Monday, April 20, 2015

The sex talk

Women with disabilities are often portrayed either as fragile flowers or oversexed, needing to be protected from the world and from their own sex drive. But in truth, most women with disabilities experience the same desire for pleasure, love, and physical connection as any other woman, I got asked to answer some question on this so here you go: 

How old are you?
i'm 30 

What disability do you have?
I have Cerebral Palsy Spastic Diplegia I have been told most of my life I am a medium severity but a lot of doctors in the past few years say I am the most mobile person with CP they have seen, but I have meant people with lesser then I. I walk with two canes, and I have never gone by "the book" like they thought they had the wrong room once when I had surgery because I don't sleep like a person with CP.....okay. 

And how long have you had it for?

I'm a lifer. I was diagnosed at almost a year. I was born 1 pound 14 ounces 4 1/2 months yearly because I had an abusive father who hit my mom and induced labor it could of been then that caused the CP or my mom was the only one working to care for us and had to leave me in my fathers care and she sometimes thinks it could be a shaken baby thing.....I'm one of life's great mysteries. 

How has your disability affected your relationship with your body, for better or for worse?

Every time I walk out the door people stare at my body in a negative context. I have what I guess they call a “non-normative body”. When people look at me all they see a girl with canes, to them my body  appears “Non-normal” but I would say its strongly mismatched with my identity. I have never truly felt limited by my disability or that I walk with canes. My Disability has never defined me I’ve defined my own normal. I may have to use canes but my soul and mind are not disabled. I’ve never had insecurity when it comes to being a person that has Cerebral Palsy, I have had insecurities with things that go with this such as: that my arms seem so big compared to the rest of my body for carrying my body weight for years, or that my hands are covered in callouses from using canes. I mean this is what comes with having a  disabled body right? What can I do to fix it? 
I wasn’t sure how to fix those things but what I was sure was that I could prove myself and show that my body isn’t the limit of what I can do! Inside this body was a lust for all things great in this world, great conversation, great friends and great adventures. I would use my energy to focus on the good that I can do then the negativity that usually comes with how I am viewed. I have been in Mosh Pits at Rock concerts, worked on movie sets, and just signed up to run a 5k! There is nothing I can’t do! I’ve taught middle school kids and started my own business. 
   I’ve had a lot of negativity thrown my way with my body from society, peers, and relationships that has caused me to not think that a disabled body can be beautiful. Instead of thinking of my own thoughts of my body I spent most time fighting what society perceives of me more. We live in a  superficial world where people are judge based on whats on the outside. Well when they see me they think I’m not smart, or that I can’t do things, Illness repulses and people don’t want a part of that. So I’ve spend more time saying “hey my mind and soul are beautiful” and while that is the most important by far you know what my body is beautiful too! 
   People have often told me I was beautiful but I thought it was because they felt sorry for me because of my disability. My friends and family said it to me often but I never gave it much thought. I know that I am beautiful on the inside and thats truly all that ever mattered to me. I never looked in the mirror and thought “yeah I’m beautiful.”
Which is funny because I think it is essential that we create a world where people feel okay in their bodies, express themselves through their bodies, and feel comfortable navigating this world in their body, I support health at every size yet I go around covering up my own tummy and arms.  I loved the beach but I was so scared to show off so much you would never see me in a swimsuit.
 I am just now learning what it means to inhabit my body. It wasn’t until I could see myself through a guy I had a relationship with that I started to see the things he loved and didn’t understand about my body, soul, and mind that it got me thinking about them as well. Having him call me beautiful causes me to now look in the mirror saying he was right I am beautiful. Him not understanding my body and ultimately ending things has made me become more in tune with who I am as a whole package. I’ve often felt insecure that I had tummy and tried to do things about it but when I started to explore yoga and work out I realized “I have no core muscle due to my Cerebral Palsy!” but that doesn’t mean I can’t work to have it! 
   Having a person show me that all of me is indeed beautiful makes it easier for me to navigate the tumultuous world we live in. My only hope is to now do that for someone else. It doesn’t happen right away. Do things that make you feel good. Try a new beauty thing, take some fun photos. Have insecurities with a part of your body? Show it off more! Don’t give it the power! One day I will lose all my insecurities and today is a step in that, next the end of all of insecurities!! 

