As you may remember, I was working (and still am) on an anthology about sexuality and disability, tentatively titled Sexual Ability. I posted a Call for Submissions, I had people repost it, but got very few essays.
For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why. Similar anthology calls were getting dozens if not more pieces submitted. I’d made sure to mirror mine in a very professional, academic way, covering many of the topics, and all of the requirements.
And a few months back, a message I got on FetLife answered my question. And I feel so stupid for having not realized this.
Because of the subject matter, I was screwing myself over. I wanted people who had disabilites to write about their struggles with them, and how it was sometimes difficult fitting sexuality into their lives…in an academic way, with lots of thoughts and edits and _____.
There are many problems with this. First of all, it was a classist call. Why? Because not everyone has the background and/or ability to write an academically styled essay. If you didn’t have the opportunity to go to college (none the less grad school), how would you even know where to get started?
And secondly, I’m asking people for who (in some case) they may get completely drained just getting to the kitchen to put forth a huge amount of thought and effort. How unfair is that?
So I re-examined, re-looked at my concept, and have decided to do a survey of people with disabilities and their partners, where they can just fill in a sheet of questions when they feel up to it, as much or as little in the way of answers as they’d like. And then I will put this information I gather in this informal qualitative survey and put it together into a book celebrating sexuality and dis/ability. Thank you to Tristan Taormino for her suggestions on survey length, approaching people, etc.
So without any more rigamorale, here is the Sexually Able Call for Participants. Please feel free to re-post anywhere and everywhere. I’d love to get not only a large number of responses, but also a very diverse one.
Call for Participants: Sexually Able
Sexually Able aims to bring light upon sexuality and dis/ability, and create a path for peoples’ voices to be heard.
What is it? It’s a large scale survey of self identified people with disabilities and their partners. Eventually, it’ll be turned into a book for people to read, enjoy and see the rich and diverse sexuality that is within the disability community.
Why is this needed? As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there is still a large gap in people’s minds when they think about sexuality as it relates to people with disabilities, whether cognitively or physically. While some studies have been performed regarding the potential for differently-able people to lead satisfying sexual lives, in which satisfying seems to center around the ability to orgasm, very little has been written about the experiences involving the sexualities and experiences of people who identify as people with disabilities/ handicapped/disabled/differently-able, as well as their partners.
People of all ability levels are sexual beings. Sex is hard enough to navigate and negotiate when one fits in with society’s notions of what a sexual being is, but once you add in the concept of ability, it can become quite challenge. This book, through these surveys, seeks to bring forward the stories, challenges and experiences of people of various ability levels and their partners, putting a face on the trials that so many valuable members of our society must face and the positive experiences as well. By sharing the experiences of the dis/ability community in relation to sexuality, Sexually Able hopes to challenge people’s viewpoints, foster discussion and conversation, and open doors towards a shift in the social constructions surrounding sexuality and disability.
What does it involve?
Just fill out one of the surveys (for people with disabilities or for partners of PWD), send it in, and have your voice and experiences heard. You’re welcome to take your time, and fill in as much or as little information as you’d like. If you need assistance in completing your survey, please let us know. Please feel free to pass this site/these surveys on to your friends, lovers, support groups, therapists, doctors, caregivers, and anyone else that may identify as having a disability or as a partner of someone with a disability.
Who is behind Sexually Able?
Shanna Katz M.Ed is a full spectrum sexuality educator with a Master’s of Human Sexuality Education from Widener University. She is currently based in Phoenix, AZ, is the resident sexuality educator for Fascinations, and a member of AASECT (the American Association of Sexuality Educator, Counselors and Therapists). As a sexuality educator, she travels the country teaching workshops at colleges, sex toy stores, dungeons, sexuality conferences and more.
Shanna has a special interest in working in sexuality and dis/ability, and runs workshops and discussions about the intersection of these identities, how to build sex positivity in communities of PWD, negotiating disability in a BDSM context and more. She’s also working on an anthology regarding sexuality and dis/ability, entitled Sexual Ability. Please see the call for submissions to submit an essay.
Note on definitions of disability (or the lack of): This survey is for those who identify as someone with a disability, someone who is disable, someone who is differently able, any other such identity and the partners of the former. There is no hierarchy of disability, nor is there any exact definition. If you identify as one of the aforementioned, please feel free to take the survey.