The language of sexuality that we use at The YP Foundation has evolved over the last few years as our understanding of what the multiple facets of and interconnections within sexuality, gender, rights and health are. It’s been a challenging process and our knowledge of the same has been challenged, redefined, questioned and re-invented. The most important learning principle is that there is little that is static. Our key principles remain the same, but how those are defined and applied is a continuous learning process.
Over the last 2 years our work has been directed towards advocating for young people’s sexual right as a human right. Certain key principles that have been recognized are:
- We believe that sexuality and expression of sexuality is intrinsic to each individual
- Recognize that sexuality is a normal and important part of all people’s lives and while different people have different understandings and ways of expressing their sexuality, all people should experience their bodies and sexuality in a positive and fulfilling manner.
-Recognize that gender is a fluid concept and gender roles are based on narrow societal constructs. Every individual has the right to choose and ascribe to different gender and/or sexual identities.
- Respect, and not violate, other people’s bodies and personal spaces, laying emphasis on the importance of consent in relationships.
- Recognize that different people have different body types and address existing stereotypes relating to body types, sexuality & notions of what is attractive.
- Respect their bodies and take proper care of their bodies with respect to nutrition, exercise, sexual health and get regular health checkups.
- Recognize the importance of accessing correct information from reliable sources, leading to informed decision making.
Along with any sort of work comes a tag, a tendency to define and interpret where certain actions, event or piece of work fits in. For The YP, this process was not a conscious process, but we found a space, where we feel our work very naturally fit.
Language here again became important. What are our politics and our stands? What language and with what words do we speak? Who do we speak on behalf of? Do we identify ourselves with any movement? Specifically in relation to our work with sexuality, how do we ensure that our work and also language is culturally appropriate-or is that even necessary?
Another question was of our engagement with social issues, with registration came the tag of NGO- a ‘not for profit registered foundation’. Words such as social change, social justice, Advocates, Activists entered our vocabulary and concept notes.
The term youth activism has been used to describe our work in multiple arenas, both internally and externally. But what does that mean, specifically in the context of work around sexuality and gender, how is activism interpreted when placed in the milieu of urban issues and people? These are some of the questions that this series of article hopes to explore.
Anonymous, 21, Chennai
’15 things about my sexuality’
1) I don’t know what sexuality means. For me its my sexual state of mind. Or of body.
2) I am gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Trans sexual. Pan sexual and straight. My sexuality changes everyday, hate the above mentioned words, I don’t like labels. I am all of the above and none of the above also. If you can like a different color everyday then why not sexual preference ?
3) I would love to call myself a sexual person even though I haven’t had sex ever. Sexuality and sex are different.
4) I became sexually active when I was 12 , with my first boyfriend. That was my first kiss, I don’t remember how it happened and why it happened.
5) I was molested when I was 15 by my science tutor. I was so upset that I could never tell my parents about it for a month and when I did it was worse. I did not let anyone touch me for 1 year after that.
6) I was in a 5 year long violent relationship with a man I loved – I never had the balls to get out of it, or stand up for myself. I never understood that verbal and physical abuse could mean violence. Now, I wish I go back in time and believe in myself more.
7) Boobs are the best part of my body, its also something people call me.
My entire school life till the 11th grade I was called a ‘whore’- because I would speak to guys and date them.
9) I believe in one night stands and I believe in relationships. I have had both, they remain special.
10) I watch porn, I like it. I am very open out it. The sophisticated people call it ‘yuck’. They don’t understand how porn can give you pleasure. Guess what? They don’t NEED to.
11) I believe in sex work. I prostitute my brain in my work place, there is nothing wrong in doing the same with you body.
12) If I get lots of money I will sleep with someone if they are hot and rich- no this isn’t for only money. You need feel pleasure in the work you do. And I like sex, a lot.
13) People try really hard not to judge me, to understand me and then they misinterpret me. Yes, the open minded people too. The open who claim to accept different sexuality and the same ones who talk about it.
14) In my past relationships, both with men and women I have been forced to have sex. But after the incidents mentioned above taught me how to say no.
15) You don’t define how I think, how I look, how I feel. I can think like a girl, look like a boy and feel think about both. I define my sexuality- I make it, change it, feel it, believe it and accept it.
Anonymous, 20, Delhi