Disability and Sex…. it’s not just possible, it can be amazingly amazing!!!!

Anyone who has been reading my blogs recently, as well as watching This Morning, listening to the radio or reading various newspapers who have interviewed me will know that I have strong feelings about the subject of disability and sex. But this isn’t a new thing, I began my media career working as a sex-pert on two Channel 4 Yoof shows, and have been working to champion the right for disabled people to have a sex life ever since. However, I want disabled people to treated just like the rest of society so I am dead against this current push to create special crip friendly brothels and for disabled people to get free visits to sex workers on the state. But I don’t want to only be negative on this subject and so I have written a column in this issue of Disability Now giving my tips on chatting people up, under the title of “Mik’s Rough Guide To Pulling”. It’s a humorous piece, written with my tongue firmly stuck in my check, but all the tips have worked for me. In fact I would go so far as to say that these tips have allowed me to be the sexually confident person I am today.

On top of these tips, I feel this is the time to put online an article I had published in a woman’s magazine called Scarlet (yes I got the job by ringing them up and saying “I must write for you… Scarlet in Scarlet” and they went for it). The piece outlines some of the techniques that I have used during sexual confidence workshops with people with spinal injury, but in the article I have applied the tips to the wider community. Yes I am so arrogant that I decided to give sex advice to everyone, disabled or not. But shock horror, it was really well received and was syndicated worldwide. You see I have always believed that the wider society could learn a thing or two about improving their sex life from disabled people like me, and the reaction to this article proved me right. But more importantly, it is essential for disabled people to know that not only is sex possible for them, no matter what their impairment, but it can be so good that it is better than the sex that the majority of non-disabled people have.

So whoever you are, and whether you are disabled or not take a look and see what you think. It’s very honest and open, but I have always felt that this is a topic that is so important that if I want to ensure a change in the way the world thinks about sexuality and sex and disability then I can’t only tell half the truth.

Right here goes….

WHEELIE SEXY

SEXY TIPS… FROM A SEXY CRIP!?! by Mik Scarlet

Let’s face it we don’t live in a society that thinks of disability as “sexy”. Most able-bodied people think that coming to a disability as an end to sexiness, and in a way it is. When I found myself facing a life in a wheelchair after my spine collapsed when I was 16, I could not see how I was going to form sexual relationships. Due to nerve damage I was not only left with legs that didn’t work any more, but I also had to face my future with sexy bits that while they still had full feeling (which was lucky I admit) had no motor function. Put simply I was left looking forward to a future where Mr. Wobbly stayed wobbly all the time.

I considered trying to forge relationships with men, but found being very heterosexual got in the way of that. (I still have no idea how you girls put up with stubble on a bloke’s face, and I won’t even mention the taste of a cock….urk!) So with a heavy heart I got used to the idea that I was to face a future alone.

You see I had brought into the myth that sex is all about erections and penetration. Luckily for me, this was back in the early 80’s. Thanks to the whole New Romantic fashion (of which I was a HUGE fan) it was a time when young people questioned all of the sexual stereotypes. Most of my friends turned out to be Gay or Lesbian and through their friendships I learned the truth about sex.

The main reason for sex now we have evolved beyond shagging to reproduce is pleasure. Whether it’s in a loving relationship or between ships that pass in the night, great sex should leave you sweaty, knackered, fulfilled and very happy. All of my Lesbian friends made me an Honorary Lesbian once they learned I could have no part in the penetrative act (it was a different time folks – Lesbianism was very political life choice, and all penetration was considered rape). With their help I began to see myself as a sexual being, and even ended going out with one of them for two years.

I also read every sex manual I could lay my hands on. In fact I read all manner of books that I thought might be useful if I was going to be able to please any future partners. I even went as far as to read a S.S. torture manual for the WW2 just in case I ever ended up naked with a masochist. (On retrospect it hasn’t ever helped my sex life but it did completely freak me out at the time).

Well now you know why I think I am in a position to give you, lovely reader advice on sex. I promise you if you try out some of these tips, you will end up having a great time…

*Tip 1 – Open you mind (part1)

The major sex organ that we posses is our minds. Fantasy and imagination can make sex so much more rewarding. So forget any hang-ups you might have, ignore any baggage you might have from up bringing (either from religion, parents or bad experience) and most off all never feel guilty.

