Going into this, our idea of autonomy was mostly tied to freedom. We were hoping to explore what it meant for us to have freedom and control over our own bodies, not just in terms of our own personal relationships with our bodies, but also in relation to others.
But over the last year, that definition has been put into question. In a time where we can no longer hug, touch or even stand less than six feet away from one another, what does autonomy look like in the context of the greater good?
Autonomy is respecting your body along with others’. It’s understanding and communicating boundaries. It’s giving yourself space to be fluid or change your mind, to change the end goal.
But finding autonomy also means redefining your body’s worth against society’s definitions. It means finding beauty in hardship, controlling your own narrative. And it can also mean inviting others into that.
It might be easy to think that autonomy is simply doing what you want with your body, but we have learnt that it is much more than that. Autonomy can go wrong when trust is broken — it comes with responsibility and choices.
When exercising your autonomy can be a life-or-death situation, how do you evaluate that risk while finding human connection? While we don’t know what autonomy means for you, or what it will mean in the future, we hope that this issue helps you find new ways to grapple with it for yourself.
Thank you to the writers, models and photographers that made these pieces possible.
This article is part of Autonomy, The Ubyssey’s 2021 sex issue. You can read more here.