If we are lucky enough to see the words "sex" and "disability" in the same sentence, two narratives begin to take shape. The first is the all too common assumption that sex and disability is too hard and scary for the PwD altogether. It outlines all the difficulties and reasons why we shouldn't engage sexually in anything (If my blogs have taught you anything about the Queer Cripple, know that not one of us follows that doctrine). This school of thought talks about sex and disability through a myopic lens that seeks to remind us, and the general public, what our disabilities have robbed from us in the bedroom. Ugggggh. As the young queers seem to say today, "Bye Felicia!"
The other school of thought around sex and disability that we commonly see (and are starting to see more of), is the one which highlights that Persons with Disabilities deserve to have a sexual experience just like everyone else (insert telling tone here). This narrative has been bubbling under the surface for some time now, with the odd story of the Cripple and the Sex Worker in the news, but it really took hold recently when the feature film, The Sessions received critical acclaim a few years ago in Hollywood. Upon seeing this film initially, which recounts disability activist Mark O'Brien's quest to lose his virginity, I was pleased. I was happy to see that Hollywood actually dared to handle disability with a modicum of decorum and honesty.
The more I thought about it though, and explored this narrative, the more wary I became. I found two or three documentaries on sex and disability, and each of them had two very well known and distinct tropes: the cripple sitting in front of his laptop, looking for a sex worker while plinky plunky uplifting tones play in the background. The second being the sex worker driving up to the cripple's home and saying something to the effect of, "I am excited for them. I want to give them the gift of orgasm. Everyone deserves that." (Sidebar: I maybe threw up in my mouth just a little bit.)
Of course, I think that everyone has the right to experience sexual pleasure (read: when you are with me, you will experience all the things) I just can't accept the idea that someone will give me "the gift of the gasm." Living in a world where you have to receive help even to scratch your back or get a glass of water, there are some things that you will fiercely defend as one who is Deliciously Disabled, and the big O is one of them. My orgasms are mine, and no one should ever assume to take that away from me. Let me illuminate this with a real life example: I had a sexual encounter one night, where when I had finished, he said: "There, now doesn't that feel better? I am so glad I could help you." I've never been one to throw shade, but you've never seen someone do it faster.
This newfangled narrative has its place, because it actually acknowledges that gimps get it on (gasp!), but we must remember that it isn't the only way we should be looking at sex and disability. There is another type of 'session' one could engage in. I don't know how many times I hear the question, "How can you do it?" followed up pretty closely by, "You can get up, right?" when I enter the sexual arena. As I have highlighted before, these questions are serious mood killers. I mean, really, let's review: I called my attendant, made up several lies so as not to be disturbed, took off my leg bag beforehand (the only way I can pee independently), put on sexy jams (read: musical "jams" or PJs with the backdoor included), storyboarded the sex and still you feel the need to ask me this right at this very moment?
These questions, however disconcerting in the throes of passion, are valid, and if you want to learn about sex and PwD, you should ask them. After all, you deserve to know just how much awesomeness you're getting into, right? In the words of the all-knowing Kelis, "I will teach you, but I have to charge." We need to start talking about the fact that PwDs can also be sex workers. Look at it this way: we are chronically underemployed due to a myriad of systemic issues, and we are the experts of our disabled bodies. You really wanna learn how I work? Wanna see what makes me go boom? No problem. You can come into my space and ask any question you want, without feeling like you're unintentionally ruining a romantical moment between the two of us. I can teach you all the ins outs of sex and disability, and when all is said and done, I'll actually be able to pay off my bills.
By only focusing on the above mentioned models of sex and disability, and glorifying the sex worker as a saint of sorts for providing such an invaluable experience, we are again placing PwD at a disadvantage. We are telling them that nothing, not even their own "jollies," are truly theirs. Let me break it down for you with this: If I, as the Deliciously Disabled Dude that I am, give you the gift of my 'gasm, you are the lucky one. That, and it may just cost you extra!