Awareness creation,  Disability and Sexuality,  Disabled Bodies

The Politics Of Disability And Sexuality: Sexual Politics Of Disability

When we look at the development in many disability movements, we find that they present so many things and forget to address some of the issues that touch the lives of persons with disabilities at both individual and social level. When we address issues of employment, housing, transport and so forth we also need to talk about the issue of disability and sexuality.

 

 

We don’t need to continue shying away from showing or even talking about the importance of sex to an individual. Just the way we talk of the importance of friendship and intimacy, so should we talk of the importance of sex to the disabled persons. So, if we talk of the disability rights, we need to add sex to the agenda. It is very common to find that sexuality and relationships has a very low profile on any disability related topic, people overlook persons with disabilities in these vital areas of life.

 

 

And we should not sit back and let it be the way it has been, we need to fight for a change in attitudes. And this affects women with disabilities than it affects the men with disabilities. In most cases we find that people in disability movements and also in the disabled people’s organizations present disability issues as an umbrella need but with a keen look, we find that indeed they are simply fighting for the needs of men with disabilities according to the relevance of the outcomes.

 

 

There is need to make sure that disabled people get access to public space whether from their own effort as well from their families and the society at large. We also have to make all possible efforts to end discrimination in education, employment and any other aspect of life to give the disabled an equal opportunity to meet people and also to create relationships and get a chance to exercise their sexuality in life.

 

 

The personal and private lives of the disabled should be treated equally worthy as anyone’s life; the disabled are entitled to full human rights. Sexual repression is one way of denying the disabled equal access and enjoyment of human rights. If we end social exclusion and the poverty that hits the disabled people, then we will have automatically helped to solve the issues revolving around their sexuality as well.

 

 

When we talk about sex and love, we basically mean acceptance, this acceptance is both on a personal as well as being accepted by the significant others, and this will make life full and enjoyable to live. Matters of sexuality can cause deep oppression and deep pain to any individual, we often find that many disability movements find it easy both to talk about and to come up with strategies of changing issues concerning housing, employment, education and others matters. But the same movements will not address issues relating to the exclusion from sexuality and also exclusion from reproduction.

 

 

Many people don’t acknowledge that sexuality is socially created, they even don’t accept that sexuality is historically variable and has turned to be deeply political and the trend is growing even further and even deeper. Some of us give a lot of attention to disability as a medical issue. They see it as individual as well. They even go to an extent of seeing disability as natural and inexorable.

 

 

On the contrary, we need to understand that disability is the aspect where the social and economic and also structural aspects of the individual have been overcome. And these have nothing to do with the deficit of the person’s body or even brain. In short, the society has disabled the persons with disabilities more than they have been disabled by their disabilities. If we started by dealing with the prejudiced attitudes, then we will be fighting a winning battle for inclusion of the disabled into the society.

 

 

The problem of the disabled people is not because they cannot see,  hear, walk or  even talk, neither is it related to the fact that they happen to lack feelings in some body parts, their biggest problem is how the society takes these challenges they face and how much there is efforts to eradicate these exclusives aspects and attitudes. These are problems that don’t need to be fixed by the use of any medical intervention, it all starts in the mind and that is where it ends again. Indeed sexuality is an act that can be performed by anyone; no one was ever taught how to do it so you don’t need to look at the disabled as people who need all the training in the area of sexuality.  The ability or rather the access to inclusive sexuality is a sign of happiness and maturity, and just like anyone else, the disabled persons enjoy doing it.

 

 

The most common thing that denies the disabled people access to equal opportunity to exercise their sexuality is that some if not most of them find themselves in institutions, or some are at home and due to poor mobility they don’t get a chance to engage in social activities where they can initiate relationships. In some cases in life, we find that most people meet their life partners in colleges, in work places or even in social places. And this is a contrary to the disabled who don’t get a chance to get to these levels in their lives. These are due to social and physical barriers experienced by the disabled. The aspect of being sexual in some cases has some attachments to money, one needs to buy some clothes, one needs to go to places and one needs to move around, and the opposite of this is that many disabled people are poor so you find they don’t get involved in matters to do with sexuality.

 

 

But we don’t just blame it all on the society and poverty in material form; we also have to know that being sexual has a lot to do with confidence and healthy self-esteem. This is accompanied by the ability to communicate which is very vital not just for a disabled person but for any individual, and not just in the area of sexuality but in any area of life. Being sexual is not necessarily being sexy and being rich, it calls for what you have deep inside you, if you have positive feelings about yourself and you show it out, then you will get back the respect and the appreciation and definitely you will win a heart. That self-assurance is more important because this will make people take you serious. Self-love and self-worth are as loud as the voices of the disabled activists. So, we need to ensure that we increase our sense of pride and self-worth and this will work wonders for us.

