PCA Involement in Disabled Sexulaity

Many disabled people rely upon Personal Care Assistants (or the equivalent by any other name) for help with many daily tasks such as dressing or bathing. In some cases one’s carer might end up being a parent or friend, but those of us with Independent Living arrangements usually rely upon an assistant supplied by the building we live in or by the agency which began the particular Independent Living project. Still other people have to simply hire out a PCA themselves, which can be a very harrowing process. Having a PCA can be both liberating and distressing.

On one level, it can be very liberating to have a PCA who is not one’s parent because typically in this case one has escaped from under the watchful gaze of their often protective mothers and fathers. Still, it may be that a disabled person feels that he will receive better care at home, from a parent, than from a hired worker. In addition, even in an Independent Living situation, privacy can be compromised when one has to conform to the schedule of a PCA, and considering that PCAs will often see us naked or in other embarrassing situations, there cannot be very much privacy with regards to everyday body or health issues.

Things can become further complicated by the fact that we are all sexual beings–and certain physical urges and feelings are going to surface in all of us, whether or not we feel comfortable with this happening around a PCA. A caregiver might discover that a male client has developed an erection, or that a female is experiencing menstruatioon. They will thus be confronted with our bodily responses to sexuality and reproduction. But they are typically required to aid with enough to get one started for the day. What should we expect of these people when they are confronted with our sexuality, either directly or indirectly?

Typically, a PCA is not expected to worry about her client’s sexuality. If there is a mess left by a wet dream or blood from menstruation, it will be cleaned and perhaps not even discussed–likely out of embarrassment on the part of both parties. The truth is that many able-bodied people do not know what to make of disabled people with regard to sexuality. Being disabled does not negate one’s sexuality. We experience the same feelings and urges as all other people but because we are seen as “unfortunate” or “broken,” it’s typically assumed that everything’ is broken. Disabled people usually come across this stereotype often in life.

It may be through a stranger who invariably raises her voice to an unnecessary volume when speaking due to an assumption that we must be deaf when we are not, or it could be made just as clear by the uncomfortable looks given to us by family, friends, or a PCA when issues of sexuality emerge. This is unfortunate, and one would hope that a PCA would be more able than others to avoid these feelings, and to accept us as capable, sexual beings. But as a hired worker, a PCA is simply being paid to help with what we need in order to function in today’s society, and in today’s society sex happens behind closed doors and has little place in the daily grind of school, work, or many social events.

So, basically, an adult is expected to “take care of his needs” on his own time, behind closed doors, preferably behind lock and key, and not bother other people with “too much information.” But a disabled person in need of personal care is not an average adult–and I mean this in the following sense: An able-bodied adult typically would feel very embarrassed at requesting help in bathing and the like from anyone, and would be especially nervous around other adults.

Yet, as disabled people, we may feel the same awkwardness and embarrassment but we have often learned to overcome or “deal with” these feelings as a result of our dependence on others for help. If we require help with dressing or bathing we may also need help with preparing for sexual encounters (positioning, washing, undressing) and we may also lack manual dexterity sufficient for masturbation.

Does this mean that we do not feel the feelings of sexual arousal and desire? No! But, unfortunately, in part due to ignorance and in part due simply to the fact that many people are insecure about or uncomfortable with sex (able-bodied or disabled) it’s easier to assume that we don’t have those feelings so that it becomes one less thing to deal with for both us and the PCA. That’s right. Many disabled people are or have been in denial about their sexuality. I have been in the past! This is partially because there are so many battles to fight that we must pick the ones we can handle and partially because of the taboos and stereotypes which have come to us from parents, carers, or the media. So what can we do?

First of all, as frustrating as we may find this fact, we need to remember that the PCA is hired and ishuman.

Your PCA is hired.

It is a pretty simple concept–because the PCA is being paid, and is coming to work daily to assist you, she has certain rights as an employee, whether or not you are the employer. PCAs are given tasks which are usually considered very intimate (private) and often contribute very much to the overall work needing to be done around the home. But this doesn’t make them slaves. Just as we have continually stressed the importance of not doing anything sexually (or otherwise) which you find uncomfortable, a PCA has the right to tell you that something makes her uncomfortable and, as an employee and as a human being, her wishes will need to be respected.

Your PCA is human.

This brings me rather nicely to the next point. What I mean is that every one of us have biases, comfort zones and stereotypes which we apply every day in order to get through life. This is a very human thing–it affects ALL of us, and we must recognize this in a PCA. It may be that he is foreign-born, that he has strong moral principles against helping a client with certain things, or that he is simply ignorant and afraid. It may be that he will ask you an ignorant question, such as “Why are you asking me to do this? You don’t really have sex, do you?” or he might respond angrily by telling you that it’s not his business. And it’s not.

