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  • Sex and the disabled


    by Rumbold
    18th March, 2009 at 11:08 am    

    Sarah over at Same Difference highlights the case of a twenty one year old who has Down Syndrome, and whose mother is pushing for him to lose his virginity (which could explain why he hasn’t lost it yet). She has even said that she would be happy if he visited a brothel in Amsterdam. While this may seem strange, Sarah pointed out that a 2008 survey found that 70% of people said that they would never have sex with disabled people. This is pretty shocking, as even if you judge people solely on physical appearance, the idea that you would never find any disabled person attractive is just idiotic and bigoted.


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    1. pickles

      New blog post: Sex and the disabled http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/3778




    1. sarah — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:58 am  

      Thanks for this, Rumbold. Attraction should be based only on personality, not on physical appearance, ability or lack of it.

    2. Leon — on 18th March, 2009 at 12:29 pm  

      Attraction is based on looks as well as personality. Biologically we’re hard wired to look for certain signs in a person that would make them a good mate.

      Obviously I don’t think this should be used as a basis for prejudice but you can’t simply say everyone should only like someone based on their personality. That just doesn’t make sense.

      What we should be discussing is different concepts of beauty.

    3. MaidMarian — on 18th March, 2009 at 12:40 pm  

      Rumbold/Sarah - With all due respect, are you 100% sure that this is the best case to highlight the point with?

      Looking at the link:

      ‘He gets a kiss or two because he does have a way of chatting people up - but it doesn’t get anywhere after that. She said, adding that: His room is stuffed full of condoms which he buys every time he goes to the pub with his friends and his collection of pornography is staggering.’

      Believe me - I don’t find it strange at all that his mother wants him to lose his virginity, far from it. The rest this though….

      Sure, it is indeed wrong that so many say that they would never find a disabled person attractive. Saying that though, I suspect that that 70% number would vary a lot once we start defining ‘disability.’ A very good friend of mine has a girlfriend who has MS and I imagine that many would not regard her as ‘disabled’ as they do in the sense of the 70% number.

      But if I read this link correctly and this person gets a kiss in the pub, then always buys condoms then brings people back to a room full of pornography. If the link is correct, I’d guess that the Down Syndrome may not be the only thing that women may find off-putting here.

      Or am I missing something obvious?

    4. halima — on 18th March, 2009 at 12:47 pm  

      I find this quite interesting .. good post.

      though they say love is blind ( no pun intended)

      and also worth reflecting that blindness is often the subject of many romantic films , novels, i wonder why … overcoming obstacles to true love?

      though i think children of a lesser god is one of the more romantic movies i can remember ..

    5. Galloise Blonde — on 18th March, 2009 at 12:59 pm  

      Not being able to find a partner due to prejudice is only part of the problem of combinging a romantic life with a disability: disabled people are twice as likely to be in abusive relationships than able-bodied people. They have less ability to leave these relationships, particularly when the abuser is often the designated carer.

    6. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 1:08 pm  

      I’m with Leon about the hard-wiring and perhaps would go even further and ask if there is indeed any prejudice in this case. Isn’t DS a genetic condition?

      From a philosophical level, I also question whether severely mentally disabled people should be afforded the same human rights as ‘normal’ people. I am not a cold hearted *****! but I just think we have a double standard where humans are given special treatment when it’s quite clear that certain animals display far more ‘normal’ human characteristics than some humans (and I’m not just talking about bankers, lawyers and politicians!)

      Heavy stuff.

    7. platinum786 — on 18th March, 2009 at 1:12 pm  

      I’m going to admit that I am very ignorant to disabled people and disabled needs. Say the word disabled and the first thing that comes into mind is a man in a wheelchair. I don’t know any disabled people either, I have very little interaction with them.

      If I was to approach a woman in a wheelchair, and was to consider a sexual encounter in my mind I’d get all sorts of odd questions like; “will she thinks it’s weird that I’m chatting her up, does she think i’ve got a wierd fetish or something?” I’d even wonder whether she can function sexually, as people wheel chair bound are often said to be “paralysed from the waist down”.

      I know this sounds really dumb, but I don’t know anything about disabled people and different types of disabilities. I think this is the main reason people would probably say no if asked “Would you have sex with a disabled person”.

