Just like my joints, this pile of doll. (Photo: Teona Studemire)
One morning, while I was tweeting, one of the first tweets I saw in my newsfeed tried to de-sexualize the handicapped people by saying we weren’t allowed to have sex.
I felt exhausted and excited, because that’s what I used to see.
So I tweeted again: People sincerely believe that people with disabilities do not have sex. Just like my joints, that packet of cookies, thank you.
Within a few days it went viral on Twitter and has since found hundreds of thousands of followers. I’m really overwhelmed by all this.
Early last year, after more than a decade of suffering, I was diagnosed with myalgic encephalitis – also known as chronic fatigue. In September of this year I was also diagnosed with hypermobile-Elars Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder.
In both circumstances I often use a combination of wheelchairs, crutches and body supports to move around. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a sex life.
As people with disabilities, we are often told that we are undesirable and that the idea of having sex with someone is disgusting, strange or uncomfortable.
In fact, shortly after my diagnosis, an internet troll told me that all disabled people are ugly and that my partner stayed out of pity until he found someone who wasn’t disabled.
It is exhausting to be constantly interrupted by a person who has the needs, desires and desires of a sexless being and is unable to express his or her own opinion.
I had a long relationship for a number of years with someone who had seen me before I started using mobility aids. The new life I have as a disabled woman is something we both had to get used to, but he doesn’t see me as smaller just because I am disabled.
Sometimes we all need a room to stay in (Photo: Teona Studemire).
I haven’t lost the ability to feel and think, and I certainly haven’t lost the charm I’ve felt for him for almost five years.
For me, the sex changed and I became disabled, but that wasn’t the worst. I can hardly take up certain positions or angles, but neither I nor my partner are sure about it.
We stick to what works and change things where necessary to make sure we feel comfortable and have fun. It’s no different than the sex between two non-disabled people.
Of course, as in any relationship, there is a struggle, and that struggle has essentially nothing to do with a disability.
Sometimes we all need a place in the bedroom, whether it’s extra fat, sex toys or appliances. These things are normal for non-disabled people, but for some reason they are forgotten when people with disabilities are asked tons of intrusive questions about how our bodies and genitals function during sex.
Fortunately, I seldom have such penetrating questions. But when that happens, I generally prefer not to answer.
When I twittered about what I was doing, at first I felt stupid and a little embarrassed to talk dirty about my sex life.
But when I see so many disabled people singing their stories and thanking me for giving a voice to their experiences, it makes me happy. I felt so visible and comforted.
Of course I also received a lot of negative remarks. Many people were disgusted when they thought people with disabilities were having sex – some compared us to their grandparents, and one person even said that having sex with me was like fucking a sex doll that only makes noise and doesn’t move.
I felt disgusting and dehumanized. Someone who knew nothing about my sex life turned me into an object. Someone else’s object of pleasure instead of the active member.
My handicap is not something I fear or hate (Photo: Teona Studemire)
I decided not to comment on the negative comments on an individual level because it did not make sense. Just because someone asks an invasive question doesn’t mean they deserve an answer.
People had prejudices about what it means to be disabled and about our experience. So it didn’t seem better to spend the energy on curing (or rather trying to cure) a few people.
So I kept tweeting.
People sincerely believe that people with disabilities do not have sex.
Just like my joints, that packet of cookies, thank you.
– Print the Queen ð¦ (@tee_spoonie) 17. October 2020.
I wanted to go even further in my point of view, because just because you want to believe – as a person with a disability – that we don’t have sex because you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t change the fact that we have sex.
It’s so important to keep talking about it to make a difference. We need to free ourselves from the stigma that people with disabilities in general cannot lead a full, healthy and happy life (also sexually), just because we are disabled.
My disability is not something I fear or hate, and where I spend my days longing to see it disappear. I spend my days working, dealing with my symptoms and hobbies.
We need to open the doors of sex education so that it goes beyond the typical appearance of thin, zisexual and heterosexual people.
Of course there are asexual people with disabilities, but they are not the norm for people with disabilities, and we do them a disservice by constantly promoting the idea that every person with a disability is asexual.
Sex in general is a subject about which we all need to be better informed, because it’s not just about penetration.
Read more: Gender
It is normal to say that people with disabilities have sex, that older people have sex, that obese people have sex and that sex is not meant for penetration.
The sex is different for each of us and there is room at the table to discuss everything. We will not be able to achieve this if more people with disabilities do not have the space and comfort to talk about their own experiences.
Sexual relationships can be painful and unpleasant for many reasons, but there is still a long way to go before people with disabilities can discuss these issues openly and without fear of conviction.
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