Nor is it our fault that we may need some help. But we must remember that these kinds of responses from a PCA are likely based in discomfort or ignorance. You can combat it, but you may not win, and that’s okay. It’s okay to try to educate a PCA who reacts badly to you but don’t force anything. Biases and beliefs can be hard to shake, and you don’t want to create severe alienation between yourself and your PCA. This does not mean that you need to remain submissive but that you should respect her boundaries. I’m aware that this is hard considering that often our own boundaries are not given much thought, or we cannot afford to maintain them…but we are all human and deserve this basic respect.

Fuzzy Intro

What’s up GimpSex Friends,

I would like to introduce myself. I go by the pseudonym ‘fuzzycircle’ and I hope to have a monthly column here on GimpSex.org. What a name for a web site, I do have to admit! You may be wondering why I am called ‘fuzzycircle?’ You’ll have to leave that to your imagination!

Within the last week I came across GimpSex.org through a search on Yahoo. Every two or three weeks I try to find the latest www links on disability and sexuality. Because there seems to be an extreme lack of content devoted to this topic, I usually find myself ending up at the same old boring outdated links that are scarce with content. Not this time however. Finally, I have come across a web site that will be a launching pad for the disabled community to talk about sexuality.

Granted there are already sites that touch on the topic of disabled sexuality, but this site seems to be unique to the others. This site is powered by individuals who are promoting healthy sexual living by sharing their stories and ideas with the world. A world that is misunderstood to the status quo concerning disability and sexuality.

I was pleased to find out that Gimpsex.org was founded by a woman who had the pride and determination to expose such a widely misunderstood taboo subject. She like many others are fed up with the problems and stereotypes disabled people face when it comes to sexuality. I have enthusiastic confidence that GimpSex.org will have a tremendous influence on breaking the mold from old, disturbing, biased views of sexuality & disability, to current, modern, relative ideas of what sexuality REALLY is.

I do not believe I’m an expert on sex but my experiences dealing with my own problems in the past, has given me greater insight and interest on this broad topic. We need a place to express ourselves?..what a better place than here?.what a better time than now! Sexuality is a key part of life, let’s treat it that way. If you have an opinion on disabled sexuality I would strongly encourage you to express your views on this platform.

I can guarantee you there are hundreds of people who share the same feelings as you. Just imagine the positive influence you can have on others in the same boat. If you’re a little shy, it’s possible to remain completely anonymous, that’s the beauty of the Internet.

Through my views I hope to shed some light on problems and solutions concerning disability and sexuality. I hope to help promote a greater sense of self-indepence for people who visit GimpSex. I would also like to add that the views possessed by myself are neither correct nor incorrect, but just merely exist. Individuals themselves can only determine what is best for them.

My column will include a lot on the reflection of experience. I’m eager to learn what others can teach me. Nothing in life is guaranteed but there is one thing I’m sure of. I’m a disabled male in his mid 20’s who longs for sex and is extremely horny. What else did you expect, I’m only human.

Food Sex soc

Hello GimpSex Friends,

Good to see you have given me a slice of your free time that could be spent prolonging other activities! I’m sure you get the drift. Wish me the best of luck. This article will be my very first written for the FuzzyCircle Column on GimpSex.org. Hopefully, it will give meaning to somebody. If anything I can gain valuable experience with writing effective columns.

Nothing could be more stimulating than discussing sex! While I will try my best to refrain from the use of excessive gratuitous sexual language, I cannot refrain from what I feel is necessary. Be advised that this column is of a sexual nature and may not be for the faint of heart. Enough of this verbal garbage, eh?

Do people with disabilities think about sex more than people with non-mobility related impairments? Recently, I’ve been asking myself this very question. Myself, like many other people with or without disabilities think about sex constantly. I think about it from the time I wake up, until the time I go to bed, and that’s where I really ponder the bountiful world of sex. Sex seems to frequently be at the forefront of my mind, but why? I don’t think about other pressing issues nearly as much. There’s no doubt that being a disabled male in his mid-20s makes it more understandable, but I feel it goes even further.

This may not seem politically correct but maybe my position as a disabled person coincides more with my sexuality than I once thought. Or maybe my disability plays a different role in society’s view of what sexuality constitutes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to use my disability as a stepping stone for my sexuality but just hear me out.

This past weekend I went to a dance club with a couple of my good friends, all of whom I might add are not disabled. Right as we got settled, I couldn’t keep my eyes off this beautiful woman. I must have stared her down for at least the first half-hour upon entering the club. There is no doubt that I had several fantasies running through my mind. I mean, I haven’t been sexually active with a woman in quite some time. Maybe it’s a good thing she didn’t realize I was staring so blatantly at her. I can’t stand it when people stare at me.

I kept envisioning her lying down on the bar table while I muff dived all night long. It didn’t take long for my friends to realize I was mesmerized by the scenery. I kept telling them how I felt sexually about this woman. It’s what happened next that blew me away.