    8. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:10 pm  

      Hang on. I am not saying that it is realistic that everyone should see beyond a person’s looks and just judge them on their personality. What I said was that it is bigoted and idiotic, even if you do judge someone solely on their appearance, to say that you would never sleep with a disabled person. Have you seen all of them?

      Thanks Sarah and Halima.

      MaidMarian:

      I take your point about the example. But really, like Sarah, I was just using it to illustrate a wider trend.

      Good point GB (#5).

      Riz:

      What do you mean, the same rights? Who is to judge? I know you don’t mean to, but that is the sort of way fans of eugenics used to speak.

      Platinum786:

      But why would you rule it out altogether? Surely, if you felt that you were ignorant about types of disabilities, you couldn’t answer in that way. To give an example, what if you had a female friend who you considered very attractive, but was disabled because one of her hands was misshapen. Would you rule out ever having sex with her?

    9. sarah — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:23 pm  

      What is the storyline of ‘children of a lesser god’? It might make my blog list.

    10. platinum786 — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:25 pm  

      Rumbold, I’m not saying I would rule it out all together. What I was trying to say was that people have these perceptions of what disability is. If I’d have been surveyed and asked would you have sex with a disabled person my initial response would have been “probably not, no”. The reason being the kind of questions triggered in my mind.

      Now you’ve mentioned misfigured hands, I realised I actually do know two disabled people. I know two women both of whom have a foot that is mishaped making walking difficult for them. But when I first thought disabled, I instantly don’t recognise them as disabled, as they’re normal to interact with, apart from a little bit of a limp. My mind doesn’t pick that up as disabled.

      I guess what I’m saying is, that in my mind, and I suspect the minds of a lot of other people someone who is disabled is someone with something blatently obviously wrong with them, such as someone in a wheel chair, or mentally disabled and unable to communicate etc.

      I just think most people know enough about disabled people and dsiabillity to answer the initial question without misrepresenting them.

      I’m a perfect example, in my first post i suggest I wouldn’t, then i realise the co-worker with the disfiguerd foot is disabled, and yes i would, if she shaved her moustache, rather than growing it and bleaching it. It’s blatently there love!

    11. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:46 pm  

      Platinum786:

      A happy ending then. Good.

    12. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:52 pm  

      Rumbold - I’m just questioning why we value ‘human’ life as so scared versus, say, sophisticated in the animal kingdom. Surely there are certain states of human existence that should place them lower down the pecking order.

      Also, just looked up eugenics. The first thing I think of is Nazi’s, but the definition is very broad and in one sense can we think of darwinism and survival of the fittest as a natural system of eugenics?

      Definition: ‘the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population, esp. by such means as discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics) or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics)’

    13. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2009 at 2:57 pm  

      Riz:

      Well if you are one of those people who thinks that animals should be treated the same as humans, then fair enough. When when you start to distinguish between the value of a human life based on physical/mental disabilities, that is just wrong. Why not go further? Anyone who is not considered a productive member of society should be rounded up and put in a labour camp, or shot.

      Happily we have developed sufficiently as a species to ensure that we can acommodate those who may not be able to look after themselves.

    14. Tim Worstall — on 18th March, 2009 at 3:06 pm  

      I dunno here. One of the definitions of sexual predation used is when one person is in a position of power over the other and uses that to get sex.

      Bosses and employees is an obvious example.

      Physical disability isn’t what I’m thinking about here. But mental disability certainly could fall under this rubric, no?

      Say bright chaps and chapesses like us decide to go trawling amongst those who, for various genetically based reasons, are running on IQs of 70 or 80 points? Is this predation?

      I’d certainly think that the case could be made that it is.

    15. Leon — on 18th March, 2009 at 3:17 pm  

      I am not saying that it is realistic that everyone should see beyond a person’s looks and just judge them on their personality.

      I was responding to the first comment which I don’t think makes much sense.

    16. platinum786 — on 18th March, 2009 at 3:18 pm  

      Tim, what do you do on a Friday night…. lol

      If IQ’s of 70 or 80 are off limits, you must avoid a night out own the tiles…. LOL

    17. anwar — on 18th March, 2009 at 4:10 pm  

      Since PP has a “South Asian tinge” its relevant to mention the shocking attitude many Asians have towards the disabled - that they somehow ‘deserve’ it and are being punished by God for sins in a previous life.

