“It’s not me, it really is you.”

September 16, 2013 at 8:02 PM (Uncategorized) (, )

Now that was never really said to me…it’s just a ridiculous attempt by me to shorthand this excellent article

which is a scholarly treatment of why persons with disabilities are oppressed when it comes to intimate relationships.  I’ll go further and say excluded from experience of intimacy, partnering etc.

I saw the subject and said “Oh no, wait a minute, that’s not true…”  but then I read the whole article.

Yes, my experience is quite different from the take of the article but I guess there are aspects to my experiences that make mine the exception that tests, and in some ways, validates what the author of the article is saying.

I had a very visible disability from birth (cerebral palsy)…

My late husband was not able bodied, we met at a camp for kids with disabilities.  So, for those that knew him well, they never gave him the pitying stare about having to “take care” of me because he struggled with impairments of his own…But.

His physical disability did impose specific limitations on him (don’t do contact sports, don’t live more than two hours away from a hemophillia treatment center), but when it was just hemophilia, except for a slight limp, he could “pass” as nondisabled, and did so often. So strangers did treat him as able, and if they overtly spoke to him about “It’s noble to take care of her,” or some diminishment of me like that, I never heard about it and he never mentioned it…with the exception of one relative’s comment to him that “You can’t marry this girl!,” to which he answered “Watch me!”

I was not conventionally good looking in high school.  Then got less and less “acceptable” as time went on.

While I did experience a great deal of the aversion of able boys while trying to date in high school, and to a lesser extent college, I met my future husband in high school, we dated a bit then, I had another boyfriend, he had a couple other girlfriends, and then I re-met him in my early twenties and by the time I was twenty five I was married, matching the earliest members of my high school class, all able but me, and beginning the rush to the altar that same year….  So by the time I hit my mid twenties both myself and my husband were on the same romance/sex/marriage timeline as our able bodied counterparts.

When I lost my husband in 1993, I also matched a behavior of a lot of able bodied widows…I had a bit of a wild streak that lasted about three years.  I was beginning to make unwise and sometimes even dangerous choices after a bit, so I pulled out of that stall, and stayed alone by choice for a few years.  I had another boyfriend.  That ended badly for reasons having next to nothing to do with my disability or his.  Haven’t the able often had that relationship where they look back and say “My God, what was I thinking?”  Again, a similarity, not a difference.

But my life since about 2002 has mirrored that in the article pretty well,  Age and body shape have factored in more and more….

So are the disabled as a group oppressed in matters of intimacy? I think so, based on the experiences of myself in later years and many friends with disabilities throughout their lives….and the reasons and structures that contribute to that are exactly the setups the author explains in the above article.

What I can’t figure out is why I missed out on that particular oppression.  Over the long haul, it didn’t touch me much before the age of 40. (Though it’s darn well locked in now.)  The article is very well done. I encourage folks to read it.

1 Comment

  1. Glynis Jolly said,

    My disability didn’t start until I was out of high school. Nevertheless, it’s highly visible like yours, physical limitations of all sorts from a stroke. Yes, people with these challenges are oppressed in intimate relationships. Some of it can’t be helped. Our relationships with who we love are effected by the disability, and the disability does affect to relationship. What I have found unsettling is the need for help in daily life is looked upon as something extra that the spouse or whoever has to ‘put up with’ as if others don’t need any help at all in their daily lives.

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