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Gordon's D-Zone Arcive (2006-2014)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

THE DISABLED SELF

As I progress with my writing on my MA, it seems that certain questions keep surfacing over and over again. My research topic has changed from my interest in the inclusive educational experience to a more radical (and controversial) – relationships and sexuality.

I must say that this area may be considered a more personal and private affair than others (pardon the pun). However, I am all too familiar with the many times that I felt excluded from the discourse of relationships and I found there are many reasons for that.

At the core of it all, however, remains the reluctance to admit that disabled people are sexual or even that they should be sexual. I have noted resources that chronicle the forced sterilization of disabled people, especially people with an intellectual impairment, who were considered a threat to public health and even social order.

We may not go that far in realizing that this trend of asexualisation of our experience is still with us today. I was very disappointed in the fact that the Ashley treatment was not met with outright condemnation and outrage. I have tried to answer why.

I think the fact that disabled people’s humanity is sometimes doubted or downright put into question plays a crucial role here. But apart from that, as who we are as disabled people is often shaped by our society – and even when we face the fact that much of what they say about us is based on myth and fantasy – it’s difficult to get out and admit that we have a rightful place here.

That right even extends to the matters of sexuality because it’s there where our humanity is perhaps more put into question. Questions such as:

Can we ever be responsible parents?

How are we going to cope in a relationship?

Disabled people should not bring more of their kind into the world.

\Are all examples of things people think and sometimes talk about in secret perhaps or openly in extreme right wing factions. And yet, our humanity includes within it a right to be identified as male or female, and by extension our reclamation of our sexual identity should be recognized as part of our struggle, together with our barriers to other areas of life.

Impairment is not saying that we are not sexual in any way. It’s not saying that we are, for all intents and purposes, eternal children. It is not saying that we do not need friends, companionships and why not, sex…

Impairment is saying that we are different, that we may do things in an original way, and that our normality is err ‘rare’. I have been single for as long as I remember. And it gets lonely sometimes. But I’d rather find someone who values me as a man rather than people who have treated me like a child or like I was some sort of guy with ‘special needs’. I am not that guy.

“I am who I am!” were the words God instructed Moses to tell the Israelites. As people are still being killed in the Holy Land, I can say that those words are still misunderstood and used for war or oppression. I am who I am. And my impairments have made me who I am today as well. Denying them would be denying all the experiences and values I have acquired through them.

However, forces that rob me of my individuality, my character and my sexuality have often disabled my identity. This is the time to ask myself who I am to what and myself I can do to be that man…

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