Emma's Summer Contemplations - June 23rd

The topic of this week’s Crip Camp was Let’s Talk About Sex. Tricky, if you ask me. Not because I am not comfortable, not because I consider sex to be neither especially private, nor uninteresting, but because sex talks are rarely all that nuanced.

As a person with a disability you often end up in some sort of gap. You are considered a disabled person – no more, no less. Within the society you are consequently not given the opportunity to express any other identity than being a person with a disability. The fact that you have a job, experiences, interests, a style, a sense of self, a gender, hence turns into something secondary. The same thing of course goes for your sexuality.

I understand why it is important to talk about sex and sexuality. I can understand the need of being able to express a “we too!”. Historically, people with disabilities have been considered asexual – only the idea of a crip being someone with sexual preferences is still considered as something provocative, almost revolutionizing. No wonder – from hardly having talked about it at all – we are now making more and more efforts to talk about sexuality specifically, both from a theoretical as well as practical perspective. The issue we fight, which goes for so many other things concerning minorities as well, although is the fine line between conversations that open up and conversations that break down. Since we used to be regarded as asexual, we are now supposed to fight back. You are expected to be that nice, open, inspiring, sex-positive person with a disability who gives a four letter word to both body ideals and notions of what is considered a normative sexuality. But, at the same time as this can be life-affirming and lovely, it may also lead to insecurity and the feeling of having to prove oneself. A demand of both representing the idea of and succeed in the notion of yourself as that extroverted crip who thinks everything is fun – especially sex and relationships.

To me, the utopia where “everyone gets to have sex”, does not feel right. Discussions of sexuality cannot only focus on getting laid. Sex is not an isolated thing (nothing is ever isolated – possibly vacuum, but that is a completely different topic!). It all happens within the context of a society, relationships, bodies, norms, and preferences. That is something we can talk about. Sexuality as a broader concept. We have to understand that there is an entire spectrum represented, not just among people overall, but among crips specifically. There are notoriously right swiping Tinder users, just as there are those who get most excited by a historical Harlequin novel. There are those who do not enjoy sex whatsoever and those who live it 24/7. There are those who want to, but do not have it, and those who have sex, but do not want to. (Those people we really need to recognize and talk about!) Sex will never be as simple as getting laid – neither to crips nor to able-bodied people. And on this note I will end this post.

Emma Åstrand

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