Yes I take sugar, but is that all?

The impetus for this blog came from a sense of ambivalence.  One morning, after a long time away from the issue of disability, (I had not written on the subject for at least two years, although most of my previous published work was on disability and the phenomenology of pain) I decided to begin writing again on disability again.  But I did not know what to write on yet.  It’s the 21st Century so I did what most human beings do, I Googled ‘Disability’, I got back the following: ‘Brothels for disabled people’.[1] My reaction was physical and one of revulsion. When and begin to think about why I felt such revulsion, my initial thoughts was that there was something a little condescending about the entire enterprise, with phrases like ‘’You cannot stop a disabled person from having a normal life or having the same opportunities of an able-bodied person – it’s discrimination.’[2], or the title of the article ‘Disabled people have sexual needs too’ there was something of ‘Does he take sugar?’ about the tone of the interview.  I should like to make it clear that I no longer think the interview actually was condescending towards disabled people, and whilst I believe that I myself would never use the services of Para-doxies, I generally consider myself a supporter of the project.[3]

The memory of my initial reaction, scared me though and still does, and it raised two questions:  Firstly, as someone with cerebral palsy, had I become so defensive about ‘help from non-disabled allies’ (to the best of my knowledge Becky Adams is non-disabled) that I simply didn’t trust her intervention?  The second question was even more worrying, had a ‘nothing about without us’ attitude, (which I generally see as a positive move within Disability Studies) become so entrenched, this it was now impossible to have a single thought about disability which was not simply about fighting oppression from the ‘non-disabled world’?  It is the second question that this blog shall be dedicated to answering.  How can we talk about disability in positive terms, tell stories about our lives without those lives being reduced in those stories to a fight against oppression and nothing more.

[1] Many articles appeared at this time, as Becky Adams a former ‘Madam’ was doing interviews about setting up a ‘brothel for disabled people’, a not for profit organization called ‘Para-doxies’,  the purpose of which was to enable disabled people to have sex.  A good example of this is Sarah Ismail in The Independent   ‘Brothels for disabled people: Guess what? We like sex too’

[2]‘Disabled people have sexual needs too’: UK madam to open first brothel for those with mental and physical disabilities, including boys with autism and injured soldiers

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[3] How the author came to alter his mind and for his comprehensive view on Para-doxies is a subject for another article, one the author may indeed write.  His Twitter stream @Peckitt reveals some illumination on the subject.