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11 Jan 2016
Disabled Dating
I met my boyfriend 36 months ago on Twitter. We were following the other person in that time, then one day tweets turned into GChat conversations, and GChat changed into Skype dates. When I moved back to DC last summer, we took it offline and shortly after started dating. He was cuter face-to-face, funny, smart, intriguing, and that he happened to be disabled.

Senior
When we first started dating he opened up if you ask me about coping with Spina Bifida and just how it manifested for him. As time went on, my feelings started to grow for him and started really caring about him deeply. However still had my concerns: What would people think about my disabled partner? What would my children say? What if people stare at us when we�re on a date? How do i support him while he needs me?

It wasn�t our feelings and comfortwhen it found dating a disabled man i was worried about - it was other people�s reactions to my choice that basically worried me. In some ways, those concerns were warranted because many people don�t know very well what it means to date a disabled man, they don�t have real conversations about this, and so they wind up making very wrong assumptions about my partner and me.

 

Usually the one question I�ve gotten over and over again is probably among the rudest questions I�ve ever heard, usually something such as: �How have you got sex?,� or possibly the more crass version: �Does his penis work?� I was asked this once by a colleague, and i also had to fight the need to shoot back, �Well, b*&^h, how do YOU have sexual intercourse?� It�s extremely problematic since it assumes that disabled people can�t perform and, moreover, can�t be sexually appealing. My boyfriend continues to be told to his face that he�s half a person, so how can he possibly please me? I won�t go into detail about my sex-life, but I will state that sex isn�t very different whether you�re with an able bodied person or perhaps a disabled person, and I�ve never had doubts about my partner�s ability to please me.

Another assumption that a family member made was i didn't have other choices with regards to men thus far, therefore i somehow �settled� for a disabled man. This one is doubly offensive, because it doesn't play into this idea of Black women within �find a guy,� in addition, it assumes that disabled men aren�t worth dating since they possess a disability. I will be with my boyfriend because I love him and because of just how he makes me feel while we are together. I�ve never met other people who was so open and thus ready and open to love. Why would I avoid the chance to be with such a great guy? Being with someone who has an actual physical disability isn�t settling; being with somebody who is emotionally unavailable will be.

Where do these assumptions originate from? Dating a disabled person isn�t something that people talk about often (if at all), but it�s reliable advice these assumptions are rooted in ableism-social prejudice about individuals with disabilities. When you assume that disabled people can�t perform sexually or aren�t dateable you are buying into the concept that able-bodied people are standard. It really is something that my partner deals with daily, and as his girlfriend I had to check my own attitudes which may have already been ableist. I don�t get it right 100% of times, but I know that being with him makes me think differently about what our societal norms are and how I will be not just a better partner but a better ally.


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