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One group beginning to move beyond limiting stereotypes of "normal" sexuality is the physically disabled. Although feminists discovered early how crucial it is to learn to aff1m1 diversity racial, ethnic, and class diversity were what we became aware of first it has taken us years to open our new understandings of sexuality to the voices and experiences of disabled women. Ideally, a feminist sex education would affirm the sexual feelings and special concerns of disabled people, but the 1976 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves contains very little of this. Ignorance of, prejudices toward, and awkwardness around physical disability run deep in all of us, based mainly on a vicious cycle of fear for ourselves and lack of contact with those who are physically different. (The lack of contact, of course, comes from enforced isolation of disabled people, which then leads to more fear and prejudice.)
In the May 1981 issue of Off Our Backs, a monthly women's news journal from Washington, D.C., disabled women have spoken up in a way that invites each of us to change how we see them and how we see ourselves. Here are a few excerpts ("Women and Disability," 1981). From a woman with muscular dystrophy:
In terms of sexual independence, I never saw my vulva, because my mod1er dressed and bathed me and I couldn't get a mirror. Just remember that a disabled woman may not be as aware of her body because of problems like this. She may have little privacy so can't even get to masturbate alone. A disabled woman is apt to be ashamed of her body anyway. People look at you, stare, avoid looking, so d1ere is a lot of inhibition to get rid of.
The same woman goes on to talk about the isolation:
Some...are uncomfortable just being around a disabled woman, others are comfortable with being a friend, but can't consider a sexual relationship People have often believed that if you are with a [disabled person] you can catch "it". ...We are not allowed to be sexual beings.
An able bodied woman whose lover is disabled speaks movingly about what they have learned:
My lover has been disabled since she was a baby Health care professionals have handled her body again and again, without allowing her control over the process. So obviously it is difficult for her to let go of the control over her body and to entrust her lover with this control. I need to honor her experience, and to know that it is not my fault or my inadequacy as a lover, or hers. We have discovered that honest and loving communication, with no blame or criticism, leads us to finding...ways to experience sexual pleasure with each other.
She finished with an insight for all of us:
I find that I need to change my basic conceptualizations, beginning with the linking of "healthy" and "disabled" as opposites. It's oppressive, and not even true, that a person who is disabled cannot be healthy. My lover is filled with light and wisdom.
A male friend of ours who was disabled by polio at 15 has found where the stereotypes do not fit (Zola, in press):
There is the absence of a certain spontaneity in my sexual courting. There's simply no sexy, subtle, or even fast way for me to remove my braces and get undressed. And though I've often fantasized about having someone disrobe me, I've never been able in real life to do it very easily.
About The Author
David Crawford is the CEO and owner of a Penis Enlargement Facts company known as Penis Enlargement Group which is dedicated to researching and comparing penis enlargement products in order to determine which penis enlargement product is safer and more effective than other products on the market. Copyright 2011 David Crawford of Natural Penis Enlargement This article may be freely distributed if this resource box stays attached.
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- Adult Onset Disability Part I
- Childhood Onset Disability
- Disability and Intimacy Part I