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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: The disabled have sex, too

Let’s talk about sex.

Like money and politics, sex is a controversial topic. Everyone thinks about sex, everyone has sex, everyone talks about sex.

However, there are some sides to the world of sexual encounters that are rarely discussed.

In recent months, Vice Magazine has published a few articles showing a different perspective on this crude and exciting topic: the relationship between sex and disabled people.

These various articles profile different countries around the world and the way that disabled people are able to receive sexual services.

Jen Munaretz wrote “For Disabled People Seeking Intimacy, There’s a Fine Line Between Health Care and Sex Work,” and told the story of a disabled man and his experience with a Canadian group that provides sexual services like massage therapy and tantra for the disabled.

Nelson Moura and Yun jie Zou co-wrote “These Volunteers Give Handjobs to the Severely Disabled” about a Taiwanese volunteer organization — the title is probably pretty self-explanatory.

Vice Magazine is trying to shed light on a topic that should be more freely discussed and less taboo.

These articles explain that sex is just sex, no matter your race, religion, body weight or possible physical impairment, and most importantly, that sex should never be considered a privilege that some are unentitled to because of their disabilities.

While this topic is interesting, it’s also risqué and a little awkward. However, there is a lot of room now to create an even more negative, bizarre or misunderstood outlook on disabled people and their sex lives, because it has been brought to a public forum. So now that it’s here, we need to talk about it.

In particular, Chris Wenner, a psychologist, UA graduate and wheelchair user, said he wants us to talk more about disabled women, whose sexual experiences are pointedly overlooked in the Vice Magazine articles.

Sexual desires only scrape the tip of this even larger subject, and this represents an opportunity to begin discussion on a variety of disability sexuality issues. Like the wide variety of sex positions that exist in the world, there is a large spectrum of disability and what abilities these physically impaired folks do and don’t have.

How can we even begin to categorize the sexual needs of a person if we don’t know what they are capable of?

“One of the things I really want, one of the things that make this topic iffy, is how we categorize a disability,” Wenner said. “The idea of what a disability is has a lot of variation and a lot of grey area.”

For example, Wenner said he believes there should be a better definition of what sexual behavior really is for disabled people, because sexual behavior is not just about having intercourse. There is such an array of variability, and the public should know that disabled people have the ability to engage in sexual behavior.

Disabled people are more likely to work on the abilities that they do possess, according to Wenner, and therefore are “far better lovers and partners.” Disabled people, he says, even “have better quality sexual experiences, sexual relationships and romantic relationships” because they put in more effort.

Sex is sexy, but the public needs to be educated on people with disabilities as a whole, rather than searching for steamy secrets.

It’s 2015, so everything that happens in the bedroom stays in the bedroom (or on the Internet forever, and everyone will be talking about it Monday).

But at least they’ll be talking about it.


Trey Ross is a journalism sophomore. Follow her on Twitter.

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