*Tip 2 – You’re only making it harder on yourself!

Penetration can be a prison for sexuality. Yes it can be fantastic, but getting too hung up on the “old in-out” can lead to a very unfulfilling sex life. While some women can only reach orgasm through being filled up, most find themselves getting there thanks to the most perfect organ, the Clitoris. But every girl’s “Love Button” is different. Some like gentle stimulation, some enjoy a more aggressive direct approach and others change their tastes like the wind changes direction. There is no right way to give the Clit the attention it needs and deserves, so experimentation is the only way forward.

When “giving” to your partner use your imagination and try everything. Watch the response. If it seems favourable, change what you are doing slightly and see how the response changes. More favourable – carry on, less favourable – try some thing else or go back to what you were doing before.

When “receiving” please, please, please talk to your partner. Tell them what you like, and if you don’t know let them experiment and say “Oh Yes!” when they are getting it right and “Oh No!” when they aren’t (but be gentle with them – nothing ruins your confidence like a partner knocking your technique – you always get more bees with honey than with vinegar). Try making it part of your role playing – being “The Boss” or playing “The Virgin”. If it works don’t knock it!

*Tip 3 – Open your mind (part2)

Role-playing and fantasy brings me to my best tip. I call it “Hands Free Masturbation”. In short this is a tip that once you’ve worked out how to do it will make sex a whole new ball game (if you’ll excuse the pun).

To learn H.F.M. you need to make yourself a gap in your day, preferably just before going to sleep. Lay yourself down, and basically think the sexiest, dirtiest thoughts you can imagine. It doesn’t matter what you think of, as long as it hits your spot. Remember to forget guilt, and just go wild. Now hopefully this will get you turned on nicely. When you feel your body starting to respond to what’s happening in your head,

DON’T TOUCH YOURSELF!

Instead make your fantasies go even wilder. Really let yourself go. At the same time start focusing on the “nice” feelings that will hopefully be getting more and more intense as you fantasise. For the first few times you might need to touch yourself, but only give in if you really have to. If you keep resisting the urge, you will find yourself orgasming just through the power of your imagination.

This fantastic skill can help in many ways. It can be used to ensure you cum together, to make any sex that extra bit special and lets you wank any time, anywhere.

*Tip 4 – The Real Head Fuck

The best part of learning H.F.M. is that you can then use the technique to make other parts of your body as responsive as your genitals. It is something I teach to disabled people who have lost sensation in their sexy bits. It means they can start to really enjoy sex on an equal footing with their partners. What it means to you able-bodied shaggers is the ability to make any part of your body a “Love Button”.

All you have to do is when you are trying a bit of H.F.M. move your focus from your groin (where the “nice” feelings tend to start) to another part of your body. I would advise you to start with your nipples. They are already an erogenous zone, and so it easier to focus the sexy feeling to them. But any part of your body that you enjoy having touched will do. Try to push yourself over the edge without focusing on your groin. If you need to touch the part of your body you are focusing on, just to make the sensation more intense.

Now you can go wild and cover your body in “Love Buttons”. I even know of a guy who was a tetraplegic (broke his neck – think of Christopher Reeve) who turned the end of his nose into his sex organs. Just imagine how much it made having a cold.

*Tip 5 – Never say Never

All of my other tips involve some effort on your part. I have used them all to great effect, and I have taught them to others to equal effect. However the best thing that I have learned on my way to becoming the sexually confident Crip I am today is “Never be afraid to try something”. In fact it’s more than that. In the words of Diane, my fiancé and the love of my life, “If you try something and you don’t like it, try it again just to make sure!”

So, there you go kind reader. Give my tips a go, and see what happens. I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Oh and one more thing before I go. If you ever want to try a bit of bondage, try using a wheelchair. They are covered in fixing points, and it means you can wheel your “captive” all over the house. Not that I’d know of course… Tee hee!!!!!

©Mik Scarlet 2005

Well I think that is enough on sex for now. I hope that my arguments around this attitude that disabled people can only experience sex if they pay for it, and my advice, both in my DN article and the tips above, go some way to changingthe way you, dear reader, think about sex. If nothing else, I hope you give some of my tips a try. Might make for a fun night.

