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A Sexual Culture For Disabled People

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on 10 April 2015

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Transcript of A Sexual Culture For Disabled People

A Sexual Culture For Disabled People
By Tobin Siebers
Sexual Citizenship
-"sexuality is a major part of ones identity, sexual liberation is good and sexual expression is a civil right crucial to human happiness."
-Jeffery Weeks believes that attention to sexual identity gives birth to the 'sexual citizen' and that this idea leads to the devlopment of consensual human relationships.
-Kenneth Plummer and Abby Wilkerson both expand on this idea.
Sexual Repression
-Many disabled people are unable to freely express their sexuality and cannot enter into consensual sexual relationships.
-They posses little or no sexual autonomy.
-Siebers does say that most disabled people do not consider themselves as sexual minority.
-Siebers wants to focus on how their sexual oppression can broaden societies view on sexuality and how disabled peoples struggle relates the struggle of other sexual minorities.
Sexual Culture
-Siebers describes 'sexual culture' as being about more than having a sex life. Rather it is about the experience of sex itself.
-The idea of a sex life is very different for a disabled person because it takes up more than one part of their day, as sex is something disabled people have to plan and is not spontaneous.
-Siebers also talks about the issue of privacy. Disabled people often need assistance to have sex, so they do not have true privacy or they live in the hospital and are never given complete private time to themselves.
The Issue of Privacy and Access
-Siebers does add that the issue of privacy is not the main problem. Instead disabled peoples sexuality is limited because they do not have access to sexual locations.

Identity
-The notion of sexual culture hinges on the different ideas on what sexual identity is.
-Siebers defines sexual identity as "theory-laden constructions, combining both subjective and objective values, used by individuals to test the consequences of their actions and to explore the responsibilities of their sexuality."
-The ideas of sexual culture and identity work together interconnect to resist the privatization characteristic of a sex life.This way sex can be liberated and disabled people will have better sexual access.

The Ideology of Ability
Private Parts in Public Places
-In order for disabled people to develop a sexual culture they will need access to safe places where they can create new "erotic theories and modes of being." The problem with this is the separation between the public and private spheres and the history of this separation. Siebers compares the separation between the two spheres that restricts disabled peoples sexuality to the feminist "private/public split".
-The medical model is one of the main sources of separation for disabled people because it points out the "essential difference between non-disabled people and disabled people.
-The "medicalization" of the private sphere creates exclusionary practices.
-People can also pay for privacy, however a hospital room will never be entirely private because doctors and nurses can enter at will.
Private and Public Places in the Medical World
-Group homes and long term living facilities actively dissuade disabled people from exploring their sexuality and from seeking sexual partners.
-There are many restrictions placed upon them; they cannot be left alone in their rooms with people they could potentially be sexually active with and they have no control over their sex lives.
-The unequal power relations between staff and patients can encourage sexual abuse. Abuse is most common amongst paralyzed women. Disabled people are vulnerable to abuse because they often do not have the language to describe those kind of experiences.
-The medical model encourages the continuation of this. Disabled people are the perpetual patients and are always seen as medical subjects, instead of as people.
The Erotics of Disability
-Due to the oppression of traditional erotic zones on a disabled persons body, they are able to find new ways to pleasure themselves.
-Disabled people see their disability as something that enhances their sexual pleasure and that it gives "to sexuality a political dimension that redefines people with disabilities as sexual citizens."
-Sex for disabled people is not about penetration and is often more about bringing pleasure to their partner. Sex is also not a fixed aspect of their life; it is something that must be planned for.
Sexual Geography
-Sex for disabled people cannot be thought of in a normative way, instead it is much more experimental.
-Sex is more about touching and is like "slow-dancing."
-Disabled people have greater sexual diversity and they turn non-erogenous zones into erogenous ones.
Politics
-New formations of gender and sexed identity may be the final frontier of sexual citizenship for people with disabilities.
-Both the Left and Right want to abolish the idea of identity and both sides believe in the idea that "sex is sick" and that disabled people do not have sexual desires.
-Different types of identity may suit people with disabilities better, as they do not always feel like they fit in with traditional gender roles.
Conclusion

-If disabled people were given a sexual culture " their status as a sexual minority requires the protection of citizenship rights similar to those being claimed by other sexual minorities.
-It is hard for disabled people to create a sexual culture because they are an under represented minority.
-Disabled people need a new public sphere to develop their sexual culture. An example of a new sphere would be between disabled parents who adopt disabled children, since the future of disabled rights is with disabled children.
-One fear of creating a sexual culture for disabled violence is the outbreak of violence that could occur.
-The main goals for disabled people is "to gain freedom of association and intimate companionship, authority over their own body, protection from abuse, violence, and opression, and the right to pursue a sexual future of their own.
-Siebers comments that because everybody will become disabled one day, the struggle of people with disabilities for sexual rights belongs to everyone.
-The ideology of ability states the able body is the baseline of humanness, so if you are disabled person you are less than human according to this idea.
-Sex also follows this idea, as the main function of sex is to reproduce. Disabled people having sex is seen as wrong because they would not have "quality offspring."
-Sex for disabled people is not about reproducing and one of the aims of creating a sexual culture for disabled people is to separate sex from the ideology of ability and to see the "sexual benefit of an impairment."

Lives Worth Living by Eric Neudel
A documentary on disability rights
-Untold Desires by Sarah Barton
A documentary on the sexuality of disabled people.
Questions
What do you think about the term sexual culture and how it relates to people with disabilities? Why does society view people with disabilities as 'sexless' or as having no sexual desires?
Full transcript