TV3 Should Be Congratulated For Tackling Sex & Disability

Going on National Television and revealing how I lost my virginity to a sex worker was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do. Now the dust has settled and the nation has its arms up in the air with disgust, I want to address a few things that critics have been saying.

There has been a lot of unfair criticism towards TV3 about the way that the story was presented.

Brothel owner Mary Brennan, the other woman who was interviewed in the story, summed up the entire point that I was trying to make when she said the following line:

“For someone who is physically disabled and who has only ever felt the touch of anybody through a latex glove, it is huge to feel another body”.

The reality is that this is how it is for a lot of disabled people, especially those at the higher end of the disability scale who live in residential services, rest homes, or even in hospitals in some cases.

It is not simply asking the government to pay for disabled people to have sex with prostitutes. It also isn’t a question of, “well if the government will pay for the disabled then why not me, because I can’t get laid either”.

The point I am making is that surely everyone deserves the opportunity to experience sex, in whatever way that is for them in their situation. I am speaking about disabled people, young and old, who can’t even do the most basic of everyday things… like shower, go to the toilet, dress themselves, or eat their dinner.

It goes without saying that there is a significant difference between sex and love.

CCS Disability Action, my employers, argued that sex is a personal responsibility and it is up to the disabled people themselves to fund it. That is entirely fair, but not to those extremely disabled young men and woman who are so severely limited that work, even part-time work, will never be possible due to many different factors, including access to the community.
What then? Do we just forget about it and hope said person loses their sexual desire?

Helping people access sex workers is one thing, making it happen, with all the variable barriers a disabled person faces in the bedroom, is entirely another.

Simply saving money received from the Supported Living Payment (a benefit for disabled people paid by the government) is a piece of advice that misses the bigger issue.

The issue here is that sex, whatever that means for people with high-end needs due to their disability, needs to be discussed and looked at in a different way than has been the norm up until now. Sex is one of the most natural pleasures of all, and some of the people I am talking about have never experienced any sexual or romantic feeling whatsoever.

Their disability is a big reason for this. They need support to access sex, and they need support to engage in sex. Without that support, sex, eventual intimacy, and hopefully true love, will never be possible.

I want to thank TV3 for opening the door to this issue, because it is something the disability sector needs to shine the light on.

MDA’s Chief Executive wants to create member discussion about sex

Ronelle Baker believes that the MDA has an important role in providing services and information that normalises sex for disabled people.

The MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand) has already been involved in a couple of workshop like gatherings that explore sexuality and disability.

Those gatherings weren’t well attended and while the MDA, and others, scratch their head as to why, further training for fieldworkers is on the cards.

Baker, the interim Chief Executive of the MDA, believes that fieldworkers need more competencies in the area of sex and disability.

The long term vision for the MDA is to create peer to peer support, to link people to resources, and to allow confidential and safe conversations to occur so that individuals can explore their sexual thoughts, challenges, and experiences in constructive and therapeutic ways.

The matter of sexuality and disability is yet to be raised with MDA’s National Council.

Barriers that don’t help disabled people find sex, lust, & adventure

Hook up apps like Tinder make sex a quick and easy find in 2016, but going out and getting laid isn’t quite as simple as swiping right for people living with a disability.

For a long time now, the general assumption amongst has been that most disabled people are asexual.

When was the last time that disability was brought up alongside sex education in schools? When did the government last mention New Zealand’s sex industry and disability in the same sentence?

Perhaps a bigger question – when was the last time you saw a disabled man or woman portrayed in a sexually satisfying way on mainstream media or in music videos?

The guess would be never.

In many ways, relationships are easier to form and engage in now than at any other time in human history.

Social media makes it easy to meet new people with similar interests, but it also allows a certain mystery in those innocent early moments.

If two people begin chatting on social media, it leads to an exciting meet up with this new person, perhaps at a nice coffee shop or at a bar, but it isn’t until that moment (or perhaps after) that the actual friendship, or the beginning of a relationship, really begins.

The great thing about social media is that it is accessible to everyone, if only the local community was the same.

Disabled people often face four major barriers, making a quick getaway from home to meet up with a girl in town almost impossible at short notice.

  • Transport
  • Care
  • Accessibility
  • Safety

The harsh reality is that these four barriers are very real, there is no sugar coating them.

For the majority of disabled people, going out on the town and “getting some” just doesn’t happen at the drop of a hat. Therefore, when they do get these opportunities, it becomes so much more than just a random hook up to satisfy sexual urges, however amazing that may feel at the time.

These barriers shouldn’t deter however, but sadly, they seem to nonetheless.