The phone rang and it was Emily. After all the usual formalities she said: “I want to talk to you, sister to sister. I want to talk to you about sex.”
I sat forward on the couch and rubbed sleep from the corner of my eye. “Yes? Ok. Great. What do you want to talk about… about sex…?”
I won’t go into the rest of our conversation, as it was private – sister to sister. But it has got me thinking. About sex. And about disability. The majority of the time that you hear about disability and sex or sexual behaviour, it is about inappropriate behaviour, it’s about abuse. It’s about prevention – prevention from having children, from making mistakes, from doing anything deemed outrageous. Meanwhile, we all go back to our beds – or other destination – and have a whale of a time.
So. Where is this going? I want to know who is standing up for my sister. Who is out there, educating her about how to give and gain pleasure with her partner in a way that is respectful, loving, intimate and kind? Who believes that she has as much right to a loving and pleasurable sexual relationship as the next person? Apart from me, of course. Because I hazard a guess that in some families, she might not have someone like me that she can easily turn to for responsible and open-minded advice. Just a guess.
The number of times that someone has responded with an awkward slash strangely curious: “So… do they have… SEX?” when I tell them that I have a sister with Down syndrome who is MARRIED (gasp!) is unbelievable.
I have to bite my tongue, hard, to prevent it from spitting back: “I don’t know, DO YOU? Tell me all about it!”
What about you? How do you support your family member/friend/other with an intellectual disability to develop healthy sexual relationships?
I’d love to hear your stories.