Category

Undressing Disability

Love Lounge Top Tips – Managing frustration

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

With a new, or even an existing, partner, it can take some time to find a sexual ‘niche’ – where you both feel like you really fit and are giving and receiving pleasure in a way that suits you best.  Of course, for those of us with impairments, finding that groove and really feeling comfortable and confident in bed can sometimes feel like it’s taking even longer. Managing the frustration of this can turn out to be one of the best things you’ll ever learn in a relationship, because when frustration takes over, we often fail to communicate effectively at all.

Tip 1: Voice sooner rather than later.

If something isn’t feeling right sexually or romantically to you, whether it’s to do with your partner’s kissing technique, or their ability to get you off, it’s best to voice things sooner rather than later (bottling up feelings and frustrations so often only ends in negativity).  By voicing something, you don’t need to be unkind or start an argument; you might start by trying to guide your partner in a more effective way, or showing them exactly how you like to be touched by showing them yourself and asking them to watch. In fact, guiding and educating a lover can be a really sexy and fulfilling thing to do, and perhaps we need to stop viewing it as such a bad thing when a significant other doesn’t please us in the way we expect immediately.

Tip 2: Be open to education yourself.

As keen as you might be to school your partner in pleasure, be prepared to be educated yourself, and remember to keep asking if what you’re doing suits your significant other and what they’re into.  We often forget, as we get comfortable in relationships, that our preferences, fetishes and interests can change when it comes to sex.  A sex life that’s full of communication, understanding and an ability to be open and honest will always be a good one.

Tip 3:  Still frustrated? Shake it up!

If you’re still struggling to find a common love language between the two of you in the bedroom, why not mix things up, lose your inhibitions and try something totally new? If dressing up and role playing often makes you cringe, why not reset your sexual meter and just have a go? Failing to communicate and deliver sexually is often all in the mind rather than the body, and you or your partner might be lacking confidence, be stuck in a rut or have had a particularly stressful few months – and these are all things that stepping out of your comfort zone together, in a safe and strong manner with no judgement attached, can help with.

Sex is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and, although a bit of frustration can be healthy and leave you wanting more, it shouldn’t be making you want to leave.  We hope these tips help and, should you have any questions or concerns, please do get in touch with us.

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Moving in

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Picture the scene… the honeymoon period may technically be over in your relationship, but everything is still going swimmingly.  You’ve got through those awkward first dates and cringeworthy double-texting, and you still love being around each other.  You’ve met their relatives, they’ve met yours, and there’s even been the odd item of clothing or toothbrush left at each other’s places.  You decide it’s about time to have that first serious conversation – should you move in together?

Tip 1: Avoid assumptions and expectations

No doubt all of us have done this at some stage – got really excited and passionate about the possibility of something happening, only to be bitterly disappointed when someone doesn’t feel exactly the same way.  It’s no different with this conversation; try your best (where possible!) to start the conversation without judgement, assumption or expectations. Then you’re not setting yourself up for disappointment, your partner doesn’t feel a pressure to agree with your way of thinking and you can rest assured that you are getting their honest opinion on the matter.  If that opinion is the same as yours, perfect! If not, calmly ask them to explain how they’re feeling and work through the difference together in a positive and progressive way.

Tip 2: Accessible planning!

If you do agree to take the leap and move in together, fantastic! If one or both of you has a physical or sensory impairment, this may well be where the need for planning kicks in. Will you require a step free home, a larger bathroom to cater for personal aids, or even a dedicated space and garden for your guide dog to lounge and play? Often, it’s not just about the home itself, either; many disabled people would prefer to live near accessible bus stops or train stations, and nearby supermarkets or pharmacies can be particularly helpful if there is ever an emergency.  Once you do start planning, don’t be shy in asking for support with moving.  Call or email your local estate agents and see if they have any suitable properties to match your criteria, put your name on waiting lists with housing associations (many of whom have specific accessible housing available) and ask friends and family to help, too! This stage of moving in together can be stressful (and might even put a bit of strain on your relationship every now and again!) But the result is more than worth it.

Tip 3:  Enjoy all the good bits.

Once you’ve found the perfect place and moved in, it’s time to get on with all the more enjoyable parts of the process.  If you’re a Pinterest or Instagram fan, there’s nothing quite like searching for the perfect paint colour or most kooky furniture, and we’re sure we don’t need to even mention the joy of being able to have sex whenever you want, and wherever you want it..! Don’t forget to congratulate yourselves on taking the next step in your relationship, and we’re sure our invite to the house warming will be in the post soon 😉

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Taking the next step

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Whether we’re going on a first date, sleeping together for the first time, proposing, getting married or having children, we can often feel a distinct amount of pressure when it comes to taking the next big steps in our relationships, and the amount of pressure is definitely no less for disabled people! Whether you’ve got to plan ahead for an accessible date, discuss painless sexual positions with your partner, or think about the practicalities of becoming a disabled parent, there’s undoubtedly plenty to consider! Here are our top tips for taking those next steps – good luck, and enjoy!

