This is what it feels like

I don’t know about you, but my last few months have consisted of men’s bullshit, and my minimization of said bullshit, as a means of survival.

But today, today I say fuck your bullshit.

Fuck the time you laid in my bed, right after I clarified that none of the hanky-panky would be had, stuck your fingers inside of me and said, “I want this.”

Not, “I want you” Not, “I’m attracted to you,” and definitely not, “I want your consent,” just this, and your stubby fingers in my beautiful vagina.

Fuck the night leading up to the morning of your intrusive fingers, when I said I was too tired to sleep with you, and you kept kissing me anyhow. Fuck the fact that I said at least 3 times that I was sleeping, and kept my eyes shut as you penetrated me with your penis regardless.

Fuck the fact that when you left the next morning, after your fingers had been inside of me and your penis had gone soft twice, (to which you blamed the speed crash you were having, and not the fact that you were trying to fuck someone who wouldn’t even open her eyes for you) the last thing you said was “You could’ve been more playful, you know.”

Fuck the likelihood that many of you will read this and wonder why I said “I’m tired” and “I’m asleep” over and over, instead of “No.”

Fuck the reality that I wonder that too.

Fuck the fact that you still text me.

Fuck the fact that you don’t know what you did wrong.

Fuck the knowledge that I’m a statistic.

Fuck the way that knowing you for a year changed nothing.

Fuck the way that all my wisdom on consent, and violence, and self-care couldn’t change a goddamn thing.

Fuck the perception that I’m vulnerable, as a disabled person,and its tangible, undeniable, non-socially-constructed truth.

Fuck the fact that after you’d left, all I could do was lay there, with my face in your pillow and your smell lingering, thinking about how it was bound to happen to me sometime.

Fuck the truth that so many girls have been here, and can’t read this without crying.

Fuck the fear that this won’t be the last time I experience this.

Fuck the fact that this isn’t even what I wanted to write about.


On Falling in Love With (Other) Wheelies

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..

  1. 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.

  1. 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 ❤

Not Adding Up: Manliness and Disability

Disability and manliness are like two old lovers who’ve had a horrible falling out and can no longer bare to be in the same room together. Though they actually share a lot of the same struggles, their goals are so starkly different that they wouldn’t dare try to reconnect, nevermind look each other in the face. And out of respect for the way things are, everyone abides by this, with manliness on one side of the room and disability off crying in a hopefully-wheelchair-accessible bathroom somewhere.

It’s sad really, they could totally chum-it-up if they both acknowledged their common elephant in the room: vulnerability. Vulnerability has been by both of their sides for as long as either can remember, in fact, I’m pretty sure she’s the mutual friend who introduced them.

But anyways, I super digress. Today, I’d like to talk about the way manliness and disability don’t jive (you know, beyond the obvious “disability doesn’t play nice with anyone” stuff) , a comparative example showing the disconnect, and then a shot in the dark at how to unite the two.

Manliness: The Norm of Norms

Way back a little bit after dinosaurs, being manly was the only acceptable plight of being. This dates back to Aristotle (and probably before him), who said that women have “improper form” and are “monstrosities.” A woman named Nancy Tuana has renamed this the view “Misbegotten Men,” which clearly indicates that men were seen as the ultimate normative standard.

Add time and a population pregnant with– well– women, and this standard evolves into bland old gender stereotypes with men at the centre and women being all hysterical and such. As a society that commonly defines ourselves by our affinity for dichotomies, we see men as natural and women as unnatural. Ideas of stoicism and strength are quickly elevated and idealized.

Oops, Disability

If throwbacks to early histories tell us that manliness was the only way to go, you can only imagine the type of stuff being said about disability. More than just a deviation, disability was/still is considered an anti norm, a spectacle, often “exhibited as freaks,”(Integrating Feminist Theory, 7). Exploited for what I call points of difference from ablebodied norms, disability was the opposite of anything anyone wanted to see, outside a circus setting. It’s the furthest away from our standards of manliness and beauty as you can get, a direct reminder of human flaws, a stiff shot of non-conformity.


