Letter from Editor - Radhika Chandiramani

We live in and through our bodies. Liberated in some contexts and constrained in others, our bodies inhabit the world in different ways. We tend to demarcate between the public and the private but actually these boundaries are often fuzzy, depending on how our spaces are structured and regulated. The private-public debate is important because it controls so much of what we may do sexually. In this issue of In Plainspeak you will read articles that will bring to mind many questions. This time, the Issue in Focus looks at Sexuality and Space, taking us through a range of issues about bodies and spaces, about how they relate and what shapes their interactions.

Who owns our bodies? Who makes decisions about them? What do we need to know to treat our bodies well? Why are these questions important and what do they have to do with sexuality? For instance, there are laws in our region that penalise the sexual contact of two bodies that belong to the same sex, reminding us that though we may think we own our bodies, the State still decides what we may do with them. Another example: in India, decisions about contraceptive usage have been coloured by the government’s population control policies. Given this, women’s groups have carried out campaigns protesting long-acting contraceptives on the grounds that they have been inadequately tested, have negative side effects and that the country lacks the infrastructure to provide sufficient follow up. We have often heard those arguments. Now, In Shades of Grey, where we look at contentious issues, we can hear what the proponents of injectable contraceptives have to say about how injectable contraception affects women’s bodies.

The art in Brushstrokes takes us into another realm of decisions about our bodies. The HIV positive women who have creatively and vibrantly mapped out their bodies, depict the ways in which they use traditional medicinal knowledge to nourish and sustain themselves in body and spirit.

All of In Plainspeak is not only about the body though. Read about work on sexual pleasure with young people and rural women in Cambodia, and check out what the Resource Centre e-forum discussions on sexual pleasure were all about. We also have for you a review of an exciting new book and an account of an intrepid woman who performed daring stunts in action movies seventy years ago, transgressing the norms of gender and sexuality.

So, as 2006 rolls along, join us in learning about and discussing the various facets of sexuality and working to create a world that affirms our lives and our sexuality. And, as always, do send us your ideas, contributions, feedback and suggestions.

Radhika Chandiramani