Sex

There can be few practices in everyday life that arouse such strong responses—both positive and negative—as sex. For all its joyous and pleasurable connotations, sex always has the capacity to make people feel uncomfortable, even ashamed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the conjunction of disability and sexuality. Even in the twenty-first century, there is still a widespread public perception that people with disabilities are either asexual or, the complete opposite, sexually out of control and requiring management. Either pole leads to damaging consequences not just for disabled people themselves but, arguably, for “normal” nondisabled society at large, which remains unable to acknowledge diversity fully and locked into rigid and conventional models of what sex consists.

What, then, is meant by that seemingly simple term “sex”? For many, sex begins and ends with one’s own relationship to sexual practice, itself a fraught area of inquiry. In its most basic …

This essay may be found on page 164 of the printed volume.

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