The thing that unites disability and manliess is that they’re both unachievable essentializations; one is a desired standard and the other a fascinating performance. They exist in the realm of human categorization, of measurability, and both do an adequate job of denying human’s humanity. Moving up to present-day, I have two examples of vulnerability, one portraying men, and the other people with disabilities. Both photo collections, the first depicts ablebodied men in their gitchies, in a space where they feel comfortable, baring their unaltered bodies for the viewers. It’s poignant, and by way of exposing vulnerability, very de-sexualized (since norms tell us manliness and vulnerability cannot coincide). The second photo grouping, which shows disabled people also in their underwear, aims to bring up sexuality in the realm of disability.

It’s interesting that two photo essays with almost exactly the same requirements(near-nudity in home spaces to demonstrate realness) can have completely different narratives propelling them. Taking pictures of ablebodied men in their homes, whilst stripped-down is exposure, vulnerability, while capturing disabled people at home in their nickers is apparently sexing them up. This distinction is reinforced by the comments below each post, with the article featuring ablebodied men inciting intelligent, discussion- driven comments like:

I was intrigued with the notion of getting away from violent imagery to portray masculinity, but as I scrolled through the photos what struck me was that — with the exception of the man holding the flower — they all look melancholic. Is that the message — take away aggression from men and they look like they lost their best friend? A man without aggression can be giddy, lively, loving and funny, too.


I’m off to the gym.

The article conveying disabled people “stripped” on the other hand, provoked uncomfortable reactions like:


“What did I just see…?”

“We really don’t need to see naked pictures of anyone,”Quite silly, being that none of the people portrayed in these photos are full-frontals, and shadows and angling are used very appropriately.

And, my personal favourite:


Since an article often speaks through its comments, this tells me that either the readers of Daily Mail UK are their own breed of trolls, or that they have simply internalized a chunk of discomfort around disability and sexuality that they haven’t yet gotten around to shaking off. Naturally, I submitted a hefty comment on re-evaluating societal standards of acceptable sexuality, but it was moderated, and the post was then closed to commenters. There’s 3 minutes of life I’ll never get back.

Maybe commenters of the able-bodied photo essay were just more open-minded than your average Joe on Daily Mail, but even so, I think this speaks volumes about what we’re open to discussing—male concepts of vulnerability and its implications—and what wer’e not—sexuality of persons with disabilities. This is fascinating, because it seems that both articles have similar end-games, in that they want to change norms around sexuality, and yet they are received with starkly different reactions by readers.

I don’t have concrete answers for the gap we face with acceptance of vulnerability, in the contexts of manliness or disability, but I like to think reminding others of their commonalities (deviation from the norm, disapproval from the mainstream, unachievable standards of performance), we can move towards more positivity on both fronts. Because divided we fall,or whatever.

Dick Positivity

**Dearest family, this post isn’t for your you.**

Under the umbrella of sex positivity, there’s been talk around issues of consent, body-shaming, protection, and slut-shaming. These topics are all well-warranted points of conversation, and could benefit from an added component: dick positivity. In case dick positivity doesn’t already exist, I define it for this post as: taking the shame out of the way guys feel about their sexual gems. Ideally, dick positivity would become an attribute of body empowerment for men, especially men who don’t see themselves as manly, or don’t find themselves represented by the media. Its goal would be for men to accept their dicks, without fear of being measured by how many girls they’ve slept with or how “big” they are.

As for right now though, I think dick positivity only exists in this post. In an effort to talk about why dick positivity needs to happen, it’s important to discuss the things that block men from dick-bliss in the first place. To do this, I’d like to zoom-in on how dick standards intersect with disability, because Hi, I’m Kristen and my whole blog is about disability. Even my dick post.

Before we start, please know that I’m a female, and as such, I’m only noting general themes I’ve seen in men with disabilities (and men without) whom I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. If you think I misrepresent, tell me. If I’m missing something you think is part-in-parcel to being a guy with a disability, say so. The impact of dick standards on men with disabilities is a subject that’s just not discussed despite the havoc it causes, so I’d like to start to unravel it here.


