Why is it so easy to overlook a disabled persons sexuality?
Recently, A Disabled colleague talked to me about her sexual experiences. I
was shocked - and then I felt guilty about my reaction. Why was I so
surprised she is sexually active. One of the biggest obstacles the disabled
have to overcome is society's resistance to acknowledging their sexuality.
Ignorance leads many people to presume that the disabled are "incomplete".
Images in the media suggest we consider even minor physical imperfections
undesirable. Compounding the problem is the fact that centers for socializing
- clubs and bars, often don't offer wheelchair access.
As Harilyn Rousso, born with cerebral palsy, has described it, "I grew up
believing that I could have no social or sexual potential." The result was
that Rousso, now Director of Disabilities unlimited Counseling & Consultative
services, never entered the social arena. It wasn't until she was an adult
that she "re-thought" that attitude. Your colleague's confiding in you
suggests that she has accepted herself as she is - and that she trusts that
you will do so, too. Now that you've come to see her as a whole person, you
can build an honest friendship thats meaningful to you both. A sex and
marriage therapist, Dr. Zussman is co-director of the Association for Male
Sexual Dysfunction and past President of the American Association Sex
Educators, Counselors and Therapists.
This article was originally published in Glamour, May '91. Reprinted with