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May 2013

Inclusive and Exclusive Dating (by Drew Clark)

By | Lifestyle, Undressing Disability | One Comment

Inclusive and Exclusive Dating

I have never really been the type of person who has been into the whole “one night stand” or “hook-up” fling relationships. I have always looked for something more substantial and long-term in a relationship. Though admittedly I am single now after a 2 year relationship with an able-bodied woman. This is not to say that she has not had her own physical medical problems but without going into what these issues have been for her, I would not classify this person as “disabled”.

When I started to become interested in dating from a young age, about 12 or 13, I treated finding someone who was able-bodied to be with as if it were some kind of silly Holy Grail of dating for someone like myself who has a physical disability and is a wheelchair user. This was always a secret thought or attitude I had up until I reached college/university age even though before that point I had been dating within the disabled community with what I would call somewhat successful. A few months here, six months there, and even one relationship which lasted on and off for about six years from grade seven all the way up until when I started college with a beautiful girl, now a woman who just so happens to have Spina Bifida like I do. However, I did have a few major crushes in high school on girls who were able-bodied, especially when I had periods of singleness…. or what some women in the disabled community whom I have dated may call “moments of being an asshole”. Though when it came to having an attraction to someone who was able-bodied in high school, of course there was nervousness around certain people but I always tried to remain neutral friends with them until I had the opportunity to express to them how I felt. More often than not when I would approach an able-bodied girl and tell them how I felt, the response I would always get was “you’re jus too good of a friend” which in my head said loud and clear “you’re a very nice guy, but I wouldn’t date a cripple”. Of course it could have been very little to do with my disability and indeed they just did not want to ruin a friendship but that did not stop me from taking it so personally.

I even remember having fancied an able-bodied girl who was about a year and a half younger than myself when I was in grade 11 and one day I went out to the front of the school during my lunch break to have a cigarette as I normally did. It was a pretty nice spring day and I spotted a group of girls I had sometimes hung around with who were also just hanging out having a smoke. In this group happened to be the one girl I had a crush on, so naturally I wanted to hang out with her. I think at that time, it was probably known to her through other people that I fancied her just a little bit and after a while I had turned my back to talk to another group of people in front of the school who were behind me and this girl called my name to get my attention. She got up from the sidewalk, walked over and kissed me and then walked back to where she was sitting and started to giggle and laugh with all her friends. I was shocked because in my head the thought still was that there would be no way she would be interested in someone like me, so why bother pursuing such things?. Turns out, one of her friends had dared her to get my attention and walk up and kiss me. There was no feeling, only fake flirtation in that act for and all I could think after I found this out was: What a bitch!

When it comes to choosing to date within your own community, that is, the disabled community, social programming is extremely important. Often times it is hard for an individual with a disability to connect with someone in a similar situation to themselves within their community at large without these programs. Whether it be monthly social nights, dances or even summer camps, these programs are an integral part of social and relationship building within these communities. I can tell you though that without programs like this, personally I would not have had the opportunity to form the friendships and intimate relationships I have had over the years. One thing that really gets to me though is the attitude of some able-bodied professionals who run these programs whom discourage any form of romantic relationship and physical affection within these programs. Particularly within the 14-19 age group. Now I understand that it is only ethical to not want teenagers hopping out of their wheelchairs and other mobility devices in order to shag on the floor but to give a teenager grief for sharing a passionate kiss, cuddling, or holding hands in plain view of program coordinators and staff in the name of ethical appropriateness…. get real. They are teenagers, let them be. As long as no one is shagging on the floor or getting pregnant and are in plain view of everyone else. Let them be. I even had one summer camp experience with a girl who was a few years older than myself.. I was about 14 at the time and she thought I was significantly older than I was but she took a liking to me anyway… let’s just say we paid no mind to the “rules” or to being told not to make out under an outdoor pavilion at the camp in front of a great deal of other campers of the same age group and staff members. It’s not the most “appropriate” thing, but damn was it ever fun! So, note to program providers and coordinators of social events for teenagers with disabilities; as long as two people aren’t being left completely alone, as long as they are not sprawled out on the floor shagging or removing clothing in public.. just let them be. To do otherwise is to discourage the development of healthy romantic relationships.

