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What I'd tell my younger self about sex

VixJensenVixJensen Posts: 2Member Whisperer

Vix is a disability activist, public speaker and writer with Cerebral Palsy who spends her time between London and Los Angeles. Today she has written a letter to her younger self about having sex as a disabled person.

Hey you,

I see you there. Sitting on the edge of your new double bed, jacket still on, smile on your face. I see you looking down at your hands, as if to make sure that they’re still the same hands, the ones that have grown with you. You’ve done it. Isn’t that wild? Less than two hours ago, there you both were, avoiding the bed for fear of squeaking springs and just going for the floor instead. He asked you gently over and over again if this was okay, if you felt ready. There was no music and no candles - just a tangled, unsure mess of limbs and kisses that tasted familiar. It hurt more than you were expecting but you didn’t really have time to wonder if that was just you. You felt safe, and, really that’s what mattered. That night, your body felt your own. 

vix smiling with arm raised in the air with blue sky in the background

The months before had felt filled with long, long nights of sitting by the blue insomniac light of your computer asking the internet if you even could, if your disabled body was worthy of knowing the shape of someone else’s spine. If it would hurt more, less, if you would feel anything at all. What to do if it didn’t work or if your muscles seized up. How to apologize.

You asked the internet about the things that they didn’t even think to cover at school, because sex ed didn’t include people like you. You tried to find answers to the questions you brushed off from the girls in your class, the ones who said: “You have a boyfriend, but will you be able to...?” Somehow, they never finished their sentences.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s been ten years since then. The internet never gave you those answers, no matter how hard you looked. So, you found them inside yourself, starting that night, in your jacket, playing with your fingernails, and every single day since.

Now, you know. You know you’re allowed to do this - that it’s not just reserved for the people whose bodies are on the cover of the magazines you sometimes still read. That it’s just as much your right to feel your back arching and the tug behind your bellybutton. That you’ll have bad sex, and good sex, and makeup sex and break up sex just like everyone else. You know you don’t need to apologize for saying no, that you don’t need to feel less than for not being able to bend in certain ways, or for getting tired too quickly, because there is no one way to do this. You know you are not required to answer anyone’s questions about your body if you don’t want to, even if they do finish their sentences.

Your body is your own. It’s your map to explore, alone or with someone else. Make your own definitions for sex and for pleasure and pay no heed to what may already exist if it doesn’t work for you. Write your own dictionary. This world is yours to create, in safety, in comfort and in peace with yourself.

And on those days where all that feels just out of your reach - where it feels like your body, your disability and your intimacy is fair game to the whole world but you, please read this, no matter how old you may be. Etch the words into the darkness behind your eyes, like starlight. You are allowed. You are worthy and sex is for you too.

Love,

Slightly older-you

What are some ways you think we can all work together to help make sex education more inclusive?

Vix can be found on Twitter or YouTube.


Replies

  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 317Member Chatterbox
    Positivity is great but getting over self-doubt is one thing; finding a prospective partner who will see past your problems is another kettle of fish entirely.
  • VixJensenVixJensen Posts: 2Member Whisperer
    Oh completely, and I suppose there could be a whole other post written about that! But I wanted to focus specifically on breaking down the stigma that disabled people shouldn’t be allowed to explore their bodies/have pleasure, whether that be alone or with other people. That we are entitled to our own sexual feelings and to our bodies even though they may consistently be desxualized or othered. 
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Posts: 663Member, Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @VixJensen ;
    I really enjoyed reading this! I am lucky I guess because I have never felt that I wasn't a sexual being or that because of my impairment that I was desexualized. I completely get your point though. If I was growing up now I might feel very differently due to the constant images of the perfect body we are bombarded with on social media platforms.
    Scope
    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy
  • MarkmywordsMarkmywords Posts: 317Member Chatterbox
    It's a very recent phenomenon.
    An idealised view of "beauty" has always existed in art. The problem now is with social media and its consumers who "drink its Kool-ade" with less and less questioning.
    Comments on social media are increasingly antagonistic and hostile as people believe (usually correctly) that there are no consequences to what they write. This inevitably then spills over into real life.
  • Hakuna_matataHakuna_matata Posts: 3Member Listener
    I loved reading your post. I'm single again and I still worry about my disfigurement. It stops me enjoying sex quite a lot of the time, because I'm constantly wondering what the other person is thinking. I'm in my 40's now and it hasn't really got better. I'm so confident otherwise, it's just in the bedroom I can't turn my head off xx
  • AilsAils Posts: 20Member Whisperer
    The guest post regarding sex proved to be interesting reading and it's encouraging to know that a lot of disabled people can enjoy a fulfilling sex life.  Sadly because of my deteriorating condition since my hip replacement, this does prove difficult for me and my able-bodied husband due to my severe pain and lack of movement.  We have just learned to live with the situation over time, but it does increase tension at times between us as things were not as bad when we first met.  Whilst I realise that the help of sex aids and techniques can make a sex life enjoyable for a lot of couples, I don't think it would be for us as we have been down the road of seeking help from a Sexual Health Clinic which only caused more tension between us and irritation for my husband as he doesn't "buy" into the idea of props, sex aids, etc and I also feel that it could be a bit "clinical".  However, thanks for the article and inspiration.  :-)
  • debbiedo49debbiedo49 Posts: 1,681Member Chatterbox
    edited September 16
    At almost 50 and having chronic pain and fibromyalgia, I don't imagine myself as an attractive prospect to potential partners as I think it's asking a lot of someone else to put up with all of my issues. So I don't really try to find a partner or be in a relationship. I hope that this gets better as I get better control over pain etc but it's way down my list. That doesn't mean I rule it out completely. Also there's the difference between sex and love to consider. It's a really interesting post. What I would tell my younger self about sex? Do it while you can and make it meaningful if you want to! Make memories! Thanks.

