Saturday, January 23, 2010

And Maybe A Boa

Well, tickle me with a pink feather!

A couple days ago I announced that it's time for disability bloggers to take over Valentine's Day with posts about sex, sexuality, and sensuality. We need to reclaim love, lust and licentious behaviour. Only a few people signed up but I'm hoping more will take on the challenge. It's only one day in the year and it's an important day.

Though not disabled as a child in the traditional sense of the word, I was 'handicapped' by the fact that I was an ungainly, ungracious, unattractive little fellow. Valentine's Day was a painful experience. We were all forced to make Valentine's boxes or envelopes to put on our desks in anticipation of the wonderful Valentines that would flow our way on the special day. After the first spectacularly painful year of recieiving not one card - I was always sure to make myself several so I was saved the embarassment of total rejection.

When I began working in the area of sexuality for those with intellectual disabilities I sensed the same experience of the nearly total rejection of the idea of a life of love and sex for those in my care. There were policies, procedures and protocols that, more than dismissed the idea of sexuality, punished it's appearance. It's been a long hard fight and there have been many voices of radical reason and ground has been gained.

In talking with others who have physical disabilities like myself now, there is often heard, when the subject of sexuality is raised, the frustration of being seen as sexless. There is a courage in coming out as sexual, as demanding to be seen as fully human with fully human needs. Therefore, we need to talk about it.

So, I announced, another day of Valentine's blogging. (There's lots of time to sign up, just do so in the comment section). But here's the pink feather moment. I got an email from a guy named Drew who runs a sex store and has a web site that sells sex toys. He read my blog and wrote to ask if he could in some way help sponser the day. He liked the idea of sexuality and disability being raised and wanted to be part of it. Well I checked out his website and there's lots of cool (hot) stuff but there was little information regarding sex toys and disability.

I wrote Drew back and thanked him and pointed out that the website didn't such information. He wrote back wondering what would be needed to make the site more accessible. I realized, I don't really know. So I called and we talked. I asked him if I could could post the link to his site at Eden Fantasys for you all to take a look at. You can forward feedback to me and I'll collect it and send it on to him.

What was great in talking to Drew was that he realized, instantly, that people with disabilities are often not included in the discussion of sexuality and that he wanted to do something about it. I like this kind of corporate responsibility and interest. So, have some fun today. Go visit Drew's site. Maybe buy a pink feather.


BenefitScroungingScum said...

I'll sign up for the Valentine's day blog Dave. I often write about sex relating to disability on my blog and have previously reviewed sex toys. Somewhere in my bookmarks is a company who sell sex toys/aids and actually have an existing section of information for disabled people, I'll try and find it.
It's brilliant that a company as significant as Eden fantasies want to get on board with this. For any disabled people based in the UK, 'The Sex Education show' are looking for disabled people who are sexually active
Bendy Girl

Anonymous said...

I haven't had a chance to look at the site yet (and might not). But if they sell any videos, then the videos should carry closed captioning or subtitles to make them accessible for deaf people, and also audio description to make them accessible for blind people.

At the very least, the web site should provide information on what accessibility features are, or aren't, available for each video. Otherwise deaf or blind shoppers would be left to assume that they aren't accessible and won't buy any at all.

Captioning is more than just transcribing dialogue. It must also include any important sounds in the video. This can mean, for example, the tone of voice: Someone saying, "I'm fine, stop worrying about me," in a cheery tone of voice means something very different from someone whose voice cracks in the middle. Or it can mean captioning background noises. A scene in which a woman is tossing and turning in her sleep is likely to be interpreted very differently if you realize there is the sound of dripping water from a faulty faucet in the background: without the sound you might just assume she has insomnia or that she is worried about something ... which leads to wondering what problems are bothering her and what will be done in subsequent scenes to resolve them. But once you know the sound is there then this helps to understand that the woman may merely be very distracted by the noise and her main annoyance right now is that she can't sleep. Captioning that leaves out these kinds of sounds is still not fully accessible. Many captioners don't caption nearly enough information about background sounds: too frequently they just assume that they aren't important when they actually reveal a lot more, or influence the mood of the film a lot more, than they realize.

One Sick Mother said...

oops! opened the site when the kids are in the room (and closed it pretty quick. I have no plans on explains some of that kit to an 11yo). Will check it out after bedtime.


little.birdy said...

