In this column, I have discussed a huge range of topics and facets connected with or linked to the world of disability, as this is real life and people we are talking about.
That is why I do not want to leave out sexuality and I certainly do not want you, the readers, to be unknowing victims of a taboo: believing that sexuality cannot go hand in hand with disability.
Before I examine this issue, I would like to highlight a fundamental point to avoid misleading conclusions: as disabled people, we are not all equal, we do not all have the same limits of experience or the same emotions. We are all different and this time I would say it is a virtue.
Within their own physical limitations, disabled people can also have sex and feel the same impulses as everyone else. You are wrong if you think the opposite is the case.
When the two topics of disability and sex are associated in Italy, panic ensues and the murmurs begin. An avalanche of questions follow, most of which deserve only silence as a response: how do they ‘do it’? Who does it with them?
It is all down to space and movements, using the wheelchair as an integral part of the situation, for example. My femininity is a result that it has been difficult to achieve: there were always sideways glances and foolish questions to be taken into account. However, at a certain point, I made peace with myself and accepted my own body.
Sex is not simply a question of the act in itself, a mechanical experience in which to fit all the parts. It is so much more: it is deciding, exploring and trying, it is taking part. Sex for a disabled person is the same as sex for any other person. It is a question of wanting it, of working a bit harder to find the right position, but the carnal nature and boldness remain the same. You are not operating a remote-controlled machine and, at least in this case, we can leave our wheels out.
I do not want to preach here, so every single one of you is free to seek the answer that makes you happiest and more ignorant on the topic. I will simply tell you what people should do to leave others to live as they see fit, even when barely clothed.
Another entirely incorrect conceptual association is equating sexuality with sexual assistance. A sex assistant is a professionally trained person who assists the disabled person in enjoying their sexuality in full, mainly from the standpoint of affection as the definition states, but this figure is frequently viewed as the exact opposite, both by disabled people themselves and by society as a whole.
Many disabled people view this approach as the only way to enjoy the experience of sexual pleasure and therefore make the act more mechanical and less emotional in terms of creating a relationship with the other person. A disabled person tends to achieve this objective by investing less of themselves, without understanding the self-harm they are causing.
Sexual assistance is the option for those disabilities that do not allow people to give free rein to their impulses, but it must be contextualised in terms of communication, otherwise the damage to the message trying to overcome this initial taboo will be irreparable.