Opinions

Let’s talk about sex and disability

People without disabilities often infantilize those who have them

Let’s talk about sex and disability photo by : Patrick Fulgencio
When you can't open the door to get to class, why are you even paying tuition?
written by Vicky Levack
February 26, 2017 10:49 pm

When I was asked to write a piece for this issue I was thrilled, but also a little daunted. The topic of sexuality is so broad even if you “narrow it down” to sex and disability. Where the hell do I start? Then it hit me: it’s better to assume you don’t know anything. So here are some basics (in no particular order):

Yes, people with disabilities want sex!

Let’s start with the assumption I seem to encounter most often. People without disabilities often infantilize those who have them. I believe this happens because people with disabilities often require care usually reserved for infants/toddlers. In my case, I need help dressing, showering, going to the bathroom and a million other little things.

Though some of us require the same care, we are not infants! In fact, by denying our sexuality, those shocked individuals not only deny our adulthood, but our humanity. The vast majority of humans are sexual beings. This fact doesn’t change because some bodies and brains work differently. Some disabled folks may be asexual, but that’s because some people are. The fact they’re disabled is irrelevant.

Can we do it? Yes we can!

Another question I get is some variation of, “But… how?” My answer to this rather personal question depends on whether I’ve had my morning coffee.

Yes, on one occasion this was a conversation over breakfast.

Let me give some advice, never ask someone for a play-by-play of their sexy time. It’s weird and puts people in an awkward position. In my case, I feel pressure to answer because I consider it a duty to educate and if I don’t they’ll just ask some other poor soul. But if you expected me to get graphic, sorry to disappoint.

What I will say is this: it is true that some disabled individuals can’t have “normal” penetrative sex due to their body’s limitations. This is why I believe our view of what sex is must expand. So what if missionary isn’t possible? Sex is like a buffet, not everything will be good or agree with you. So go up and try something else. That’s my advice for anyone – disabled or not.

I acknowledge I’ve just chipped away the very tip of this iceberg of an issue so if you have questions feel free to send them and perhaps I can answer them in another issue. TTFN.