      This is based on a (no doubt crude) understanding of religions predominant in Asia which believe in karma and reincarnation such as Buddhist, Hinduism and Sikhism.

      Such concepts are alien to Islam (which even rejects the notion of the sins of the father) and the other Abrahamic monotheistic faiths which dont accept reincarnation, believe our life on earth is our first (and last on this earth) however, shockingly, it is possible to meet South Asian Muslims (and no doubt Christians) who hold such negative views of the disabled, no doubt influenced by their milleu.

    18. Galloise Blonde — on 18th March, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

      Double post.

    19. Galloise Blonde — on 18th March, 2009 at 4:42 pm  

      I actually came across the ‘karma’ argument on some forum or other from some woman who wanted Cerrie Burnell taken off CBeebies for ‘scaring toddlers.’ I don’t think that superstitious and bigoted reactions to disability are restricted to any culture, however.

    20. chairwoman — on 18th March, 2009 at 4:52 pm  

      This is a difficult one. For me disability came unexpectedly in middle age. Until 5 years ago, I was what passes for normal :-) .

      I would just like to say that I wouldn’t expect an available chap in my age group to find me attractive under the circumstances. I don’t find my disability pleasant so why the hell should anyone else?

      It must be really difficult for the young, but I would like to tell you that 2 people in my extended family, one with cerebral palsy, and one with an unusual crippling condition married, the second one twice, both times to able-bodied men.

      So there are possibilities out there, and people a lot less shallow than I.

    21. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 5:12 pm  

      Rumbold,

      I know we are veering off topic but it’s an interesting area worth mining. Am I one of those people who thinks that animals should be treated the same as humans? No, not really. I squash insect pests in my house and garden if they are out of control but would not squash a cat or dog, or another human. I guess I see life as a gradient of qualities, and as the human being as little more than the sum of his qualities, so on this point, yes, I do value certain severely mentally retarded people, or a say ‘normal’ person in a coma, as both different and lower ranked in terms of the rights and values that I assign to them. Is this really wrong? Why not go further? Because that is wrong. I have drawn a line, but let’s make no mistake - a line is always being drawn, it is unavoidable. I am completely for helping those who are unable to help themselves and am not talking about degradation, just about recognising the difference, about the idea that human rights need to be applied and adhered to, but also that we need to think about what qualifies as a human.

      Here’s a hypothetical. Say we are building an animal that starts as a skeleton, and you slowly add attributes such as the ability to feel pain, compassion, etc. On another table you have a human, and you are slowly stripping away it’s faculties, the essence of what it means to be human - memory, pain sensors, empathy, fear, awareness of surroundings, the five senses, mental capacity.

      Surely, at some point, the animal becomes more human than the human?

    22. Ravi Naik — on 18th March, 2009 at 5:16 pm  

      Physical disability isn’t what I’m thinking about here. But mental disability certainly could fall under this rubric, no?

      Yes, that was my first thought. There seems to be a world of difference between physical and mental disabilities.

    23. chairwoman — on 18th March, 2009 at 5:25 pm  

      On another table you have a human, and you are slowly stripping away it’s faculties, the essence of what it means to be human - memory, pain sensors, empathy, fear, awareness of surroundings, the five senses, mental capacity.

      My dog has quite a lot of the ‘human’ capacities you mention, certainly the first six and quite a lot of the seventh. And so does every other dog (I am not being facetious), where does that leave us?

    24. halima — on 18th March, 2009 at 5:27 pm  

      Hi Sarah

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children_of_a_Lesser_God

      From what i can remember and this is going back 1986.. it really was romantic or i was naive, must watch it again. I loved the heroine in it and her spirit and passion. I think what’s special about this is that it’s not a movie about overcoming disabilities but is a movie about how two lovers talk and communicate.

      The actress won an academy award for her role, she herself is almost deaf.

