The Handmaid’s Tale leads one to re-examine these two forms of social hierarchy that women have to navigate: one where they apparently have equal sexual rights as men but have to bear most of the brunt of unwanted pregnancies, reproductive burdens and the like, and the other extreme where their decisions including those about sexual identity and procreation are institutionalised and they are robbed of all agency and autonomy.
Lawrence may have given Elena a world and a voice. But it was she who chose to delve into the unknown world of sexuality. It was she who chose to see the beauty and the richness of pleasure within communities of sex workers, soldiers, the elite, all alike. She alone chose to discern as well as reconcile love, as we commonly seem to know it, with a life in which she is capable of many loves.
We need to disturb the institutionalised infrastructure and skew power dynamics even when it comes to something as complex as pleasure. Being aware of our language and the practices of our sexuality and denuding them of socially imbibed constructions will open up a safe space for discussing the diversity of our sexual behaviour.
In spite of the general divergence between the notion of purity and sacredness and the general discourse on sex, I firmly believe that little else in life is as divine as sharing sexual pleasure with another person. Realising this relinquished the shame that I felt and presented itself as an opportunity for me to re-learn how to enjoy sex.
In our mid-month issue, we have Mamatha Karollil writing about how she asserted herself after an incident of privacy violation when a nude picture of herself was seen by someone from work without her consent, and how ripping through, or not getting into, the cocoon of shame and dishonour, can prevent much distress...