Sexuality and Disability have created an easy myth busting resource regarding sex and disability particularly regarding women. Here are a few of the main points they wrote (the full article is available here)
Myth 1: Women with disabilities don’t need sex.
“To most non-disabled people, sexuality and disability seem to be unconnected terrains – disabled women’s sexual desires are by and large assumed to be non-existent. However, the reality is that women with disabilities are sexual beings with sexual fantasies, feelings and aspirations like anyone else. They are unable to express their sexuality fully not so much because of a disability but because of the assumption that they are not sexual.”
Myth 2: Women with disabilities are not sexually attractive.
“What attracts someone is unique to each individual, and is caused by an unpredictable mix of things, including personality, looks, timing, sexual fantasies, etc. However, because we’re surrounded by false ideals of beauty like models with impossibly thin and upright bodies, it can be hard to start thinking of people who don’t fit into that category as ‘beautiful’. Attraction is, above all else, a connection between two people, and imposed beauty standards may actually have nothing at all to do with it.”
Myth 3: Women with disabilities are ‘oversexed.’
“Since women with disabilities are seen as ‘childlike’ and aren’t supposed to be sexual, any sexual desire they express is seen as perverted or ‘too much’. This doesn’t mean that they have disproportionate sexual desires compared to non-disabled women, but that because they are not meant to express this aspect of themselves, when they do, it’s seen as a problem.
Seeing girls and women with disabilities as oversexed is dangerous because it exposes them to sexual abuse under the guise that they ‘enjoy’ it. No one deserves an unwanted sexual encounter, and this includes people with disabilities.”
Myth 3: Women with disabilities have more important needs than sex.
“We tend to see certain needs as more basic or fundamental (eating, bathing, sleeping) than others (communication with others, sexual desires, intellectual development). This divide is sharper in the case of girls or women with disabilities. If a woman needs help to have her ‘basic’ needs fulfilled, her ‘other’ needs are seen as irrelevant.
In reality, any person experiences various needs at the same time. For example, the desire to eat when you are hungry may not be any greater or less than the desire to talk to someone when you are lonely. Similarly, sexual desires cannot simply be seen as ‘secondary’ to more ‘fundamental’ needs, whether or not someone has a disability.”
Myth 4: Girls living with disabilities don’t need sexuality education.
“Girls with disabilities are most often denied the little bit of sex education that their peers receive. This is embedded in other myths- that women with disabilities don’t have sexual desires, that no one will want to have sex with them (so they won’t be subjected to abuse), and that they can’t have ‘real sex’ anyway (so there’s no point in showing them how). In reality, sex education can empower all young women with the knowledge and information to have safe and pleasurable sex, prevent STIs including HIV, stop unwanted pregnancies, and protect themselves from abusive sexual partners.”
Myth 5: Women who live with disabilities can’t have ‘real’ sex.
“Many people think that sex takes place only when a man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina. In reality, people have sex in many different ways that aren’t generally shown in popular media or frequently discussed. Kissing, touching, masturbating and oral sex are all sexual activities, even though they aren’t included in the ‘standard’ definition of sex.”