      Someone on the web called Ed Williamson wrote this summary :

      “Tender, seductive, painful, and bursting with sensual energy, this movie is a jewel of love candy for smart people. Nothing garish, oversized, or XXX-rated, it still gets the heat moving. Even if these people can’t share sweet nothings into each others’ ears, they can still make love like foxes with passion and delight and joy.
      Yes it is a love story, a romance between an angry, beautiful young woman who is deaf, and a stubborn, innovative, and handsome teacher who believes the young woman should learn to read lips and learn to speak. She doesn’t agree. She’s been exclusively using sign language since she first learned it, and her ultimatum is very basic: If he really loves her, he will communicate with her in her way (sign language), not his (sound). Of course his point of view is precisely opposite and so there is continuous conflict and reconciliation throughout the film. Kinda like real life, huh? “

    25. Rumbold — on 18th March, 2009 at 5:55 pm  

      Riz:

      While I understand your intellectual curiousity, these sort of debates can get very dodgy very quickly. I would go by the rule that whoever emerges from a woman’s womb is human, whatever his or her mental/physical condition. Otherwise where will it end?

    26. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:05 pm  

      Chairwoman, that leaves us with a dog that is more human than certain humans… I’ve just been looking at the UN’s human rights pages and their doesn’t seem to be any accounting for this gradient of qualities.

      btw, the qualities I listed where just off the top of my head, but I just think its worthy of debate because while it’s a tricky philosophical/ethical issue there are cases where tough life-death decisions need to be made.

      ps - I wonder how much of this debate links back to religious belief and the idea that man is somehow above the evolutionary tree of life.

    27. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:10 pm  

      Rumbold, I think on this issue we have been conditioned by the horrors of the nazi’s and other crazies and we have simply decided we made a binary decision, put the issue in a safe box, and thrown away the key. Maybe humanity is ready to open the issue and address it more seriously. It is Darwin’s year, after all !

      I don’t think we can’t leave it at what leaves the womb because what about life in the womb, what about if the baby that emerges is brain dead, what about if it grows up fine but then has an accident and ends up in a coma. What if it’s a freaky chimera that is more animal than man?

    28. Jai — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:32 pm  

      Rumbold,

      Good answer in #26.

      btw, the qualities I listed where just off the top of my head, but I just think its worthy of debate because while it’s a tricky philosophical/ethical issue there are cases where tough life-death decisions need to be made…..I don’t think we can’t leave it at what leaves the womb because what about life in the womb, what about if the baby that emerges is brain dead, what about if it grows up fine but then has an accident and ends up in a coma.

      Doctors and other healthcare professionals involved in this field go through extensive training before they are “let loose” to make such decisions. It’s not necessarily an issue which can casually be hammered out on a South Asian-flavoured “political” blog between semi-anonymous strangers who may have a few minutes to kill here and there, and indeed I would even suggest that it’s not an appropriate topic to “casually” discuss here in this way either.

      Emotionally-detached intellectual acrobatics are fine up to a point, but I would suggest that people indulging in “harmless” philosophical speculation about “how much of X, Y or Z makes a person truly human” and their associated rights (or lack of them) spend some time with disabled relatives if they have any (particularly those suffering from a significant mental handicap) or, if you know any doctors, arrange to visit a hospital with severely ill and/or mentally & physically disabled patients.

      At the very least, many people reading this website will eventually find themselves sitting next to an unconscious or semi-comatose parent or other close older relative lying in a hospital bed after suffering a major heart-attack, stroke, or after heart-bypass surgery, assuming that you haven’t been in this position already.

      There is a place for emotional detachment. This isn’t it, so I recommend that you let the emotional impact sink in when you find yourself in the aforementioned scenarios and then make a more informed decision about “gradings of humanity” and whatnot.

      With all due respect, I think a little more human decency and compassion wouldn’t be amiss on this thread.

    29. MaidMarian — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:34 pm  

      Rumbold - I suggest a reading of ‘Our Posthuman Future’ by Francis Fukuyama for food for thought on your ‘where will it end’ at 26.

      It is a sort-of follow up to his famous End of History book, making a case that technology will allow for man to control evolution. This, he suggests, will make human nature a more diffuse and unequal thing in future.

      Interesting stuff.

    30. halima — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:46 pm  

      “With all due respect, I think a little more human decency and compassion wouldn’t be amiss on this thread.”

      Exactly what i was thinking . I think some of the discussion on this topic has been quite alarmingly unhumane.