The entire night all I could think about was burying my face between this woman’s legs. Call me a pig, call me what you will. Like you never have such thoughts. All that was on my mind was sex, licking, playing. Finally, on the way home my friends became fed up with my sexual lingo and were asking me nonchalantly to “shut up”. “Talk about something else, Fuzzy!” they exclaimed. This was extremely rare to me! I thought men were stereotypically always the ones to be obsessed with sex. At the time I didn’t know what to think. Am I supposed to feel bad when my own friends, who are men themselves, think I talk about sex too much? After deep thought there are several outcomes I have come up with on this situation.

If you haven’t realized, people with disabilities are some of the most sexually deprived. In many cases they are not able to act out on their sexuality because of physical limitations. Many need assistance from others to help perform sexual tasks. Often we may not be able to find people who are willing to lend a helping hand with these matters. From my own experiences, it is nearly impossible to stop focusing on sex when there are no physical means to alleviate my sexual thoughts. Just because someone cannot act in conventional means of sex does not mean their sexual desires are diminished. If anything it heightens these desires!

Once a sex therapist, who has tremendous experience working with PWD’s, told me the following: “Sex is a drive and a drive MUST BE satisfied. When a drive is adequately satisfied it ceases to become important until the sexual urge wants to be satisfied again. There are other people who think more and less about it than you because sex drive is not distributed evenly among humans just as intelligence is not distribute evenly. Some have more and some have less, but even those with less find it frustrating when it isn’t satisfied.

Until your sex drive is satisfied you cannot think about much else.” This quote has become increasing significant to me over the past couple of months. It has helped me identify with my constant sexual desires. It makes sense why so much of my time is spent focusing on sex. Quite possibly PWD’s sex drives are not being adequately satisfied. Can you relate? It’s terribly frustrating when disabled people cannot even assist themselves in masturbation, let alone full-fledged intercourse. No wonder many disabled people constantly think about sex!

In Western culture people with disabilities are seen socially to be non-sexual, asexual beings. When was the last time you saw a woman in a wheelchair on the cover of Mademoiselle? When was the last time you encountered a person publicly “making out” with someone who had a disability? These are simply things that people generally are not exposed to.

When sexual exposure of people with disabilities is blocked, distorted, or censored by the majority, it becomes very unfamiliar to us. Sometimes this unfamiliarity can turn into fear. It’s easy for one to shy away from areas that have not been explored. To be unwilling to challenge and explore these areas is also common. Instead of taking the initiative to confront the unknown, we tend to decline engaging in such thoughts or activities. It’s easy for one to dismiss and put a biased opinion on what they are unwilling to explore. I’ve done it before. Throughout the early stages of my sexual journey I told myself I would never eat pussy.

That was until I tried it! Now I can’t get enough of it! So much so it’s now my favorite past time…just kidding! Seriously, though, it’s easy to shy away sexually from a person with a disability because they may be unfamiliar to us. It’s also just as easy to dismiss a disabled persons sexual desire because of this very fact. No wonder some seem to think I concentrate on sex too much! If those people think sexual activities or desires for PWD’s is non-existent, then even one notion of sex to them would be TOO much! What is too much sex? I thought that was an oxymoron.

Maybe society should take a different approach to PWD’s and sexuality. Let’s take food for example. We all have our favorite types of food. Sometimes we are reluctant to try different foods because they are unfamiliar to us. Maybe we base our decision on what others have told us. Maybe we base our decision on the smell, look, or consistency of the food. There are those of us who feel that trying a new type of food will simply add variety to our listing of likes and dislikes.

If we try the food and do not care for it then we know for sure it is not to our liking. However, if we try it and find we really like it, then we have found new variety in our tasting pleasures. On the other hand if we are unwilling to try the new food and stick to what we know, then we feel like we cannot be disappointed. However if we constantly indulge in foods we like, eventually we will become bored with repetition.

But how many of us have taken the initiative to try something we thought we would not enjoy, yet now it is one of our favorite foods? We would now kick ourselves for not trying what we currently explored. Now, because I was willing to try unfamiliar foods, I like to eat shrimp as much as pussy! Unfortunately, there are hundreds of foods we might like but will never have the opportunity to try because we will never be exposed to them. So we might as well try as many different cuisines as possible.

What type of food we decide to eat is solely an individual decision. Granted, some foods are better for us than others. Some have more minerals and vitamins, others more sugar, cholesterol, and fat. We will always have our preferences and discriminate according to what we think is delicious. Remember that choices made strictly on physical characteristics can be deceiving. Maybe next time we go to a restaurant we will try a new food and it will become a new favorite.

If it doesn’t at least we were willing to try something different. We all need food to survive and grow. Sexuality is a key part of a healthy life for anybody, disabled or not. If PWD’s think about sex more often than others, so what! Take into consideration the obstacles presented to PWD’s when exploring their sexual freedom. You may have a greater understanding of their sexual circumstances. Has this has helped anybody? It certainly has made me hungry. I’m going to get something to eat. I bet you can’t imagine what my appetite is craving?????