Pleasure Activism: The Vagina of her Species
Inspired by @jourdfur’s zine, I created this art piece, a fabric vulva. While making it, I felt sad, glad, relieved, in love and obsessed, all at once. Holding it felt so important. Giving it weight and texture, talking to it, asking it what it needed to fully bloom in my hand. Sharing this beautiful poem about the vagina.
The Vagina Of Her Species by Grace Bordois
My vagina loves other vaginas.
Before it sleeps at night
it whispers vagina.
When it wakes up in the morning
it yawns for vagina and prays for vagina
and eats for vagina and goes out
to see fellow vaginas.
When it meditates
the mantra it says is,
vagina vagina, vagina, oh vagina.
My vagina loves other vaginas.
It sees vagina everywhere–
hot vagina on the coffee table,
bold vagina in the senate,
holy vaginas in the church,
zero gravity vaginas in space,
spicy vaginas in Mexico,
frozen vaginas in an igloo.
My vagina sees the world
as a big, may be pinkish,
or reddish, perhaps brown
or black, beautiful vagina.
My vagina loves other vaginas.
Other vaginas love my vagina.
Vaginas love vaginas.
Everybody loves vaginas.
Poets love vaginas.
Heroes loved vaginas.
Penises love vaginas.
The church loves vaginas.
Hell even god loves vaginas.
The universe is in love with vaginas.
My vagina loves other vaginas,
but not its own self.
That little naughty pulse in my vagina
always beats for other vaginas,
but not for its own self.
It gets love from other vaginas
but from itself.
My vagina loves other vaginas
but hates itself.
My vagina loves not itself.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While that is super important to discuss, I’m complimenting those narratives by focusing on Sexuality and Pleasure Awareness, since we seem to talk about sex only when there is sexual violence involved. Stay tuned : )
Mental Health includes Sexual Health
Of Millenial Couples in Therapy
It is such an interesting phenomenon, in my couples and family therapy work, to see more and more women (25-40 years of age), across cultures, mostly middle-class, voicing their struggles in their relationships, pushing their partners to show up better, seeking therapy, earning more than their (male) partners at work, and overall having SO much ambition and drive, while more and more men in that age group are struggling with questions like- what is my passion? What is an empowered masculinity today, and how should I show up? The wiser men are seeking help, the not so wise ones are participating in the buildup of slowly exploding pressure cooker. We are really heading toward an overall crisis in relationship durability, if we don’t invest in our growth, maturity and development urgently. Catch the train!
In response to the #metoo movement and some questions I keep getting online, I have decided to start a video series addressing questions around sexual violence in the Indian context. The videos are for survivors of sexual violence and their friends/families- however the content will vary according to who it is specifically for.
I Love Men, I Love Men, I Love Men
I LOVE MEN. I LOVE MEN. I LOVE MEN.
I am attracted to many men and everyday I meet men who are kind and wonderful. I write this because that’s not enough. Being kind and wonderful and honest IS not enough, today. I want to love more. For that, I need YOU to understand.
This is a triggering time for me. Bangalore, India is my home. A group of women were molested, in masses, on New Year’s eve, on a street I know too well. Bangalore is where I came out as queer and Bangalore is where I found identity as an artist.
But this, this is not about a place.
It is about each time my breasts are pinched on a train, or my ass is groped, be it during the Chicago Cubs rally or in a tightly packed Mumbai local to Churchgate… OR at house parties or in college, with the guy who brought me to some party, or an ex-boyfriend who didn’t understand what it means to threaten violence.
It is about each time I have to share the same articles with my male friends, and help them understand, what they don’t understand…,
what it is like to walk down the streets with breasts and a backside.
It is about each time my professors, teachers, mentors, all male, have breached my personal space, hugging me too tight, asking for a kiss after a meal, telling me to “not tell.”
It is about the fact that I can count on my fingers my male friends, who openly identify as feminist. Five, five to be exact.
It is about the fact that I cannot count on my toes and fingers, your toes and fingers, and her toes and fingers, the number of times I have experienced assault and had my female and male friends experience assault through sexual objectification and harassment.
This is not about waking up each time a rape, molestation, sexual assault is reported, and asking, “Now, what should we do?” and going back to our lives earning wages, making art, until the next time, when femininity is attacked, again.
This is not about statistics. Which city is safer. Which city is not the “rape capital”. There is no such thing. Every city, every street, every house is “rape capital”. Why? Because the DAMAGING effects of patriarchy are pervasive. So invisible, so internalized, our fathers get triggered if we bring it up and our male friends call us too sensitive, asking us to forget, to protect, to dress better and not tempt. (Message me if you want to read about this)
I know nothing else but to dedicate my life, my therapy, my work, my relationships, my friendships, my parenting to lessening the damages of the patriarchy. If my posts trigger you, great. If my work triggers you, great. If my life triggers you, great.
I refuse to be exhausted. I refuse to die a death where my voice is unheard and I shall agitate, educate, organize, share, speak, build, argue till my last breath, till women can walk from their house till the grocery store without fear.
