Sex & Disability: Let’s talk about it
Did you know that very many disabled people like sex? You like sex and I like sex, so why wouldn’t a disabled person like sex? And it’s not just sex…there is an intimacy that comes with sex. Intimacy with a partner can come with sex, that you can’t really get in any other way. Society generally doesn’t feel that comfortable discussing this. People tend to think of disabled people as asexual and certainly some may be; just as some able bodied persons are asexual.
Logistics of Sex
For some, it might not be as easy to have sex. There may be physical challenges and sometimes in the dating world. Disabled partners are not seen as people you date. Even medical professionals don’t recognize the need for discussion. Impairments like a catheter being put in an awkward place to prohibit vaginal sex. It is not that easy to discuss the logistics of sex for anyone and when you add extra challenges to the mix…
Like most challenges, the first step is to recognize, acknowledge and discuss it. There is historically stigma with disabilities and a lot of assumptions. In fiction, the male, who is physically impaired is often butt of jokes and insinuation. Teenagers with disabilities might be excluded from a sex ed class because it is assumed…they won’t need the information! There is also the reality of people with non-visible disabilities facing challenges as well.
Is Sex Glamorous
Sex is often glamorized to this high standard that really no one can live up to. It is seen as spontaneous, no planning required. For some this could be reality; for others, not so much. Sex can be experienced in many ways and is not defined by penetrative sex. Multiple surgeries can also present difficulties with body image. We all experience lack of self confidence to some degree; disability can add a new layer.
Change is Coming
Slowly, slowly things are changing in media. Michael Stokes is a fabulous photographer. He profiled veterans in a calendar, he raised eyebrows, caused upset. But more importantly, he helped empower the subjects and others. Cosmopolitan has had good articles featuring women with various disabilities speaking frankly about their sex lives. Sex toys are being developed specifically to help with the physical barriers of sometimes having sex.
Sex for just about everyone helps define who we are, what we like, that we matter, how we connect. Sex for everyone ebbs and flows. It helps us to be vulnerable. It can make us laugh and wow can it arouse us. It is pretty darn great and to think that a percentage of our population isn’t interested because of a physical or mental challenge, just isn’t true…so let’s stop assuming and start talking openly and honestly. This is a conversation that we will all benefit from.
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