Sex and Disability
Portugal’s Plural&Singular Publishes Report on Sex and Affection
it’s impressive that disability sports magazines are conducting and reporting on sex and disability research. Better still, the Portugese study investigated the experiences of both people with intellectual disabilities and people with physical disabilities.
Earlier this month, Portugal’s disability sport magazine Plural&Singular published a special report on sex and affection issues among the disability community in the country. This report was a supplement to another report published a few years earlier, and answer additional questions around people with disabilities, their attitudes towards sex, and their sexual practices.
Sex and disability: What you’ve always wanted to know but were afraid to ask
Beliefs about disability and sex, and about sex in general, hold people back and can make the idea of romance and relationships (which is already scary for a lot of us) seem harder or scarier than it is. We still have this cultural idea that sex can only happen one way, or that there are right or wrong, more and less “real” ways to have sex, and that especially doesn’t help people whose bodies can’t perform those expectations.
“For a long time, before I had a partner that was willing to get creative with me, I thought I was bad at sex, because I thought there was only one way to have sex and I don’t do it in that way,” says Rose. “It wasn’t until I had a partner who said, ‘let’s figure out what works for both of us’ that I realized I’m good at it and enjoy it a lot more,” he says.
What if I asked you whether you can have sex?
Strangers don’t need to know why someone looks the way they do, or how impaired they are, and certainly not whether or how they can have sex.
Many think it’s always necessary for disabled people or people with facial differences to take every opportunity to educate. Curiosity doesn’t need to be satisfied.
People forget their manners when talking to me and others with disabilities and facial difference. They unleash their thoughts and prejudices before engaging their brains.
IN 2016, people are still perpetuating the myth that some kinds of sex are more real, or valid, or better for us than others, and they’re using science, or what they’re passing off as science, to do it.
There are studies that try to tell us what we should or shouldn’t be doing with our bodies, or that try to tell us that doing some sexual activities (like having multiple partners or watching porn) are indications that there’s something medically wrong with us.
When we look closer at these studies, we see that most of them don’t stand up to what we know to be accurate science; for example, they don’t use large sample sizes or they aren’t designed to make sure that the researcher’s beleifs or biases don’t get in the way of what the data is actually saying.
The only sexual activities that are wrong or bad are ones you don’t enjoy, or ones that can hurt you or someone else. By all means, if you personally don’t believe in watching porn, or in masturbating, or in anything else, you don’t have to do those things. Feel free to own that you don’t like or believe in any sexual practice, but know that the research, by and large, doesn’t support cultural beliefs that limit people’s sexualities or sexual practices.
Trust a Scientist: Sex Addiction Is a Myth
The idea of “sex addiction” has become really popular, but the research shows that compulsions for sexual activities, or for watching porn, don’t work the same way drug and alcohol addictions work. The brain is not chemically addicted to sex or porn.
A sex addict without sex is much more like a teenager without their smartphone. Imagine a kid playing Angry Birds. He seems obsessed, but once the game is off and it’s time for dinner, he unplugs. He might wish he was still playing, but he doesn’t get the shakes at the dinner table. There’s nothing going on in his brain that creates an uncontrollable imbalance.
There Really Isn’t Any Bad News for People Who Like to Masturbate
Another article refuting bad science around sexual activity.
I was surprised to read that researchers are still supporting the idea that one kind of sex is better for us than another.
Contrary to all the myths out there, masturbation isn’t bad for us. We won’t get hairy palms, or go blind or – hey, wait, isn’t it interesting that so many of the traditional prohibitions aginst masturbation are threats of disability or physical difference? That’s definitely something to think about: The ways we’ve tied negative beliefs about disability up with negative beliefs about sexuality.
The only time masturbation is bad is if it’s something you don’t want to be doing for yourself. The only time it’s not going to feel good is if your personal experience is that other sexual activities ffeel better.
As a sex educator, I can’t imagine telling anyone that penile-vaginal sex is inherently better. For one thing, not everyone is in a couple, and not all couples have a penis and a vagina between them. And even for cisgender heterosexual couples, PVI is only one of countless potentially pleasurable behaviors.