Title: Intimate City
Author: Manjima Bhattacharjya Publisher: Zubaan Books
Genre: Non-Fiction, Social Welfare, Feminist Writing
Rating: 4 stars
This is a book that should be read by everyone. It is not only about sexual choices and rights exercised by women, but also about how technology enables that or sometimes not. Intimate City is a fascinating read about the business of pleasure and how that is coupled with the autonomy of the body, in relation to how the Internet has redeveloped intimacies in the times we live.
Intimate City looks at feminism and its understanding in the space of sex work, choice, and agency, all of this playing out in the city of Mumbai. I think Mumbai and its nuances plays out beautifully as another character altogether in this very reflective and profound non-fiction narrative of how sexual commerce comes full circle (well, almost does).
Manjima through her incisive and very detailed writing also looks at patriarchy and the role it plays throughout in the lives of not only sex workers, but also bar dancers, massage boys, and escort girls as service providers. It was for me very interesting as a queer man to see sex politics play out in this industry – with reference to how sexual commerce is viewed by the world at large, about whether it can ever be seen as a “regular” job, and how it all operates offline vs. online.
Intimate City, for some may not be revealing or earth-shattering in a sense. We think we might know it all, till we read something like this, and that’s all it takes perhaps to demolish our preconceived notions about who is paying for sex, and who is getting paid. I repeat, it is definitely a book that is a must-read for all.