Monday, May 13, 2013

Sex and the Differently-Abled

Many people, if they think about having sex with a disabled person at all, hold some preconceived notions, like it would only be a pity f*ck, or perhaps, somebody would have to be paid to do it.

 Reality? Just like non-disabled people, some disabled people do pay for sex. Others are celibate, others have married sex (which ranges from little to much in frequency), and others are all but swinging from the rafters, as humorously portrayed by the gorgeous Jennifer Kumiyama in the 2012 movie The Sessions. (Actually, since sex swings are "a thing," perhaps some are literally swinging from the rafters. Just like some non-disabled people.)

Fetish Fantasy Yoga Sex Swing via Adam & Eve
I must be a chicken, because when I look at this, it
doesn't scream "sexy" to me, it screams uncomfortable.

The Sessions, which I loved, starred Helen Hunt, John Hawkes, and William H. Macy, and garnered dozens of award nominations.
Based on the poignantly optimistic autobiographical writings of California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien, THE SESSIONS tells the story of a man confined to an iron lung who is determined--at age 38--to lose his virginity. With the help of his therapists and the guidance of his priest, he sets out to make his dream a reality.

People fall in love

Regardless of age, of the color of their skin, and whether or not they have working legs, or eyeballs, people fall in love, and not always "with their own kind."

The first time I became aware of this was when I was very young, watching the movie Coming Home.  Jane Fonda portrays a woman with a husband serving in Vietnam, who falls in love with a disabled combat veteran while her husband is overseas.

The tenderness, the attraction, and later, the lovemaking between these two was smokin' hot.

Likewise in Dee J. Adams' Dangerously Close; she's paired a newly blinded heroine with a rock star hero, a man who's used to people judging him at first glance.
He sat next to her and Ashley imagined the serious expression on his face. “No,” he said. His warm palm stroked her jaw as his thumb grazed her cheek. His voice had that husky quality again and her insides started a slow melt. “It’s my way of making sure you’re okay the rest of tonight. I want you close to me.” 
Ashley’s breath hitched. The contact, the words and the way he said them were electric. Maybe she was too wigged out from tonight. Maybe all of it was in her head, but it didn’t change the way her body felt. A definite hunger slowly built from her center and fanned out to her fingers and toes. She didn’t move. She couldn’t. She sat there frozen, waiting for more of his touch, more of his heat.

Hot, hot, hot - and why not? Why should romance novels and movies only portray 25-35 year old superfit whole bodied men with amazing pecs, and 18-30 year old superfit whole-bodied women with perky breasts and both a law degree and a PhD in biochemistry?

Not that I don't enjoy those books, too, but IMO, it's more interesting when a character is imperfectly shaped or has a physical challenge as well as an emotional/spiritual one. One of the things I love about Mercedes Lackey's fantasy fairy tale novels is it's not unusual for her to feature heroines or heroes who are damn near blind without their glasses. (Like me!)

When a fat girl has a hot boyfriend - and yes, it happens, frequently - he may face social pressure from people telling him "you can do better," as if the only standard of beauty (and worth) for a woman is being thin. There's a common expectation that if you are already married and your partner becomes ill or disabled, well, of course you would stick by him/her. But if a man or woman meets and marries someone who is already disabled, or perhaps ill with HIV or MS or bipolar disorder... Society tends to question, "Why? Is there something wrong with you?"

It's almost as if the person has become that condition or disease - the wheelchair, the illness, the deafness - and that's all many people see.

In some cases, it's looking past the physical attributes, disability or disorder.

I prefer men who are taller than me, and men with hairy chests (even if that's not currently "in" among romance male cover models), but I've dated men shorter than me, and bald-chested men, and sometimes had long relationships with someone who was "not my (physical) type," because I enjoyed so much more about him. For me, and for others who are attracted to A but not dead-set against B, it can be a case of looking past initial physical attributes and connecting with the person, perhaps even coming to prize those attributes over time.

Others are initially attracted to others because of those physical attributes.

Tomorrow I'll be extensively interviewing author Ruth Madison, who introduced me to the world of devotees - people who are sexually attracted to partners with physical disabilities.

Stay tuned!

Your thoughts?
Got any book recommendations that feature
disabled or otherwise "different" heroes or heroines?
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