There is a basic disablist assumption that people who use wheelchairs are essentially sexless, or at least not looked at as sexual beings. It’s assumed that they lack feeling below the waist — and that below the waist is the center of all sexual behavior. And media images of disabled people always revolve around the wheelchair, and are usually part of a “very special episode” on cheesy sitcoms in which Main Character realizes that people who use wheelchairs are people, too, and they can even be your friend. They might even invite you to their wheelchair basketball game if they like you enough, and they’ll assure you that their disability really doesn’t impact their lives all that much. See? They shoot a wicked freethrow!
They’re just never people that you would wanna get it on with.
This ignores the reality that people who use wheelchairs do have sex, and do enjoy sexual activities — they are people, just like the rest of us! Who would have guessed.
Of course, wheelchairs aren’t the end-all be-all of living with a disability; most disabled people don’t use wheelchairs. But they are a strong visual cue of a disability, and all kinds of stereotypes are tied up in them. So I’m glad to see Tiffany breaking them down.
Nerve has a whole section on sex and disability which looks pretty good. Unfortunately it’s for premium members only, so let me know how it is.
- Disabled Character: Able-Bodied (Emaciated) Actresses Only, Please by Laurie Toby Edison August 15, 2009
- Becoming Orgasmic by Lauren June 1, 2005
- Sex Ed for the Stroller Set by Jill November 17, 2005
- BREAKING: How you view sex determines how you view sex by Jill January 31, 2013
- Oh, No They Didn’t! by zuzu June 1, 2006