As I got into my early 20′s I became more familiar with the world of online dating. This is simply because at that time, I was in college and finally had my own computer access in my dorm room at school. Which I never had access to growing up at home. I thought of this as a way to find either someone else with a disability to date or maybe even someone who was not disabled at all. Online dating is a challenge in and of itself though, because at the starting point when it comes to finding someone who doesn’t have a disability to potentially have a romantic connection with, the question becomes; When do I tell those people about my disability and everything that comes along with it?. Personally, I take the up front approach and either put this information directly into a member profile or to wait until you make a connection with someone. The best thing anybody can do is to be up front and honest about every aspect of a disability and then allow the other person to ask any and every question that they may have about it. Online dating allows for the other person to focus upon a person’s personality rather than the disability they have but at the same time if a person cannot accept any aspect of a disability then really, they are not worth the time nor the effort to change their minds about it. One aspect of online dating which can be quite difficult for anyone, but especially for someone with a physical disability is if you happen to be attracted to someone who lives quite a distance from where you live. It is absolutely helpful though if there is family support on one or both sides of the relationship because then perhaps those family members would be able to help two people see each other often. It’s a hard road though, I won’t lie and sometimes because of distance and even a lack of daily face to face communication can lead to the demise of a relationship. Truth be told, online dating may be difficult, especially if there is distance involved but don’t knock it until you try it. You might be surprised in who you could find. Just be very very careful when you approach this route though. Make sure that who you are speaking to is actually telling the truth in who they are and be safe when you first meet anybody from an online dating site. Always meet in a public place first or at the very least make sure they have a webcam so you can have face to face conversations before you meet in person.

It is noteworthy outside of my own perspective to mention that for those with more severe physical disabilities which impair movement much more, that for some, finding a partner who is able-bodied is important. The reason this is in my opinion is because sometimes it may be nicer to have someone whom you are in an intimate relationship with to be able to help with things like showering. C’mon, who doesn’t like shower sex, right ? Or perhaps because there are very, very small things that would be made easier when you have an able-bodied partner. Cleaning up around the house for example. It is most important to say though that most people with disabilities when they date someone who is not disabled, do not want their partners to be seen as “personal assistants” or “aides” because quite frankly that cheapens the romantic relationship. When you see a couple in public on a date and one happens to be disabled, and one is not, please do not assume that the able-bodied person is the others personal assistant. This is completely undermining and quite hurtful to at least one person in that relationship. Also, please scrap the idea of “oh, isn’t that nice that you are dating someone with a disability”. Patronizing? yes, very much so.

The choice is yours really, whether you date someone with or without a disability. I ask that the able-bodied population keep an open mind, learn all you can about an individuals disability. It does not define them, nor me, it only adds to their unique qualities. See passed what is skin deep. For those of us with various disabilities, I only have thing left to say on this matter. Do not be afraid to go safely out of your comfort zone. The absolute worst thing a person could say is “no”. If that is the case then you are probably better off in finding someone else and trust me, you will. Until next time, folks.

Mik Scarlet

Sex tips for crips part 1, by Mik Scarlet

By | Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Are you all sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin…

Mik Scarlet

Mik Scarlet

Since watching the Desirability series on BBC3 the topic of disability and sexuality has been foremost in my mind. I feel the main reason why so many of the programs on this topic seem to miss the mark in my opinion is because they tend to be made from the angle of those who have problems with body image and not body function. While it is hard to look in the mirror and see someone who could be loved if your body is different, it is even harder if your body can’t do the things that society says it needs to actually make love. It doesn’t matter how well adjusted you are about the way you look, if you are filled with doubt over your physical performance.

So I have decided to do an article/a series of articles on how I learnt to deal with a body that didn’t work the way it should in the trouser department. I hope you lot are ready for this because after you’ve read this, your lives are never going to be the same again…

One of the most important things about coming to terms with your sexuality as a disabled person is learning to understand the way that your body is different from all the able bodied people out there, and exactly what your body can, and more importantly, can’t do. Once you’ve admitted this to yourself and accepted it, you can start to rebuild your sexuality.

