February Reading List on Intimacy
Curated by Devana Senanayake (YFN Member)
Young Feminist Network is hosted by Everystory Sri Lanka. The Network brings together young women and girls in Sri Lanka interested in issues of gender, feminism and activism together to learn from each other, collaborate on projects, be connected to funding and other opportunities, mentoring opportunities, how to better shape their ideas and work, tools they can use and more. We are an informal network built collectively with the members and their ideas/needs.
This Reading List first appeared in the Young Feminist Network by ESSL newsletter for the Month of February 2021.
Audre Lorde’s essay Uses of the Erotic: Erotic As Power (you can listen to her here) is perfect for this month’s theme: intimacy. With a gender as an anchor, Lorde analyses authority — the limitations, constrictions and definitions and the impact it has had on its present form.
Women’s bodies are constantly policed by the state, by society, by social norms and by those around them. Access to and use of contraception is a display of authority over their bodies and themselves. Look at Bakamoonoo’s study (available in Sinhala, Tamil and English) to learn more about contraception. Who uses them? What is their favored type of contraception? Where do they access contraception? What are some obstacles and limitations?
Image Credit: Fred and Far
Many of Lorde’s themes about authority are explored in Angela Carter’s book,
Image Credit — L.W. Currey.inc
The Bloody Chamber and Other Short Stories. The book revised traditional fairytales and folktales such as Puss in Boots, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood through feminist themes. Each story has a gothic horror backdrop, magical realism elements and a coming-of-age arc — a really interesting standpoint to explore authority, agency and self-actualisation. Women and their explorations of intimacy can also be found in Mary Gaitskill’s book of short stories, Bad Behaviour. Here, good intimacy, bad intimacy and those that thread the line of both are sketched out for the reader to muse on. Gaitskill’s short story Secretary, in particular, stands out.
The Heart’s episode First Comes Marriage is about the formation of intimacy once the institution of marriage has been entered and, in some cases, ended. Without a final destination, can intimacy exist and evolve? Read What You Lose When You Gain A Spouse to understand if marriage is the social good it poses as. The Business of Marriage helps us understand if marriage should have dual columns in an account book — one for the household expenditure and one for emotional labour.
Jeanna Kadlec essay A Brief History of Queer Language Before Queer Identity considers the sub-text of literature by queer authors such as Virginia Woolfe and Oscar Wilde. Jeanette Winterson’s book Written on the Body in an eulogy of a genderless lover named Louise. The narrator’s sexuality is never defined as she recounts lovers of various genders nor are the contours of these relationships revealed. Unlike Kadlec’s essay, Winterson’s book is not purely a product of subtext because the book is transparent about ‘queerness’, but a lot of the real connotations are packed in the dense poetry of the piece.
Image Credit: e Books.com & Melville House Books
Similarly, Maggie Nelson’s book The Argonauts is about Nelson’s love for a gender fluid artist. The book provides a snapshot of a non-heteronormative family, but shines as it hones in one the delights of domestic life as the narrator and their lover moves through life, be it motherhood, top surgery or the arrival of their children.
For critical theory, try Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability by Robert McRuer looks at the intersection of disability studies and queer theory and their influence over each other. A must-read!
While, this essay by Spencer Williams looks at online dating through the male lens, Mia Mingus tackles a similar topic in her blog through the female lens. Also read the blog Disability, Sexuality and Intimacy to dive deeper into the subject. This poem by Aurora levins Morales is a stand out:
Also we thought Modern Love — the TV show is exactly what we want to elaborate when it comes to Intimacy! And it’s beautifully done too! It explores “love in its multitude of forms — including sexual, romantic, familial, platonic, and self love,” which are presented in eight half-hour episodes. The Amazon series, based on the New York Times column of the same name, adapts different love stories taking place in New York City.
In addition we found this interesting article and section by Bakamoono.lk about relationships and consent.
කැමැත්ත දීම යනු කුමක්ද?
Image credit — Bakamoono.lk
කැමැත්ත දීම යනු එකග වීමයි. ලිංගික හැසිරීමකට එකග වීම ලිංගික කැමැත්තම (Sexual consent) යනුවෙන් හැදින්වේ. ඕනෑම පුද්ගලයෙකුට ලිංගික කැමැත්ත ප්රකාශ කිරීමටත්, එය අවලංගු කිරීමටත් අයිතිය ඇත. ලිංගික කැමැත්ත ප්රකාශ කිරීමටත්, එය අවලංගු කිරීමටත් සිය සහකරු/ සහකාරියට ඇති අයිති අයිතියට ගෞරව කිරීමට සෑම පුද්ගලයෙකුටම වගකීමක් ඇත.
As we attempt to build our Collective through the challenges of a pandemic and remote working whilst remaining true to our feminist values, we find ourselves leaning on the ideas and advice of our feminist peers at FRIDA (who also happen to have given us the seed money to start EverystorySL, and continue to generously and kindly fund us). We hope our little YFN community can offer you the same. Our inbox is always open for any questions, to bounce off ideas, or give you any support you may need.
In solidarity x