I was watching Say Yes to the Dress last week, which is a show on TLC about brides choosing wedding gowns at a particular store in New York City. One bride they featured was a in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident at age sixteen. She had two special needs in choosing a dress; it had to look good sitting down, and she wanted to have a train. So Kleinfield's (the dress shop) designed a custom train that draped over the back of her chair and didn't get caught up when she moved. She was delighted to have every bit of the bridal experience that she wanted. Although the show rather promotes the idea of a "cheap" dress being $2,000, I loved it at that moment for taking her disability in stride, and instantly thought of you. They showed a clip of her husband (no visible disabilities) at the alter with her, and he was sitting down so he could be face to face with her. It was wonderful.

OhWheely . . said...

Had a look but OH MY WORD.

I need to have another look I hadn't expected that!

Maybe later. As OSM said, not one for the children.


Myrrien said...

Hi Dave are you familiar with this group? There might be information Eden fantasies finds useful

skylark said...

interesting to hear what folk will think and where the balance lies in choice, health risk n safety ..... seeing as your needing love dreams and love in practice stories for valentines day ..... my friend has a vision of love his mum died years ago but realising love may not be easy to find with a disability told her son that looking on line for a bride especially an eastern one was a good way to go years on he is on his own, usual all disability social groups, disappearing acts with professionals, voluntary groups only interested in making money and raising the workers profiles not their members anyway he tells me what his mum said and he was moving again so a great opportunity I thought to go for it, after all they kept telling him he was independent, his home has room for two, so he got friendly on line with two ladies ... got to keep your options open ...... then a third .... all wanted to meet him his money management was a problem but he finally got to London to meet one, things went fine .... the second a fillipino was further away and looking into the background he found out she had a boyfriend and he worked out maybe she might dump him ... he bought a double bed ..... then a girl from russia she was keen, he fancied the holiday, he'd organised the london trips himself so he booked his trip to russia ..... we were excited, everything looked okay, he was doing well but he told a worker at the voluntary group what he was doing .... well bang went his dream health and safety, stopped tickets, social work involvement okay going away n your own is dangerous but he had an address to go to okay russia is far away on a plane but so is london and which is more dangerous okay he wanted a holiday away could do the booking himself and needed a bit of mobility support but he'd phoned the airport for that and he didn't need a wheelchair just a bit of support for his walker instead they gave him a respite week in a disability lodge on a northern scottish coast, okay so he may have been stopped by russian police and sent back but what a story to tell ...... where is personalisation where is enabling his depression has gone now he's still dreaming, in his new home and its permanent now as the new housing organisation have taken his contract on and he's decorating, he's managed to get someone to get him money for driving lessons (believe me its scarey we know him especially when he says he's going to use his future van to take us all out, hes looking on the net again .... and .... this time I hope he doesn't tell anyone

FridaWrites said...

Very fun-looking site with lots of cool toys, makes me really wish I weren't poor right now.

I think there's one book on sex and disability on are also some books on sex and back pain (and back pain is a very common impediment even if there's not a disability).

While disabled people can use a lot of items, providing a section or listing some items with a "helpful for disability" tag might help--like the liberator pillows for positioning and stronger vibrators for those with less physical ability or with conditions like MS, where function can be diminished. Or easier grip items for arthritis or limited dexterity.

Making such a site really disability friendly may be an ongoing project, but this is really an untapped market! There is still very, very little written on disability and sex. With one out of six people having a disability and lots of others having chronic illness or fatigue that can affect one's sex life, really making an effort in this regard would be very worthwhile for both customers and businesses.

Just having disability featured on a website will also create a subtle but important change in non-disabled customers' minds, so that we are seen as normal rather than different, so that people with disabilities are increasingly viewed as potential partners, as people, so that people don't assume (as many do) that we don't have sex.

FridaWrites said...

Also, some articles on chronic illness/disability might be helpful, techniques, but also safety since people with disabilities are very vulnerable to abuse. And they're also often prevented from being sexual by families or institutions. Drew should also be aware that there are devotees/devos (disability fetishists who stalk people, primarily women, nonconsensually), so he'll want to be aware of that so as not to draw that market.

Thanks for being inclusive of us!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave!

This is a store in T.O. that I have always found,"useful" (;P) in my research while putting together individual counselling!

Even by phone they are totally comfortable in answering any question you might have!

Michelle ;P