 

 

The other thing we cannot afford to overlook is the impairments of the disabled people, losing contact with our physical and sensory lives will not favour us when it comes to fighting for equality and inclusion. We need to give attention to the difference, the limitations, the body problems and the lack of function. These are the things that are so real about the lives of the disabled when we touch on matters to do with sexuality. The differences here may cover areas of race, gender, class and sexuality as well as the difference of relationships the disabled people have with their impairments. Indeed we cannot brush away the fact that the disabled are victims of their malfunctioning bodies and not only the society in which they live, this will help us a lot in handling the question of sexuality and will help in coming up with a concrete solution and a lasting answer. So, we don’t need to shy away from reality of any type and any nature.

 

 

If we only pay all the attention on the society as the cause of the challenges that the disabled face, then we will be showing clearly that disability is to show how people are resisting the societal barriers, in real sense, it is very true that indeed disabled people can overcome discrimination and prejudice and indeed many have overcome it. There is no need to look at who is the most oppressed among the disabled, what we need to do, if at all we want to fight for equality, we need to approach it with a common voice and with a common goal in mind. This is how we will achieve the access of the disabled to the mainstream of sexuality.

 

 

The other notion that brings a lot of concern is the “normalization” of sexuality. We need to give needed respect to the difference in sexual orientation of the disabled people just as it is in the general population, people are different in their preferences and choices and we should give it due respect.

There are so many other possibilities that the disabled people have taken and can take to feel sexual rather than fighting to conform or even to fit in the stereotyped society, the exclusive society or the society that looks for body perfection and “beauty”. The disabled are seen to fight this with their fitness and their youthful looks and behaviours expressing how sexuality can be what an individual wants it to be. This is where they also take other notions where male and female don’t really matter to them, they assume other sexual orientations.

 

 

When other aspects like gayism and lesbianism are taken up by the disabled, then they will not feel the oppression of sexuality. When these are excluded, then the disabled men feel so much secluded. These are not just of concern to the disabled but also to the general population. We need to let people make choices and decisions of what they feel will liberate them. This is because people have different ways of having sex and enjoying it as well expressing their feelings.

 

 

We live in a world where sex is slowly gaining fame, as opposed to the former centuries, but, yet still, we find that the disabled are still seen as not so sexually included in the society. So when the disabled say they need more sex if not sex at all, the society raises eyebrows. There is a great importance to the bodily pleasures of any individual. We need to live freely and make choices about our own lives without influence or pressure from anyone whether it is the family or the care givers. Indeed sex is important, and we need to accept that majority of the disabled are not getting enough sex and they are having good sex. Most disabled people are not just looking for sex itself, they are searching for intimacy, they are seeking warmth, they are seeking validation and connection also.  This means that relationships counts more than sex.

 

 

We need to do away with the cultural beliefs and practices about sex, this will help the disabled people to fit fully in the society especially when sexuality is concerned. We need to ensure optimum sexual expression for all, this is very satisfying. But at the same time, we don’t need to have exaggerated expectations, we need to know that the story is not just sex, sex, and sex alone; if this is our thought then we may be trying to buy the stories in the soap operas.

 

 

We need to also consider the areas like celibacy; we need to look at the importance of friendship in the lives of an individual. In order to achieve this, we need to put importance on the private desires and personal relationships in all the agendas of any disability movements. This will bring forth lasting change. We should not just fight for equality in employment, education, housing and transport only. We need to fight for belonging; we need to fight for acceptance and also happiness.

 

 

The disabled people need to gain access to relationships, access to public places and also access to choices. The choices should include choosing gender experience, choosing identity and lifestyle. We should merge the private experience of the individual’s body with the public which is the social structures. This will be built on self-esteem and confidence which will connect the relationship of love and friendship, the legal relationship of human rights and finally the solidarity which comes from a community point of view. This will be made up of self-respect and also recognition, we need to know how the physical limitations affect the sexual desires of the disabled people.

 

 

This will build a community that is inclusive for the disabled and the non-disabled as well as the role of sex in this century and generation. So, as a fellow disabled person I will say it again as one disabled man said it some time back: “let us do it”, “let us fall in love”.

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