Tip 1: Ensure you are comfortable

This first tip might sound a little obvious, but peer pressure and societal pressure play a big part in the direction that many of us take our relationships in, and the speed in which we develop them.  Whatever you do, don’t take a leap into commitment because that’s what all your friends are doing, because you’re at the age where you ‘should’ be doing these things, or because a family member has told you to hold on to the non-disabled ‘saint’ your partner is often viewed as.  There is no right or wrong way to move through a relationship, and certainly no right or wrong time to do it.  As long as you feel utterly comfortable and confident in your decisions, you will know that you are doing the right thing for you.

Tip 2: Research your Support Network

If you still live in the same town as your supportive parents and long-term friends, that’s brilliant; you might have all the support network you need.  But, for a lot of disabled people wanting to live independently or have children, a bit of extra support has got to be found, especially if you live somewhere different to where you grew up. If you think you might require personal care when living alone, or the help of a nanny or child minder when you take the next step of having children, make sure you do your research and are happy with the choices you find.  There is no shame at all in asking for help, especially when that help is going to ensure your own safety and care!

Tip 3:  Don’t get so caught up in planning that you don’t enjoy the ride.

As disabled people, most of us are real planners.  Let’s face it, we’ve had to be from a young age, and everything from driving to going on holiday and getting work has taken extended time and effort.  When it comes to making big decisions in your relationship, though, make sure that you save some time to enjoy yourself, too! Planning an accessible wedding or an amazingly romantic weekend away is great, but is it really any fun if you spend all your time worrying rather than marvelling in the next step that you and your partner have taken together? Remember, all the best journeys are ones that you can look back on with love for every single step.

Love Lounge Top Tips – Accessible sex positions

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

 

It’s no secret that not everyone can master every single position in the Karma Sutra, but there’s no reason why us disabled people can’t create our own! Whether you’re looking for inclusive tips for the first time you’re getting down and dirty with a disabled partner, or you’re a disabled person looking to spice up your sex life in a more accessible way for you both – we’ve got you covered.  If you like the idea of adding another position or two to your repertoire, in the most stress and pain free ways possible, let us introduce you to our pick of accessible sex positions.  You can thank us later.

Tip 1: Accessible Oral

Oral sex sadly gets left out of far too many sexual experiences, but it’s really pretty easy to make accessible for all! Having a go at a 69 is a great place to start – there’s an opportunity to lie flat or go on top, depending on your strengths, and who doesn’t like receiving pleasure whilst they’re giving it?!  Wheelchair users can also give oral whilst staying seated (and receive it too!) If your partner is able to, just make sure that they’re positioned in a way that works for you.

Tip 2: Spooning and Cowgirls

Sex whilst spooning can be really great; you can use the bed or sofa to stabilise yourself, and don’t be afraid to try different entry angles before you start getting into it – 90 degree spoon sex (whilst not technically involving any spooning anymore) feels amazing! For those of you who are desperate to be cowgirls, but can’t quite straddle far enough with tight leg muscles, have you tried the crouching reverse cowgirl position? It’s like the reverse cowgirl, but you can put your legs under your partner’s, rather than having to straddle them.  Leaning forward so your head is in line with your partner’s feet, you can then ease yourself back onto them, strain and pressure free! And if you struggle to muster up the strength to ‘bounce’ up and down, and your partner to help by grabbing a hold of your hips.  Try it, it’s a real game-changer.

Tip 3:  Using the Resources around you

We’ve mentioned this before in previous Love Lounge articles, but don’t forget to keep up to date with the inclusive sex toys that are on the market – they can make a sex position you’ve been doing for years all the more exciting – how about trying doggy with a bullet on your clit, or missionary with a butt plug in? Great sex doesn’t mean having to totally change up everything you know and love, it just means thinking about positions differently and maybe even stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while.

Here’s to satisfying and fulfilling sex for us all, regardless of ability or preference. Enjoy, and do please let us know if you have an inclusive position that works for you; it might just change someone else’s experience behind closed doors (or in front of them!)

