It doesn’t matter how inundated we are with sexual images, language, and innuendo, there’s one thing that we continue to stay squeamish about; that is, talking about real sex in real terms with real people. It’s as though having stretch marks, extra skin, gray hair, or a double chin precludes any interest in being sexually active.
Which, on an intellectual level, we must realize is foolish, right?
Er, not so fast.
Let’s take a look at the most common myths about sex, sexuality, and people living with physical disabilities. Let’s also consider for a moment how our assumptions about people reinforce negative stereotypes and place those with disabilities on a level that is inferior, physically deviant, and inappropriate.
Myth #1: People With Disabilities Don’t Crave Sex
Considering how difficult it is for us to imagine sexual relationships between people who, well, look like most other humans on this planet, one can only imagine the leap it takes for us to accept that people with disabilities want sex, too. They want it, they have it, they love it, and they wish it wasn’t such an odd phenomena for able-bodied people to accept. In other words, being disabled doesn’t nullify that aspect of a person’s human existence.
People with disabilities make up at least 19 percent of the U.S. population or 54.4 million people. Over half of these same people are between the ages of 18 and 64. Given that the most sexually active group of people are age 31 to 45, it should come as no surprise that many people with disabilities do, in fact, want a sexual relationship.
Now, let’s take a look at where this myth stems from. When we think of someone with a disability, we often think of someone who is in need of caring, that they are weak or helpless. This is especially true for people with profound disabilities, who we tend to think of as oversized children.
People with disabilities are just like everyone else. They have nuanced reasons to go on birth control, they have fantasies and desires, and their bodies want in much the same ways as anyone else’s body wants.
Myth #2: Disabled People Can’t Have Sex
Sure, it may take some clever positioning to make things as comfortable as possible. It may involve maneuvering someone from one place to another. It may even entail finding erogenous orgasmic zones that aren’t centered exclusively around the genitals. However, and this is a big however, that is the case for anyone — disabled or not.
For the sake of clarity, most people with disabilities experience physical sensations the same way as the general population. And when they don’t? Just like with people who have typically developed bodies, you find creative workarounds that often may result in a more satisfying sex life anyhow.
Myth #3: Consent Doesn’t Matter
The rate of sexual violence against people with disabilities is astronomical. And much of it goes unreported.
Consent is paramount to any relationship, but it plays an even larger and potentially more complex role when someone has a disability. Some disabilities make it impossible to consent to sex, which predators take advantage of. People with disabilities often don’t receive the same level of information about sex and consent that the rest of the population receives either.
And perhaps even most poignant is the fact that in many cases, the person who has a disability may rely on the perpetrator for care or support, which makes reporting an even bigger struggle.
Myth #4: Birth Control Is Irrelevant
Most men with disabilities can still impregnate someone and most women with disabilities can still get pregnant. In other words, they still need to know how to start and use birth control. Likewise, they still need help choosing the best birth control for their needs.
That’s one reason why access to telemedicine, such as Nurx, is so vital. If you or someone you know needs help with birth control or PrEP, contact Nurx today.
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