How, if at all, does your disability affect your sex drive?

It hasn't really. It was hilarious I never even thought about my disability effecting this aspect of my life and I had a friend at the time we would meet for beers and pizza and talk about my dating life and how much it sucked I was a virgin, I remember sitting down at the table going "I researched how my disability might effect my sex life" She was glad I had done so. Funny enough it started because I used to get this chest pain and I checked to see if people had flairs up with that during sex (because it was the worst) it never crossed my mind that I would have any issues with this.It doesn't affect my sex drive at all. I've always had a reasonably high sex drive. Like every other woman, I feel desire and arousal; my responses are the same. I guess they depend largely on what my partner and I are doing at the time!

How, if at all, has your disability affected the way you have sex? 
so far its just my hips sometimes, which can make missionary difficult or anytime I have to spread my legs  which could do because I had a hip surgery when I was 12. The great thing about this was having sex really made me more in tune with my body and what I never thought about it doing and I starting doing Yoga and working out more to fix it. WIN WIN!!

Has your disability impacted the way other people respond to you as a sexual person at all? 

I think people see me as a non-sexual being. It can be frustrating that everyone just sees you as a friend and it can feel like no one has considered finding you attractive. I think there is also an assumption that if you date someone with a disability, you will become their carer. In reality, I think this is why I didn't lose my virginity till I was 28. In my relationship whilst a partner may do some aspects to help a little (but who doesn't need that in any relationship), I would want to maintain a high level of independence. Sometimes I do wonder how my relationships would have been different had I been "normal". I've had lengthy conversations with men who are shocked that disabled people have the same sexual desires as them and have sex lives too.  This is one of the first questions I get asked on the dating site is about sex (although to be fair thats pretty common on dating sites) but my questions are more does it effect how you have sex. Honestly guys, I'm simply disabled, my vagina isn't!

Has having a disability impacted your dating life at all? 

Yes from day one of dating in middle school. My first boyfriend dumped me because it wasn't cool to date someone who had a disability but he could be friends with me. Then high school it was oddly enough parents who didn't want the kids dating me. I had a crush on a guy for 5 years and for 4 of those he lived in Boston I think it really helped me survive oddly that no one was dating me in my small town and I could say well, Justin would of course but he's not here. Everyone always told me you'll date in college but that didn't happen either in fact it was like middle school again at my 21st birthday my friends tried to set me up with a guy they were certain was into me and I had the misfortune of sitting near and open window to hear this conversation 

"so you and The birthday girl what is the deal there you totally want to date her" 

"I deserve someone so much better then a disabled girl" 

Worst birthday ever. 

and its still a crazy dating world as you read from my blog. 

What are the biggest misconceptions you've encountered when it comes to women with disabilities and sex?

That we don't have desires, that we don't get aroused, that we're not sexual beings, that we piss and shit the bed (ewww, no), that if you can't move your body normally you can't have sex, if your disabled you mustn't be able to feel touch either (incorrect, motor and sensor nerves are totally different), that all disabilities are the same, and that we must be desperate so will lower our standards and shag any old gobshite.

Do you feel like your disability has impacted your sexuality or relationships in a positive way?
It's a useful bastard filter. Most shallow, image-obsessed, pretentious jerks are going to avoid a disabled woman as we're not seen as arm candy, which saves me [the time of] weeding them out. My sexual encounters, whether short-term or long-term, have tended to be with open-minded, forward-thinking men. Some of them have had a degree of emotional intelligence but not all — it's not a 100 percent failsafe filter!
It has definitely impacted my relationship with myself, my body, and with others in a positive way! This necessary self-awareness because of my disability gives me some sexy confidence to explore with others. It challenges my ideas of vulnerability and ultimately leads to having a lot of fun. 

If you could tell your readers one thing about what it's like to be a woman with a disability, what would it be?
 It's no different from being a woman without a disability. We lust, we feel, we desire. We just look a little different and have to be a little bit bolder to get people to forget about the disability. So stop judging.  We're not helpless. We are women and we are disabled — create space for all our identities. Talk to the woman. Everyone is different, so don't make assumptions. One person may have a really active sex life; another person may struggle. And don't limit what you call "sex." It doesn't just have to be penetration. Be creative and adventurous! You are still you and you can do anything you want to, as long as you put your mind to it.

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