There is a common misconception among able-bodied society that people with disabilities are asexual. This falsehood stems from a series of inaccurate stereotypes society has of the disabled which has been perpetuated by lack of representation in the media. It is true that on average people with disabilities have sex less than those without a disability. However, this does not reflect the idea that people with disabilities are not sexual. It might be hard for some to believe, but people with disabilities are human just like everyone else, which means they have the same sexual desires we all share.
One common myth facing people with disabilities is that they are too innocent to possibly want sex. This myth mainly arrives from the obsession people have with treating people with disabilities as inspirational simply because they exist. Most depictions of the disabled have been viewed as courageous, “if he/she can do it, then so can I!” This “inspirational porn” as it’s called creates the illusion that people with disabilities are above such things as sex. How can someone so inspirational and so innocent possibly want to be sexual?
Another myth is that those with sever disabilities are like children since they sometimes might need extra help. The US has an unhealthy obsession with self-sufficiency. We pride ourselves based on our independence and judge our adulthood on what we can do by ourselves. In dealing with those with disabilities that limit their independence, people often assume that since they need help, they have the mentality of children, which means that sex is out of the question.
What’s even more interesting besides these myths is the medica field’s approach towards sexuality with people living with disabilities. Often, the talk about one’s sexuality is overlooked by doctors. The conversation focuses so much on how to help the disabled, rehab, accommodations, living assistance, that the concept that a disabled person would have sex never crosses their mind. Sex is a powerful human drive that we all share. It is important to explore one’s sexuality even if they are limited in physical mobility.
The most glaring false assumption regarding people with disabilities and sex is that people with disabilities are just too different from the norm to even engage in sex. Over the decades, society has constructed an arbitrary notion of normalcy. Anyone who deviates from the norm is considered undesirable. People with disabilities often rank high on the “abnormal” spectrum. This is a much broader issue facing the disabled. In regards to disability and sex, it enforces the idea that a disabled body is one that is not worthy of sex.
We are conditioned to believe, thanks to a bombardment of inaccurate media representation, that sex is reserved for the young and attractive. Hardly do we ever see anyone with a physical disability engaged in a sexual relationship. This, along with the previous myths mentioned above, leads us to believe that perhaps people with disabilities truly are different and that the concept of sex doesn’t apply to them.
Obviously, people who think this are ignorant. Not only do people living with disabilities have a sex drive like others, they are able to engage in sex as well. The only difference is the level of creativity those with disabilities display while having sex with their partner. The book “The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability” by authors Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg and Fran Odette goes much more in-depth in not only the myths surrounding the asexuality of the disabled, but the number of creative ways those with disabilities are able to have sex.
Once we recognize that people with disabilities can be sexual like anyone else, our misconception of the disabled will slowly change.
I earned my M.A in English Lit from Gardner-Webb University in 2019. My writing mainly focuses on disability positivity. I enjoy sci-fi, fantasy and classic rock. Oh, and I’m also a part time phone sex operator. So, that’s a thing.