    31. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:50 pm  

      Jai, I’ll stop now - agree it is the wrong forum for the debate. That said, I was not looking to hammer out an answer, just to kill a few minutes with a few thoughts, and I don’t see how it differs to other pieces about death, terrorism etc. I think it’s no good talking to people whose relations are in a severely mentally retarded/comatose state because there thinking is biased by the people they once knew. I wonder whether a family carer of someone with very advanced alzheimers would think they are the same person…doubt it. I thought this was a great place for rational, objective thinking. Am I mistaken?

      Sorry, I kept on going there. I am not going to comment anymore because I realise this is causing offence. And so the box is locked and the key thrown away.

      Caio.

    32. The Dude — on 18th March, 2009 at 6:52 pm  

      Just a tip for the lads. If you ever get the chance to snog a blind girl, DON’T LET IT PASS!. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Now Sunny, ban me! I’ve been a naughty, naughty boy! The girl in question I met in college, more than 20 years ago in Wolverhampton and she is still a good kisser today…..But please don’t tell my wife.

    33. Ravi Naik — on 18th March, 2009 at 7:07 pm  

      From a philosophical level, I also question whether severely mentally disabled people should be afforded the same human rights as ‘normal’ people. I am not a cold hearted *****! but I just think we have a double standard where humans are given special treatment when it’s quite clear that certain animals display far more ‘normal’ human characteristics than some humans

      Human rights are attributed on the fact that you belong to the human species, nothing else. So, babies, people with Down syndrome and other mental disabilities, you and I, have those rights on that merit alone… not on possessing “human-like” capabilities.

      I do believe though that if we go forward in time and become more progressive, we will extend many of our human rights to animals, in particular mammals.

    34. Jai — on 18th March, 2009 at 7:10 pm  

      Riz,

      I think it’s no good talking to people whose relations are in a severely mentally retarded/comatose state because there thinking is biased by the people they once knew.

      Not necessarily “biased”, but influenced by direct experience. There is nothing wrong with that, and in fact I’d say that those who have gone through these experiences are frequently in a much better position to analyse the topic “rationally”; another analogy would be someone discussing miscarriages as an “intellectual exercise” without ever having been close to someone who has actually gone through the experience, and seen the emotional impact first-hand (or, if one is female, having experienced all this oneself).

      I thought this was a great place for rational, objective thinking. Am I mistaken?

      Not you’re not mistaken at all, but some subjects need to be approached with compassion, empathy and great sensitivity in conjunction with the rational thinking one is simultaneously utilising.

      And so the box is locked and the key thrown away.

      It’s more a case of the box which should be unlocked very carefully, which contains extremely sensitive contents, and which can’t really be discussed properly “intellectually” unless one has also gone through the relevant experiences to be able to simultaneously approach it from the relevant emotional angle.

      Like many things in life, sometimes a person needs to have had first-hand experience in a particular issue before one can debate it with any accuracy or from an informed viewpoint, especially topics involving highly vulnerable people such as the severely ill, or handicapped, and so on.

      We’re human beings, not robots, and our emotions (especially our capacity for compassion, particularly if it’s born of traumatic personal experience) are as much an integral part of us as our intellectual faculties. Both these aspects of our identities should not be divorced from each other, especially when approaching these kinds of “heavy” subjects.

      In a nutshell, Riz, if you place yourself in those situations I described in my earlier post, then you will find that the answers to your own questions will become clear to you once the emotional impact has sunk in.

    35. chairwoman — on 18th March, 2009 at 7:46 pm  

      At the very least, many people reading this website will eventually find themselves sitting next to an unconscious or semi-comatose parent or other close older relative lying in a hospital bed after suffering a major heart-attack, stroke, or after heart-bypass surgery, assuming that you haven’t been in this position already.

      Too often, and not always that much older.

    36. Don — on 18th March, 2009 at 7:52 pm  

      Rumbold and Jai, excellent points.

      As part of my job I spend a lot of time with children born so severely disabled that their waking lives are made up of little more than pain, distress and incomprehension. Some will never so much as recognise their mother’s voice. But they are human and so am I.

      I spent a lot of today with one child who took two years before she would tolerate a hand placed on hers without jerking back. Now she stills and turns and sometimes smiles at my voice. In two years or less she will be, because of the nature of her condition, dead. But she’s human and it is worth every second.

