Retards and cripples have sex.

It’s true, and I know it’s true because I’m a cripple. I have cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disease, and several times I’ve had someone wrapped around my penis in one way or another. We who are disabled strive for a life as close to normal as our respective maladies allow. A normal part of life is sex. The beast with two backs, or rather, the beast with two backs but one of them suffered a severed nerve, became paraplegic and is now dragged along by the more able back. The horizontal rumba, or maybe more of a hokey pokey that requires a little sit down to catch breath between shaking it all about.

I want to put together a panel in which a group (what’s the collective noun for the disabled? A stump of sickies? A distress of differents? A mangle of mentals?) of people with disabilities, diseases and acquired injuries talk frankly about their sex lives to an audience of the interested. Ideally we’ll be funny and represent a mix of perspectives: gay, straight, legless, half-brained, chromosomally challenged, right down to mutants like me. We can trade war stories that hopefully entertain and extract giggles while also offering a rare insight into the very human, shared experience of making love, but with a slightly different set of struggles to climax. I think people would be fascinated, hell, some even titillated by sexy tales from a sub-culture that is usually considered absolutely sexless.

The topic of sex and disability is taboo. The only reason I might get away with writing about it is because I’ve had my own unique tribulations trying to tackle the tummy locker. For instance, there’s no greater turn on than pumping away, really gliding that schooner home to port, when suddenly a great, panic-inducing thoracic shut down has me going immediately soft and reduced to a clump of coughing, gagging, gasping purple. When I tell a girl what I like in bed, I make sure to include, ‘Being able to rub my back and run to get a glass of water while I fail to breathe, tears streaming down my face from the sheer shock of it all.’

It doesn’t matter much anyway, because one of the delightful side effects of cystic fibrosis is infertility. Even if I were to ride an oxygen bottle all the way to ejaculation, my payload would be a dud. On the up-side, in a stable long-term relationship I don’t need to worry about a condom to avoid accidents. On the down-side, it was my nana who took me to the fertility clinic to confirm I shoot blanks. It was really quite sweet. We both knew what was going on. At the desk, Nana helped me fill in the obvious bits of the form, then suddenly found an interesting magazine when I had to describe my sex life. Once I was ready, she checked to see if I was OK, then said she’d be just outside if I needed anything. I really, really doubted I would.

Why, like my sputum, aren’t these stories brought up more? Disease, death and decay are awkward subjects and though charities and not-for-profits try to raise awareness about the maladies themselves, they often struggle to fully humanise their clients. I think audiences love to hear about the disgusting, stupid, silly parts of sex. It’s funny and interesting and we feel that brief catharsis that comes from talking about something we all experience, but keep quiet. Add the extra dimension of cripples and the handicapped and you’ve got a warm, sad, but mostly funny perspective on a shared experience.

What part does a stump play in lovemaking?

If you can only feel one half of your body, can you only feel one half of your cock? Only feel one plip?

Does the location and size of the tumour dictate the sexual position?

These are questions I’d love to explore, because odds are you’ll either suffer some defect or be a carer for one at some point in your life. Wouldn’t you like to know what to look forward to?

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SIMON J. GREEN is a script writer and producer from south of the equator. He's written two seasons of children's animated web series The Adventures of Freddo, and produces video content and advertising for the web. He contributes articles to various online and print in Australia and keeps a blog called The Awesome Report to catch the overflow of words.

20 responses to “Do Cripples Have Sex?”

  1. Jessica Blau says:

    This post is totally, completely, WONDERFUL! Yes, form that panel! I’ll come ask questions!

  2. Gloria says:

    You bring up a great point. I would totally sit in that audience and I would ask prying questions. Dirty, dirty and inappropriately prying questions.

  3. pixy says:

    i would be in this audience. and i’m surprised that the porn industry hasn’t delved into this little tidbit before. i’ve seen a lot of porn but the only things i saw that would be considered a “disability” ie: not white bread normal, were little people and little dicks. i’m curious about this market.

  4. Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

    This was so funny and honest.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Oh! I have questions, too!
    Maybe we can send you a list and you can ask our questions!
    So. Much. Fun.

    Plus, it’s educational.

  5. Simon J. Green says:

    You guys give my heart a boner with your kind comments. It’s surprising how the well-intentioned can leave people feeling a little sanitised to the point that they feel like they have smooth bare patches where their naughty bits should be. I’d love to field questions about disabilities and sex. Or moderate the responses from others who can answer.

  6. Reno Romero says:

    simon, this was hilarious. sure, there was some serious stuff underlying the funny element, but your wording, observations were nothing short of heeelarious. like some have said i’d be in the audience. you bet. i’d even pay.

    shoot blanks!

    thanks, sir.

  7. Meghan says:

    I would absolutely love to be there for a panel like this. Please make it happen! And please figure out a way to stream it if it’s going to be in Australia.