I myself had to go through this process twice in my life. The first time took me a good few years. You see when I went into my wheelchair, back when I was only 15, I hadn’t had much experience with sex and so believed all the myths that the able bodied world threw at me. When it became plain to me that not only had my spinal injury taken out my legs but it had also made it impossible to achieve an erection, I believed I would spend my life alone. Luckily, this was during the early 80’s, when young people were fiercely political and I fell in with a group of lesbian feminists. They thought I was the perfect man, one who could not commit the act of penetration, which they saw as rape. OK, these attitudes are pretty extreme, but it let me see that not all women want sex to be around a big hard dick. I even ended up dating one of them for two and half years! The second was just after my most recent operation, when I discovered I had lost the feeling to even more of my body. This time it took much less time, so I know this works, and can work quickly when you know what you’re doing.

So once I had realised that sexuality could be so many different things I set about making sure that I was going to be the best shag ever. I read loads of books and gained a wide knowledge of able-bodied sexual technique. I adapted some of their techniques to fit with my body and this is what I am going to impart to you all. The first tip is great for both sexes, no matter what your disability. I call it…

Hands Free Masturbation

Once you master this technique, you will be able to orgasm at will, whether or not you have full sensation in your body. The key to Hands Free Masturbation is a filthy imagination. To achieve an orgasm without touching yourself you must explore a fantasy world in your head. The most important thing to understand is that you must feel no guilt at all. It doesn’t matter what goes on in your mind, as long as it floats your boat. If you need to read dirty books or mags, or watch porn films, fine. Just conjure up in your mind the best sexual fantasy possible to you, and then run with it.

The whole technique is actually quite simple. Just lie on your bed (or sit in your chair – which can be fun if you’re bored when out shopping!) and imagine yourself having sex. Not just sex, but the best sex imaginable, with your favourite fantasy partner (or partners) and just don’t stop. Keep building on the fantasy and make it as intricate as you want, as kinky as you want and as a long as you need. Go wild and be as filthy as you like. Eventually, and it may takes a good few goes, you will get there.

OK it will be quite frustrating at first, but as you continue to try and get yourself to orgasm you will notice that you start feeling a tension in your chest. This is the start of an orgasm. Most able-bodied people think it starts in their groin, but this is just them tensing up using their muscles, and because that is where their stimulation is coming from. Orgasms actually start in your head but then quickly move to your lower neck and upper chest. Keep that fantasy going, and even pick up the pace in your head. Really get down and dirty. Then the orgasm will start to flow through your body. If you can’t feel some parts of your body two things may happen. Either the orgasm will locate where your feeling ends, and that will be your new “groin”, or it will travel down to your groin and you may feel sensation there for the first time. Well not exactly sensation, but whatever it is… it’s very nice!

It does sound impossible, but the best sex organ the human body has is our imaginations, and this is how you can tap into yours. It really does work, and will mean that not only have you learnt that you can orgasm, but that you are now able to climax at will. All you have to do when having sex is think unsexy thoughts when you want to wait and conjure up your Hands Free Masturbation fantasy when it’s time to pop your load.

The best thing is this also works for the able bodied, but I say we keep it as our little secret!

Next time I’m going to go through what can be done once you’ve mastered this technique, so start your practising now!

Mik Scarlet

Sex tips for crips part 2, by Mik Scarlet

By | Disability, Lifestyle, Mik Scarlet, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Mik ScarletLast time I explored a technique I call Hands free Masturbation. This time I’m going to tell you how to use this technique to change the way your body works. These are really things you need to do with a partner, and I fully understand that some people out there may not have one, but I hope that once you read this you will know that whatever your level of sexual function you will be able to have great sex if the occasion should arise. Knowing that can give you the confidence you need to go out searching for it… tee hee!

The first thing we need to do is…

Relocate Our Erogenous Zones

Now one the most frustrating things about having a disability that effects sensation is the loss of feeling in the bits that would normally turn us on. Of course now we can all reach orgasm without needing to be touched, we can use this to relocate these erogenous zones to somewhere we can feel.