      I also have a dog. A cross Jack Russell/Lakeland. Smart, loyal, lively and playfull despite her fifteen years. I’m very fond of her, but she isn’t human. She also has probably a couple of years left to live.

      If it came to a choice of which one to save in a crisis? Human, no hesitation.

      Riz was proposing, I think, a thought experiment and gracefully withdrew when it became apparent that it may have been hurtful to some. I can respect that.

      Perhaps I am being selfish. I am human, that person could have been me. I have a child, that person could have been her. I would want someone to put in the time to find that humanity, however damaged.

      Oh, and Riz, you might want to do a little more reading before associating Darwin with eugenics.

    37. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

      I have trodden on eggshells and made an unholy mess, and egg is hard to clean up once it dries! All points taken on board and I am not going to talk about the original topic…I’ll keep my mentalist views between myself and my therapist…or philosophers or other Spock like folk who can steer me to a new way of thinking.

      But Don, I do take umbrage at your final remark (finally, a chance to use that word). I have visited and taken notes on the Darwin exhibitions and read quite a bit about evolution from the layman perspective. Eugenics is new ground to me but Andrew Marr recently presented a programme on eugenics and Darwin, and from I have read on Wikipedia there is a very clear association. I am still to watch the programme on iPlayer, mind, but the association is there. Verily, I stand fast on this ground!

    38. David Jones — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:10 pm  

      ‘Attraction should be based only on personality, not on physical appearance’

      I’ll let my todger know.

    39. Don — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:15 pm  

      Marr was wrong. His use of the term ‘Darwinism’ was a bit of a giveaway that he had not actually grasped the subject. I told him so, but as I was talking to the telly my indignation was wasted. The association is between those who chose to misunderstand the theory and eugenics.

    40. Riz — on 18th March, 2009 at 8:28 pm  

      Agree that Darwinism is a woeful mis-labelling of evolution and survival of the fittest, giving excessive focus to the work of a single man, great that he was. The idea’s time had simply come. Also kind of agree on the second point but not fully. If we take a broad definition of eugenics, then even screening for genetic disease that we see today is a form of eugenics and it relates quite clearly to evolution. Whether society controls the process or the individual, whether it is imposed against our will and leads to genocide, or whether it is the democratic result of free-will is all by the by…it is all a form of intervention in human evolution.

      No more from me already. I’ve hijacked this post and apologise. Good weekend to all…I’m off to run experiment on my neighbour’s dog…mu ha ha ha!

    41. Katy Newton — on 18th March, 2009 at 9:08 pm  

      What I said was that it is bigoted and idiotic, even if you do judge someone solely on their appearance, to say that you would never sleep with a disabled person. Have you seen all of them?

      That’s pretty much what I think too.

    42. Don — on 18th March, 2009 at 9:17 pm  

      If we take a broad definition of eugenics,then even screening for genetic disease that we see today is a form of eugenics… Yes, agreed. I guess.

      …and it relates quite clearly to evolution. Not really.

      If we take the term eugenics broadly then it relates to the tumbler pigeon, the greyhound and the banana, all of which pre-dated the theory, sometimes by millenia. The idea that selective breeding and culling could improve the breed, as defined by those doing the selecting and culling, goes back to the, I dunno, proto-neolithic? Anyway, a long way back. And it has been applied to humans by humans since at least classical times.

      Evolution through natural selection is predicated on random mutations which survived or not according to how they best fitted the environment they found themselves in. Eugenics is predicated on selecting to a pre-concieved ideal.

    43. The Dude — on 18th March, 2009 at 11:00 pm  

      I’m with Katy on this one.

      At the end of the day sex and sexuality is a personal thing between human beings but to tar every disabled person with the ugly brush is just plain stupid and lets not forget that you don’t have to be disable to be sexually untouchable. If Condi Rice was the last female on this earth, I wouldn’t touch her with a barge pole.

    44. sarah — on 19th March, 2009 at 3:04 am  

      Hi Halima

      Thanks. It has made the list of movies at Same Difference: http://samedifference1.com/disability-related-movies/ and also the list of movies I would like to watch!