    People hardly even talk about sex for the chronically ill, either (unless it has to do particularly with your reproductive organs (endometriosis, for instance)). And then it’s usually a narrative of the body in pain. I get it. Narratives of bodies in pain are compelling. But there are other aspects to it, too.

    Also, you should take a look at Sarah Manguso’s fine memoir The Two Kinds of Decay: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/22/books/review/Mitchell-t.html

  8. Zara Potts says:

    This is a great idea. Great post -great to have you with us.
    I love that you have written a series called ‘The Adventures of Freddo” -My father’s name is Freddo and is in Melbourne. I feel like you and I have bonded already!
    (Glad I caught that typo – I wrote “I feel like you and I have boned already” – that would have been awkward.)

  9. Quick! Look at the #disabilitydating hashtag on Twitter! Some pretty good posts. http://twitter.com/#!/search?q=%23disabilitydating

  10. OK, try again: http://bit.ly/i6LWbp

    Hi Simon

    -Steve (brain damage, road accident, 2003)

  11. Dana says:

    Not too long ago I saw a show on the tube about people that were balloon fetishists. Not just the latex they’re made with, but the actual balloons. It was fascinating. Humans are a bunch of freaky deaky weirdos.

    And we’re curious. I’ll admit I wondered about Superman (Christopher Reeve) after his accident. On the other hand, I’m blushing just typing that sentence. Some one else ask the questions and I’ll be a voyeur.



  12. Kara Deniz says:

    Hi Simon.
    I enjoyed your column. I like the idea of this panel too and breaking the taboo. The only time I read about this was -I believe- in the New Yorker in a 2004 (or 2005) article about assisted intercourse for a paraplegic.
    I am a bit surprised at most of the comments though and the very quick way people seem to be turning this in a special interest niche for voyeurs or fetishists, ending with the balloon comment (people have outlandish sexual preferences, yes how does that relate to your column? Not that the disableds can not be voyeurs or fetishists of course but I don’t think that is where you are going).

    I believe and I hope you want to bring about a frank and honest discussion about something that makes us uncomfortable and expose the lived reality of people often presented as a-sexual, not titillate us cheaply.

    @Dana: I found out the Christopher Reeves foundation has a “Sexuality for Men” page, maybe you’d like to read… Also, I had a relationship with a man that had suffered a spinal cord injury and quite miraculously started to move again after two years. Well, not everything works, but you make do and it can be quite good…

    Anyway, I hope you’ll put this panel together. Also, since your definition of disability is so broad, what about old age?

  13. Simon Smithson says:

    I’m still getting my head around Nana Green being your wingman.

    ‘When I tell a girl what I like in bed, I make sure to include, ‘Being able to rub my back and run to get a glass of water while I fail to breathe, tears streaming down my face from the sheer shock of it all.’

    Hardly seems like you’re asking the world…

  14. Simon J. Green says:

    All your comments make me beam.

    Kara: interesting point. I’m sure most of the comments here are playful fun, but you bring up a valid point – the disabled are either sexless, or on the other end of the spectrum, a sexual freak show.

    I do want a frank, honest discussion, but am happy for people to get a little titillation out of it. It’s a discussion about sex!

    I’m right now going to check out that Chris Reeves page.

    it seems you’re all incredibly interested in this topic, so I’m gonna find me some crippies and mentals to join me. Anyone volunteer? You must be open to mentioning your pee pee or wee wee.

  15. Kara Deniz says:

    As you may notice (why does virtual writing always sound passive-aggressive?) I modulated my sentence with the adverb cheaply.

    So let’s go with some titillating and some humor (because yes -the third risk is to go totally clinical) but no cheapness!!!
    (More generally, you’re facing the difficulty of generating a discussion about difference, and navigating the thin line of desire and its underside, repulsion: it always threatens to turn into fetishism and/or abjection).

    I am counting on your maturity, Simon. You seem on the right path by mentioning pee pees and wee wees!!!

    Good luck. I am pretty far from Australia so I will never witness the fruits of your efforts. Keep us posted.
    (Did you check the Reeves’ page? There is also a “Sex on wheels” section. Also there is an article on assisted intercourse on SexualHealth.com. Sounds like the MD is carrying some informal research. There must discussion fora for this no?).

  16. Greg Bowditch says:

    I am a member of the Touching Base Committee in Sydney. I just got to see this webpage blog when it had been sent to me by the President of Touching Base, Saul.

    I to have disabilities, but multiple disabilities and sexuality is a more taboo subject. I have both neurological and psycho-social disabilities, and sex and sexuality for me is a roller coaster between medication and sexual dysfunction or misdiagnosis of my conditions. I am a late starter sexually but I am trying to catch up, but it is hard here in Sydney to find sexual partners who understand my conditions.


  17. L. says:

    Maybe it’s because my English is so far from good but I haven’t found anything funny in this article… For me, it’s pure sarcasm mixed with anguish, ’cause I know how it feels to be disregarded as a girl, a woman, a lover just because nature played a trick on your body.

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