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.
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.
If we are to reimagine coupledom and sexuality, we need to expand and challenge our ideas about togetherness, romance, love, intimacy, desire, sex, attachment, and so on.
Ethics of Care offers a normative paradigm that goes beyond the neat distinctions of morally guided ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ actions to incorporate social responsibility, wherein we learn how to shape our responses on the basis of the needs of a community’s members.
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.
My journal has many entries that are speculative and fantastic. Writing about the mundane leads me to question the way the world operates and from there I frog-leap into a world of ideas where I imagine a radically different way of being. In my journal, I imagine a politics of care, community, and compassion. I become grand, valuable, and unstoppable, even in a world where I am sometimes made to feel small.
Just as capitalism has learned how to co-opt feminism into its model, it has done the same to ‘wellness’, so much so it has become an industry of its own. Mental wellbeing, no matter how necessary and important it is, remains a luxury with more than half of our country either unaware of available mental health resources or not in a position to even afford therapy.
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.
Inspired to collect photographs of women spending time by themselves and for themselves after a conversation with her mother’s friend, Surabhi Yadav began the project, Women at Leisure.
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.
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.
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.
But self-care is not a clean and happy procedure, it is not definitively achievable when systematically explored. To understand the scope of self-care we need to see the ‘dark side’ of the landscape, and destroy the versions of self-care that denounce our plurality. In this fight, the only outcome can be a recognition of experiences beyond the wellness narrative structured around the neoliberal agenda. This article is an attempt at foregrounding some aspects of self-care that decentralise the prevalent commodification of it.