Every Body’s Doing It

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ok, so I kind of love writing this blog.
I love writing it and I love that you read it. It makes me feel good, I hope it makes you feel good, and I have high hopes that someday it’ll get me real rich and famous and I will get to travel around the world, running my mouth off about all sorts of hot n’ dirty biznezz.
I have fantasies that professional sex educators attend sex conferences by day and engage in THE SEXIEST ORGIES by night.
That’s how it works, right?
I want in on that.

Anyway, writing this blog, using filthy language and slangy colloquialisms, and being personal and informal is a pretty good time for me, and, I believe, is the most engaging way to talk about sex.
However, I am aware that this online forum and style only appeals to a certain audience.
A big part of my job is speaking with medical professionals about the sexual health needs of persons with disabilities. As mentioned in previous posts, I am a person with a disability, and so the sexuality of folks like me is high up on my priority list. I love speaking with doctors about the too-often over looked sexual health concerns of those of us whom are disabled. But, when I am engaging in this kind of discussion, I never sound like this:
” Yo doc, listen up to this fucking fact: squirting is rad.”
It’s ineffective, detracts from the legitimacy of a person’s sexual health needs, and makes everyone wildly uncomfortable.

And so, when I’m not blogging my fucking heart out, or dusting dildos down at the sex shop, I am using more professional language and writing a little mini booklet about the sexual health needs of persons with disabilities. I received a small grant from the Halifax Community Health Board to put together a manual about how sex toys can be used by people with disabilities. In it I talk about adapting sex toys, cleaning sex toys, the pro’s n’ con’s of sex toys, and everything in between.

This manual/little mini-booklet, titled “Every Body’s Doing It: Talking About Sex and Disability” is set to be printed within the next few months.
It will be distributed for free through Venus Envy here in Halifax, Nova Scotia, or through the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Paraplegic Association.
Below, I am providing a sneak peek, if you’re interested.

And, if you are really, really interested, and would like a free copy of the finished edition, be in touch! You can reach me at kaleigh at venus envy dot ca.



Sometimes it feels like everybody’s doing it. In North America, we are absolutely inundated with sexual imagery, seeing sex in every music video, advertisement and television show. Sex, sex, sex!
But the problem is, we only see a certain type of sex. We’re almost exclusively flashed images of able-bodied, young, slim, attractive, white people, whom are having sex while standing up, or while poised upside down, or while straddling a chair in some seeming impossible bodily feat!
What a myth this creates: that in order to have great sex we need to look a certain way and be able to contort our bodies into certain positions.
The truth about sex is: everybody’s doing it! Small people, big people, people of colour, older people, able bodied people, and people who are disabled. Sex is not limited to the young, rich, and slender; it is a human experience that we all have the right to!

In this manual, we want to talk about the sex that folks with disabilities are having.

The sexual health needs of persons with disabilities are an important and overlooked subject. A study conducted by Anderson in 2004 shows just how important they are. A survey completed by both paraplegics and quadriplegics (resulting from spinal cord injury) indicated that amongst paraplegics, regaining sexual function was seen as the number one priority in improving their quality of life, while quadriplegics ranked it as number two, second only to regaining hand and arm function.[1]

Clearly sex is something we’re all thinking about!
So, let’s starts talking about it!

In the following manual, we would love to discuss it all, from communication, to self-esteem, to sex toys. But, that would lead to one pretty thick manual. So, here we offer you some basics. Specifically, we’re going to skip straight to the fun stuff of anatomy and sex toys! We’ll talk about what toys are great for different people with different disabilities. We’ll talk about how to clean them, how to store them, how to adapt them, and even where you can get them.

In so doing, we hope to provide you with a starter’s guide about using sex toys for people with disabilities. We hope that this manual will inspire further reading, further exploration, and better sex!

But, before we get into it, here are three very important definitions:

1)           A person with a disability:

Disability is a spectrum and so a person with a disability can be so many things, from someone with a visual impairment to someone who has been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
We would love to produce a manual that could cover the broad and varied rainbow that is disability, but that could take years and years. And so, in this manual when we refer to persons with disabilities we are referring specifically to persons with physical disabilities. This means people who may identify as paraplegics or quadriplegics; people who have irregular gait patterns; people who suffer from chronic pain; people who have limited or different sensation; people who experience manual dexterity impairments; and anyone in between.

2)                   Sex:

When we write sex, we are not referring to when a penis penetrates a vagina.
Instead, we are talking about the attainment of pleasure, between one or more consenting adults, not with the goal of reaching orgasm, but with the goal of feeling good!! We want sex to mean feeling bodily pleasure, whether that means touching your genitals or rubbing your elbows together! Sex can be whatever you define it as for yourself, as long as it’s about making yourself or someone else feel good.
And with this, sex can and does happen between any number of people of any gender and/or sexual orientation. Two men can have sex, five women can have sex, or a transgendered person can have sex with one man and one woman. Any number of possible pleasurable equations can and do exist. We kept this in mind as we wrote, and so we hope our advice can be helpful to any type of situation in which you may find yourself.

3)                Sexually Assistive Aids/Sexual Devices/Sex Toys:

Essentially, each of these refers to the same thing – an instrument which makes the attainment of bodily pleasure different or better or easier for folks. However, in practice each of these words may illicit very different reactions in people. Some readers may feel uncomfortable with the words ‘sex toys’ as it assumes too much familiarity. Others may dislike the term ‘sexually assistive aids’ as it implies that one needs assistance to do something.  With this in mind, throughout the text we will use each of these terms interchangeably. In your life, we encourage you to adopt whatever vernacular makes you the most comfortable!

[1]  “Pleasure Able”. Naphtali, Kate, Elliot, Stacey, and Edith MacHattie. 2009. http://www.dhrn.ca/files/sexualhealthmanual_lowres_2010_0208.pdf

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