A former co-worker and several-years buddy Shanna Katz was the first one to really make me stop and think about sexuality as it relates to people coping with a disability. We talked about it over tea, over twitter, over email at various points and she opened my eyes about the issues, problems and especially stigmas that those with disabilities face when sex comes into the conversation. Whether it be muscle or flexibility issues, missing limbs, mental problems or other differences from the perceived norm, those that are disabled often deal with being socially sterilized when it comes to sex – the same unfair cell that the elderly are often crowded into.
People tend to like intimacy. They like to make love, touch each other, touch themselves or even just meditate on the idea of being, and the way they express those concepts might not always pull up neatly alongside our own definitions. There are the asexual and those that abstain for personal, religious or cultural reasons, and those instances are as much about intimacy with their belief systems as genital-involved sex is about intimacy in the flesh. Intimacy is important, and trying to take it from someone who defines it differently by mocking or belittling it is nothing less than a violation of their personal human rights. I feel this, in my heart – do I always succeed when it comes to the actual practice? No, but it’s definitely something I aspire to make natural in my interactions.
In my journeys as ThatToyChick, I see echoes of social concepts in the products that pass through my hands or across my screen. It’s heartening to me to know that friends and loved ones that may experience medical issues later on or currently struggle with them have options in the sex toy world when it comes to enhancing their sex life. I was going to make this a “Weird Sex Toys o The Week / WSTOTW” piece, but I felt that would sensationalize and undermine what I’m trying to say here. These toys aren’t weird, they’re cool and progressive – just like the people using them. They open sexual doors and allow connections for people that are trying to not only live with and overcome a disability, but the heavy anchor of the social stigma that goes with it.