First of all, I’m not a fan of the word disabled or handicapped. The people society might classify as “disabled” are more able than most “able” people. So lets get that out of the way right now. A term cannot define a person, you are not a title or a label. In this article I will use the term disabled to identify the person who may be challenged by the box society has placed them in and to help “able” bodied people understand how societal norms really screwed the pooch on this one.
The current beliefs surrounding sexuality for disabled people has been a long standing, albeit inaccurate, set of rules that make talking about sex and the disabled a no go conversation, and this is even true for the disabled person. Imagine being told your entire life that expressing yourself sexually was inappropriate and that you are wrong for even thinking that way. Talk about a blow to your sense of self and your identity. So today, we are going to join the fight to make this topic a part of public consumption and free those who feel caged by the myths and beliefs that have plagued them up till now.
Myth #1 – People with disabilities are not sexual and do not want sex. Last I checked people are people and all people are sexual. Everyone is normal in their own right, and just because they are different from what another person might consider is normal doesn’t make them wrong. Sexuality is a human desire, even infants and toddlers experiment with their sexuality. Those have kids might have seen your toddler stick her finger in between her labia. It feels good, and she’s learning about the different parts of her body. It’s NORMAL! Or how about your toddler who plays with his penis? It feels good, its this body part that has sensation beyond urinating. It’s NORMAL!
Myth #2 – People with disabilities can’t have “real sex”. What does that even mean? What’s real sex? I’m guessing real sex means what society has dictated through media, movies and porn to be “real sex.” Sex is real to everyone consenting to the experience. Again, just because the experience falls outside of the box does not make it any less real, passionate, or pleasurable.
Myth #3 – Able bodied people aren’t attracted to disabled people. A man in his 20’s was involved in an accident that changed his life forever. He snapped his neck and became a quadriplegic. He was in the army and was diagnosed at the VA hospital in the early 60’s. He was told by his doctor to be “realistic” about sex and that he’d probably never feel anything below his shoulders again. Surprise, this man fell madly in love with a woman just a few years after his diagnosis. She is an able bodied woman who was instantly attracted to this man, wheelchair and all. Through their sexual journey they discovered that not only was he able to get a partial erection, he was also, occasionally able to ejaculate. VA Dr.’s eat your heart out! He also learned this beautiful, fully able bodied woman, thought he was the sexiest man to ever exist.
The point here is to never underestimate a person, regardless of any limitations they may or may not have. All people love. All people are sexual. If you are interested in a person who is different from you, or you’re in a relationship with a person who is different from you and need some guidance to navigate past the constructs placed by society and those stupid rules that don’t even apply, you let me know. We can work together to break down the barriers that have caged the disabled for far too long.
Kroll, K. & Klein, E. (1992). Enabling Romance: A guide to Love, Sex, and Relationships for the Disabled. Harmony Books. New York