— Rupi Kaur
What is the self, and what does it mean to give care? Philosophers, activists, artists, scientists, people of all inclinations and positions have pondered on, played with, and struggled to come to meaningful definitions about the issues these questions address. Without care, can there be a self at all?
And when the two ideas of self and care are linked together into ‘self-care’, it becomes essential not only to define the new term but also to understand what exists outside of it – What bearing does caring for the self have on others, i.e. that which is not part of the self?
As the theme of this month’s In Plainspeak issues, we locate self-care (and self and care) in relation to its connections with issues of sexuality. In the Issue in Focus, Mamatha Karollil lays out ideas of care and sexuality for examination under a psychoanalytic lens. Deepa Ranganathan takes self-grooming as a feminist stand to caring for oneself, while Jamal Siddiqui and Rituparna Borah write from their personal experiences with self-care related to mental health issues and sexuality. Where Siddiqui makes issues related to body dysphoria and everyday societal violence towards transmen more visible, Borah points out ways in which the feminist movement has not adequately dealt with activists caring for their own mental health.
Shikha Aleya looks at several ways in which self-care has links with sexuality, and in an interview by Anjora Sarangi, Radhika Chandiramani shares her ideas about how self-care + sexuality is linked to wellbeing.
Complementing the articles are the Brushstrokes section and the Video Page: one features feel-good doodles that emphasise how caring for oneself extends naturally into caring for others, and the other offers five simple tips to avoid burnout in social work, or any other work for that matter.
And helpful manuals are Innovations Corners for the month: a Self-Care and Self-Defense Manual for Feminist Activists, and one on Sex Work, Online Activism and Self-Care.
The mid-month issue opens with a lucid, insightful personal story about how the author (anonymous) found out that coming to terms with the fluidity of her sexual identity actually has bearing on her feelings of desirability and self-worth. Jhilmil Breckenridge comments on sexual self-pleasure as a means to alleviate a number of commonly occurring ailments (including the often excruciating hunt for Prince or Princess Charming).
The Hindi section features Dipika Srivastava’s translation of Rituparna Borah’s I Column from our first issue of this month about the pressing need to address mental health self-care needs for those in feminist activism, and a translation by Sominder Kumar of Johnson Thomas’ previously published stories from the suicide prevention line he is involved in working with.
The curated Blog Roll for the month comprises Shilpa Phadke’s Women, too, Have the Right to Fun, a young Pakistani woman’s tales of sexual experimentation in an orthodox atmosphere and what happened when she left it, self-care resources for days when we feel the world is terrible, an interview with Woman Human Rights Defender Jessica Horn about the political significance of taking care of oneself, and a Sexy Saturday tracklist by academic Ruth Vanita.
It’s a month of many illuminating sexuality-linked considerations of self-care this month, and next month promises to offer just as many illuminations with its theme of Marriage and Sexuality.
Until then, happy reading!
The TARSHI Team