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – The fine line between lover and carer

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

It’s been a hot topic in the news recently: when does a partner become a carer, and is it okay for that boundary to be crossed? For those of us who are disabled, this issue can feel difficult to address, and even raw at times.  We want romantic and sexual relationships just like anyone else, but we’d also be fooling ourselves if we didn’t admit that we need a little extra help with the more practical side of things too, sometimes.  If this is a subject you’d like to bring up in your relationship, but you’re not quite sure how to, please do read on and we will do our best to advise.

Tip 1: Be practical

Before starting any conversation with an existing (or potential) significant other, it’s important to be honest with yourself and consider what assistance you require that might be classed as outside of the ‘relationship realm’ of duties.  Perhaps it’s help vacuuming the floors, tying your shoe laces, or getting dressed and eating in the morning.  Do these needs change depending on your changing impairment, and how confident do you feel asking for help when it’s required? All of these factors are ones that you need to be knowledgeable about before discussing them with a partner; it’s much easier for anyone to get on board with something that they can clearly understand.

Tip 2: Set boundaries

It’s important, when thinking about this lover/carer dynamic, to remember what qualities and support you can provide in a relationship.  You might be a magician when it comes to emotionally supporting or encouraging your partner, or you might be a total whizz with budgeting, bills and finances.  Make sure to set boundaries with one another, though, so that you don’t each forget to lend a hand in other areas of your relationship when you can.  There’s nothing wrong with agreeing to openly ask for help when it’s required, and even explaining if too much assistance ever becomes a hinderance.  As long as those boundaries are there and understood by both parties, it will be difficult for either one of you to take advantage of the other (something that’s vital in any partnership, whether you’re disabled or not!)

Tip 3:  Check in

Conversations about a dynamic as fragile and as difficult to navigate as this aren’t ones that you have once every three years.  However difficult it may be, it’s so important that you both check in with each other on a regular basis.  Ask if your partner is happy with the responsibilities they have in your relationship, and if there’s anything they’d like to change.  If anything significant happens, such as a big change in your needs or a new job for your partner, for example, discuss your options as both lovers and carers.  Perhaps it might be time to hire someone to help with dressing and feeding duties in the morning, or maybe your partner can start work a little later to allow for you both to still have that time together.  Whatever works for you both is the right way to do things, but communication, as always, really is key.

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Pain, pleasure and letting go

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

On the Love Lounge, we regularly get asked questions regarding pain and positioning in the bedroom, and it’s not unusual for disabled people to write in and ask us how they can get in touch with their kinkier sides, whilst staying safe and keeping their pain levels in check.  So, if you’ve always wondered how you can explore the less ‘vanilla’ side of sex as a disabled person, keep reading!

Tip 1: Let’s talk Limits

First things first, what are you into, or turned on by, and what does absolutely the opposite? Like most things (including disability!) kink encompasses so many things, so before you start discussing it, know what you’re keen on, what you’re willing to try, and what’s a hard ‘no’.  It might be worth thinking about how you want the experience to make you feel, too. Many disabled people spend their time planning hospital visits, interviews and how to get from A to B, so might want kinky sex to provide an avenue of escape from being in control. For others, it’s about the importance of gaining ownership over their bodies, or exploring sex that doesn’t necessarily have to include penetration to be really, really hot.  Once you know whether you want to take control or let go, and what particular things you’re into, then you can start venturing into this big, wide world of kink.

Tip 2: Types of Pain

For those of you among us who manage pain on a regular basis, the thought of being tied up with rope, or spanked with a paddle may not sound like escapism at all! Well, you’d be surprised.  Many disabled people who manage pain and/or fatigue have mentioned that certain elements of BDSM allow them to have a focus that actually alleviates their everyday issues. From relieving pressure on joints to feeling nice on other areas of the body that don’t usually have their attention, pain really can turn into pleasure for some disabled people.  Our advice? Go slow with someone you trust, and always feel comfortable enough to stop the situation if it is no longer serving you at all.

Tip 3:  It’s all about Trust

Usually, we absolutely don’t buy into this ‘only have sex with someone you love and/or trust’ myth, but trust and respect is especially important if you’re wanting to try out less ‘vanilla’ sex.  If you’re going to be pushing your physical, emotional and mental boundaries with anything from pain and positioning to mind games and escapism, please make sure you do so with someone who you know will respect your limits, stop when asked and who will keep your fantasies and desires close to their heart, wanting to please you rather than let everyone else know what you’re into.  There is no harm in exploring to find out what you like and what you don’t, and doing that with someone you know you can have a giggle with along the way can be a really beautiful experience.

Good luck on your kinky journey – enjoy!

