Sex & Disability: Smashing down the barriers

Men, Women, Young, and Old, the discussion of sex and disability is now everywhere.

As time goes by, more and more disabled people are beginning to find ways of bringing the issue previously known as ‘the elephant in the room’ to light for mainstream society to consider.

Many people in the disability sector are guilty of putting the discussion of sex (as it pertains to people with a disability) into the ‘too hard basket’, throwing out all sorts of reasons why advocacy is better used in other, ‘more important’ areas. To have a lack of understanding surrounding sex for disabled people is wrong and immoral, but this has been the status quo up until now. 

Here are some of the questions that The Real Michael Pulman has been asked over the years regarding sex and disability:

Can you have sex? Do you have an orgasm? How does it work in terms of positions? Does the girl have to do all the work? 

A lot of assumptions have also been made along the way, most of which discard the possibility of someone with a physical or intellectual disability having the capability to experience sex or intimacy on any level.

There is no doubt at all that many people who aren’t connected to anybody with a disability are unsure about how to process the growing discussion about people with disabilities having an interest in, being capable of, and engaging in sex. The questions above are some of the most common for men with a physical disability especially. For both men and woman with an intellectual disability, there is a lot more to consider in the area of sex, but with that, there is a desire for sexual gratification on their part also.

Broad by nature, sex obviously includes penetration, but also features foreplay like oral (given and received), kissing and cuddling, and various other activity.

Often, these variations allow people with disability to experience a deeper level of sex, but also, it provides further knowledge of their capabilities in the bedroom.

Every other day now there seems to be an article popping up somewhere around the world about the subject of sex and disability, and most of these articles present the same message… acknowledge that people with disabilities are also sexual beings. In Vancouver, a burlesque production featuring people with disabilities has been performed to break down the barriers, myths, and assumptions that the general public makes about the area of sex. Sexy Voices featured a wheelchair striptease and features vignettes by people affected by disability, all in the hopes of breaking down the barriers that they say deny people with disabilities a sexual identity.

This is the latest in a long line of attempts to change societal thinking on the matter.

When The Real Michael Pulman appeared on New Zealand television to pitch the idea of the Government helping out the seriously disabled suffering from a very high needs disability access the sex industry, the proposal was met with mixed reaction. However, what was more clear than anything was that the notion of a person with a disability speaking out about such a topic was something very foreign to all New Zealanders.

In 2016, with a highly sexualised society, why still are people with disabilities not seen as sexually attractive and capable beings? The answer is the perceptions of people in society, something advocates are desperate and determined to change.

Momentum is beginning to be achieved, and there is much more yet to come.

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