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Disabled and Sexual: We Don’t Want Ableists at our Sex Parties

Disabled and Sexual is a column by Hannah Shewan Stevens which explores all the challenges, comedy, and fun that disabled people experience as sexual beings, even while we are desexualised by a predominantly non-disabled society.


The desexualisation of disabled people is a tale as old as time. In my first column for The Unwritten, I outlined the historic battle disabled people have fought against rampant desexualisation. Sadly, the presumption that none of us are interested, or capable, of sex endures largely unchallenged and is now openly supported by fellow disabled people. The latest a Twitter user claiming to speak a thought preying on everyone’s mind,

Why would anyone bring a wheelchair user to a sex party? 

To state the obvious: disabled people are sexual beings. A physical, mental, developmental, or intellectual disability does not spell the end of sexual pleasure, romance, or partnered sex. 

If you’re one of the people who readily agreed with this hellishly rambling Twitter thread, then it’s time to broaden your horizons.

Sex parties and clubs that do not welcome disabled participants are missing out on our wealth of sexual experience, sensual bodies and all the kinky wonderfulness that we bring to the table. Plus, actively excluding disabled people, and poking fun at exclusion on social media, feeds the ableism society thrives upon. 

Partnered sex, group sex and sex parties are about shared pleasure and reveling in the pleasure of others. Limiting who you include to satisfy your own ableism is inherently selfish and demonstrates a woeful misunderstanding of the foundation of sex practices. 

If you want a picture-perfect orgy, stay at home and enjoy a picture-perfect sex party in the comfort of your own head. Masturbate to your unrealistic idolisation of perfect, athletic, able-bodied partners and redirect ableist comments to the bin. 

Engaging in sex with people who do not look like us and have different life experiences is an opportunity to learn about ourselves, broaden our understanding of sex and try out thrilling new experiences. Dictating a blanket ban on wheelchair users at your sex parties is limiting the threshold of pleasure you get to experience. 

The original tweet also disregards the fact that wheelchair users have a significant range of mobility. Some are paralysed and others are ambulatory wheelchair users, so dictating the exclusion of all wheelchair users betrays a failed understanding of the incredible diversity of the disabled community and our abilities.  

I could waste thousands of words picking apart every word of these Tweets and bore our readers with an angry rant but the issue is far wider than one person’s point of view. 

We know that disabled people are excluded from sexual spaces. We know that disabled people are pulled from or excluded from sex education around the world.

We know that disabled people have disproportionate rates of STIs and experience higher rates of sexual violence and domestic violence. We know that disabled people are at risk and that the systematic stripping away of our sexuality makes us more vulnerable to violence, abuse and sexual health issues, not less.

We know that ableism excludes disabled people from many sexual spaces. We know that many sex clubs are inaccessible for people with physical disabilities and neglect to accommodate the needs of neurodivergent people. Contributing to this widespread ableism by discounting the value disabled people bring to sex parties perpetuates it. 

But, on one key point, I find some harmony. Including disabled people in sex parties does often require pre-planning. Venues need to be accessible, adapted sex toys and swings need to be included and disabled people must be protected from ableist attitudes. 

No one with prejudice should be invited to a sex party. If someone is uncomfortable with having sex with a disabled person, that is their problem and all disabled people should be shielded from these views where possible. Sex parties are designed to be safe spaces and prejudice has no place. 

You can still be spontaneous in the moment and explore with a disabled person sexually without prior preparation, but it does mitigate risks and barriers. Organisers are responsible for protecting participants from harm and that means planning ahead. But this does not make a sex party somehow worse or strip it of all spontaneity. Sex is far superior when communication is at the forefront. 

Besides, accessibility should be the baseline for all events, including sex parties, so that eventually less work needs to be put into pre-planning and more sexy fun can be had. Plus, accessibility isn’t only beneficial for disabled people. Accessibility means ensuring LGBTQIA+ people are safe, that ethnic minority groups are shielded from prejudicial treatment and that everyone is treated equally and fairly. 

Asking people what their access needs are before they attend should be the foundation of your practice. If your sex party is not an accessible one, then it’s not going to be a good one. The ultimate dream is for accessibility to be the foundation in all walks of life but we are a long way off from that happening. So, it is up to the sexually liberal to lead the charge and include us. 

These twisted reactions to what I can only assume was a disabled person’s presence at a sex party is symptomatic of one of society’s greatest sicknesses: ableism. For far too long, being able-bodied, neurotypical and athletic have been the identifiers of what is sexy and “best”. It’s time to lay these attitudes to rest so that everyone can access society’s sexiest places safely. 


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One reply on “Disabled and Sexual: We Don’t Want Ableists at our Sex Parties”

This is so true:

“Sex is far superior when communication is at the forefront.”

I have to say that since becoming physically disabled three years ago my sex life has never been better! Primarily because I have, by necessity, become really direct at communicating my needs; Thinking through how to get to where I want to be, in the context of sex, has been very fun with experiment and humour at its core.

Thank you for this great article and articulating so well.

P.S. Pole dancing shops sell the sexiest knee pads ever, incase anyone needs to know! x

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