Why Aren’t We Talking About Disability and Sex?

Most young people spend a lot of time talking about sex with their mates. All sorts of sex in fact – the other sex, our sex, how much sex, good sex and bad sex. We’re quite prepared to be upfront about the fact we think talking about sex (and thinking about it too) is totally normal and completely healthy.

Then something came along which made me realise that there was one aspect of sex we didn’t ever talk about. That something was an Oscar nominated film performance from an actress called Helen Hunt. The film is called ‘The Sessions’ and it’s all about disability and sex. I realised that we haven’t been talking about disability and sex. The issue is being brushed under the carpet and that’s not healthy. I reckon it’s time to get talking.

THEY DON’T TALK ABOUT DISABLED PEOPLE GETTING SEX AT SCHOOL EITHER

Sex education at most schools school is usually only really focused on relationships between people who don’t have a disability. This can mean young people with a disability are not informed about sex and relationships. Think it through and you start to realise this can add up to the idea that sex isn’t for disabled people. Reflected in the views of wider society it becomes a taboo subject.

You’ve probably seen or at least heard of the Channel 4 programme ‘The Undateables’. It’s basically a dating show for people with disabilities. The show challenges the view that having a disability somehow makes you asexual or non-sexual. It shows that disabled people, as much as anyone, want to find a partner for sex, love and all the other stuff boys and girls (or boys and boys, and girls and girls) do together.

Some people are concerned that the programme exploits people in the show. Actually, the name of the show give’s the wrong impression and is rather exploitative. ‘Undateable’ in who’s views – who is to judge. Jumping to conclusions about exploitation can result in sexual rights being compromised, leaving people feeling as if they can’t, or have no right, to sexually express themselves.

THE GLEE OF SEX

As mentioned above sex and disability is topical with the release of ‘The Sessions’. It tells the true story of a man with a man paralysed from the neck down who uses a sex surrogate to lose his virginity. The film challenges the view that people with disabilities do not want to have physical relationships. The idea that people with disabilities don’t possess sexual desires means that these desires are overlooked.

The film shows a man overcoming his own insecurities and fighting for a right that he feels he deserves. The film has done a great job at getting people talking and bringing issues into the spotlight.

Sex and disability aren’t addressed together much in films and TV. But remember when Artie from Glee lost his virginity to the hot cheerleader? One of the things that he said was that he wasn’t even sure he could have sex after his accident. This is a common worry and one that may make people cautious of entering into a relationship in the first place.

WHAT IS A SEX SURROGATE?

A sex surrogate is not the same as a prostitute. Sexual surrogacy is based around therapy and involves attending a number of sessions over some months. A surrogate addresses psychological as well as physical issues.

People with physical disabilities who rely on a carer find it particularly hard to have sexual relationships. Often people’s carers are their parents, who may be overprotective making it even more difficult to express sexual desires.

On one hand this can result in feelings of isolation and even shame. However some parents who are carers pay for sexual surrogates for their children when they are old enough. It isn’t part of life that a parent expects to be involved in so it can be difficult. But being open about desires can avoid resentment as it acknowledges the validity of sexual feelings.

There are some agencies that are especially for this who find sex workers for disabled people. They work within the law, have been vetted and are used to working with people with disabilities.

IN THE NEWS – SUS-SEX

Back in March sex and disability were in the news when it was revealed that sex workers were being used in care homes in Sussex. The revelations had a mixed response. Some people are concerned that this opens the door to the possibility of exploitation. Others defend it, saying that the sexual surrogates are doing something that care workers are unable to, both morally and by law.

For some, using a sex worker and knowing that they can be intimate, can give the confidence that they need to be in a relationship with a more long-term partner. Learning that they have some physical sexual capability to back up their sexual desires raises their self-esteem.

Others may not want to use a sex worker and would prefer to wait until they are in a relationship. Going back to Glee, Artie was upset that he lost his virginity through ‘meaningless’ sex – albeit as an expression by a caring friend. He was excited to lose his virginity as he wasn’t sure he could have sex. After the encounter he was left wishing he had waited.

You can make your own mind up about whether first sexual encounters are always meaningful. However this reaction in itself is a reflection that people with disabilities experience the same worries about sex and love as anyone else.

