The Desire in Us - Breanna M.
This exhibit focuses on the desire found within each of us. The burning flame inside the individual represents the desire within. Desire is a feeling of wanting something to happen. It can range in meaning from desire to complete a daily goal to the sexual desire for another person.
I chose this artifact because many of us take for granted our ability to fulfil our everyday desires with ease. To fulfil our individual desires, we require the capability to do what is needed. This can require autonomy and physical, psychological, and structural ability. For most of us, we have the capabilities for fulfilment. On the other hand, there are other individuals, such as those with disabilities, who can’t fulfil their desires on their own or unable to do so with ease. Those Individuals who are more than mildly impaired experience restrictions revolving sexuality, especially negotiating sexual relationships with others (Shuttleworth, 2006). To further narrow down desire, this exhibit will analyze disability and sexual desire. There are many barriers that those with disabilities must face to fulfil their sexual desires. These can include physical, psychological, and structural barriers. For example, one’s disability may restrict movement to make it more difficult to engage in sexual activity.
The importance in this artifact is that almost every human being is a sexual being and has thoughts, feelings, fantasies, attitudes, and desires towards sexuality. Society needs to recognize that having any type of disability, whether is physical or intellectual, does not change one’s sexuality or any one’s desire to express it. Sexuality is a basic human need, and if one can’t fulfil their sexual desires on their own, their needs to be more support to allow the fulfilment of relationships, expressing sexuality, exploring sexuality, accessing any sexual health information, and more.
My personal history/background that influences and interacts with my journey in this unit, and specifically sexual desire, consists of my involvement in the LGBTQ community. Throughout my life I have been challenged to figure out who I am as a person (and am still working on it) and part of this was ultimately influenced by my desires. My internal desires have allowed me to grow and figure out my sexuality. Although I have been physically capable of acting upon my desire for fulfilment, which has ultimately led me to finding my lovely partner, I struggled with many psychological barriers. This included self-shame and shame from family members. These barriers caused strain on fulfilling my desires and pressured me to act a certain way and only show affection towards certain people. It forced me to be someone who I was not and had a very negative impact towards fulfilling what I wanted in life. However, overtime I have learned to overcome my self-shame and my family members have grown to become more accepting of who I am as a person. This has allowed me to continue to fill my desires daily and accept my sexual desires. Although I do not face the exact same barriers as those with disabilities when it comes to the fulfilment of their desires, my personal history has allowed me to understand and empathize to their daily barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their desires, whether that be everyday tasks or sexual desires.
This exhibit on sexual desire has impacted me by giving me the opportunity to recognize the barriers that those with disabilities face when it comes to fulfilling their desires. Specifically, it has allowed me to identify and understand the gap in social work regarding disability and sexuality that this unit has educated us on. Furthermore, it has allowed myself to contribute to some internal deep-thinking about my personal history and how I can connect it to this unit. Overall, I am more educated, open-minded, and can be a greater advocate towards the field of disability and sexuality within social work. When creating this exhibit, it provided me very insightful recognition of the different ways to help those with disabilities fulfil their sexual desires. When physical or psychological limitations are involved, the direct effect of the disability should be addressed (Rowen, Stein & Tepper, 2015). An example of a physical barrier could be the inability to engage in sexual intercourse. Furthermore, psychological barriers can involve the stigma of disability. An example could be anxiety of expressing sexuality with anyone else. While exploring psychological barriers, I was also able to make more sense of the personal struggles I went through, which had a large impact on me. Through reading research, one impactful key concept that kept repeating was ‘sexual rights’. Sexual rights for those with disabilities have been often found denied, where others have made decisions over one’s body, feelings, relationships, access to erotic experiences, and more (Santos & Santos, 2018).
I hope that my artifact inspires others to be grateful for their autonomy and ability to fulfil their desires daily. I want my virtual exhibit to encourage viewers to take action in raising awareness regarding the enhancement of social work to ensure that every individual with any type of disability has the resources and help to fulfil any type of desire, especially sexual desires. Current research has indicated that within social work, the topic of sexuality is often looked at as a risk (Giertsen, Lavie-Ajayi & Mckay, 2021). This is a negative stigma that is in desperate need of change. As mentioned by Lee, Fenge, and Collins (2018), one of the most significant aspects in life is sexual well-being, and this is deeply connected to human well-being. Since this is one of the most important aspects in life, we need to ensure that every single individual is provided the tools and education so they have the opportunity to fulfil their sexual desires, which would ultimately contribute to their sexual well-being. Furthermore, social workers need to be able to provide information and assist those he need help fulfilling their sexual desires. Currently, there is limited coverage of sex within social work education and practice (Lee, Fenge, & Collins, 2018). Sexual well-being needs to be a part of a social workers learning and there needs to be an increase of conversation regarding disability and sexuality. Society needs to strive towards social justice involving advanced sexual rights for all.
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