Friday, June 25, 2010

My Sex Life as a Disabled Woman

Almost always, sex is simply too much.

It’s too much expectation; too much pain; often just too much effort that leads to too much debilitating exhaustion; too much disappointment. I’m disabled you see, so it’s rare that sex isn’t too much. But it just as often brings too much joy; too much connection; too much Cosmic Divinity; too much glorious pleasure that leads to too much unbelievably soaring release. So, far too wonderful to lose. Thus, I will reach out to my partner with my broken, weakening body until I am just too, too, too totally unable to do so.

I LOVE sex. I believe and live a sex-positive life, having found a true connection with the Cosmic Creator through practicing Tantra in sexual unions. Wicca has allowed me the freedom to set guilt aside and embrace physical pleasure for the gift that it is. But, this has been a pretty tough year for me. I have Lupus, S.E., and it’s devastated a lot of my joints (I walk with two canes), and is now working on the ’ole noggin. I’m 53, but feel more like 93 a lot of time (and no, not the new 93 either!)

I’ve lived with the diagnosis a very long time, adjusting my sex life so that the positions required for success could be consistently met with a partner or during solo sex. Recently, that’s been more and more difficult. It may well be that I won’t be able to find a comfortable position at all some day – so I have to prepare for that horrible possibility.

You know, most disabled women and men never discuss their sex lives or sexual problems publicly or sadly, even in private. There is such an enormous layer of shame surrounding it, like it’s somehow our fault that our limbs won’t respond like a “normal,” able-bodied person. Like we’re filthy, unclean in the Biblical sense.

Recently, I looked through a bunch of free porn on the Internet. No, I’m not into it, although there’s nothing wrong with porn, and I actually surprised myself by finding some of it arousing. I had been looking for an image to copy and stylize for this blog when I ran into some very troubling information. It seems that if someone is in a wheelchair, or is otherwise visibly disabled and are depicted in porn, it is produced as “fetish sex.” FETISH SEX! In other words, not regular-people-porn. (I can’t believe I’m arguing we should be treated better by the porn industry, but I am.)

Here’s the dictionary definition of fetish: “The paraphilic focus in Fetishism involves the use of nonliving objects (the "fetish"). Among the more common fetish objects are women's underpants, bras, stockings, shoes, boots, or other wearing apparel. The person with Fetishism frequently masturbates while holding, rubbing, or smelling the fetish object or may ask the sexual partner to wear the object during their sexual encounters. Usually the fetish is required or strongly preferred for sexual excitement, and in its absence there may be erectile dysfunction in males…Usually the Paraphilia begins by adolescence, although the fetish may have been endowed with special significance earlier in childhood. Once established, Fetishism tends to be chronic.”

Obviously, fetish has also come to be used to denote any preference that has an erotic or sensual tinge to it, even if it isn’t part of a person’s traditional sex life. So someone who really loves shoes may describe themselves as having a shoe fetish. On the other hand, someone who likes to incorporate fur into their sex play may say they have fur fetish. Thus, someone who gets off by seeing someone in a wheelchair has a disabled-person fetish? Holy crap, as if life with a serious/fatal illness wasn’t rough enough already.

Everyone needs to feel good about themselves at least a little bit to be able to have sex, rotten self-esteem takes the steam out of the sizzle faster than anything else. So, when the porn industry throws us under the bus, too, it simply underscores just how the rest of society must see us, too.

I had already discovered that there are no sex aids for the disabled on the market – believe me, I’d looked everywhere. As a woman, a gadget that would help me reach would be great, or something to support my arms while I try to pleasure my partner, since my hands are unable to work long or well. Nothing, zip, nada. Soooooo, I have been forced to improvise, as I’m sure all other disabled people must, too.

In many ways, I’m lucky to be female since I don’t have to depend on holding an erection, which must be a nightmare for a lot of disabled guys. I’m also lucky because I orgasm easily and consistently – as long as the right areas can be comfortably reached, that is.

Does society really think we have no right to sex? That we are non-entities, sexless eunuchs who should stay in the background. We should know and keep our place. Above all, that we are not flesh and blood human beings with deep feelings, passionate desires, and strong sexual drives. Are you surprised to hear that we have just as many earthly needs as you have? That we have as much of a birthright to orgasm you. Or, does the real image of a disabled person deeply aroused or in full orgasm repulse you? Be brutally honest. The truth is it might even repulse you if you are disabled.

I assume that any erotica penned that involves a disabled person would be considered fetish sex, or even deviant sex. That’s too bad. We disabled know a lot about sex – we have to. We have to understand how our bodies, and yours, work to be able to have sex consistently and successfully. We know cool little – and sometimes big – tricks that you might really, really enjoy. We are also very patient, and are often forced to go nice and slow. We are generally sincerely considerate of your needs and pleasure, and very grateful for the kind, loving touches, kisses that we receive.

You see, when I have sex and the pleasure begins to build (inside or within my partner), I am no longer disabled. My body is no longer broken; I am suddenly floating free and unencumbered in the loving arms of endless, universal bliss, and I see the face of the Goddess. Is it any wonder that I do not – will not – give up this part of my life, and steadfastly refuse to apologize for it?

(FYI: There are few books I've found on this subject. The best for me by far is The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability by Miriam Kaufman and Cory Silverberg.)

— Danu’s Daughter

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