Dicks are beautiful, truly. Provided the context is appropriate, as in the sex is wanted, men’s penises are positively great. Yet, common beliefs about dick size, dick shape, dick abilities, and dick stamina are ruining the fun for everyone. Combine any of these silly standards with physical disability and you’ve got another reason for a guy to feel sexually inadequate. In terms of disability, dick standards can be left unmet for a slew of reasons, namely:

“A man might have difficulty, or be unable to get or maintain an erection because of reduced blood supply, changes in nerve stimulation, depression or medications.” (The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability).

Getting but losing a hard-on happens sometimes, with some disabilities, just as they can happen with some able bodies. If you’re extra prone to this because of injury or some miscommunications between your head and that head, then it can be really, really frustrating. And our everyday social expectations of alpha-males with foot-long penises that never quit definitely don’t do anything to alleviate said frustration.

If this frustration is not acknowledged or discussed, it’s a slippery slope to self-pity, and a short road to self-loathing. I’m not a guy, but I think going down this course can be combated in two ways:

  • Realizing that your dick issues, whatever form they take, present a hurdle, not a sentence. Probably your dick doesn’t work, look, feel exactly how you want it to, but, hey: No ones does. Some guys wish for a few more inches, less of a curve , balls that groom themselves; people are very rarely completely satisfied with their fuckables.I wish my vagina was literally anywhere else on my body for the sake of access, but it’s not.   There are ways around that though. Your dick is lovely, regardless.
  • Dicks are over-emphasized as a symbol of manliness You have other body parts that can (hopefully) enjoy feelings. Your penis can’t bare the entire burden of your sexuality, nor should it, when there are so many other facets of you.

Also, just like any form of intimacy, dicks are a privilege, whether you’re disabled or not. Heavily due to normative beliefs about sex, we tend to think vaginas are the only secret-keeper, the only “reward” for intimacy. What we frequently forget is that intimacy itself is a privilege. Put as much or as little stock into the belief that sex is a privilege as you like, but realize that without it, it’s masturbation.

Lastly, I’ve framed sex as “penis privilege” to a few guys lately. These guys—both disabled and not—were generally surprised by this notion, as though they’ve forgotten that their intimacy is also a privilege, to be shared selectively, if that’s what’s preferred. Sadness! Maybe, if we start thinking of dicks as the privilege that they are, men will stop feeling inadequate. Maybe they wont gage their sexual abilities by their number of women or stamina, but instead feel pride about the positivity they’ve built while treating their intimacy as a privilege. More likely though, I’m a dreamer.

While I’m not attracted to all dicks, all dicks are a thing of art, as are vaginas and sunny days in mid-October. And I think a healthy dose of dick positivity for the men that sport them is good for us all. %dick standards.

**There’s a second part to this, which is likely of greater importance: the intersection of disability and manliness and its negative outcomes. I’ll write it soon, but let me know if you want to write it, since you know…I’m not a guy.

When Disabled People Pay for Sex, It’s Jus ‘Cuz

Ever since The Sessions came out in 2012, there has been this pocket of fascination around the role sex surrogacy can play in disabled people’s lives. The topic has lifted the brows of all sorts of people, from health-care workers, to sex workers to disabled people themselves, and (finally) people have started saying what they already knew deep-down: Disabled people have sex.

It’s been great really, finally being able to write that out loud. And it’s liberating to write the follow-up sentences: Sometimes disabled people exercise their own choice and pay for a prostitute, and, Oh yes, disabled people are indeed sexual, sometimes they will even pay for it. People everywhere are starting to understand, actually, that disabled people are just as sexual as the rest of humanity, and it’s dandy.

Only, this post wouldn’t be happening if it were truly dandy, so let me walk you to the water. In all the upcoming awareness about disabled people and their relationships with sex surrogacy and prostitution, people are (somewhat inadvertently) enforcing an old, essentializing stereotype: That disabled people who have sex—free or not—are fucking badasses.

This morning I gobbled up an article detailing the reasons why disabled men have paid sex. The piece referenced a small study, and claimed that men with disabilities have paid sex as an assertion of independence, and to “prepare them for real relationships.” The article briefly mentioned how this provided an alternative avenue for sex when the guys didn’t know where else to get it.

