Cartoons On Disabilities + Sex Bring Attention To Critical Issue
When you think of the word sex, what are other word associations do you have with it? Maybe “orgasms, ‘vibrators,’ or even ‘Tinder.’ I bet you don’t think of words like ‘questions,’ or ‘amputee.’ However, UK disability advocacy group, Scope, is looking to bring all of those words together in their new campaign, the ‘A to Z of sex and disability,’ as a part of End the Awkward, a series dedicated to changing common mindsets about people with disabilities. The brightly colored images, by artist Paté, combine images of people with various disabilities along with sex toys, romance, and all kinds of sexy fun in order to smash the myth that people with disabilities are somehow devoid of sexuality. But why is it like that?
With a history of hiding–or even killing–people with disabilities, it’s no wonder that the disability community is essentially invisible today. While visibility has risen lately, it seems that pop culture has painted a picture of the helplessly disabled character that can’t do anything for themselves (see: Dory or Nemo in Finding Nemo, or even the classic example of Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol). Certain portrayals have become more diverse (see: Toph from Avatar: the Last Airbender or the lead character in Daredevil), though the attitude toward disabled people has remained very much the same.
In a study done by Scope in 2014, the organization found that “two thirds (67%) of the British public feel uncomfortable talking to disabled people,” and that “one fifth (21%) of 18 – 34 years old admit that they have actually avoided talking to a disabled person…” In another study done by The Observer, 44% of people said they have never had sex with a disabled person, and never would. The discomfort surrounding “communicating with a disabled person,” has lead to the sentiment of “see no evil, speak no evil” when it comes to disabled people.
Ignoring the disability community (and the sexuality within it), has not only led to a lack of visibility, but real harm to members of the community. Sexual assault and abuse has affected the lives of far too many disabled people. One study reports that “80% of women and 30% of men with intellectual disabilities have been sexually assaulted. 50% of those women have been assaulted more than ten times.” However, it is also noted that only 3% of sexual abuse cases against people with disabilities actually get reported. It seems that, without the agency that comes with visibility, the sexuality of those with disabilities is reduced to abuse.
Check out the rest of Scope’s campaign here.
All imagery via Scope.