Disability and Romantic Relationships - Caroline G.
My artifact represents a physically disabled man in an intimate relationship, which is a socially constructed experience that a person with a disability continue to experience oppression, stigma when it comes to their sexuality and romantic relationships, as Jeffrey Weeks (1995:33-34) argues that we can only comprehend sexuality through the cultural meaning that influences it.
Helping me to share the knowledge that I have learned through sex and disability unit, that is including. sexual vulnerability, sexuality, exclusion of sex education for people with disabilities. My artifact shows that even a man with a physical disability deserves intimacy, feeling loved in a in a romantic relationship and has the right to date or marry too. Sexuality according to World Association Sexual Health (WAS) is defined as a major aspect of being human in life, which includes sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation. eroticism, pleasures, intimacy, reproduction which is all experienced through human thoughts, imaginations, beliefs , attitudes , values , performances , roles in relationships or connections formed (WAS 2014, p.1).while the sexuality discourse is overloaded with an oppressive cloud of shame ,myth , prejudice and stereotype .Many education programs or lectures do not include sexual orientation, sexual development, sexual identities or sexual activity ( McCave , Shephard, Shephard, Winter, 2014).
Sexual vulnerability: people who have a physical disability tend to be vulnerable sexually ,for example a person who depends on the their third party to assist them with activities of their daily living such as shower, toileting or feeding experiences this mostly as sometimes they might not have privacy to even to enjoy some sexual pressures such as using a sex toys or masturbating, Having carers or being supervised plays a role in their vulnerability as they feel watched ,People living with disabilities also have the right to be a sexual person and have the right to be authentic sexually without fear of being judged.
This resonates with me in my career as I have great passion for supporting people with disabilities through provision of caring services. working as a disability support worker with an African Christian background, I have had challenges in the past and felt uncomfortable to openly discuss sex or sexual topics in public, as this is considered as a taboo in my culture. Coming to study this unit made me realize that am not alone and there is so much work for us future social workers to do as research has clearly shown that sexuality is very vital to client’s identity and their well-being (Bancroft, 2009). While Marwick (1999) argues in his study that 85% of patients in hospitals that wanted or attempted to discuss their sexuality with their physicians were disappointed and not satisfied with their primary care providers, Through Dr, Turners lessons and lectures provided in sex and disability unit, I have learned to put my clients needs first instead of my culture and beliefs. It is important for me to acquire necessary knowledge that would help me support my client’s choice by honoring them and support them to fulfil their goals as sexual citizens. Social workers get trained to handle sensitive topics (Bywater & Unger, 2010), which puts us a better position as ‘sexual well-being enablers” (lee, Fenge, and Collins, 2017,p.10).As my career requires me to support my client not only with care needs but also being able to understand them as sexual people despite any disability they may have.
This project challenged me to be more sex positive. Have a better understanding of how vulnerable people with physical and intellectual disability have been excluded from sex education, as the language commonly used in society also excludes them from understanding some sexual terms used in places such as pubs where there rarely can get access too, also I now have more knowledge on how people with a disability feel as a sexual persons, for example through the lectures videos in week 10 ,it was heart breaking to hear stories from different individual who shared their personal experiences and what they have gone through as a lesbian or gay disabled person. most shared that they have felt so excluded as the society tend to look at them differently. Geographers’ theories shows that the environment we live in has influence in our lives (Bankoff Frearks and Hilhorst 2004:11), argues that the environment we live in has great impact on relationships we have as human. people with physical and intellectual disability also constantly deals with results mainly coming from the interactions they have from external factors, whereby society pity’s them, shame’s them and looked at them sometimes as fragile (Beckett 2006: 3). The Crip camp movie I watched on Netflix during this project research also showed me how far and how much the people with disability had fought for their voice and civil rights to be recognized, but it still breaks my heart despite the civil rights being in place the people with disability have continues to suffer the oppression when it comes to romantic relationships, marriage, and sexuality.
Its my hope that the Artifact will inspire society to be more sex positive, stop sexuality discrimination, stigma, oppression for people living with a disability. if someone is an adult and has a disability, they deserve the same respect that the so called (normal) people without a disability have. these people deserve all the support they need to be authentic, have a system or society that will support them for example in my career I would like to see more sex education that would include people with disabilities. my wish is also to have more advocacy on disability and sex. as a support worker I will be more open to sex discussions in my workplace and feel comfortable just to listen and be more supportive to my clients that wish to express their feelings as a sexual person while I remain professional. advocate for Sex education: sex education has excluded people living with disability and as there is not much information provided , for example in my role as a support worker there is no care plan that shows how we can support clients with disabilities with expressing fulfill their sexual desires or education on how they can use dating apps if they wanted to meet someone or teach them how to use sex toys . share strengths that are based on sex positive approach not to judge through a man in a wheelchair by wondering how he able to have sex with his partner.