In response to these “findings” I just have one question: What’s the difference between a disabled guy wanting to get his rocks off with a girl he’s trying to forget he paid and a ablebodied business man wanting to spend the night with a pricey lady stranger? Is the businessman not also asserting his ability to fuck? Isn’t he too trying to fill the abyss of lonliness that tugs at the edges of his heart? Is he not, in some way, giving himself a “life experience,” that may or may not ebb positively or negatively into his future relationships? Why is this special/significant then, when it comes to wheelies?

There’s also this article, which discloses one paralyzed man’s search for a woman to meet his sexual needs. He views his sexual expression as an important part of his self-identity (which it is, duh.) He also seems to internalize the fucking-makes-mebadass idea, as he says, “live with [the disability] in the best way possible, and not to exclude anything. You can still be a rebel on two wheels.”

I’m by no means faulting this guy—I’m guilty of the same thought process. I’m mentioning it because internalization is a good indicator of the power a stereotype holds. This guy wants to get laid because getting laid needs to happen, and also because he’s a “rebel”. For you know, fufilling a human need. Maybe he could go all-out and eat some veggies while he’s at it.

Are all the men who sleep with women rebels? Are the guys who pay for sex super-badass? Why is it that we have to make sex and disability its own entity, when the current explanation,“Sorry to bore, but I’m actually just like you,” will do just fine?

Please, stop discussing our reasons for paying for sex as if were badass or exceptional. As is the case with anyone, it is what it is, nothing more, and certainly nothing less.

Angry wheelie out.

Understanding Devoteeism: The Sexual Attraction to Disability

I Google image searched "Disabled sexuality"...big mistake.

Some people like red-heads. Others like broad shoulders, and muscles growing atop muscles. And some like disabled and atrophying.

No lie, some people find disability sexually attractive. People who favour this fetish see certain aspects of disability, such as amputation, paralysis, and muscle weakness as sexually desirable–and often fantasize about obtaining a disability of their own (more deets on that in another post). Persons who experience this preference are commonly called “Devotees.”

In order to get the down-low on this sexual attraction, I threw every silly query I could think of into Google, sifting through the deep, dark, objectifying sites and seeing some things that can’t be unseen (another time, another post). Then, I found a forum for devotees, and promptly joined it, explaining my disability, my personal curiosity towards devotees, and my intent to blog about devoteeism. Here’s what I learned from the people I corresponded with, and the Internet more generally:

1. Devoteeism Just Is. A large part of the questions I had for devos revolved around the motive for their attraction. I wanted to know if they were attracted to vulnerability, or helping, or control. I wanted to know if they liked the perceived “wrongness of her body”(wording I found in one of the dark crevices of a Devo group on Yahoo). Most accurately, I needed to know: Why the fuck anyone would be attracted to this aspect of a person, so naturally, I asked:

“What is it about disability that’s sexy? And why?”

Some said helping “melted” them, Another told me that the way people with disabilities “did things differently” drew him in. One fella said he saw leg braces like “jewellery” and explained in-depth that the way these feet-helpers moved with his lover’s body had something attractive about it. But eventually, in all the differing replies, fantasies, and chatter about past and present preferences, someone answered my question in a way that screamed sensical:

Screenshot 2014-09-16 18.25.13

Sorry–It’s my first shot with screenshots.

For all of you that don’t have hawk eyes, this person serves me my answer with a side of fries when they say, “If a person happens to have a disability that I find attractive, it does make them as a whole more attractive to me[…] Again though–I’m not really sure why? To me, it’s sort of like if you were to ask a gay guy why he prefers men to women. He knows he does, but maybe not why that’s the case?” (Italics added).

So there it is–the answer to end all answers for skepticism regarding pretty much any sexual preference.Just as most people are unsure of the exact reasons for their sexual tendencies/ desires, fantasies, so too are devotees. Sexual attraction to disability just is. It’s here, it’s fierce, and from what I can tell, it’s not going anywhere.

2. Rainbows Within Rainbows Another thing I was surprised by is the level of diverse attractions that exist within devoteeism. Looking back, it seems obvious that this would be the case, like how some  people prefer blondes–BUT it’s a bit more complicated than that with devoteeism. Many devotees are attracted to specific types of disabilities. This particular attraction is often dived up in subsets–which are (not surprisingly) often hierarchical in nature. The most commonly identified sexual attraction within devoteesim is amputation, specifically of the lower legs. Paralysis–from para (lower paralysis) to quad (upper and lower body paralysis) wheels a close second, and then a bunch of others–MD, MS, CP, SMA, etc etc on and on forever, are lagging behind for the bronze.