    45. Ravi Naik — on 19th March, 2009 at 11:06 am  

      At the end of the day sex and sexuality is a personal thing between human beings but to tar every disabled person with the ugly brush is just plain stupid

      What about the other way around? You know, to tar every blind girl with the “good to snog” brush? (#32) Is that stupid as well?

    46. Jai — on 19th March, 2009 at 11:46 am  

      Agree that Darwinism is a woeful mis-labelling of evolution and survival of the fittest,

      “Survival of the fittest” is an inaccurate description of what Darwin was describing, even though it obviously ended up becoming the recognised term for his theory.

      Something extremely important to bear in mind is that Darwin proposed it’s not about “the fittest” in the sense of “the strongest”, or (taking it further) “might is right”. What Darwin was actually proposing was Survival of the best adapted, which is obviously quite a different concept. He was also clear about the fact that the “best adapted” might not necessarily be “the strongest” in the generally-accepted sense either. Darwin’s actually right about both of these matters — both in relation to “the natural world” and human society/behaviour — if you really think about it.

      You can see why such a basic misunderstanding of Darwin’s fundamental idea has often wreaked havoc.

      Incidentally, Darwin also forcefully opposed the Victorian notion of dividing humanity into “races”, especially in relation to ideas about “intrinsic superiority and inferiority”; as far as he was concerned, he was emphatic about there being just one common race, ie. all of us. Apparently there were also situations where he ended up getting into heated arguments with people he saw mistreating Africans because of these attitudes (eg. slavery etc). You’ve gotta respect him for his decency, especially when you consider the prevailing culture at the time and escalating notions of arrogance due to imperial success.

      think on this issue we have been conditioned by the horrors of the nazi’s and other crazies and we have simply decided we made a binary decision, put the issue in a safe box, and thrown away the key.

      Well, there have been forms of eugenics going back a long time, as Don has said. The Spartans practised a version of this too, several thousand years before the Nazis.

    47. Jai — on 19th March, 2009 at 12:10 pm  

      By the way, Don: excellent, eloquent, poignant post by you in #36.

    48. Riz — on 19th March, 2009 at 12:45 pm  

      Jai,

      Agree that survival of the fittest is too easily misinterepted. I think of it as how a jigsaw piece ‘fits’ into a puzzle. While strength and physical fitness is clearly a subset of ‘fitness’ in this sense, it is definitely not the be all and end all - indeed, it’s importance in the human world is much reduced, as geeks continue to inherit the earth.

      I’m not sure about the term ‘best adapted’ as it may be too broadly interpreted, implying that one may have much greater control over our evolutionary destiny than Darwin’s theory stated - that said, I do think it is a better label for evolution more generally versus just being applied to Darwin’s outlook, because we are learning through epigenetics that an individual’s actions do indeed influence the genes they pass on. Personally, I quite like this angle as it suggests a less deterministic relationship between the individual and their progency versus just being a product of random mutations.

      Actually, why not just call it natural selection?

      Just as survival of the fittest has been misappropriated, so too I think has the term eugenics. Maybe we need a new term for it, but there is no reason why it need involve forced selective breeding, oppression of the weak and feeble-minded etc. In today’s world parents can test for various deficiencies and decide to have these children or not - they have the choice. Likewise, in the future we will be able to make decisions not just about whether to have or abort severely disabled children but whether to tweak their genes to give them the competitive edge in life. To me, this is a form of democratised eugenics. One worry I have over the extremely long-term is that just as eugenics programmes previously seemed ignorant of the importance of random mutations (which have a clearly come with a cost - disability, genetic disease, etc) so we will become ever further disconnected from the system of natural selection, which depends on random mutations for the long-term survival and adaptation of a species.

      PS - Interesting debate..I hope no one is taking offence at this leg of debate. I can overlook this aspect (cough, cough!).

    49. Susie Pauline — on 19th March, 2009 at 2:33 pm  

      Interesting debate, very interesting topic. I think that more of these issues should be discussed openly - the more we talk about it, the more people will understand that Persons with Disabilities are no different than anyone else and deserve to be treated with dignity and equality. There is a new website that will be an amazing resource and will serve to bring equality and accessibility to everyone. Take a look - it launches in May, but there is information on the site now. It is free for people to join and it will be awesome - it is a social networking place for Persons with Disabilities, their family, friends, caregivers - everyone…they will have a town hall so that topics like this can be discussed - and it will be global - neighborhoods all over the world. And it’s about time!!!!!!!!!!!