    This too shall pass!
  • janekim96Pjanekim96P Posts: 20Member Whisperer
    Be patient and make sure it's the right person gooyd luck.
  • CaderMacCaderMac Posts: 96Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    This is such a lovely and important blog @VixJensen!!! I think that everyone, disabled or not, could benefit from hearing these comforting and empowering words! 

    Sex education fails most young people, but disabled young people even more so. Writing like this will play such an important role in changing perceptions about sex AND disability. Go girl!!!!  
  • Katie123Katie123 Posts: 1Member Listener
    Hi @VixJensen
    what a wonderful post! I'm in my early 50s and disabled in the last 5 years. I'd felt that being sexless and single was my future. Thank you for reminding me about the joy and entitlement we all have to LIVE fully! 
  • CaderMacCaderMac Posts: 96Member, Community champion Chatterbox
    This blog got me thinking and I ended up in a Google wormhole of articles, websites and blogs about sex and disability... 

    I found this great article about how sexting can be a really powerful tool for disabled people and wanted to share :) 
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 798Member Chatterbox
    Interesting idea but beyond never wanting to tell my younger self anything or I wouldn't be who I am there is only one thing I would tell anyone.

    There are no answers to sex and it provides no answers.... only more questions.

    TK
    I am here to kick ass and chew bubblegum... and I am all out of bubblegum -- They Live 80 something cult film.
  • TopkittenTopkitten Posts: 798Member Chatterbox
    @CaderMac, I know I am old and sexting is a new idea but it has to be completely and utterly wrong. Apart from the confidentiality arguments because no data anywhere is completely safe, any discussions between two people are only useful face to face, especially about sex. Never put yourself at risk of abuse by others with permanent records of private details. If you don't have the confidence to discuss things with a person in person how can they be right for you?

    TK
    I am here to kick ass and chew bubblegum... and I am all out of bubblegum -- They Live 80 something cult film.
  • DrShahDrShah Posts: 1Member Listener
    @VixJensen
    Hi there, I am new to this list and yours is the first post I have read. It's awesome. Sex and disability have always sat uncomfortably side by side, not discussed in media, novels or even disability research. Tom Shakespeare and colleagues wrote the best-selling Sexual Politics of Disability in 1996 and still attitudes remain pretty much unchanged. Gynaecologists are shocked when disabled women visit them to help with pregnancies, because we are not expected to have sex. But we do, and it should be normalised not seen as strange or unnatural. It's important for disabled young people to know this, and to be aware or what is good and bad sex, so they can protect themselves from sexual abuse (common when we need to depend on others for personal care).
  • GordonmrlnGordonmrln Posts: 20Member Talkative
    Hi there Vix Jensen, I would like to say that you are bang on with your thoughts and views. I know that before my Disability both me and my partner had such a good sex life, we were both content with our love sharing, because sex is for me is not just the physical thing, It's the opening of your heart and your inner feelings to the one person you share your love with. That's why I could never be one of those casual sex types, that just want the quick fix of pleasure. For me it's always been a much deeper thing that you enter when making love. After my Disability happened our love making slowly started to tapper off, and when my partner and wife who also became Disabled due to a heart condition, my Disability was a physical one, I had Neuropathic Syndrome and Osteoarthritis in my major Joints. Also if that was not bad enough, we were both involved in a rear car crash where we were hit from behind with incredible force. That I had a fracture to my spine and 2 discs pushed out and my partner had a cracked Sternum, on top of our ongoing conditions. So with these problems we had, for us our sex life was put on the back burner for a while, or that's what it set out to be. But it seemed the longer we went without sex the less of an issue for us both it was. And before we had realised a year had passed without us having sex, and yet neither of us seemed to care, we were very content with each other and we did talk about the both of us not having sex. And believe it or not but we decided to leave things as they were as we were both happy  with things as they were. So many people these days put sex above everything, it becomes the be all and end all for some people. But it's no big deal, and the sooner people can accept that and look further than the physical thing of love making then their lives will become more content. We continued to be selebut right up until my wife passed away, 2 years ago. And I am been really honest here but I miss my wife far more than I miss the intimacy we had in our love making. And I miss her more than sex. In fact if I do ever decide to have another relationship which is very doubtful at the moment, but if it was to happen, then I would make it clear from the start that I'm not interested in a sexual relationship, and I would need to seek a person of the same line of thought and feeling. I believe that you can enjoy life and the love of another person without sex been involved in the relationship, don't get me wrong I would still want the Kisses and the hugging and holding hands and holding each other. Which can all be done without having a sex life as well. And you can go onto have a very good and long term relationship, which will still hold its own pleasure's in life for the both of you. So for me been Disabled and sex or a sex life is no big deal, there are more important things in life, for me anyway. But I agree with your view Vix, I think you have hit the nail on the head, and your analogy of the act of love making as a Disabled person, should have no more barriers than it does for the able bodied person, even though it can be more of a problem in some cases, they say where there's a will there's a way.  So you need to be prepared to experiment and try different methods in your love making and that in itself can be as much fun and enjoyable as the act in itself. So I end with a thought to all my fellow Disabled bodies, enjoy yourself with the body you have and let nobody say you can't, because everybody is entitled to have sex if they wish, and if there is pain there is also pleasure, and sometimes you can't have one without the other, and also remember sex is not everything in a relationship it's just a small part of a bigger picture, so enjoy life to the full, be bold, be big, be Beautiful and have fun.  

    Thank you Gordy.




  • WaylayWaylay Posts: 569Member Chatterbox
    Mine would be: Don't wait so long to have sex after you become disabled! The first time I did, it was a turning point. It made me realise that my body could still feel something other than pain!
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