There remains a heavy taboo around sex and disability in our culture. Research by the charity Scope found that only 7% of non-disabled people have dated a disabled person, while disabled young people are let down when it comes to sex education, often receiving none at all, or nothing appropriate to their needs.
The writer and activist Penny Pepper, who writes extensively about disability and sex, including in her erotica collection Desires Reborn, told me: “If disabled people aren’t having sex, they would like to. And the reasons they’re not are overwhelmingly to do with the barriers in society. I’ve known quite a few disabled people who [because of this] have resigned themselves to never having sex.”
This isn’t just wrong because of the obvious: sex is fun, enables procreation and for many people is vital for wellbeing. It’s also wrong because it’s part of a…
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2 thoughts on “The Taboo Around Disability And Sex Limits Everyone”
This is something that especially as a single person I really struggle with. There isn’t much help out there and it’s not something that you can always bring up with either your carers or in my case I certainly can’t talk to my mum about it!!!! I’m a bit stuck, but it’s great that there is the conversation out there now.
It can be awkward, even talking with medical professionals about sexual needs – so many react in shock or surprise that hey whaddya know, disabled people wanna get jiggy too!
There are sex workers out there who exist purely to enable and educate disabled people in such matters. Often for disabled people the only physical touch they’re used to is in a clinical setting so they can kinda learn to not associate being touched with pleasure. Sex workers (note – not prostitutes or escorts, that’s a different thing) can help them learn about their bodies and their needs and desires and learn to have fun. This can also help to increase a person’s confidence.
The best known organisation for disabled people to contact others in similar situations and find out more is Outsiders, and they have occasional social meetings as well.
There are people out there breaking down the taboo over this but there’s still a long way to go.