SO, LET’S GET TALKING

There’s a lot to consider. Some have concerns that the use of sex workers could lead to abuse of vulnerable people. While sexual desires are important, exploitation is a concern. Although if you follow the thought that sex workers are themselves being exploited the question becomes who is exploiting whom.

For this reason it is important for there to be open and honest conversations about the issues. By doing this, disabled people can feel that any sexual desires they have are normal.

Half of the battle is making society more aware of the issues; this is first step to combating stigma on the subject.

Top Most Famous Adult Film Stars

For time immemorial, no maxim has been proved correct so often as ‘sex sells.’ And when it comes to the notoriously straight white male-dominated film industry, this typically means peddling female flesh.

While the efforts of certain actors like Kevin Bacon, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender may go some way to redress the balance, the fact remains that female nudity is far more commonplace in the movies than male nudity, and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that most actresses will at least once or twice in their career take a role which sees them appear naked, or at least partially so. And yet, while some actresses will only ever perform one or two nude scenes in their whole career, others will – by choice or circumstance – take roles which require a smidgen more than that. As in, roles which barely see them keep their clothes on at all.

Whether the nudity is ‘artistically valid.’ or the role ‘requires’ it, or it’s plainly and simply there to sell more tickets; well, that’s all open to debate. But there’s no denying that, when a movie sees an actress stay naked for more or less their entire screen time, it tends to make for memorable viewing.

On the off chance this wasn’t already screamingly obvious, expect NSFW (although censored) images ahead.

Sex During Pregnancy

It is important that you nourish your relationship as much as your nourish your unborn child during pregnancy. Most women find that their bodies grow large and unwieldy during pregnancy. Many women are surprised to find that their sex drive actually increases during pregnancy, particularly during the second trimester. This is due to the increased amount of blood that is coursing through your pelvis and vagina.

Is Sex Safe During Pregnancy?

Sex is safe during pregnancy provided you have a low risk pregnancy with few complications. Your doctor will let you know if you should avoid sex for any reason at all. Most women can enjoy a healthy and fulfilling intimate relationship throughout their pregnancy, right up until their delivery date.

Will I Enjoy Sex During Pregnancy?

Surprisingly, many women find that they are more sexually aroused during their second trimester than they were prior to pregnancy. The increased blood flow to the vaginal and a woman’s growing bosom often results in a heightened sense of self and sexual arousal.

Most women will shy away from sexual relations during their first trimester when morning sickness and fatigue often get in the way of love making. During the third trimester, some women find themselves uncomfortably large and prefer not to be intimate, whereas others continue having intercourse right up until they go into labor.

Will Sex Hurt the Baby?

One of the most common concerns of fathers to be is that sex will hurt the baby. Some men are afraid that they will bump into the baby when they have sex. By and large however this concern is unfounded. If your husband is overly concerned about having sex during pregnancy, have him join you at your prenatal visits. A little reassurance from your physician that he will not hurt or bump into the baby may be all your husband needs.

Partners often react very individually when it comes to sex and pregnancy. While some men find the site of their wife’s blossoming body a true turn on, others are ambivalent or even a little turned off by pregnancy. It is important that you are open, honest and communicative with your partner about your needs during pregnancy, and try not to take any emotions your partner may be feeling personally.

Remember that pregnancy is often an emotional roller coaster, and your husband or partner may be more concerned that you might react differently, or may be scared of the idea of having a family in general. Some men have a difficult time being intimate with their wives even when they recognize that they will not harm the baby, because they feel another presence is in the room.

That said, many men and women have remarkable sexual relationships throughout their pregnancy. Even if you do not engage in intercourse with your husband, it is important that the two of you work on nurturing your relationship throughout your pregnancy. Foot rubs, kissing, back rubs and holding hands are all excellent ways to share some intimacy without actually engaging in intercourse.

The best way you can ensure that you and your partner remain close during your pregnancy is to check in with your partner on occasion. Inform them of your needs, let them know where you are coming from and what you need or want from them.

Positioning

If you and your partner are interested in maintaining a healthy sexual relationship during pregnancy, then undoubtedly you must be wondering what positions will work best for you as your belly grows and expands. The best thing you can do during your pregnancy is keep an open mind and be creative. Most women will find that it is uncomfortable to enjoy sex in a missionary position after about the first or mid second trimester. Try flipping over, woman on top and even lying next to one another during your pregnancy.