CW: Sexual content:
Watch the documentary above.
Yesterday I watched the film The Last Taboo by Alexander Freeman. The film explores the intersection of sexuality and disability. Several disabled people are featured with various diagnoses, including Cerebral Palsy, chronic pain, and Arthrogryposis.
As someone with Cerebral Palsy, it’s difficult for me to see myself as physically attractive. I think disabled people often don’t meet society’s traditional definition of beauty.
Non-disabled people may be less likely to be concerned about being a burden to their partner. Ableism has made me feel unworthy of a relationship for most of my life. I wouldn’t want my partner to see me as a burden. I often wonder if people will find a disabled woman attractive.
At one point in the film, Morgan Jennifer, who also has CP, discusses how a doctor was surprised that she might want to have children. I can’t recall a doctor ever asking me if I want to have children in the future.
Two years ago, I went to the gynecologist for my annual exam. She was genuinely surprised when I told her I wasn’t sexually active. At the time, I was 21 years old, and she said that most patients my age were sexually active.
Figuring out intimacy and sexuality has been a challenge for me. Requiring help with activities of daily living also affects my sexuality. I don’t see myself as attractive. This is partly because I have had my body touched and examined by dozens of people. It is always awkward when somebody has to shower me or help me use the bathroom for the first time.
As the film’s title suggests, sexuality is often taboo for disabled people. Growing up, I didn’t understand that disabled people could pursue a romantic relationship. It is still difficult to see myself as attractive. Freeman’s film does a wonderful job of discussing this complex subject.
The documentary can be purchased by schools and libraries from Alexander Street here https://alexanderstreet.com/products/academic-video-online for educational purposes only and includes additional academic resources.
Freeman, Alexander, director. THE LAST TABOO: Sexuality and Disability . YouTube, Outcast Productions, 13 Nov. 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WANZeSCTtU. Accessed 11 Jan. 2023.