably do) imagine we will have the same or similar experiences as non-disabled people – which is often not possible.
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.
If you live in an urban metropolitan city, you must have seen women dressed up in company uniform, carrying a heavy bag on their shoulders, their attire shouting a brand name with logos all over her. Their bodies become an advertising ground for a company’s marketing. Sometimes, the bag is a portable salon that they carry to their client’s (home), who book the beauty service using a mobile application. These ‘workers’ enroll themselves on the platform company that operates as an intermediary, to get bookings on-demand.