tagReviews & EssaysWhy Cripple Sex is Not a Fetish

Why Cripple Sex is Not a Fetish


Having sex with disabled people is not a fetish.

Maybe some things surrounding it are fetishistic, at least for myself. I can agree to that. I can agree that my attraction to physical weakness could be called a fetish, since it's tied in with my desire to dominate and other power dynamics, but that's beside the point.

The point I'm making is that disabled bodies are as inherently sexual as non-disabled bodies. Give me one good reason why they're not.

Give me one good reason why a person attracted to large-muscled people is "not deviant" while a person attracted to people with weak or spastic muscles is deviant. Give me one good reason why it's okay to be attracted to glasses or choker necklaces, but not too a walker or wheelchair. Why is it deviant to prefer a disabled body, when people are "allowed" to prefer fat over thin, or tall over short, or pussy over penises, and so on?

Please, without sounding like a total bigot, tell me why disabled sexuality is a fetish.

I don't think you can.

To my mind, it's all about attractions to various expressions of human anatomy. We've shoved disabled people over in the corner beside watersports and shibari when they belong over here with every other type of body. This is also not to say in the least that there's anything wrong with fetishes. I think fetishes are great. Foot fetish, rope fetish, balloon fetish, fine. Fetishes are not my problem. I have a few myself. My problem is the fetishising of human beings, individuals; it's objectifying and oppressive to classify disabled people as objects in a sexual context. It's dehumanizing. That is my problem with calling disabled sex a fetish. It's the insistence that disabled sex is taboo or weird or wrong that troubles me.

I categorize my work as "fetish" on here because I think it'll be easier to find that way, but not because I believe disabled people should be fetishised. A fetish is an attraction to something non-sexual. A sexually mature disabled person is NOT non-sexual. Disabled sexuality is healthy, normal, beautiful; as much a cause for celebration and exploration as "normal", hetero, vanilla sexuality.

I realize this is a pretty different way of thinking to what most people believe but I think I'm right, and I hope that socially we'll come around to accept disabled people into the mainstream. But in many ways I think ableism has even farther to go than racism in terms of sociopolitical healing. Think about it. What's more "socially acceptable", holding hands in public romantically with an able-bodied Black person? Or holding hands in public romantically with someone who has severe cerebral palsy?

But if this person with cerebral palsy is sexually mature, of the age of consent, and able to clearly communicate their wants and needs, why is their sexuality such a taboo? I watched a documentary about a young man with spinal muscular atrophy who met his girlfriend online. The young man is severely disabled, he cannot walk, or sit up, or move his arms very much, he barely has use of his hands, and navigates a computer screen with his eye movements. The young woman he dates was interviewed in the documentary. She described, first, how she met him, getting to know him online, and then first meeting him in person. While she was not overly explicit she did intimate that they have sex. She recalled her family's reaction to her boyfriend, how skeptical and circumspect they were about her dating someone with a severe disability.

But here's the thing: They weren't reacting to the man and the content of his character, they were reacting to his body.

That distinction is so important, I cannot emphasize it enough.

It didn't matter that this young man was intelligent, kind, and witty; it didn't matter that she loved him; it didn't matter that he was in his mid-twenties and sexually mature with sexual wants and needs. His body is so radically transgressive of social norms that that's all the family-- and indeed most people in general-- could see. And that body damned him to a life of being desexualized and dehumanized by almost everyone.

People see "disabled" and they think "wrong." They think unsexual and untouchable. And that is patently untrue. Disabled people are just that: people. As if I need to tell you that. But if you're reading this essay, then you're probably curious, or even disgusted, by the idea of disabled people being sensual, sexual beings with sexual wants and needs just like you. Or maybe you are a disabled person who was intrigued by the title (if so, hello and welcome, and uh, send me an email sometime).

There's a host of other issues relating to disabled sexuality which I won't go into right now. Right now, all I want to do is make a statement that disabled sex is not taboo, wrong, deviant, or even weird, as long as both parties involved are of age and able to give clear, informed consent. If you think otherwise, it's because you've been brought up socially to view people with disabilities as "other," and I strongly recommend that you re-examine those beliefs. Watch some YouTube videos made by people with disabilities about their lives. Read articles. Educate yourself. I'm not saying that anyone who doesn't prefer disabled people is bigoted, but if you think I'm fucked up for preferring disabled people, then yeah. You're a bigot. It's no different than if I preferred people of color, or people of size, and you'd be a bigot for hating on those groups, too.

I've been attracted to people with disabilities for as long as I can remember. I'm sorry to admit that I had a lot of shame about it for a long time, because I, too, had been socially programmed to see disabled people as "other" and untouchable. I'm lucky enough to be okay with myself now, and able to celebrate my sexuality and, as I grow and experiment, to "share the love" via the wonders of the internet. It's exciting to be able to create and share the kind of erotica I want to read, about people I'd like to fuck. But it's a vulnerable thing, putting these thoughts and fantasies out there. I think it's important to do it, for myself and for others like me, and (lofty though it may sound), for the ultimate good of the disabled community (of which I count myself due to mental illness), but it's terrifying. So, as I write stories about asthenophilia and erotica involving disabled or otherwise "different" people, part of me goes on the defensive. I feel the need to explain myself to the abled world. I feel the need to MAKE them understand why they're wrong about disabled sexuality, why I was wrong for so much of my life. And, frankly, I recognize that disabled people are a vulnerable, marginalized population, and possibly could feel creeped out or overwhelmed by what I write, so I feel the need to express what's in my heart, in case it doesn't come across in my erotica. Maybe these are just the self-absorbed fears of most writers, I don't know.

But I feel compelled to speak out against prejudice and fear and ignorance, to correct, in some small way, our culture's use of language surrounding disabled sexuality. Language is powerful, the way we talk about things is powerful. It may come across as pedantic, writing all of this over the use of the word "fetish," but it's important! It's important to distinguish that disabled people are not fetish objects, they're human beings-- it probably sounds so obvious, but if "wheelchair sex" is a "fetish", you're reducing the person in the wheelchair to their disability, and leaving aside the question of the people involved who want and need to have sex.

Ultimately, it's a complex topic bound up in myriad other social justice issues. Entire books have been written on these issues by people far more qualified (and more articulate) than me, but as I write and publish more erotica, I wanted to be sure to establish my position on the topic, because it's important to me. I've obviously thought about all of this a lot, for a long time, and needed to put it out there somehow. I hope I change some minds somehow, but even if I don't, I'll feel better for having tried.

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by Cyndi4402/20/18

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I am 61 years old and have been in a wheelchair for 3 years (Parkinson’s disease and arthritis). People treat you very differently. In public, you are almost invisible. Things are not much better inmore...

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