Mik Scarlet, Disability and Sex: A Defence of Para-Doxies

Since I was concerned about the snow, I remained in doors for most of today, and got some writing done.  I also finally managed to see Becky Adams’ and Mik Scarlet’s appearance on ITV’s  This Morning off YouTube.

I’ve always liked Mik Scarlet’s writing on disability, his blog is something that everyone who writes on disability should check out, he’s a really good writer and role model for me as a disabled person.  When I (re)-started this blog a few weeks ago, I read a lot of his and Victoria Wright’s work  http://www.victoriawright.net   So really check him out, his article in Disability Now ‘Mik’s rough guide to pulling’  is very good.

On the issue of Para-Doxies we do part company though.  Mik Scarlet was on the show, as the ‘no person’ with regards to Becky Adams’ Para-Doxies.  As he writes in his blog, he has three reasons he is against the idea of Para-Doxies, the second of which is:

I am opposed as it causes issues for the way society thinks about disability. It not only effects disabled people but everyone. For disabled people, it means they grow up in an atmosphere that makes them believe that they just aren’t sexy or potential sexual partners and for the non-disabled community it plays a part in continuing the prejudice around disability.[1]

I have a lot of sympathy for what Mik is saying here.  My initial reaction was a concern that a ‘special needs brothel’ to borrow Mik’s own phrase legitimises the idea that disabled people aren’t sexy and never could be.  Decades of the disability movement and we’re still trying to convince the Average Joe and indeed Josephine that we are human beings and we have sexual need, screw that!

But then I realised something.  Society, unfortunately, already sees disabled people as asexual.  Becky Adams or the idea of Para-Doxies did not create this perception, but Para-Doxies’ exists because of that perception.

Scarlet continues:

If you grow up or become disabled so assured that the only way you’ll ever experience sex is to pay for it, then that is what you will do. Thus the need for this proposed service is fuelled by the attitude, so it becomes self fulfilling.[2]

Again, I had this concern, and as a matter of fact I did grow up thinking that only way I’d experience sex was to pay for it.  Para-Doxies wasn’t even a possible idea when I was growing up, and I thought that way, although I was wrong to do so.  And if I can think that way without the existence of Para-Doxies, I feel that the concern that existence of Para-Doxies will further entrench such an erroneous way of thinking about ourselves as disabled people to be moot.  At least with Para-Doxies those people who indeed cannot respond to their sexual needs can find some relief.

Like Mik, I could be described as being ‘lucky’ with my impairment.  I can still walk, talk, do most things, I am married.  Like him, my disability has affected my ability to have erections and act on what sexual desire I do experience.  However, I am aware that other disabled people put simply, are not so lucky.  I am sure they would prefer to have their sexual needs met within a loving relationship, but that is not always possible.  My early sexual experiences were had at University, I had good friends, but some disabled people truly believe that nobody would want to touch them.  As I was researching this blog post, I found this a comment on the BBC Ouch blog from 2008:

At 11:13 27th Oct 2008, fatalefem wrote:

Well I haven’t had sex yet, but it wasn’t because nobody would want me. I have EDS, and allthough I use a wheelchair, I look pretty normal. And I’m very flexible 😉

In fact, most guys don’t believe I’m disabled at all, they think I’m too pretty to have anything wrong with me. So I think, that if I really wanted to, I could have sex with someone who really doesn’t want to with a disabled person.  But why would I want to with someone that narrowminded?[3]

I don’t mind saying when I read that comment, I was close to tears, Para-Doxies didn’t create this perception ‘fatalefem’ came to that conclusion all by themselves, written in 2008 it was a Para-Doxies-less world in which he wrote these sentences. Whilst he may choose not use the services of Para-Doxies, he hopefully is in a loving relationship; I’d like to think so.  But if he isn’t, or feels he will never be able to, then, there is Para-Doxies.

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2 thoughts on “Mik Scarlet, Disability and Sex: A Defence of Para-Doxies

  1. What a superb piece LP. So great to find discussion of something what I wrote that was intelligent and thoughtful. I do tend to get responses that have more insults in them…
    However I still have a real issue with the notion of Para Doxies. The most important is a really don’t like the idea of a special brothel for disabled people. If this was a discussion around legalizing prostration then we wouldn’t need special accessible brothels as they would all need to be accessible thanks to both the Equality Act and Section M of the planning regs. So this is yet more proof for society that disabled people are some kind of special charity case.
    That’s my next issue. Para Doxies is being set up as a not for profit, so this is charity sex for cripples. Really helpful for our confidence eh? We so hideous that we can’t even pay for it like everyone else but instead need a charity hooker.
    But the most troublesome part to me is that there is no legal way that Para Doxies will be able to turn away any non-disabled punters who wish to visit, thanks yet again to the Equality Act. It means that this is really a brothel that will be seen as OK as it’s for poor little cripples but is in fact an attempt at legalization through the back door. So we are back to make it OK for everyone or for no one but not just for us hideous sexless freaks.
    I must also say that some of the stereotype that disabled people are not attractive comes from us disabled types ourselves. We must stop thinking that we aren’t sexy of attractive. I know when I first started using a wheelchair I really thought that no one would fancy me, especially as I had nerve damage that caused erectile dysfunction, but I soon discovered that was not the case. For every ignorant body fascist their are just as many people who see past whatever issues we think they see and fall for the person. So don’t always go into something thinking they will be put off by the disability. As my wife says, it’s was her choice to be with me, not mine. I wanted to be with her, so I had no part in her wanting to be with me other than being the person I am. If you see what she means? You might always wonder what someone sees in you, but that’s their issue. You just have to smile and say nice one.
    Lastly in this marathon comment I would also like to regail you of a story of mine. Many years back, when I was on TV all the time (the good old days, for my bank balance at least) I met a very attractive wheelchair user in a club. I went over anc did my best chat up lines but she very nicely told me she wasn’t interested as she didn’t want to conform to the sterotype that all disabled people only went out with each other. I completely respected that view, and even today consider it the best reason for the brush off I have ever had. Later on we met again and she told me how much she regretted that comment, but by then I had met my wife so the chance had passed. But it does show that there is a lot more to attraction that just being fancied. So sometimes if someone isn’t interested it’s not because they don’t fancy you but maybe because they feel they shouldn’t. I always saw my disability as a great filter to get rid of those people I wouldn’t have wanted to go with in the first place. Of course it also attracts some weirdos too so you can’t win eh?
    Anyway, I will make sure I read your stuff on a regular basis LP.Nice one
    Mik

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