Monday, September 04, 2006

Rediscovering Sex After Disability by AIREN GOMEZ

It was never such a thing as a simple dating and easy sexual life for disabled people.

In today’s society visibly disabled people is the only minority more stigmatized than the obese.

It is very hard to build up healthy relationships when your body is sick and abilities are limited.

Sex and disability are rarely discussed in the same sentence. As a result more than 50 % of disabled people do not have regular sexual life; many do not have a partner and think this is the way their life is supposed to be.

Lisa is a gorgeous and sexy blonde who has a problem walking since the car accident a few years ago. When she’s wearing her favorite mini skirt you can notice that most of the men around are checking her out. However, she has no boyfriend and her most erotic fantasy today is just to be with somebody who would not ask a million of questions about her body. And who would not have a million doubts about her ability to enjoy the sexual life. She says that for her it is much easier to buy vibrators and dildos than meet a guy, and start any kind of relationship with him. She’s feeling that all the girls out there are much better than her, and Lisa is loosing her hope for a normal sexual life day after day.

Michael is a 30 years old man whose illness changed his body and, therefore, his mind. A couple years ago he found a beautiful woman who seems to be so kind and understanding that he would not believe his luck for a while. They had such a great time together, cuddling, laughing and watching old movies. Until one day Debbie said that she is not ready to share her life with disabled man. That she is more satisfied with dildos and vibrators than with him and wants him to be more aggressive and active in love which he can’t be. Debbie left him and he had no desire for relationship since that day.

Speaking in general, a disability, while physically limiting, is no more limiting to that person's sexuality than one's ethnicity or gender. In reality, issues of sexual expression and attractiveness are no more or less important for the disabled than for the healthy people. It is mostly their negative experiences and a set of social stereotypes that make them feel unconfident and left aside. For example, it is often assumed that all persons who use wheelchairs are paralyzed, and therefore unable to enjoy sex toys and vibrators and make full use of their reproductive organs. While this may be true for some in the community, a large proportion of wheelchair users can function sexually as well as the next person. However, due to the lack of society’s knowledge and sexual education, the disabled person's chances of meeting a potential sexual partner are greatly reduced.

So what is the solution for the people with limited abilities in terms of the sexual life, dating and partnering? There are few aspects that can be analyzed in order to get an answer. Surely, it would take a while for a complete change of society’s view of disability, but some changes in people’s attitudes and some tips on better sex techniques and how to use sex toys such as dildos and vibrators may play a significant role.

First of all, if Sex and Disability Topic would be discussed more open in our society, then people would be more educated about it and will have a tendency to become stereotype free.

Discussions, interviews and some research would help to understand psychology of the disabled person without a negative cliché. As we, as a society, become more aware of the needs, limits and abilities of disabled people, we will become more comfortable with the idea of having a disabled person as a partner.

Second, advanced sexual education among the disabled people would help them to realize that they are capable of having healthy sexual relationships. Some special techniques and devices (such as sex toys: massagers, dildos, vibrators, etc) would help in cases when a particular kind of disability places a limit on the variety of sexual contacts and experiences. For example, in case of mobility-impaired person partnering with able-bodied partner the able-bodied person can maneuver the impaired person's body into different positions, stimulating erogenous zones as desired. With a help of some toys such as dildos, harness, and vibrators, this experience can be absolutely as satisfying as the one between two able-bodied persons.

And finally and the most important, a key factor in re-discovering a sex life after disability is recognizing that while life is different, it doesn't have to be bad. Until full sexual drive and confidence return are regained, touching one’s self, cuddling, masturbating with dildos, massaging with vibrators and even talking can be rich experiences. As a fact, we all should learn to see past the person's disability altogether, and learn to know and love that person as the intellectual, emotional and romantic person he or she is capable of being.

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