At first, this hierarchy annoyed me. Like seriously, you’re going to be choosy about a population that is already pretty small? It’s not enough that the person is preferred disabled, they have to be disabled like so so you can really pop that boner? Come on now, you’re a douche.

And then I calmed the fuck down and remembered that people like whatever they like. Many-a-time, devos would reiterate to me that their attraction is person-centred. Nearly everyone I interacted with explained, “I HAVE TO LIKE THE WOMAN FIRST”–One person actually wrote that, in caps, to be sure I got the message/ shoved ignorance up my butt.

Many of the disability-related-attractions overlap. Some are drawn to muscle spasms–which occur in many physical disabilities (quad, para, MS, CP, etc etc etc etc). Some like “skinny legs” (yep, it’s a thing.) which happen in many many many physical impairments. Then there’s attraction to people in wheelchairs, or walkers, or scooters. But what’s really interesting is that many a devotee are initially attracted to what I call resourcefulness. Many devos like that we figure our lives out differently. It’s a turn on how we make up a new way to put on a shirt, because the usual way just doesn’t work when you have chicken arms. This seems like a logical attraction to me– I’m attracted to people who know how to do things I can’t, like, only all the time. Resourcefulness is hot.

So, while there is quite a hierarchy with devoteeism (which by the way, aligns quite nicely with societal ableism, generally) people’s attractions are often fluid, as is the case with everyone. And like with all groups of people, devotees have some creeps too–the ones who only see disability, or can be attracted to disability without finding the person attractive. These people would be creepy no matter what their fetish was. I did find some pretty bleak stuff–but I think that’s another post.

3. Disability Narratives and Attraction This last point doesn’t stem from direct interaction with devos, but from my observation. Before coming across the forums, I found a site called, which is bursting with erotica that depicts men with disabilities–as written and fantasized about by female devotees. I poured over this (all in the name of research, obviously…) and was mostly pleasantly surprised. The porn is written well, and focuses very little on disabilities themselves. By this I mean, I mostly just read stories thinking, “Oh, this is about my life.” I related to the descriptions often–and though I’ve been with disabled people, I’m not attracted to disability. What I mean is, the descriptions were not “devious” or strange, just regular old porn on paper. Things on the site were hierarchical as with the devo forums, with hundreds of Paraplegia writings, and only 4 CP stories, a meager SMA tales. Inline with this, I noticed something else: the more severe the disability being fantasized,  the greater the disability narrative. Meaning, with paralysis pieces, there’d be the odd acknowledgement of floppy legs or skinny caves, but outside of that, the porn was regular: People who wanted to fuck, fucked, and it was great. With disabilities like MD and SMA though, the porn had a different flavor, describing care routines, and emotional moments and sexual awakenings (on the part of the disabled person). It seems like, the idea of “helping a person realize they’re sexy,” and helping the person in general is a big part of the porn describing more severe disabilities. I understand why this is, but it saddens me a little. Not every person with a severe disability gives up on their sexuality, or their dreams, or forgets what their dick looks like. This element of the porn feeds into misconception….

Anyway. I have so much more to share, but I will stop for now. I hope in the in the very least this opens up discussion around sexual attraction to disability–its positives, negatives and neutrals. Happy Tuesday! Oh wow, it’s Wednesday.  There goes that.

I’m an Ableist Douchebag, Too.

Hahaha. She probably just can't do distances.  But ignore that, it's funny.

She probably just can’t do distances. But ignore that, it’s funny.

I’m an ableist douchebag, too. By “too” I mean, along with ablebodied people who make ableist assumptions and hold ableist viewpoints on levels of ability. I’m right up there with you, perpetutating prejudice from down here–in my wheelchair.

Considering I have a physical disability, and a disability blog, in which I lament disability issues(including ableism), this truth is a pretty ugly one. But I binge in ableism all the time, sometimes even more-so than able bodied people, like it’s a bottomless kegger of vodka (imagine?). In hand with this confession, I’d like to talk about the different ways ableism rears its head in my life, and the lives of others.