Image: The Fearless Collective
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thefearlesscollective
And please note, dear readers- there is a reason I’m not saying I’ll keep working till EVERYONE can walk safe. I would love that. That would be ideal and that’s what the world must look like. But that’s not the point here. The specific trouble being addressed here is female objectification and assault by male privilege, which is one of the damaging effects of patriarchy.
Light the lamp and there’s radiance
As I think about Art Therapy, Feminism, the new political year in the US and the political turmoil in India…my thoughts lead to this Kabir song I’m sharing:
Light the lamp,
and there’s radiance,
Such a small bundle,
It will bite dust one day,
It will mingle with the mud,
in the temple,
Light the lamp,
and there’s radiance
Who will awaken in the light of this utter turmoil we are facing today? Do I have what it takes to awaken?
From the Ajab Shahar Project:
“Guru shatters the pitch darkness, the lamp destroys the utter blackness, says Kabir, urging us to light the lamp in our temple. ‘Jagariya’ – literally ‘one who awakens’ – is the last name of Asariya bhai, and many of the other singers in this mandali. So it’s not surprising that their families have been in the tradition of singing Kabir and other mystic poets for several generations. Kabir is a widely loved nirgun poet of the 15th century, well known for his rude and rough rhetoric, designed to shake us out of our unconscious ways. The song casts a powerful spell as it weaves together the other voices that ‘awaken’ – Devji Asariya Jagariya and Devji Ghabha Jagariya – who are from nearby villages. As the song says, light the lamp and there’s radiance!
Asariya Khima Jagariya has imbibed the tradition of ‘aradhiya bhajan’ from a very young age from his father Khima Bapa and his grandfather. He belongs to Kharoda village in Lakhpat, Kutch in western Gujarat, can be contacted at +91-81411-73115”
Winter Solstice & Relationships
“Buddhism teaches that however passionate two people are at the start of their relationship, over the course of time the intensity of that feeling will fade and change. This is because romantic love is all too often a manifestation of the world of Rapture, which is, by definition, short-lived. The passing of the rapturous phase does not necessarily mean that the couple will have stopped loving each other – although some people think this is what has happened and can get very worried – but that other aspects of the Ten Worlds have come to the fore.
For example, through the rose-tinted spectacles of Rapture, Ms A is beguiled by Mr B’s easy-going charm. But as Rapture fades, as it must, she’s increasingly irritated by what she now sees as his laziness and refusal ever to take a stand on anything. In other words, the tranquility that attracted her has begun to repel her.
It is in this confrontation with the reality of two people living their daily life together that the wisdom of Buddhism once again reveals itself.”
– Soka Gakkai Buddhism
Happy Holidays. Much strength to transform poison into medicine to those who are struggling in relationship, with themselves, their chosen or not chosen families and friends.
This can be a triggering time, please take care of yourselves- if possible, not by isolation but through gaining some new tools on conflict resolution, sharing in community and working through triggers…atleast that’s what helps me.
And I’m Not ‘The Teacher’
I’ve always loved children. The younger, the better, the more enjoyable to work with.
This April, a few parents trusted me when I said, ‘ I want to provide a space for your kids to go crazy on paper!’ And that is what I did- went crazy with them.
However, I find it depressing to note how early competition and the competitive spirit is cultivated in children. The good workers are repeatedly rewarded for ‘being good’ and the naughty ones, or the ones less focused are repeatedly scolded for ‘bad behavior’.
My attempt at conducting an art and drama workshop for young children ( aged 5 to 10 yrs) stemmed off of an Education project I had done at Srishti under the theme of ‘Theatre and Pedagogy’ using Forum Theatre, where the FT structure broke conventional classroom technique and pedagogical structure.
I wanted to find out if I could float a project on my own boat, my own ideas of pedagogy, which are quite different from those that children, even as young as 5 are used to at school. My liberal, self-directed approach with minimal spoon feeding and more space for exploration was recieved with much delight in the beginning. But as the month progressed and functional problems propped up, like the division between the ‘serious art kids’ and the ones there to ‘be naughty’, the questions of ‘whose work is better?’, ‘ Is this beautiful art?’, ‘How can I learn to become the best artist, better than everyone else?’ and so on, it seemed as if the kids were conditioned to hear me punishing the naughty ones, throwing them out of the class and rewarding the one who did the best. One of the ‘good ones’ told me that they were disappointed to see that I had no form of punishment intact for those who distract the class.
In the classroom, I want to step way from this notion of good,better and best. I want to see children really using a space for as much independent thinking as possible. It seems, as if, in the Indian context, even in the alternate pedagogical structure, this functioning doesn’t come easy.
Here are some outcomes:
This mural was developed using the ‘box technique’ of making a rough cross hatch pattern of lines and drawing forms on it. The forms are then made to overlap with other forms and the mural gets divided into small squares or rectangles that each child can colour using different colors, materials and textures.
The objects came from a story that each child developed around the question, ‘What is the one thing most important to me?’
The Land Part with its birthday parties on a boat and multicolored fishes
Stories under the sea were visualized. A flower making workshop lead to accessorizing the mini coral reef.
Some of the participants of the workshop posing with their name tags
On my birthday, a beautiful watercolored gift from a friend.
‘What is there to know
this is what it is
you and me alone
Thank you, Kinshuk.
Visit him and his Kolored Kites here