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  • Disability and sex

    by Rumbold
    13th November, 2009 at 8:01 am    

    In 2008 a survey came out claiming that 70% of people would never have sex with someone with disabilities. With that in mind, it is good to see that there is now starting to be much more discussion about the sexual needs (and requirements) of some people with disabilities:

    [There is to be a] conference entitled “Disability: sex, relationships and pleasure”, which is being hosted by the Royal Society of Medicine in Central London. It aims to educate carers about the sexual needs of patients and to introduce disabled people to available support networks. It is backed by the Sexual Health and Disability Alliance (SHADA) and the Tender Loving Care Trust (TLC), which help to put disabled people in touch with appropriate sexual and therapeutic services, and offer confidential support and advice on sexual matters…

    The TLC has helped hundreds of people with disabilities ranging from loss of limb to wasting diseases to learning difficulties. It has 55 sex workers registered on its site, all of whom have been vetted by the trust’s staff. The patients pay for the services themselves, although many sex workers offer a concession to disabled clients who genuinely cannot afford what they offer.

    Hopefully the TLC has ensured that the sex workers are not in any way forced. And if it has, I don’t see anything wrong in this, especially given many people’s prejudices against finding disabled people attractive. No one is saying that people have to find all disabled people attractive, but to reject the possibility when there are so many different looking people out there is just bizarre.

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    Filed in: Disability

    13 Comments below   |  

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    1. pickles

      Blog post:: Disability and sex

    2. DisAbility And Sex « Same Difference

      [...] } This is a guest post by Rumbold, who blogs at Pickled Politics. It was originally posted at Pickled Politics today. Thanks to [...]

    1. Leon — on 13th November, 2009 at 3:32 am  

      but to reject the possibility when there are so many different looking people out there is just bizarre.

      Out of curiosity why are you focusing on looks? There are plenty of people with disabilities that you wouldn't know by looking at them…

    2. Leon — on 13th November, 2009 at 4:06 am  

      but to reject the possibility when there are so many different looking people out there is just bizarre.

      Out of curiosity why are you focusing on looks? There are plenty of people with disabilities that you wouldn't know by looking at them…

    3. sofia — on 13th November, 2009 at 4:22 am  

      It isn't all about's about sex within a loving relationship…and yes, it can be taboo to talk about it, so thank you for highlighting this issue. I'm registered disabled, but as Leon so rightly pointed out, not many people can 'see' my disability. It's because we have a distorted view of disability as something to revile or feel sorry for, that we have a distorted view of sex and disability. It makes my blood boil.

    4. ed — on 13th November, 2009 at 6:28 am  

      The only kind of disability that would put me off is self-absorption. I call that perspectival disability.


    5. damon — on 13th November, 2009 at 9:29 am  

      This debate reminds of the novel Disgrace by JM Cotezee, where at one point a university professor in his 50's is talking in his home to one of his young female students, and he makes a suggestion to her.

      As she sips, he leans over and touches her cheek. 'You're very lovely,' he says. 'I'm going to invite you to do something reckless.' He touches her again. 'Stay. Spend the night with me.' Across the rim of the cup she regards him steadily. 'Why?' 'Because you ought to.' 'Why ought I to?' 'Why? Because a woman's beauty does not belong to her alone. It is part of the bounty she brings into the world. She has a duty to share it.' His hand still rests against her cheek. She does not withdraw, but does not yield either.

      'And what if I already share it?' In her voice there is a hint of breathlessness. Exciting, always, to be courted: exciting, pleasurable. 'Then you should share it more widely.' Smooth words, as old as seduction itself. Yet at this moment he believes in them. She does not own herself. Beauty does not own itself. 'From fairest creatures we desire increase,' he says, 'that thereby beauty's rose might never die.' Not a good move. Her smile loses its playful, mobile quality. The pentameter, whose cadence once served so well to oil the serpent's words, now only estranges. He has become a teacher again, man of the book, guardian of the culture-hoard. She puts down her cup. 'I must leave, I'm expected.' The clouds have cleared, the stars are shining. 'A lovely night,' he says, unlocking the garden gate. She does not look up. 'Shall I walk you home?' 'No.' 'Very well. Good night.'

      You have to admire him for his cheek.

    6. Sarah — on 13th November, 2009 at 9:39 am  

      Thank you Rumbold for posting this. It's copied and pasted, with links and credit, at Same Difference. Hope you don't mind:…

    7. MaidMarian — on 13th November, 2009 at 2:32 pm  

      Rumbold - apologies if I am splitting hairs here, but I suspect that that 70% figure is based on a particular definition of 'disabled.' The best man at my wedding has a girlfriend who has MS.

      To look at you would never have her down as 'disabled' but she is very much in that category.

      I do take the general point you are making here, but there is more to this than that 70%.

    8. Kulvinder — on 13th November, 2009 at 3:08 pm  

      The problem is sex, and anything related to its enjoyment is seen as inherently disgusting by a portion of the british public. Obviously i empathise with those who need sex workers and id have no problem whatsoever with them being paid for by the NHS, but the tories are unlikely to be open minded about such issues and the labour party filled with the hateful mediocrity of the jacqui smiths and harriet harmans want to prosecute people who pay for sex.

      I wish SHADA and TLC well.

    9. Don — on 13th November, 2009 at 5:14 pm  

      The poll in question specified physical disabilities, which to me suggests that the polled were responding to the idea of a very visible disability. That may be shallow of them, but hardly surprising.

      But on the original question, about the mother of a guy with Down's Syndrome wanting her son to get laid, fair enough. Why should he have to go to Amsterdam? Of course, someone would have to do a risk assessment …

    10. Rumbold — on 14th November, 2009 at 7:24 am  

      Thanks Sarah. No problems.


      I think MaidMarian has hit the nail on the head, as, when asked about disabiliites, many people automatically think of physical ones. And this is the problem. People automatically write off such people based on preconceptions.

    11. halima — on 15th November, 2009 at 7:52 pm  

      We also don't tend to see disability beyond its physical aspects and i can imagine it's frustrating having to always explain why this is limiting, to say the least . It's quite frustrating to be affected by any disability - and also be the one raising awareness around it - you'd hope that one of these days we're all reasonably aware ..

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