If any groups or disabled people’s organisations reading this would like to me to run a workshop around sexual confidence and disability, please contact me using the e-mail address on my website – www.mikscarlet.co.uk

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Sex: Are We Really So Different?

I read the article “Sex: some facts of life” by Kirsty Liddiard in the April issue of Disability Now with great interest. I once trained to go into social work, with the aim of working with newly disabled people. I also recently decided to change my studies from a Psychology degree (to one in English and Creative Writing) after finding that the medical model is still being taught as the only way of describing disabled people’s identity. It was really encouraging to see someone examining the issue of disability and sexuality from an academic approach. With Kirsty being a trained sociologist and disabled herself, I hoped that the article would finally confront the issues disabled people face around sexuality and relationships in a rounded manner. However the piece actually seemed to blame any problems disabled people might have on disability itself and how society sees the disabled, without any broader conversation.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have an experience all of the issues covered in the article, from abusive relationships through poor body image to a lack of confidence over a change in the way my body functions sexually, and fully appreciate how each one can deeply effect someone’s identity and ability to form successful relationships. My own journey to the place I am at now, in a very successful and happy relationship with someone who loves me the way I love them, was a long and painful one. I also appreciate that the way I feel about my disability has had a serious impact on that journey, and is still key to my psyche and effects how I really feel about my own attractiveness. But I do not agree that these issues are something that disabled people face alone.
 
A key factor to being able to begin the task of looking for love is self confidence, and this is an area that effects everyone in our society. We only need to consider the huge growth in the number of people undergoing cosmetic surgery to understand that issues of confidence have an impact on members of society that we disabled people might see as examples of “physical perfection”, and that this is not what they see when they look in the mirror. Most sociologists and psychologists agree that low confidence around body image is a growing problem throughout our society, effecting both sexes. However much we might see our issues with body image as being more valid or obvious, the truth is the emotional and psychological impact of low self confidence is the same for anyone who suffers from it.
This lack of confidence can lead on to forming unhealthy relationships, which the article also covered. But yet again the stories of every one of the people interviewed could just as easily be those of non disabled people. I spent many years of my 20’s in a relationship with someone who abused me, both verbally and physically, and they went on to repeat this behaviour with their next partner, who has not disabled. I used to feel that it was my disability that caused this person to act the way they did, and this led me to stay in an unhappy relationship so long, but I now understand that is incorrect. While my lack of confidence was tied to my disability, it was the confidence issue itself that made me stay. The same goes for anyone stuck in an abusive relationship.
A deeper factor in disabled people’s lack of confidence can be due to a difference in the way our sexuality functions or our inability to have sex in a “normal” manner. While I was disabled from birth, my sexual function changed when my spine collapsed at the age of 15. This led me to spend most of my adult life wrecked with self doubt about my ability to satisfy my partners sexually and to what would happen if anyone found out about what did and didn’t work in the trouser department. So I spent years lying to everyone I knew and praying any ex’s would keep my secret. When I met my wife, being with her gave me the confidence to “come out” about the way my body worked. When I did so in the most public manner possible (i.e. on TV) I found that nearly everyone of my male friends sidled up to me at some point and admitted that they to suffered from serious sexual dysfunction issues. The fact that Viagra is now taken as a recreational drug demonstrates how big this problem is for all of male society. I do not feel informed enough to discuss the issues faced by those people who might need assistance when having sex, but can see how that might effect not only how you feel about yourself but how you approach sex entirely. I do know that it is normally these people who are expected to use prostitutes if they ever want to have sex.
Thankfully the article did finally dispel the idea that sex with a prostitute is a solution for disabled people, especially men, who are seeking sexual experience. There are many people who campaign for legalising prostitution who use disabled people as an excuse for their argument, yet it should be obvious that it will be an empty experience whether you are disabled or not. For anyone lacking self confidence, visiting a prostitute can only reinforce these issues. No one will feel better about themselves if they feel the only way they can experience love or sex is to pay for it. But there is more than one way of paying for it. I once was in a relationship with someone who expected me to pay their rent, buy their clothes and cover all costs when we went out and seemed to think that was fine as they gave me sex. It made me feel cheap and made me mistrust prospective partners too. If I hadn’t met my wife I don’t know what kind of barsteward I might have become. I also know from those non disabled friends who have visited a lady of the night that they have exactly the same experience of emptiness afterwards.
We now come to the issue of fetishism. I spent most of the 90’s partying on the fetish scene and will admit I found the acceptance and tolerance I was met with really liberating. I even spent a short time going out with someone who admitted they “dug the wheelchair”, if you get what I mean. I left the whole world because as it became more accepted by the wider society, the ignorance of the wider society bled into the attitude this underground scene. Once people understood that a disabled person wouldn’t be in a fetish club if they couldn’t have sex, what ever type of sex that might be, but I eventually found myself explaining on a nightly basis that my wife and I could have sexual relationship (on a nightly basis if we wanted).
Just because I spent time in the world of fetishists, that doesn’t mean I have no understanding of why so many disabled people find the whole thing offensive. No one likes the stereotype that the only people who might want to have sex with them could be called perverts. Back when I was part of the London fetish scene I filmed an item for Channel 4’s “Freak Show” series that I hoped would explore the subject of disability and fetishism in a serious yet light hearted way. Instead it was edited to imply that my wife was only with me because I was disabled, so I know how hurtful this idea can be. It especially upset my wife, as she had actually said that she loved all of me and my disability was part of what made me, me. Never trust a TV producer and their editor. The crazy thing is I admit that I chatted up my now wife partly as I saw she had a scar all down her right arm. I think scars are really beautiful and the way she paraded it so openly said something great about what kind of person she was. But does that make me a devotee of her and her scar, or is it just another facet of how perfect she really is?
All of this is OK and it is only my own opinion, but does it help us find a solution to love, sex and relationships? Well I hope it does. If we as disabled people realise that all of the issues we face around the subject are the same as those faced by everyone, whatever the cause, then we should hopefully feel able to enter the world of love on a more level playing field. Yes we do have our own issues to face, but the way they effect us emotionally is not so different to the way the rest of society’s issues effect them. All I know for sure is many of my non disabled friends are desperately looking for the same thing we are all chasing, a happy and loving relationship and they wouldn’t care if that was with someone who disabled or not. At the root of this whole subject is the fact that self doubt is part of the human condition and how we cope with it makes us who we are. So let’s stop seeing disability as a barrier to love, and instead embrace it as part of what will make us a real catch.
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube

