Self-care is influenced by the environment we inhabit, the way we relate to others, the way we negotiate with other living beings or structures. Self-care is also interlinked with other types of care – whether that is in community resources, psychosocial support, engagement with medical and health care institutions, and of course in collective agency and solidarity.
Coupledom may or may not be for everyone, and does not mean the same thing to everyone. Importantly, coupledom does not hold the same value or position in our lives, even in the lives of the individuals perceived to be parts of a couple structure.
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.
In our mid-month issue, Stuti Tripathi considers whether raising the minimum age of marriage for women from 18 to 21years is indeed a one-stop solution to check early marriages. She brings to our attention the many factors, such as family pressure, inaccessible educational and financial resources, traditionally defined roles of women, and gender-based marginalisation that together lead to early marriages and argues that young people need rights not protection.
But not every issue of discrimination and conflict can go to a court.Say for example, affording privacy to a young adult with disability to understand their body and sexual responses, or enabling them to access accessible sex toys or assistive devices related to sexual pleasure.
Disabled folks make up the largest “minority” group that includes the most diversity, and anyone can experience or acquire a disability at any point in their life. And yet even in feminist and social justice spaces, ableism persists.
“Disabled people are treated like children,” says Nidhi Goyal, founder director of the NGO Rising Flame, a disability rights activist and comedian. This identification makes the non-disabled — a term Goyal prefers using — feel entitled to decide for them.
I thought of myself as a feminist activist much before I formally entered the development sector space. I participated in…
He is the founder of a number of support organisations that focus on sexuality and disability issues at the grassroots. Over multiple conversations conducted in Hindi and English, Kiran and Shikha Aleya discussed issues of sexuality, access and disability based on some of Kiran’s life experiences.