Before we do that however, I must inform you that there are loads of underused zones all over our body. For instance we all have a kind of G-Spot on the roof of our mouths, on our soft pallet. Having this gently touched will bring you to an orgasm amazingly fast. Trust me it really does! There are others, like your elbows, or between your fingers, or behind your ears that all have quite an effect too. The best thing to do is make sex an exploration of both partner’s bodies and to find what bits feel nice.

Once you have found what bits feel good to be touched, you can use the HFM technique to make them become hyper sensitive. By using HFM while having your ‘nice bits’ touched you will find that it is so much easier to achieve an orgasm and these ‘nice bits’ start to become the point at which your orgasm stems from. They become your ‘new groin’ so to speak.

By modifying this you can also…

Create New Erogenous Zones

One of the weirdest things I discovered after I went into a wheelchair is how the sensation in certain parts of my body had become so much more. I found I had a round spot on my back, near to the scar from my operation that had no sensation on the surface skin, but was hyper sensitive internally. So when this was touched it felt like someone was entering my body, which I found very nice. I know that other disabled people I have discussed this with also have similar things on their body. Now with the technique above you can make these even nicer.

Scars are also places that can have very different sensation, whether they are hyper sensitive or numb. This difference in sensation can also be changed to create new erogenous zones.

It is even possible to create zones anywhere. You can even make one on the tip of your nose. Just spend time trying and you will see that eventually you can end up as a big erogenous zone, orgasming away merrily!

By now I imagine some of you are saying, “This is all well and good Mik, but how do we meet this sexual partner?” Well that’s my last tip. Always remember that it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone is really looking for someone to share their life with, to love and be loved by. Male or female, straight or gay, able bodied or disabled everyone wants to be needed. What we have to remember is we, as disabled people, have so much to give. We are fantastic life partners, whether or not we are able to have sex. We are loving, supportive, strong, caring and sharing. We are everything that able-bodied people are, but with an added strength that comes from living in their world. So many of my able bodied friends seem to spend their lives going from one terrible relationship to another, so just because they have a fully functioning body they are not naturally happy. Whatever your disability has thrown at you, the fact that you have managed to survive and feel ready to look for love means that you already a fantastic catch. So it doesn’t matter what’s ‘wrong’ with you, forget that and focus on all the great things about you. Go out, and look for someone to love. I don’t think it will be as hard as you might think.

At the end of the day, remember the old saying… “It’s better to have loved and lost that to have never loved at all”… just add the extra bit… “Once they’ve tasted me, they will never go away!”

disability and sex

Dating an Amputee – (by Alicia Berta)

By | Disability, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

I wanted to just give my input as to dating someone with a disability.

 

I met someone online who was a disabled veteran. I was hesitant going on our first date and thought I could at least have a new friend. My father had a below-the-knee amputation completed several years ago, so I was somewhat familiar with some of the issues that may come up, but I never realized how much of a stigma there was in society and I want to think it has something to do with people being uneducated or ignorant.

 

My friends were supportive of me being happy, but I found out that many of them were talking behind my back about how they were concerned that someone in a wheelchair would not be able to give me everything I deserve. That is crap! We may have broken up, but he was the best boyfriend I have ever had. Even more so, having sex with him is the best sex I have ever had in my life!

 

In speaking with some of his friends (many who are also disabled and their significant others), the sex with someone who is disabled can be very pleasursome! I know some paralyzed guys who say they perfected giving women oral sex in order to please a woman if their penis cannot become erect. I know women who have slept with amputees and paralyzed guys who say the thrill of something new and the willingness of the partner to please is unlike having sex with an able-bodied individual. I think having sex with anyone who is excited about having it makes it much more fun, and if you love the person it can be even better. It is a new experience I think more people should be open to in their lives.

 

I am not sure if there is anything else you may want to know, but I am an open book! Good luck with research and this challenge, but I know there are many who will support this cause!

Can you… you know…have sex? (written by Drew Clark)

By | Disability, Lifestyle, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability | No Comments

Can you have Sex? Enhance the UKThis question. This is the question I get asked most in public by friends, friends of friends and even complete strangers. I hear this almost as much as I hear variations of the question “What happened to you?”. This is not an uncommon experience for those who are living with some form of visible physical disability. I cannot claim to speak for the experience of all people with a physical disability when it comes to issues of sex and sexuality. I am a 26-year-old straight male who just so happens to have been born with Spina Bifida which affects the sensation and some function from the waist down. It is this sometimes beastly yet beautiful reality of disability which shapes life in general but especially that in relation to who I am as a perfectly normal sexual human being.

