Special Blog Post – Sarah in Wonderland: “Let’s Get it On – Sex & Disability”

Original blog post published Here

Last weekend a journalist came to my house and interviewed me on what it’s like having a sex life whilst disabled. We spent almost two hours discussing this subject that seems to be one of the most controversial and taboo topics when it comes to disability. Obviously I don’t find it unmentionable, or I wouldn’t be writing this or have been interviewed. But disability and sex seems to be that forbidden juxtaposition that nobody wants to think about, let alone talk about.

But I don’t like rules and I’ve opened the dialogue on this a while back so thought I’d revisit it.

Disabled people are left out of a lot of discussions, and when it comes to sex it’s as if we don’t exist. We’re all clearly asexual and our disability makes us incapable of having sex…right? Hell no. Nope. Nada. Not true.

Similar to some people being shocked when a disabled person has an interest in football or skiing (the first two random things that popped into my head), as if we don’t have personalities – we’re all-consumed by our impairments, that must be the same for sex. How can a disabled person like things that an abled bodied person can? It baffles me that people believe that having a disability means that’s all you are, that you’re somehow inhuman. So, yeh, I like football, reading and shagging (not all at once). Oh, and I use a wheelchair. How’s that hard to comprehend?

News flash, disabled people are sexual beings and have the same urges, the same desires and fantasies as any abled person. The assumption that sexuality and disability are mutually exclusive is a ridiculous one and I for one intend on talking about this a lot more.

Sex is a fundamental part of life and having a disability will not stop me from experiencing this basic need. And it shouldn’t be surprising or disgusting if a disabled person is searching for the Big O. It also shouldn’t be surprising or disgusting if an abled person beds a disabled person (as long as it’s consensual, of course). I’ve seen far too many comments about how abled people are deviants or fetishists, when it’s just not the case. Like I said earlier, disabled people are more than their disability; we’re attractive, hilarious, intelligent…hang on, I think I just described me *wink* No, but seriously, they aren’t enticed by the thought of fucking someone in a wheelchair (although if you are, you do you, boo), they’re attracted to that thing that people are attracted to. For my boyfriend and I, I was all about his beard, and he thought I was beautiful (his words). There was nothing seedy or sordid, it was just two people liking each other, ignoring my shitty body as it was a moot topic. My disability didn’t play a part in it at all. And although he knew about it and was aware I’m in pain 24/7, which means I’d have that follow me into the bedroom, it didn’t kerb my sexual desires or his. We just have to be a little careful that I don’t break. When you have a dislocating body like I do, it’s always fun and games until I’m body-popping. And screaming in pain.

The hesitancy and doubt surrounding the discourse of sex and disability is such a grey area, especially when it comes to those with a learning disability. Do they know what they’re doing? Is it right? Is it ethical? But really, is it any of your business? Everyone deserves love and to experience a sexual relationship, no matter what their disability.

We need the attitudes towards sex and disability to change, we need the barriers broken down and challenged, and we need disability to be included in sex education. Only then will archaic, restrictive constructs be removed from the conversation of sex and disability.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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Jesse Altham

Hey! My name is Jesse and I’m a 23 year old from Fremantle, WA. I’m finishing up my Diploma of Youth Work with North Metro TAFE, completing my last practical placement here with the YEP crew. I am extremely passionate about politics, advocacy and education and I’m so fortunate to be working with YEP in the space of peer education.

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