Yes, Disabled People Have Sex
Media often shapes how we perceive reality. When there is a huge gap in representation, it can affect how people see and stigmatize others. This has been done with the disabled community for quite a while. One of the ignorant questions I notice most often from people outside of the disabled community is, “Can disabled people have sex?” Or they’ll say, “Disabled people can’t have sex because x, y, z is wrong with them.” But of course, we can! Yes, most of us participate in sexual activities. Most of us have sex; we find sexual activities enjoyable. When disabled people are infantilized or presented as inspiration porn, it furthers the stigma that disabled people don’t have sex or that they don’t want or need relationships. This is why it’s important to have representation of disabled bodies as sexual beings in media.
We don’t inherently find disability unattractive. It’s a learned trait. It comes from how society, media, and peers speak about disabled bodies. Most children are born with an inquisitive mind and an open heart. Although most of us who are disabled have been teased growing up because we are different, I believe it’s not because of an inherent thought process but because of how media and society have shaped us.
Disabled individuals aren’t often shown in sex scenes. Instead, they are used as props for pity and inspiration. But things are slowly improving. In the show “Sex Education,” the actor who plays Isaac, George Robinson, plays a wonderfully flawed diverse character. In the recent third season of “Sex Education,” the actor was shown in a sensual scene with one of the main characters. It was one of the first times I’ve seen a disabled body represented in a sex scene. Not only was the character disabled but the actor is as well. More than 95% of characters with disabilities are played by able-bodied actors on television. If our stories and sexuality are always being played and written by someone who is able-bodied, then how true is the story that’s being told? It’s important that we start telling more diverse disabled stories which include relationships and sex.
Growing up, I never saw disabled people represented in media. When I was in high school, I was often teased about sex and whether or not I could have it. It often made me feel very insecure and separated me from my able-bodied peers. I felt like I wasn’t seen as a sexual individual. Not having that strong body-positive influence as a young disabled woman affected how I saw myself and how I viewed sex. It’s important to not only have positive actually-disabled bodies represented in the media, but also show them as sexual beings. Otherwise, we further stigma that disabled people don’t have sex lives, which can not only cause a lack of proper information, but also affect how disabled people view their own bodies.
By speaking out about this and showing more diverse disabled relationships and sex scenes, we can change the narrative. Let’s be honest, we know media and Hollywood have a major influence on people’s perception and it’s time that they are held accountable for it. Disabled people are sexy and we deserve to be represented as such in the media.
Getty image by FX Quadro.