Love Lounge Top Tips – Dealing with break-ups

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

This subject is never a nice one, but something that most of us have to go through at least once in our lives.  Breaking up might be the right thing for you and your partner, especially in the long term, but that doesn’t make the ending hurt any less, or make it seem anymore unfair or unjust at the time.  We’re sorry if you’re having a tough time at the moment, but hopefully this post will help you to see the light at the end of the break up tunnel.  Here are our top tips, from experience!

Tip 1: Allow the Grieving Process to happen

There’s a huge pressure, especially in this swiping day and age where you can get laid on your lunch break, to get over a break up by quickly getting under someone else. Whilst this method totally works for some people, it definitely doesn’t make the break up hurt any less, or the nights alone feel any less lonely.  And, you know what? That feeling of loneliness is more than okay, let it happen! Breaking up with someone is a grieving process and, quite often, if you try to stop that process from happening, it can take you so much longer to move on in the long term.

Tip 2: Move at your own pace

How often have you stalked your ex after a break up, checking to see if they’re with someone else yet? Yeah, us too.  It’s normal! But don’t forget to move at your own pace and only do what feels right to you. Your ex and their behaviour is not your concern anymore, so focus all that energy on yourself.  Treat yourself to a spa day, do all of the things that your ex wasn’t keen on, and try to have an exciting (or dare we say it, flirty) conversation with someone new every day.  Learning that other people still find you attractive and interesting is a big factor in moving on, especially if you’ve been with your ex for a long time.

Tip 3:  Look after yourself

When we feel down, it can be all too easy to slip into a slumber of not caring for our minds and bodies. We all have a habit when we feel sad, whether it’s sitting in our pjs and not showering for a couple of days, eating ten times more of our favourite food than we should do, or crying to our mum down the phone on a daily basis (or, let’s face it, all three!) Try your best to keep getting up and showing up, whatever you feel the world is throwing at you through your break up.  Use the time that you would have spent with your ex by starting up a new hobby, rekindling friendships that you might have neglected when you were in a relationship, or getting back to grips with all the amazingggg sex toys that are out there now. They call it self care for a reason 😉

So, whether you decide to get over by getting under, or practice self care rather than swiping, remember to take care through a break up and ensure that you’re happy with the person you’ve really got to be with for the rest of your life: yourself!

Undressing Disability in Academia: Sexual Politics in Diverse Communities at the University of Leeds

By | Disability, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

As a user-led disability awareness charity, we at Enhance the UK are often asked to present our ideas and opinions surrounding access and inclusion at conferences all over the country.  Our ‘Undressing Disability’ campaign has also allowed us to discuss sexuality and identity on a broader scale, and we have recently been in conversation with academics, healthcare officials and educational institutions to discuss just how we can all ensure that everyone has the opportunity to express themselves sexually, and be educated on their sexual rights and responsibilities.

We were delighted when, in early April, Emily was fortunate enough to be invited to chair a discussion panel at the University of Leeds, as part of a one day symposium on‘Sexual Politics in Diverse Communities: Conversations about Theory, Methodology and Practice.’ Organised and run by Dr Julia Bahner and an event for the School of Sociology and Social Policy (SSP), the day was an opportunity for speakers, scholars and students alike to deliver presentations and discuss topics such as intimate and sexual citizenship, disability theory, sex work and gender and trans studies.

The symposium marked the end of a two-year Marie Sklodowska Curie Research Fellow Fellowship for Dr. Julia Bahner at SSP. Julia has experience working with disabled people’s organisations in Sweden and is a social worker as well as a respected scholar. For her project on ‘Sexual Citizenship and Disability: Implications for Theory, Practice and Policy’, she focused on sexual facilitation for disabled people, and her work plays a vital role in challenging how we consider, discuss and respect the sexual identity of disabled people today.

Very rarely do academics and those working in the third sector get the opportunity to come together to share work, ideas and opinions on how to take progressive thoughts forward into practical movements.  Throughout the day, there were discussions on what sexual and intimate citizenship mean for all, the different stances of numerous countries on sexual facilitation for disabled people, ensuring the safety and security of sex workers all over the country, and supporting the trans community through pregnancy and parenting.

In her own words, Julia organised this much-needed event because: ‘I wanted to bring together colleagues within a broader field of sexual politics, who share the will to not only put marginalized voices on the agenda and show that their concerns matter beyond the confines of that particular community, but who also work actively politically and/or with practice. I hoped that this would be a ‘safe space’ to discuss challenges and share experiences that we could learn from and support each other, as well as give an understanding to the audience of the need to move beyond separatism and see that we in fact share much common ground in our endeavours.’  When asked what advice she would give to policy makers, Julia replied: ‘To not shy away from talking about sexuality and sexual support – although they are private and sensitive issues, staying silent is not helpful, in fact the opposite. We can only learn and progress to develop better and more ethical and professional practices by discussing difficulties, fears and worries – and possibilities!’

