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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex Basics and Sexual Health » Disability and sexuality

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Author Topic: Disability and sexuality
Scarleteen Volunteer
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A thread to share our experiences of sexuality and disability.

Does your disability affect how you think about sex or how you think about yourself as a sexual being? How do you work around any difficulties or barriers per having the kinds of sex you want to have? Do you think there's anything that you experience differently, whether that's physical or psychological, than people without your disability? What kinds of messages have you got from the world around you about your sexuality, and sex, as a disabled person? How has finding partners or pursuing relationships gone for you?

Feel free to talk about any or none of those things, and anything else!

If you consider yourself to have a difference rather than a disability, as some Deaf people and some folk on the autistic spectrum do, you're also totally included here if you'd like to contribute.

Non-disabled people who have a disabled partner are welcome to contribute, but please stick with a disabled person's perspective - for example, things that your partner has said to you or asked of you, or things that you've figured out together. Of course, please respect your partner's privacy!

(If you have a specific question, you'll probably find it more practical to start a new thread so that we can clearly see your question and respond to it in its own space [Smile] .)

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

Posts: 1786 | From: Europe | Registered: Sep 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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I have a somewhat rare-ish medical condition that pretty much boils down to joint problems and chronic pain.

I feel like my issues haven't really affected how I think about sex, or myself in that context, but it does affect how I can relate to sex. I ended up purchasing my first vibrator last year when I realized that it would allow me to masturbate without having to give up halfway through due to pain...using my hands wears out my wrists and shoulders much too quickly. I've discovered that I can't really have sex at all during my period, as well as about a week before and a day or two after, because hormones released before and during the period make my joints looser than they already are, which can end up causing intense pain.

I was incredibly lucky in that my partner grew up around family who had disabilities, so she finds it normal to have someone around who is in pain and takes medication.

My partner has a formal diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, and I've been told by counselors that I likely have the same condition, so I'm going to toss in some stuff as well on that note.

We have a fairly good sexual relationship, in terms of communicating with each other, but we end up doing this communicating via the message function of a website we're on. Both of us find it difficult to communicate verbally and face to face. I first asked her out over Facebook message, and we first told each other we loved each other the same way. Essentially, in times of high emotion we both become somewhat nonverbal. A few days ago, she wanted to ask if we could try something together, and we ended up opening the computer and finding an erotic fanfic I'd read a while ago where one of the characters had made a list of sexual activities he wanted to try. It was much easier mentally to 'tell' me what she wanted to do by pointing to the word on the screen than by typing it or saying it.

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Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 79774

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Thanks so much for sharing, Kawani.

I don't have mobility or pain issues, and I am usually perceived as non-disabled, so I don't experience some of the issues that some disabled people do. I'm monaurally deaf - I think that how I meet potential partners is affected, because I need all of my spare brain cells, energy and concentration to adequately manage communication at average-sized social situations. So, they're not a time I'm likely to be able to connect properly with another person! Instead, I've met partners of different descriptions on the internet or from chance one-on-one meetings, or at the other extreme, in incredibly loud environments like nightclubs where no-one's trying to have a real conversation anyway. I feel much more relaxed and confident when there's a level playing field for me, when body language is more useful than speech, and I don't have the insecurity of wondering if I'm missing bits of speech.

One thing that really strikes me about the "having people who understand" thing. I once had a partner who had a vision impairment, and I've never known such an in-synch feeling around interaction about disabilities. For me, at least, it felt so awesomely relaxed and easy. "I can't see/hear you" *other person moves to fix it* "Better?" "Yep." *both continue* It made me ridiculously happy for such a relatively small thing, and definitely contributed to me going head-over-heels for them. Of course, it probably helped that that person was someone I generally felt well-connected with, and also an all-round lovely human being [Smile]

I wouldn't deliberately seek out a disabled partner, because disabled folk are as broad a group as people in general, so it would guarantee nothing. I think I'd be more likely to find shared world-views that are important to me in a disabled person, though.

I'm currently partnered with a mobility-disabled person. There's a huge amount of stuff about my partner's experience of sexuality and disability, but that isn't my story to tell. One observation I will make is that my relationship seems to be more "public property" than I've experienced comparable relationships with non-visibly-disabled people. When we're holding hands walkin'n'limpin' or walkin'n'wheelin' along the street, I notice people looking and staring more than they ever do when I'm on my own, when I've been with a non-visibly-disabled person, or even when we're not holding hands. Sure, they probably stare at my partner when Partner's alone; but I notice people looking directly at Me, meeting My eye. As if they're wondering why I'm with my limpy/wheely person. Of course, I can't mind-read, but when one has the same experiences over and over in specific situations, it's obvious that Something's going on. Some drunk women recently decided it was ok for them to put their hands on my partner and my partner's mobility aid, and try to hold my partner's other hand. Even after Partner yelled at them. And then they tried to argue why they should be able to. Really?! It's impossible to say they wouldn't've done that to a walking-walking couple, but I've never seen that kind of invasion of clear couple-space before. Not to mention, of course, the assault that was the unwanted and refused touching of my partner and the danger of interfering with a mobility aid. And once, my wheelchair-using friend was yelled at in the street "Do you have sex?!" Disabled people's bodies, relationships and sexuality are not public property!

Oh, and the comeback: "Not right now, sir."

The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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Member # 31388

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About the "public" thing, I notice that as well. Both my partner and I are disabled (although it's not *always* visible - depends on the day and the situation) but we do tend to get more input from random people on the street - from "aww you're so cute together" to stares to outright disapproving glares.

We are all made of Star Stuff...
-Carl Sagan

...Their eyes beheld, first of all things, the stars of heaven.

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Member # 66249

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Thanks for making this thread!

I think as a person with mental health issues, anxiety, depression and so-on... it's really hard to prise apart what sexual issues are related to that sort of disability and which are not.

Low self-esteem might put strains on a relationship which hinder a sex life, or they could just be part of the puzzle which gets blamed. But I guess that's why it's a mental disability, the hindrances are mainly mental and psychological too, as well as a load of self-doubting about how legitimate that is allowed to be.

That said, physical and mental limitations have been a part of a lot of the sex I've had which hasn't related at all to these health problems... I'm always surprised when people speak about sex as if none of that can pose a hurdle unless you have a severe disability.

My thought is that all or 99% of people and their bodies are really different from the bodies and people that 'ideal sex' is based on. And that to get beyond that takes any number of skills, i.e. communication, not making assumptions about what bodies can do or should do, being open to 'see what happens' and to make decisions on what makes everyone feel best.

I feel like I've used the same sort of tools to help with things related to disability to the tools I've used to help with problems which have little to do with being disabled in the social sense.

Maybe they're just a bit more vital for me!

On the other hand I think it has forced me to get a deeper understanding of sexuality and really taught me things that I can offer to people who haven't been forced to the learn stuff I have but could still really benefit from hearing about it.

[ 12-28-2013, 11:06 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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