Would you deny sleep to someone who has a disability*? How about water or oxygen? Of course not. So why would it ever be acceptable to deny sex to anyone – ANYONE – who wants to have it?
Much of society still views those with physical disabilities as either not requiring physical pleasure or as not deserving of a healthy, satisfying sex life. According to Tom Shakespeare, author of “The Sexual Politics of Disability,” two pervasive and inaccurate tropes continue to influence beliefs on the topic:
- When one is disabled or impaired, their partner has the unequivocal right to seek solace or sexual satisfaction outside the relationship.
- Disability is punishment for some sort of sin that has been committed which should deprive the affected person of sexual pleasure
Clearly, these concepts are baseless, antiquated and downright cruel. It is the right of every human being to experience sex according to their own unique preferences and needs.
There also exists a serious lack of media representation when it comes to those with disabilities, and it’s been a rare experience for many people to witness themselves, their sexual lives, and romantic partnerships reflected positively.
Progress is being made – slowly but surely – thanks to an international group of activists who have used their talents in a wide variety of fields to push the movement forward. Here are some great resources that exemplify their efforts:
- “Accessible Sex Toys for People with Disabilities”
- “Disability-Inclusive Sex Positions”
- “The Sexual Health Network”
- For providers: “Sexual Respect Toolkit”
There is still much work to do. The medical establishment, the media, lawmakers, educators, and society at large has a collective responsibility to check biases, to study the evidence, to think creatively and, most importantly, to listen to people who have experiences to share. Only then can we move the needle toward sexual equality for all and make it a reality.
If you or someone you love needs more resources on sex and disability, please contact us and we’ll be happy to support you!
*There is disagreement amongst communities of those with disabilities about words like “disabled.” If there is a preferred term you would like us to consider going forward, please let us know!