Reviewing the sex, intimacy and relationships survey results as a disabled woman was thought provoking and emotional.
In a sense, this survey told me nothing I didn’t know already – but at the same time, I was somehow shocked.
We already know that people make assumptions about us as disabled people. We know people judge us, based on the perceived ‘they can’t do X but they can do Y’. We’re frequently told we’re not disabled enough for one thing and yet somehow too disabled for another. But, knowing those judgements follow us into the bedroom, where we all have our insecurities, our secrets, and feelings of inadequacy at times – well that is harder to deal with.
It’s harder to deal with because we don’t want to talk about it. Even the topic of ‘intimacy’ is too intimate for some people – and throw in that we want to talk about how our disabilities affect intimacy…that’s a conversation that most people simply don’t want to have.
What The Results Showed
I was pleased to see a range of people taking our survey. The age range was evenly distributed, varying from 18 to 55+. One of the purposes of this survey was to scope out if our membership would be interested in a podcast, and it looks like many of you would – agreeing largely on the type of topics you’d like to hear about too. We’re excited about building that for you in the near future.
One thing that interested me was the split of answers on the question ‘Have you encountered any stigma with your own relationships or sexual experiences’ – 58.3% of you said yes. Honestly, I thought it would be higher – but it also got me thinking about how we define stigma, and where it needs to be in order for you to consider you’d experienced it directly.
We asked those who had encountered stigma to tell us more about it. The answers varied so widely, but included fetishisation, verbal abuse, cultural prejudice, s*ut shaming, and a whole load of unsolicited comments about relationship status when disabled.
One of the comments that struck me most was someone explaining that they don’t always feel safe to bring up sex.
The UK Sex Industry is worth £8.856bn.
In 2012, sex workers contributed £5.7bn to the economy
In 2018, there were an estimated 839,043 pregnancies in England and Wales
A 2017 survey concludes that almost 48% of brits own a sex toy
And yet interestingly…
35% of surveyed Brits said their partners sexual technique is an unspoken turn off
24% of people feel self-conscious and embarrassed talking about sex
45% think talking about sex with their partner is too awkward In those figures, we don’t think about who is disabled and who isn’t. How do we begin to unpack the stigma around being disabled and wanting a healthy sex life (whatever that means…) when the general population don’t want to talk about sex at all?
We hope to help our members in having these conversations. Not just for the benefits of our relationships but to help us be more open as disabled people in general. We want to use the Social Model of Disability in new and exciting ways and be heard. Be seen. Be understood.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who took part in this survey, and if you shared a personal experience – please know that your vulnerability and ability to be open about your experiences will help others. It’s helped me already.
Kimberly – Development Manager References Sex industry worth