    50. The Dude — on 19th March, 2009 at 10:20 pm  

      Rav

      That’s a brush I can live with. What about you? But you’re right not all blind girls deserve to be kissed. But that’s your choice NOT mine. If you want to discover if blind girls are good snoggers, I suggest YOU kiss some to find out.

    51. damon — on 20th March, 2009 at 11:16 am  

      I too wondered about this 21 year old and his large collection of porn. Should he be encouraged to be such a porn ”user”? I thought that having a bit of porn when you were a lad growing up is somthing you hid from your mother. Looking at too much of it surely would not be healthy for someone with Downs syndrome.
      Or at least he should have conversations about not objectifying all women, and being told the difference between fantasy and reality.

    52. chairwoman — on 20th March, 2009 at 12:41 pm  

      “geeks continue to inherit the earth.”

      This would look great on a T shirt.

    53. chairwoman — on 20th March, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      “more people will understand that Persons with Disabilities are no different than anyone else and deserve to be treated with dignity and equality.”

      Becoming disabled has been a real eye-opener to me. Try being an articulate middle aged, middle class woman on a mobility scooter in the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, and see how quickly you virtually cease to exist. Other shoppers not only don’t move to let you pass, but deliberately push past and in front of you (quite dangerous considering I’m on a vehicle, no matter how slow moving). They speak about me to my companion over my head, and ‘tsk’ at me generally.

      I’ve started apologising when they cut across me ‘So sorry you got in my way’ I say with a smile. They very rarely actually notice what I’ve said, and mumble ‘Awrite’ or something to that effect.

      Oh, by the way, nobody ever makes a pass at me.

    54. chairwoman — on 20th March, 2009 at 12:52 pm  

      Dude & Ravi - Doesn’t everyone deserve to be kissed :) ?

    55. Ravi Naik — on 20th March, 2009 at 1:27 pm  

      That’s a brush I can live with. What about you? But you’re right not all blind girls deserve to be kissed. But that’s your choice NOT mine. If you want to discover if blind girls are good snoggers, I suggest YOU kiss some to find out.

      I am not debating whether people deserve to be kissed. But whether it is right to generalise and objectify women on the basis of their race, religion, height, weight, and even their disabilities. I understand we all have fetishes - like my friend who swears that East Asian women are the best in bed after going to Thailand. But I find such talk - even if it sounds flattering - can be offensive. Most people like to be treated as individuals, not grouped in the same bag and stereotyped.

    56. Sam London — on 24th March, 2009 at 7:53 pm  

      Seems to me the real problem is the very modern assumption promoted all too widely in the media, that people can only have a meaningful life if they have sex. That’s actually a problem for all young people who feel pressured to say yes to sex at a young age; not just those with disabilities. Just like the “right” to have child, relationships aren’t an entitlement, though we can all feel real sympathy for that family of these boys.

    57. persephone — on 25th March, 2009 at 12:00 am  

      This post reminded me of that story by HG Wells called The Country of the Blind where it is the person with sight who is thought to be ‘abnormal’.

      Consider the question instead to be:

      Do disabled people want to have sex with the so called able bodied?

      Maybe their ‘disability’ has made them adapt/modify better as human beings in that it makes them more in touch with peoples feelings and with heightened senses for example. Perhaps they have developed a higher self which is beyond the understanding of those who are able bodied.

      Perhaps BEING able bodied has made us overly focussed on appearance, close minded & xenophobic. Are the able bodied the ones with the ‘disability’ of thinking of what is perfection or ‘normal’.

      In fact, what is more abnormal than having silicone implants, botox, fat suction etc to look a certain way. The able bodied thinking has become so dysfunctional that it has caused the increase in cosmetic surgery.

    58. persephone — on 25th March, 2009 at 12:16 am  

      …Contd from # 57

      In fact, one poster wonders if a wheel chair ridden person is capable of having sex. Equally do the disabled wonder if someone who looks ‘perfect’ actually has silicone implants, that those pouty lips may really injected with something & potentially start drooping by the end of the evening?

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