Nathicharami takes sexuality and sexual desire away from upper-class, Gucci-clad women and makes its viewers acknowledge its existence in the lives of women (middle-class wives and widows, in the case of this film) who are invisibilised, both in the society they live in and as subjects of popular content.
As we grow older, moral codes, conventions of appropriateness and shame, and the utilitarian and income-focused education we get make us lose that stability. The idea of play to me is about bringing back that ability and comfort into the lives of people so that they can actually play.
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.
Viewed from the ‘sexual-moral high ground’ of couples (especially married couples), long-term singlehood is generally labelled as a deficit, a lack,or an inability to be emotionally involved in a relationship rather than being seen as a lifestyle choice.
In this narrative, Sita finds solace in these women and understands a different perspective about beauty, self-worth, authority, self-reliance, and toward the end, finds liberation from society and marriage which were the root cause of her sorrow.
We advocate the idea of reclaiming spaces in society by creating large wall-mural projects to raise awareness and to create a voice for the community. We are now finding more innovative ways to engage the community to come out in public spaces, also using the Internet and social media, to feel confident, safe and a sense of belonging.
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.
One morning at the programme, I found he was ignoring me. I was also busy with my assigned work so I was not able to follow up with him until the break. During the break, he came and sat next to me, came closer and suddenly kissed me on the cheek.