Me, in brief

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the last post, I mentioned briefly that I happen to be a person with a disability.
I glided over this definition. It didn’t even get its own paragraph, but was relegated to an asterisk, an aside to be read only if you chose to scroll down.
But, if I’m going to write about sex, and occasionally sex and disability, it’s worth telling you a little bit about who I am.

So:

I am a person with a disability. It took me years to be willing to say this. Even though I was in a car accident way back in 1995, and have been disabled since that time, I didn’t really identify with that label until just a few years ago.

Why didn’t I?

Well, I was scared and I was ashamed. I’m from rural Ontario- I was the only person with a visible disability in my high school, in my whole town even, and like all teenagers, I just wanted to fit in. Because I can stand up and walk around, climb stairs and communicate verbally, it was easy enough to deny my identity. I wasn’t “disabled”, I just looked a little different. I could still dance, drive trucks, party in corn fields, and smoke a whole bunch of dope. I mean, really, I was hardly different at all.

Why do I identify as a person with a disability now?

I began using these words when I moved away from Ontario. While Halifax, Nova Scotia isn’t exactly an inclusive, modern, metropolis, it still felt hella different than my previous life of cow-tipping.  And for the first time, I noticed that I am also hella different from most everyone else.
There was a shit tonne of challenges I had to navigate with this new Big City Livin’. I had to walk long blocks, I had to figure out the location of public bathrooms, and I had to climb at least one flight of stairs to get into almost any fucking establishment in this entire town.
There could be no denying it any longer. I was (am) different and shit was (is) hard. Traversing this city is hard, and claiming this new identity was initially pretty hard too. I mean, why the fuck would anyone want to adopt a label that is so shameful?  No one wants to be disabled. That means ‘less able’, see: ‘not-as-good-as’, ‘weaker’, and ‘different’, right?

It took a whole lot of time and whole lot of internal deconstruction to arrive at where I’m at now. Just like everyone else, I’ve been fed ableist notions my whole life, and so of course I came to believe it all. But, eventually, I tore that shit right up from its very foundations. I realized that:

  1. The way that I walk and all my bodily differences do not make me any less valuable a human.There is no rule that to be smart you have to stand, or to be sexy you have to speak, or to be worth something you have to walk.
  2. And with this, the belief system that had taught me that people with disabilities are worse off, ableism, well, it’s just wrong. ‘Able-bodied’ and ‘disabled’ are both just social constructions, categories contrived and reinforced by the world we live in. They are not inherent truths. It is not because a person can not climb stairs that they are disabled- it is because we live in an ableist world where stairs have been built rather than ramps, choosing to favour one type of body over another.  In another world, my body could just be considered a body that moves one way rather than another, instead of being considered a body that is less able, or a body that is not as good as.

So  finally, seventeen years after the car accident, I wear my disability with pride. I am glad I am different. Ain’t nothing like not fitting into the socially constructed categories to realize that they are just that- fucked up, oppressive social constructions that sure as shit aren’t worth aspiring to.

What does this have to do with fucking?

I know, my personal plot isn’t half as riveting as come n’ dildos, but stick with me, this is important.

The reason why I talk so much explicit (some may say vulgar) shit about sex, and about sex and disability together, is because I hate shame.
I think feeling ashamed of yourself and who you are is a gigantic waste of time and energy, a waste of living.
And these two things, sex and disability, are things that we flawed, frail, funny humans have taught ourselves to be ashamed of, to think are dirty or invaluable, or something not to be seen.

I care about sex because it has the capacity to make my body, your body, all of our bodies, feel good. It’s the source of so much pleasure, and pleasure makes life worth living. Sex is something to be having! Not something to be ashamed of!

And I care about disability politics because the bodies of those of us who identify as being people with disabilities are denied pleasure. Our sexuality is denied, and our dignity is denied. We are taught to feel ashamed. But our differences are our strengths and our source of beauty, not a source of shame. Disability ain’t nothing to be ashamed of!

Talking about sex and disability, explicitly and shamelessly, just makes the most sense to me. In talking about it and in writing about it, I am striving to create conversations about these things, conversations that let us examine our own beliefs and values, and let us examine the radical possibilities of pleasure, for all people (babe).

Why did I read this post? I am no better at butt play, B.J’s or the glorious gush, as a result of the last 2 minutes of skimming.

You read this post because this shit is important. Even if you aren’t currently living with a disability, it’s really fucking important to consider the ways in which socially constructed categories work to decide what sorts of people have value and what sorts of people are given the right to access their sexuality shamelessly.

Because the thing about oppression is, it’s intersectional- people with disabilities are taught to feel ashamed of ourselves and our sexuality. Women are taught to feel ashamed of ourselves and our sexuality. Trans people, people of colour, queer folks all along the rainbow: they are all taught to feel ashamed of themselves and their sexuality. So this shit that affects me as a person with a disability, well, it affects a whole lot of people. And it may affect you someday too, if it doesn’t already.

So, reconsider that hot babe you know in a wheelchair. Reconsider the way in which you have decided they may or may not be sexual. Reconsider the way you may have constructed the sexuality of a person of colour you know. Reconsider the ideas you may have about trans people and their hot bods. All of us, myself included, have been fed ableist, sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic ideas. They are pretty pervasive, and so, unfortunately, are made pretty easy to swallow and internalize. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reconsider them, can’t vomit them back up, push ‘em outta our guts, and then decide to believe something new, something better, something more beautiful.

So, thanks for taking the time to read. And do take the time to consider the above.
For your patience, I promise I’ll make my next post all about fucking .
Maybe specifically finger-bangin’!
Or maybe even eating assholes!

 


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