Mother’s Day Thanks

I just wanted to go on record as saying thank you to my fantastic Mother, Joyce. She has always been a wonderful mum, loving, caring and supportive. She has always been there for my brother Steve and me, and I am sure that growing up with the knowledge that we are loved unconditionally helped us become the people we are today. This is a photo of all three of us on holiday in Somerset, back in 1980. This is actually the last photograph of me (I’m the one in the middle) walking. The following year, my spine collapsed and I ended up using a wheelchair.

It’s funny, but as you get older you gain an understanding of your parents that was beyond you when you were young. Recently I suddenly grasped how much strain it must have been for my Mother, having me as a son. Not only did she have to cope with her first child being born with cancer, but she was also told that she should not expect him to live beyond the gage of five. I obviously blew that prognosis out of the water, but it did mean that she brought up a child that might die at any point. Not only that but I did seem to keep being quite ill at key stages. Being clear of cancer for 15 years means you are totally cured, so when I was rushed off to hospital a few months after my 15th birthday it must have seemed like a cruel cosmic joke. Luckily it wasn’t cancer, but it did mark a huge change in who I was and how I lived. Time and time again, life does seem to have thrown a spanner into the works whenever it seemed that my Mum could stop worrying about me.

So, even though my Mum won’t see this (She is totally technophobic and has no computer) I felt I should tell the world that I am eternally thankful to my Mum. Through out my life I have had many people tell me that “It’s all right for you” when talking about that apparent way I cope with my disability. I am always mystified by this, and even get quite cross as I do not see that I have some secret trick that makes a disabled person who actually loves what disability brings to my life. However maybe I do. Maybe being raised by someone who made me feel special for being me gave me the ability to feel good about myself all the time? That’s my secret, the strength and confidence that my Mum gave me.

Thank you Mum.

Here’s a poem I wrote for her. It’s called “For Mum”, and the photo is of her holding me while I was in hospital as a baby.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail rssyoutube