Practical Ableism

Practical ableism is the voice that says, “It’s just too hard to be with someone in a wheelchair, physically speaking.”This tape plays in many people’s heads–disabled or not– when they wonder about issues with dating or sleeping with a person with a physical disability, and are (maybe unconsciously) deciding to give up before even trying.

It runs through my mind too, whenever another disabled person shows interest in me, and it is the toughest, most intrinsic form of ableism out there. It is fed (very well) by the simple, dirty fact that sex between two people with disabilities is often less conventional, and more work than sleeping with an ablebodied person. As a culture, I think there’s an unspoken belief that sex should be all fun, all smooth, all “I can read your mind because I’m an excellent lover and know exactly what you want,” all the time. Two people with physical disabilities (and ablebodied people)have very little chance of having sex like how its had in the movies, or on porn, or spontaneously in the shower. Because spontaneity is sacrificed and “real sex” is underrepresented for PwD or people at large, the sex might become less desirable, more frustrating, and more confusing.

It is with this in mind that this form of ableism continues to breed, and in my opinion, practical ableism is the hardest to eradicate. As a 21st century human who likes the simplest of everything, I’m always going to choose easy sex over unfamiliar, unconventional, underrepresented sex, unless I’m balls-deep in silly old love with you.

The only way I see practical ableism leaving my life (and the lives of others, ablebodied and disabled) is if:

  1. Societal norms change, such that they devalue spontaneity and quit exalting sex-circumstances that are smooth and simple
  2. Sex is more diversely represented in anything and everything.
  3. My brain is magically infused with all the white brain matter I lack, and I become ablebodied.

Social Ableism

If you’re a wheelie, you know what it is to be gawked at a lot. If you’re a wheelie dating another wheelie, the gawking increases by 200%. If you thought you were on display before, you now feel like you’re on a soap-box, holding a sign that says “disabled people can like other disabled people. Deal with it.”

Besides all the looks, there are two major assumptions that show up when you’re dating another wheelie:

  1. That you’re only dating each other because you couldn’t find a walking person and settled for a wheelie. Because who in their right mind would make their life harder, by dating someone else with a physical disability? (See: Practical Ableism).
  2. That you’re both so damn cute together, and you must have the best, most healthiest love because you’re in the same boat. Type in infantalization into Google. This viewpoint is common, and an extension of the belief that disabled people are forever children, and they need to be “looked after”.

As a side-note, there is also a prevalent, dehumanizing belief that disabled people have overcome some huge feat through continuing to exist. It’s often the way that people are able to make meaning out of disability, and I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into detail. It’s simply narrative which attempts (and fails) to validate PwD by assuming they’ve overcome something huge. In my experience, this often becomes apparent when people decide you are “brave” “ridiculously intelligent” or “intriguing” without really knowing you. You might be all those things, but you might also be a big wimp.

Personal Ableism

This is when shit really hits the fan and you realize your ableism has turned inward. If you’re an ablebodied person, it might be the incessant bug in your ear telling you to work-out more, to be stronger, and hence better, and more likeable. It might also be that voice that tells you your body isn’t good enough, tall enough, big enough, fast enough. If you’re a PwD, the story is similar, except it often morphs into a belief that you are fundamentally flawed. This really bites the big one, because it affects everything, from how you perceive yourself, to how you expect others to receive you, and even what you think you realistically deserve in relationships and friendships. It goes hand-in-hand with Practical and Social Ableism, and is often written about under the term internalized oppression.

This is the part of the post where I usually contrive solutions/suggestions for change. My major suggestion today is that we realize and analyze how and why ableism is so rampant. I think it’s largely because we’ve all gobbled-up Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” theory as children, and re-digested it as adults. Which is funny, because Darwin also wrote extensively about compassion and empathy, though those theories are much less popularized.

Another thing we might start doing is phrasing this with, “This might be ablest but….” Generally, when you replace ableism with racism, people roll their eyes, because what you’re about to say is unjustifiably based on race stereotypes. But, I’d give anything for people to start acknowledging ableism….Please! It’s a start. It’s a conversation. I swear, I’ll kiss the next person that admits ableism exists in their own life.