Here at Ready, Sexy, Able
Sexual Abuse, Sexual Rights, and Intellectual Disability: A Messy Political Stew
Sexual abuse policies at institutions for people with disabilities don’t usually make it into the news, so when they do, that is news. Here, I unpacked what was said, and not said, in news articles about the Montana developmental Center, and looked at the whole picture from a disability rights point of view.
Imagine a world where you don’t get to touch or be touched, or where you’re separated if people catch you having sex you want to be having, where the people don’t ask you if you wanted that sex, or intimate touch, or whatever it was you were doing and whatever that touch meant to you until after they made you stop, and then they’re only asking you to see whether they need to take a sexual abuse investigation to the next level.
Illness and Disability? They get along with sexuality just fine.
Being ill might change your sexuality (just like getting married, or losing a loved one, or making a giant life decision can change any and every part of you) but it doesn’t take it away. Being in pain all the time might make you want sex less (or it might make you want sex more). Changes to your body might suddently and dramatically affect how you express yourself sexually, but life changes will do that too – just sometimes less violently.
Sexual Health And Disability: Are we afraid to talk about it?
There’s something we’re not talking about.
There’s something the news articles and personal essays, the films and poetry, the sexy photo spreads and opinion pieces about sex and disability are leaving out – safer sex and sexual health.
To be fair, most mainstream discussions of sex and sexuality aren’t talking about sexual health either, at least not in ways that encourage people to take care of theirs.
Dating and Sexual Expression in the News
These articles all highlight, I think, what happens when you add the experience of disability to insecurities around dating and sex that most people feel, in some way, at some point in their lives. There’s no one way a date or sexual experience is supposed to go, and there’s no one way people of a particular age, or gender, or experience level, or anything else, experience their sexuality. When we’re talking about “sex and disability,” it’s usually the disability, and people’s reactions to it, that make the experience of sex and dating unique. Maybe, if we can change cultural attitudes enough, we’ll get to a point where nondisabled people won’t turn down a first date with a disabled person because they don’t want to get too involved – it’s a first date, after all! – not to mention a point where people will shed prejudices about what it’d be like to be in a long-term relationship with a disabled person. Maybe we’ll get to a point where communication during sex, not always wanting or needing to do the same sexual things, a shedding of the idea that orgasm, or “man on top” or anything else other than desire and creativity are required for happy sex, all of these things won’t seem like disability adaptations.
Disabled dating on Tinder: ‘People ask if I can have sex’
Last month, Tinder users took to social media to expose the discrepancy between their Tinder photos and what they really look like – think flattering angles, body-con dresses and blow-dries, versus double chins, coffee-stained T-shirts and bed hair. Unknowingly, a fleeting trend pointed to the dilemma that disabled online daters routinely find themselves in: do I show my disability in the photo? And, if not, or for the many people whose disability isn’t visible: when do I tell someone I’m disabled?
Give chronic pain away
There’s this paradox of being actually fragile while having trouble facing my physical vulnerability as a reality when I’m playing or having sex. I’m pushing back on chronic pain all of the time. Maybe sharing my body and myself fully is being able to let my partner absorb some of my fatigue and my fear of being fragile without feeling guilt or shame.
I have to understand that my lover checking in about my comfort and pain during sex is not an attack on my limits, but a recognition of me.
Price of Intimacy: The Time I Hired a Sex Worker
I sent David a cursory email, telling him that I was interested in using his services, but that I had never done this before, that I was nervous. I also casually explained as best I could that I lived with a disability and used a chair. He emailed back some hours later, letting me know that he had experience working with clients with disabilities. David wrote bluntly: “If I’m unsure of something, I’ll just ask.” It was a refreshing change from all the guys who tripped and tumbled over their discomfort.
Dating With A Disability
Living with a disability often means facing inaccurate assumptions; dating with one is no different. People sometimes assume those with disabilities only date others with disabilities, for example, and others believe that “if you’re disabled, you better hook up with someone who’s not because it will just be too hard,” says Julie Lynn Williams, an associate professor in Wright State University’s School of Professional Psychology who studies disability issues. There’s also a stigma that people with disabilities are asexual, or that they should be so they don’t reproduce, Williams says.
How Does It Feel? The Question I Wish You’d Ask Me as a Queer Man With Disabilities
Sex and disability feels scary. I have given up counting the times that I have held my breath after I’ve let a man in my apartment. I watch him come in, and I watch him look at the realities of disability that fill the space; commode chairs, ceiling tracks, portable lift devices that have been specially designed to meet my needs. I watch his eyes checking for the tiniest hint of doubt in them, ready to give him an out should he need it. I sit there in those milliseconds that tick by like millennia, hoping that he doesn’t leave, that he won’t want to go away from here, from me, from what is yet to come.
The Disability Experience
Gimp At The Porn Awards
Everyone I talked to was engaging and super-friendly. Not overly friendly, like those with fake sweet tones dripping from their voices when addressing those with visible disabilities. I can’t hear well, but I can hear that grossness. I find ableist tones are imbued with overt sweetness, assumptions of lacking cognition, dismissive, or a mix of all that fun! Aside from an academic I chatted with, not a single person spoke to me like I was an infant or something to be placed on a pillow to be looked at. People interacted with me like a fellow human. It was remarkable. It is also quite sad to even have to note this truth; it shouldn’t be rare yet it continues to be.
Radio talking Disability & sexuality, the social model and disability pride
This is well worth a listen! Access note: There is no text transcript of the interview.
I did a little interview on Clementine Ford’s Misandry Hour and talked about Disability & sexuality, the social model and disability pride.
‘Pretty Cripples’ and the people turned on by disability
In a world that constantly tells us anything out of the realms of “normal” is undesirable, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed by the idea that there are people out there who would happily love and accept every little bit of me, especially the bits that I’ve always considered flawed.
But, as I started to come face to face with people in the devotee community, I felt wary.
Disability and Sexual Intimacy
Fantastic to see an independent living center offering workshops on sexuality!
Disability and sexuality is not a subject that is at the top of the list of the enquiries we receive at ILC in Nedlands or at ILC Cockburn. Talking to Occupational Therapist colleagues and Carers it seems that the subject can be perceived as a taboo subject or sometimes it can be the white elephant in the room, it’s there but who mentions it? Should it be mentioned? Who should mention it first?
Marriage and Parenting
I Didn’t Want To be a Burden on Our Minimoon
My beautiful husband didn’t take to the Internet to complain that my pain ruined his weekend, but actually wrote a loving Facebook message about how amazing our accommodation was, that I am sore but it’s nice to spend time with me doing nothing. It was so uplifting and reassured me he had a good time and I’m not a burden.
Parenting with disability. What it’s really like.
Children are resilient and adaptable.
Besides working around not driving, my kids have always lived with the knowledge that sometimes they can’t touch me.
My family deals with my disabilities and associated disruptions pretty well. It is hard not to see myself through the eyes of other parents, or the eyes of my 14-year-old’s friends, when they ask my why his mom doesn’t drive and then, by association, “What’s wrong with her?” And he has to explain.
I hope my kids aren’t embarrassed. We live blocks from the schools, doctor, dentist, library, bank, and a couple restaurants. I walk everywhere, when I’m able. My husband works at a flexible job. I work at home. That’s how I do it. A lot of help and careful management of time and resources.
The Disabled parenting project
This is a new online space, launched in March, that seeks to bring disabled people together to discuss and share resources around parenting as people with disabilities.
The DPP also seeks to inform social policy through the development of resources, created by and for the disabled parenting community, and to promote social justice for disabledfamilies.