Our Engagement with Disabilities – Sex Positivity
Adultsmart has a mission to ensure that our Engagement With Disabilities is positive in our stores, assisting with selecting appropriate sex aids.
In 2008 Allena Gabosch defined sex positivity in her article ‘A Sex Positive Renaissance‘. In this she has defined sex positivity as:
“An attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable, and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation. The sex-positive movement is a social and philosophical movement that advocates these attitudes. The sex-positive movement advocates sex education and safer sex as part of its campaign.”
Love And Passion
What makes humanity unique in terms of sexual activity is that we are one of the few species on the planet which engage in sexual activity for the focus of pleasure. And not necessarily reproduction. Sex to us is about love and passion as well as enjoyment. There are various scholars and theorists which attempt to debunk this and regardless of where you sit on the spectrum. It is undeniable that the majority of living creatures on this planet do not have sex for pleasure.
The Sex Positivity movement is responsible for breaking down the taboos of sexual behaviour in humans. It is allowing us to discuss sex and sexuality in increasingly open facets and without guilt or embarrassment.
Even if we do not necessarily understand, or have heard of the sex positive movement, we are subjected to it on a constant and almost daily basis.
Using sex and sexuality for advertising. Increasing presence of sex and sexuality in popular culture are just two examples of society engaging with sex positivity. And slowly unpacking the conservative attitudes that we have previously held towards the idea of sexual culture.
Yet, there are limitations.
People with mental and physical disabilities are continually being associated with as being sexless and asexual or devoid of sex and sexuality. Indeed, there are many articles out there which support this. And which will arrive at the conclusion that people with disabilities have their sexual needs and desires ignored.
At Adult Lifestyle Centres, we acknowledge the presence of disabilities within sex. We have sourced numerous products that will allow people with disabilities to still engage in sexual activity. Stand beside many organisations within NSW which also acknowledge this view.
We actively work towards providing an awareness to not only these organisations. But also to carers and families of people with disabilities in order to assist with individual’s sexual awareness and sexual engagement.
Organisation – Touching Base
Touching Base is based in Sydney NSW, Australia. It has been an active organisation since late 2000. It was constructed through an acknowledgment of the need to provide assistance in the connection of people with disabilities and sex workers.
Touching Base sees a focus on the accessibility of sex workers for people with disabilities. Basic human rights as defined by the UN and The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. As well as the legal issues and barriers that have been erected by societal attitudes concerning these two marginalized communities.
Touching Base is an organisation that provides information for people with disabilities or their carer’s and families.
Referrals from Touching Base
About accessing the sex worker industry and they have a referral list on their website to facilitate this. Their referral list helps connect people with disabilities to appropriate sex workers based on the clients disabilities, their sexuality, and their sexual desires.
This referral involves a series of questions concerning the individual, their needs, desires, requested activities. As well as their functionality in order to determine and assess an appropriate and suitable sex worker that can assist them with their desires.
This ensures an appropriate match. As well as ensuring that a client is connected with a suitable sex worker who understands the specifics of a client’s disabilities. Providing a level of safety for all involved.
Engaging In Sexual Activities
From there the sex worker can either engage in physical sexual activity, or they might be responsible for using sexual aides on their clients. Sex workers don’t just have male clients. But they may also have female clients as well and have the option of a wide variety of sexual aides for women and men.
By having an understanding and knowledge base concerning disabilities, a sex worker can ensure the safety of the client at all times. But also be aware of the accommodations necessary to have a fulfilling sexual experience.
To facilitate this, Touching Base also provides training, workshops, and information and resources for sex workers in regards to people with disabilities. So that they can be more informed.
Sex Workers can provide their details to Touching Base.
They can be connected with appropriate clients and undergo the necessary training. At this current moment in time, Touching Base does not receive any government funding.
Sexuality And Disability Education Program
This program is run by Family Planning NSW and has clinics in Ashfield, Newcastle, Penrith, Dubbo and Fairfield. They specialise in delivering education and training in the fields of reproductive and sexual health. And have been providing education to the disability community for three decades.
Family Planning NSW is backed by a range of organisations and bodies which include the Australian Skills Quality Authority, and the NSW Institute of Teachers.
One can rest assured that they have the resources and training behind them in order to best facilitate the delivery. And ensure the quality of resources and information that are given to the community.
Their focus is on building knowledge
And providing the resources for vulnerable communities such as people with disabilities. As well as meeting the needs of rural and remote communities which may or may not have the same level of access to such resources as other communities.
The work done by Family Health Planning facilitates the building of knowledge within teachers, disability workers, health care workers and carers. Providing support and education regarding the areas of sex, sexuality, relationships and sexual activity for people with an intellectual disability.
What Are The Needs For People With Disabilities?
It is clear that people with disabilities have needs that differ from the rest of the population.
