May 19

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The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability

One of the corners of the media empire run by the Green Brothers on the internet is Sexplantions on YouTube, where they try to get their (mainly teen and twenties) audience past the woeful state of sex education in the United States. I was watching it the other day, and there was a video on sex and disability. I have a disability myself and work in the branch that focuses on accessibility and remedial resources, so I wanted to see what she had to say.

It’s a great video, but..and this is a big one…the story Dr Doe gives at the beginning is deliberately confronting. I didn’t even notice, because I’m inside the disability community and have been hearing similar sorts of things for decades. I even recommended the video to the person who runs the Special Needs Pinterest board, before I heard feedback from outsiders going “No, this is just sick and freaky”.  Consider this as a broad trigger and NSFW warning.  I’d also like to flag that in the notes for the video that Dr Doe gives links to Youtubers with disabilities who frankly discuss their issues in this area.

In the video she recommends a book, and that brings us here, to Bookcoasters, where I’m writing a review.  It’s, in short, great: authoritative and comprehensive. “The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: for all of us who live with disabilities, chronic pain & illness” is older, and so there are some little bits of technology that have superseded it, but it’s relatively prescient about the use of the internet to couple up. Its terminology has aged a little.

That being said, the early parts of the book are excellent. It starts with myths about sex and disability, which must be comforting for people who either acquire disability, or who discover their child will grow with a disability. (I’m flagging this for some of you now, because one in seven of you are going to join the team eventually, and that doesn’t include age-related conditions). It then has a chapter on self-image and self-esteem, and the section in it on coming out as disabled is perhaps the best I’ve ever seen on the topic, even though it is short. This is followed by a chapter on communication skills, and then things get biomechanical, on a condition by condition basis. It ends with chapters on contraception and then sexual violence.  Sexual violence is a huge thing in the disability communities, so I can see why it’s given such prominence.

The Library Service only has one copy  so you may need to wait for it a bit. There are other books filed in the same subject but they are parenting guides for non-disabled adults who have kids with various conditions.