The Intersection of Sexual Culture and Ability
Sexuality is unique for each individual; however, many social pressures exist that can contribute to the level of comfort each individual has around sexual expression and exploration. These additional pressures are amplified when considering individuals with a disability.
Adequate and accessible education is essential for all individuals to gain knowledge in regards to sexual health and safety, regardless of disability status. The lack of resources for individuals with disabilities to gain learn about sexuality can contribute to a feeling of alienation and have a negative impact on an individual’s ability to advocate for themselves and access the services they need.
Physical accessibility of locations that provide sexual health services, as well as other intimate spaces, is a must for individuals with disabilities. Efficient communication of the needs and availability of such services is also essential in order to ensure that individuals with disabilities are identified and provided resources.
Perceived notions of masculinity often challenge individuals with disabilities and their ability to access the relationship and sexual opportunities they desire. These notions tend to configure the relationship and sex lives of individuals with disabilities as abnormal or nonexistent, thereby leading to the minimisation of sexual exploration within the community.
The pressure of intersecting identities that an individual with a disability may experience creates unique barriers that impact their ability to authentically express themselves and access the sexual health tools they need. Some of these barriers include:
- Physical Limitations: Barrier to physical access to sexual health services, as well as navigating intimate spaces.
- Lack of Resources: Limited educational resources for individuals with disabilities about sex, dating and relationships.
- Stigma: Discomfort with the notion of individuals with a disability being sexual and enjoying sex.
- Intersectionality: Pressure from intersecting identities such as race, gender, age, and socio-economic status.
Ultimately, the combination of these barriers serves as an obstacle to individuals with a disability having an equitable experience when it comes to sexuality and expression. In order to promote sexual freedom and access to adequate education, resources and support must be provided to all individuals, regardless of their ability.