So, in short the answer is yes, I can have sex. As many people will say, people with disabilities have the same wants, needs and desires as anyone else in the world. spina Bifida in itself as a condition makes intimate relationships and sex an interesting endeavor because (at least for me) interest in sexual knowledge started quite early. Not because of some weird unconventional way I was raised or that my family was particularly open about sexuality but because of my brain. Sometimes children with spina bifida do go start to go through puberty a little earlier than their able-bodied peers. Personally, I can remember being about 9 years old when I started to notice certain body changes. When I got to around the age of 10 my mother started to give me a little more freedom in my independence and allowed me to start going farther in my neighborhood that just right around my street in the afternoons after school. We had a public library really close to were we lived at the time and I remember going there for two reasons 1) My mother liked to encourage reading before bed at night, so I would go look for books to bring home; though I rarely found much of anything that I liked. 2) I used to try to be “sneaky” and when no one was looking and find old copies of books like the “joy of Sex” just to read any information I could. I wanted to know everything, still do and besides..I was 10 and on the threshold of adolescence. I am not nor was I foolin’ anyone if they saw the cover of that kind of book at a public library in the hands of a kid my age at the time. I was lookin’ to see if I could find naked pictures along with all this information. I found them, only, they were illustrated pictures in this particular copy of the Joy of Sex. “Why do these people look so hairy?” I thought.

In all my searching through this library and others like it until the age of about 14 I did not find anything which documented the real experiences of someone with who had spina bifida beyond what mentioned there may be decreased function of the genitals in males with my type of the condition (myelomeningocele) and that the chances of being able to have a child naturally are slim to nil. More on the subject of having children in a later post, I promise. These medical facts I found, while were appreciated and very important, they did not answer a few questions I had at such a young age. If I can’t really “feel” anything how will I ever be able to enjoy sex? If I have problems in sexual function then how will I ever make someone else happy when it comes to having sex? Am I somehow less of a person if I am unable to have sex and unable to define it as everyone else seems to?.

Masturbation- It’s a touchy subject, but it is key when discussing sexual pleasure in relation to sensation or lack there of. Many think that masturbation just involves diddling with the nether regions until climax is reached and that’s it. It may be more involved than that for someone like myself and it may not involve any stimulation of the genitals at all. The human body is a funny thing, it seems to me that in terms of sensation, whenever the “mood” strikes the areas in which can be felt become much more sensitive or even heightened. I enjoyed this fact when I realized it because it then allowed me to figure out what I liked. It made me feel a lot more confident within myself and the fact that sexual experiences could be enjoyed and that I could later discuss those things with any future partners I may have. Naturally trying to figure out if I could function sexually as a man was important also. I found that when an erection could be achieved that it either may not have lasted long without constant stimulation and that also once it was to the point where it was as erect that it was going to go that pressure around it became pleasurable even though there is no actual sensation in that around. Weird, right? Beautiful nonetheless, more of a confidence booster. Other times, it just may not work at all, but I think most men at some point can relate to experiences of not rising to the occasion. Unless you pop one of those genius little blue pills but at $13 (CDN) per pill, just to have a wank, well I’d rather just have a pint or two. The bottom line is, having your own alone time as you grow to get to know your body is essential to both you and your future partners. It can build confidence and communication.

Defining ourselves as sexual human beings for anyone of any age or any ability and what that looks like and feels like to ourselves and to others is sometimes one of the most daunting of tasks. Though, that is just it. We define it and we experience it for ourselves. For me, I am a straight 26-year-old male whom took it upon himself to learn what worked for him and I am still learning. I won’t stop learning. I have been fortunate enough to have a few intimate relationships in my young age which has been wrought with other challenges that I have face or will likely have to face as a person with waist down paralysis, spina bifida. More on that later. Until next time, Just keep rollin’ on.

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