Ableism prescribes that wheelies marry each other, because that’s all we deserve—which simultaneously implies that we are both less than ablebodied people, and socially confined by our disabled circumstance.
Then of course, there’s the issue of what to do when love between wheelies actually happens, which it does sometimes, because love is stupid and has no consideration for sticking-it-to-the-man or physical barriers.The intricacies of wheelie love and sex are rarely discussed–society has a hard enough time acknowledging it happens between a person with a disability and an ablebodied person, nevermind between two people with disabilities. Today, I’d like to go off on a million tangents about why it’s worth it to consider dating a wheelie if you are one, and to stop calling wheelie relationships ‘cute’ if you’re a walkie..
- The Hows of it All–Disabled sex doesn’t look like this:
Family Guy is largely defined by its willingness to make fun of everyone equally, disabled people included. Here, Stephen Hawking is caught in the coils of coitus with his (fictional) severely disabled partner, and it’s hilarious (though questionable, on-par with Family Guy’s satirical trademark).
What makes this clip funny is that it’s two parts ridiculous and one part relatable. By relatable, I mean, many people have seen a wheelie couple and wondered how their sex life works, the same way that I wonder how frothy milk comes out of my coffee machine every morning—I know it happens, but the hows remain a mystery.
I remember first hearing the question “How do you ‘do it’ if you’re both disabled?” In a friend’s car, as a group of us headed to the movies. The (ablebodieded) guy asking was a friend of my friend, and he had been stealing sideways glances at me since meeting me a couple hours before. We got along well, he had a bluntness that blended with me, and I found his genuineness refreshing.
His bluntness didn’t disappoint when he worked up the gull to ask the how-tos of my sex life with my known disabled boyfriend at the time. I laughed and sighed, “It’s hard. We can’t do things the normal way.” I then moved away from the topic, but his curiosity was not lost on me, and I realized wheelie-wheelie sex is just another thing a lot of people are confused about, but, (usually) too afraid to ask.
How it’s done ain’t really your business. But I know people are gonna wonder anyway, so in hopes of dodging ignorance, I will say this: Sex for people with for two people with physical disabilities is roughly as different as your last two lays were. No situation replicates itself in the bedroom, disability or not. Disabled people are really underrepresented in media, and porn, and life, so we do often have to get creative and resourceful when it comes to fucking each other. Sex toys with titles like “The E-Z Rider” are apparently making a name for themselves when it comes to sexual partners that have disabilities (I don’t really know why, I’d definitely fall off that quicker than Raggity Ann. I’d think more wheelie-friendly generic helpers like this wedge make more sense).
Just as people adapt to winter by buying long johns and complaining more, people with disabilities adapt to sex through figuring out their limitations, differences and similarities, as while as their sexual interests. Sex is like a fun puzzle, provided the communication is good and both parties are eager.
- The learning that can occur is irreplacable. When it comes to relationships and physicality, I think PwD have a lot to teach and give to each other. The first guy I every really cared about is in a wheelchair. Without exposing too much about him, I’ll say that he has a relatively severe acquired disability. When I first knew him, I tried hard to ignore that I was really super attracted to him, because I felt I was too damn good for all his wheelieness. This meant that I regularly avoided him, and when we got stuck in the same area in some student space, I started to shake, and ramble and laugh at nothing, so naturally he asked me to dinner. And naturally I coughed and laughed and mumbled “yes,” before jetting, to go breathe into a bag.
Eventually I relaxed a bit, and the more time I spent with him, the more I learned. I watched how he did things—the way he worked around his physical limits, the way he advocated for himself, the way he negotiated so many aspects of his life. I saw how he worked around certain people’s ignorance and always cared about his best interest, even if it meant having long discussions with superiors and finding alternative solutions. I learned that he didn’t think himself lesser-than, ever, and it gave me hope.
I also saw how he looked at me, as if I was pretty for real. I never saw him look at me with confusion or disdain, or like he was hiding a moment of discomfort about my body. Once, I can remember standing up to grab something, and he looked at me with a cheerful smirk, “You’re lucky you can do that, you know,” he laughed. In that moment I felt so much gratitude, for both him and my body. It was the first time anyone had ever told me my ability-level was a blessing (besides my mother, Hi mom, hope you’re not reading this!).
As with all relationships, every dynamic is different, and while there are many great things disabled people can learn from each other, prejudice and oppression is also somewhat contagious. The happy examples to which I’ve referred were able to occur because this guy had worked on a lot of his disability baggage by the time I knew him. It’s my dreamy hope that PwD allow for the possibilities of friendship and intimacy with other PwD, without being frightened by ableist norms and society’s condescension toward wheelie couples. If the dynamic is healthy on a basic level, it’s worth the risk.
Lastly, all my current closest friends are also wheelchair users, and there’s nothing cute about it. We bad mouth each other every other word, and our ‘I love yous’ all sound closer to “You’re such a piece if garbage, but I hate life without you.” Their general distaste for my frequent need to talk about my feelings was the original fuel for this blog, in its entirety. They are the worst.
Hug a wheelie ❤