Such open spaces to play sports are mainly occupied by men, while women are mostly excluded on account of various gender norms. This also applies to many underprivileged girls coming from the margins of caste and class who lack access to safe and inclusive open public spaces to play, such as public parks or maidans.
Connection, to my mind, is one of those profoundly entrenched concepts manifesting itself throughout our lives. It is difficult to let go of.
There may already be another organisation in the community to share resources with but for community-led initiatives, a shared perspective on Safe, Inclusive, Sexuality-Affirming (SISA) spaces is also important. Sometimes when the shared perspective is not there, that becomes a challenge.
The lovers enact many recognizable hetero-normative romantic tropes – the wronged petulant woman pacified via kisses and caresses, the woman too tired for sex who then tries to placate the sulking male lover.
As a queer person, it’s hard not to think right away of chosen family. A term that has become relatively well-known by now, but not always understood I find. One of the primary support systems I personally, like many queer folx, depend on, are ones that we develop and nurture over time.
In a society ruled by heteronormative patriarchal structures, expressing one’s gender or sexuality outside the trimmings of what is socially acceptable is an act of resistance.
In our mid-month issue, we add context to our perceptions of and dealings with risk in our day-to-day lives. Collating and interpreting responses we received on a survey taken by small group of random individuals, Shikha Aleya looks at the transactions around risk foregrounded on the interplay of our location on the axes of gender and sexual identity, disability status, belief systems, and availability of support, amongst others.
I gave myself the freedom to choose. And I chose to re-examine my assumptions. Maybe it was possible to ask strange men for directions without being afraid of seeming vulnerable. Maybe I could plan my outfit without bothering about the fact that I would be travelling on public transport.
Shilpa Phadke reminds us that we have the right to choose to take risks and the responsibility to respect difference so that we can re-imagine public spaces, feel a sense of belongingness in them, and have them belong to everyone.
The only thing this language achieves (and maybe it is also the goal), is to create enough panic so that women themselves police and restrict their own mobility and whereabouts, and keep themselves away from public spaces whenever possible.
Shilpa believes loitering, just being, just hanging out in public places, is about ‘claiming the city with your body’. One of the co-authors of the book, ‘Why Loiter: Women and Risk on Mumbai’s Streets’ published in 2011, Shilpa has authored several essays and journals on issues of feminist parenting, gender and the politics of space, the right to take risks and related thoughts and concepts.
I extend my support and solidarity to people, across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, who want to break closed doors and walls to establish safe spaces where one can love freely, without inhibitions; people who seek to re-define love and intimacy in their own independent, non-patriarchal terms.
As renowned queer scholar Judith Butler said, “For those who are still looking to become possible, possibility is a necessity.” This is essential but also easier said than done.
Many among us are called names, are greeted with aggressive taunts and jeers on the very streets we boldly occupy at least once every year,so we go on living docilely until the next Pride, when performative reclamation of spaces becomes possible.
I said “excuse me”, walked past them and then never looked back to see the look on their faces. And then without a thought, I reached the destination and said loud and clear, “Woman’s seat”, which was a gesture to say “give me the seat, because it is a woman’s seat and you are a man sitting on it.”