In addition, these needs must be addressed in an appropriate fashion that facilitates the requirements and understanding of the individual. The NSW council for Intellectual disability has identified the needs for people with individuals. Much of which has been taken and modified from the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The council recognises that all individuals need to have the right to make informed decisions and choices regarding their relationships, sexual activities and sexuality. They acknowledge that many people with intellectual disabilities have boyfriends, girlfriends, or partners.
A Sex Positive Approach
They have taken a sex-positive approach and they acknowledge that people with an intellectual disability experience sexual feelings and urges in the same regard as other people.
Unfortunately, due to the social stigma that people with disabilities shouldn’t engage in sexual activity. Or the assumption that they have no sexual desires, people with disabilities often do not receive the same sexual education as their able-bodied/mainstream peers.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities acknowledges that in many cases, people with disabilities are removed from sexual education classes when they receive formal schooling and education.
They may be removed for a variety of reasons.
Which could include an inability to be able to understand the content. An assumption that they do not need sexual education, or indeed the Educational Institution may have a program which sees people with disabilities removed from mainstream classes. Additionally, to provide them with a more ‘tailored’ education.
As a consequence people with disabilities are often severely lacking in sexual health and education, making them far more vulnerable within society.
Support and Knowledge For People With Disabilities
People with disabilities need to be in a position in which they can make informed choices about their sexual health and activities. They often need tailored and specified information. And support to aid them in their decisions concerning sexual health, relationships, and sexual activity delivered in an appropriate fashion with regards to their disability.
Without this support and knowledge, people are far more vulnerable and are more likely to make choices which adversely affect their health and well-being. Making them exceptionally vulnerable to forms of abuse. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies there are no standard national data collections concerning the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse amongst adults with a disability.
Sexual Assualt and Abuse
However, a highly cited research paper published by Wilson and Brewer in the early 90’s found that people with a disability were twice as likely to be the victims of a personal crime. And 10.7 times more likely to be a victim of sexual assault. (Wilson & Brewer, 1992).
A more recent study by CASA (Centres Against Sexual Assault) in 2007 was published by Heenan& Murray. This found that of 850 reported rapes in Victoria 26.5% were identified as an individual with a disability. It goes without saying that these statistics are worrying.
The Education Program
Education Program acknowledges that tailored education concerning these issues will help individuals think about, and feel more at ease with their sexuality and relationship status. It is further acknowledged that this program needs to deal with the notion of consent, sexual health, and the accessibility of sexual health services.
This education often begins in schools and classrooms. And this is why the sex and sexual health program is continually being revamped in order to keep up with modern technology and societal thought.
Formal education is important to people with disabilities as they may not be in a position to informally learn about sex and sexuality through popular culture and peers. And if they do, they may not understand the construction of this informal learning and how it is biased, skewed or poorly depicted.
As such, young people with disabilities need to receive formal education on things such as bodily functions, masturbation, notion of consent, intercourse and penetrative sex. Also practicing safe sex, as well as varying types of relationships such as heterosexual and same sex relationships.
Engagement With Disabilities
Privacy is a big issue when concerning people with disabilities. Especially when an individual requires constant care. They may not have an opportunity to engage in private acts of sexual fulfilment such as intercourse or masturbation.
Privacy can also aid in the development of intimate relationships. Which a lot of people with disabilities do not have access to. Kissing, cuddling, touching is an important part of sex and sexuality. It is something which needs to be developed within and explained to all individuals.
Without privacy, the idea of consent can often be skewed. When support workers and families don’t feel comfortable talking to individuals about sexuality. Then often such an individual is viewed as asexual and their sexual needs are ignored.
This can drastically affect an individual’s behaviour
And levels of aggression as they desperately try and deal with something that they may or may not understand. The thing is, that it is up to the person with the intellectual disability to decide as to whether they want to be sexual or not. That is a decision that cannot, and should not, be made by carers or support workers.
Adult Lifestyle Centres
You’ll notice that all of the above organizations have a strong focus on education. Or the provision of sex workers towards people with disabilities. Where Adult Lifestyle Centres differ is that we provide Adult Related products that can facilitate sexual fulfillment through masturbation or with a sexual partner with or without the presence of carers. As well as having a wheelchair accessible adult shop.
That said being Adult Lifestyle Centres stock a range of products that can aide in masturbation or sexual activity with another person. Or can aide in the positioning of individuals for sexual activity. This provides an alternative option for carers and families that do not necessarily want to engage in the services of sex worker. But still want to provide the person with a disability access to sexual activity.
We provide information and resources to these organisations
To provide more options to people with disabilities and their carers. Paving the way for an understanding of the various sexual aides that are on the market for, and can be utilized by people with disabilities.
This adheres to Adult Lifestyle Centres’ inclusive attitude and reinforces our desire to be a sex-positive body within the Sex Industry.