CN: brief discussion of sexuality, sexism influenced medical neglect, reproductive disorders, and disability.
Story time: Before that podcast was recorded, Vi La Bianca, a previous guest blogger for Yopp, invited me to come onto her youtube show Secular Sexuality to discuss sex and disability. To be honest, I felt nervous about interviewing about a topic I don’t particularly specialize in– while I talk about disability all the time, sex isn’t a common topic for me, and I’ve only had one partner since becoming disabled, meaning I don’t have a lot of– er… hands-on experience with the topic.
So, to quell my nerves, I got on facebook and asked my disabled friends to talk about what they wish abled people understood about disability. I got lots of awesome answers and we had a good discussion. About a day later, DJ from Into Your Body contacts me and asks me if I’d like to go on his podcast to talk about sex and disability! Suddenly, I’m scheduled for TWO interviews on the same topic!
Today, I had the second of the two interviews which was also my first time ever being on a youtube show and my first time doing a video interview. I enjoyed it so much! It was so refreshing to be able to openly offer information about disability activism and receive genuine interest and willingness to listen and learn (because even some of the most progressive activists know nothing about disability activism) and to have a really great discussion about some topics that are really important to me.
Teaching people about disability and about social justice in general are really some of my favorite things to do and I’m so lucky I get to do them for my work.
In the show, I talk about terminology and some basic misconceptions about disabled people and chronically ill people, about the intersection of disability and having a biologically female body, about disclosure of your disability before dating, about disability representation in media, about practicing self-compassion in embracing your sexuality as a disabled/chronically ill person, and about how to communicate with your partner how your disability is going to come into play during sex.
We had two live calls during the show, one of them brought up the topic of reproductive disabilities, such as endometriosis, a condition that primarily affects people with biologically female reproductive systems, and how the impact on your ability to have sex and have children and society’s reaction to that is a big part of what makes those issues so challenging. This was my response to her call:
“It seems like this is a really perfect example of the intersection between disability and being a woman or being female presenting, that as you were talking about, illnesses that are associated with biological females, they’re not as well researched and of course they’re not taken seriously by doctors and in emergency rooms and so forth.
And as a disabled person, with any kind of disability, you’re going to be coming up against the difference in what your body can do and what society expects you to do. So you already have that just on a purely physical level, of how do you work if you’re not able to function two weeks out of the month? How do you get accommodations for that? But then adding being a woman on there too, then you’re also dealing with the attitudes of, you’re also not catering to the expectation of having children; you’re also not catering to the expectation of being easily available for sex; and penetrative sex being the only kind of sex that exists, and all that kind of thing.
You just have so many more avenues where you are not meeting the societal expectations and having to just go in the face of that and try to get your needs met anyways.”
I hope you’ll give the show below a watch!
About the writer: Kella Hanna-Wayne is the creator, editor, and main writer for Yopp. In addition to creating a collection of educational resources for social justice, she works as a freelance writer specializing in content about her experience with disability, chronic illness, mental health, and trauma. Her work has been published in Ms. Magazine blog, The BeZine, Betty’s Battleground, and Splain You a Thing. You can find her @KellaHannaWayne on Facebook, Twitter, Medium, and Instagram.