We could not agree more! Thank you to Julia and the SSP team at the University of Leeds for a brilliant, challenging and inspiring day.

 

 

Love Lounge Top Tips – Learning to Trust

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Love Lounge Top Tips – Learning to Trust

Learning to trust can be tough in any relationship, but if you’re disabled and have been hurt before, or are unsure about how a new partner will take to you, your impairment and any additional requirements or care needs you may have, it can be even trickier.  For some top tips on trust that we hope will help you to welcome loved ones with open arms once more, read on.

Tip 1: Don’t tarnish everyone with the same brush.

Whether you’ve had an unfaithful partner, have struggled with open communication in the past, or are even having a hard time removing previous nasty comments about you and your impairment from your mind, please remember not to expect that same negative behaviour from everyone else.  You don’t deserve it, and some people really do know how to treat others right.  We promise.  Learning to trust again is not easy, but reassuring yourself regularly that not everyone behaves badly is a good first step.

Tip 2: Be honest about your past.

We can often make the dangerous mistake of expecting our lovers to be mind readers when it comes to our past relationships and hurt feelings.  Unfortunately, they aren’t (but how great it would be if they were!) If you are finding it tough to trust, and are getting anxious when your partner goes out, or are finding yourself itching to check their phone, please do sit them down and explain how you’re feeling and what you’ve experienced previously. Any loving significant other with nothing to hide will do all they can to put your mind at ease.  But, its then up to you to do your part and give them the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason not to trust them, which will hopefully be never.

Tip 3:  Check in with each other regularly.

Trust, especially in relationships, can be very much like grief.  Over time, it gets easier, but certain things happen when you least expect them to that can trigger those difficult feelings all over again.  When we get those triggers out of nowhere, it can be so easy to shrink up within ourselves emotionally. We don’t want to call our partners out unnecessarily, or give them any reason to think that we are being unreasonable.  Next time this happens, take the step to resist the need to hide and bottle up feelings, and let your lover know how you’re feeling.  The more we talk about these things, the more normalised and easy to work through they become.  And relationships with openness, honesty, and care, no matter how difficult and testing they will be, have the best chance of survival.

Wishing you the very best of luck on your trusting journey.  You deserve happiness that is simple, care-free and long lasting.

Myth Busters – disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

By | Disability, Emily Yates, Lifestyle, Sex & disability, The Love Lounge, Undressing Disability

Disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex

How often do you see disabled people ‘getting it on’ on tv, in films or even in porn? No, we don’t see it often either.  Society seems to think that disabled people don’t, won’t and can’t have sex, and that’s a myth that we are here to dispel.  Want to join us, whilst raising a bit of awareness and education along the way? Keep reading!

Myth 1: Penetration

Sadly, we appear to have the (very incorrect) opinion as a society that sex isn’t ‘real’ if it doesn’t involve penetration, and therefore disabled people that can’t have intercourse aren’t sexual people.  This is wrong on every level, and whilst penetration isn’t possible for everyone, it really isn’t all that sex is about.  The possibility to be sensual and sexual exists for absolutely everyone, and many people that struggle with penetration put other skills they might have to very good use…! Perhaps, if we changed our view of penetration, we would also be able to educate ourselves on the complexities and intricacies of pleasure, in all its forms.

Myth 2: A lack of desire

Another common myth when it comes to disability and sex is that disabled people don’t have the same sexual desires as non-disabled people – something else that is desperately untrue! Whilst it is correct that sex can be a little more difficult for some of us (and take a little more time, effort and planning, sadly meaning that one night stands aren’t always on the table for all of us) the desire to have sex and be considered sexy still exists for lots of disabled people.  So, the next time you see an attractive, single disabled person giving you smouldering eye contact, don’t talk yourself out of it by thinking they won’t be interested!

Myth 3: Attraction

This third and final myth is arguably the biggest one, and the toughest to dispel.  It is so unfortunate that disabled people are portrayed so negatively by the media in many ways, and we are almost told not to find disabled people attractive.  Many of our colleagues, friends and partners are disabled and, let us tell you, they are all smart, funny, sexy and drop dead gorgeous in their own ways.  Don’t ever allow the world we live in to prescribe what is attractive and what isn’t.  Sure, a night with a disabled lover may require a little more thought, but it will most certainly be memorable.

So, to set the record straight.  When it comes to disability and sex…

We do, we will, and we can!

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