“We Consider This To Be A Manifestation Of Pity”: People With Disabilities About Their Sex

A life 2023

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“We Consider This To Be A Manifestation Of Pity”: People With Disabilities About Their Sex
“We Consider This To Be A Manifestation Of Pity”: People With Disabilities About Their Sex
Video: “We Consider This To Be A Manifestation Of Pity”: People With Disabilities About Their Sex
Video: Five awkward things disabled people are tired of hearing about their sex lives - End the Awkward 2023, February

About sexuality of people with disabilities in Russia they practically do not speak, and if the topic is raised, it is in the context of a “basic need,” moreover, for men, but not women. The audience in the hall laughs during Nyuta Federmesser's scandalous story about providing sex services to a dying patient, while psychologist and ABA therapist Daria Brazhenkova says that it is the parents of boys with disabilities who are interested in where to get sex for their son. Brazhenkova notes that parents of girls with disabilities do not ask such a question - they ask at what age a daughter can be sterilized. Women with disabilities are often denied the right to reproductive health, and their sexuality is invisible and taboo.

The concept of "disability" includes a huge range of characteristics, both physical and mental. The question of sexual consent in the context of disability is especially acute, and there is still no sufficient apparatus for an unambiguous answer to all the contradictions. Nevertheless, the discussion about disability and sex is more often conducted by people without disabilities, so we asked those whose opinions are ultimately decisive to speak. The material presents the opinions of people with experience of female socialization and disability of the musculoskeletal system, as well as vision disabilities.

The material retains the terminological preferences of the respondents

Interview: Sasha Kazantseva, presenter of the telegram channel "I washed my hands"


Alena Levina

artist, co-organizer of the project “Women. Disability. Feminism"

I have progressive muscular dystrophy, and now I use an electric wheelchair in a wheelchair around the city and around my apartment. Nevertheless, I can stand - and if I lean on something, I will even walk about five meters. In everyday life, I manage on my own; I do not need help for sanitary procedures and food intake. I hope this will continue to be so.

Recently I had sex on the list, and before that, my friends dragged a twenty-five-kilogram stroller on them into an entrance with an inaccessible environment. If I had been painted such a picture ten years ago, when the disease had not yet developed so strongly, I would never have believed it. Once I did not have sex for three years, but it was then that I masturbated as if not in myself and realized how my body works and from what I experience an orgasm.

Until I started using the electric wheelchair for movement, I could not live normally, love myself and accept my body: it was very difficult for me to move, it was painful. Now, with the stroller, I relaxed and I like myself. Sometimes I have bouts of internal ailism, but this is either at the time of an exacerbation of the pain syndrome, or when discrimination on the part of society ends. And so I can say that flirting while sitting in a wheelchair is a million times more convenient.

What is important to me about sex? For sex to be consensual. Sex without active consent is violence. So talking about the use of prostituted women by disabled men for sexual gratification is, in my opinion, talking about rape.

Good sex is about more than hookup with a cute little body. I think good sex is based on mutual sympathy and, above all, attraction to the person. Please remember that there is a person behind any wheelchair, white cane, urinary catheter, paralyzed body.

In Russia, the climatic conditions are such that women with severe disabilities spend seven out of twelve months within four walls, and those who do not have a barrier-free environment spend their entire lives. Naturally, in such inhuman conditions, there is no talk of sex for many. It turns out that if we do not want to realize ourselves as wives and mothers, the patriarchal paradigm completely eliminates women with disabilities from life.I need sex for pleasure, not for procreation.

Women with different types of disabilities are people like everyone else. A woman with a disability can have a lot of sex, with different partners and partners. In general, we are free to choose our sexual realization ourselves - and not at all our partners, partners or parents.

When I am asked in interviews and in discussions what is needed to realize the sexual sphere of life of women with disabilities, I answer that we need inclusive sexuality education, which would start from kindergarten. In Russia, it is impossible to implement this until Article 6.21 of the Code of Administrative Offenses of the Russian Federation "on the promotion of non-traditional values" is canceled.

Anya Kisovskaya

activist, co-founder of the femcooperative Yo, sis


My disability since childhood and is practically invisible: all the changes came from within. I have no tailbone, no right cervical artery, but I have an extra hemivertebra in the cervical spine, two uterus and two vaginas. The peculiarities of my disability are that the lower limbs are underdeveloped: the calf muscles are practically absent, I have a 32nd foot size, so I quickly get tired of walking. I can't get much better, otherwise my legs will be completely bad - fortunately, I'm not inclined to be overweight. In addition, I have problems with my bladder, it is small and its muscles are weak, so I use urological pads.

At first, my disability was an obstacle for me in finding sex, so my first sexual experience was also with a person with a disability. It was in those relationships that my preferences were formed: I like it when they interact with my ears (they are more sensitive than the clitoris) and nipples. Now I'm in a monogamous relationship, and my partner and I have found techniques that turn me on. I like it when sex does not focus on penis-vaginal contact, so although my current partner, unlike the first, is not paralyzed, so he has an erection, most of the time we do fingering. Once we talked about this with a friend and came to the conclusion that such a contact for us is more subtle and enriched with a feeling of closeness more than the traditional one.

Our relationship with this partner began with intense sex, sometimes we did it seven times a day, rubbing ourselves on everything. At that time, sex was a way for me to feel something. It was far from the easiest period of my life, so I remember it with difficult feelings: on the one hand, it was a cool experience, on the other, I did not care about myself, but wanted to prove something to myself. For example, that I “can do that too”, that I have the right to have sex. Now we are going through a new stage, which I like more: we have become calmer, we are no longer ashamed to talk to each other, we are not afraid to be imperfect. It is important for me that we have finally learned to be careful, strictly observe the boundaries and do not take offense at the refusal to have sex. We agree on the format and observe the principle of active consent.

But to this we went a long, thorny road, full of stereotypes about masculinity and femininity, about spontaneous sex, about the impossibility of interrupting the process. I am sorry that this bitter experience will stay with me forever. It would be great to avoid such self-experimentation and self-abuse.


My grandmother often told me terrible evaluative things like “Who are you

with such legs will fall in love? ", and this thought poisoned for a long time

my sex life

Bladder problems are another reason why I have been afraid of sex for a long time. After all, everything is close there, you can describe yourself. The funny thing is that nature, having endowed me with a rich set of genitals, endowed me with hyperexcitability, and almost always my orgasm is accompanied by squirt. For a very long time I thought that it was my incontinence and that it was terrible. But information about sex has become more accessible, and now I can talk about my peculiarities calmly, I am not ashamed.

With the advent of feminism in my life, I realized how often I underestimated myself, objectified myself, considered myself a tool for sex.I could not relax, I was nervous because of my appearance, I was afraid not to like my partner. "After all, I also have a disability, which means I have to try twice!" My grandmother often told me terrible evaluative things like “Who will love you with such legs?”, And this thought poisoned my sex life for a long time. They told me and my friends that we are not worthy of sex, that we are already sick, where else should we think about sex? Or, on the contrary, they could use us and say something like “say thank you for being hired like that”.

I often lay in hospitals and saw how girls are humiliated by their own relatives, how rude words and harsh gestures allow themselves. They can hit, citing fatigue, and no one will condemn them or pull them down. Many women I know with disabilities are imprisoned in a patriarchal model: if you want to prove that they are complete, give birth to a child. But I don't want to waste my last health on reproductive labor. Surprisingly, I still come under the pressure of gynecologists, who keep repeating to me about childbirth as a "woman's destiny", even though in my case there is little chance of doing it: a narrow pelvis, a double set of genitals, underdevelopment of the lower extremities, a weak skeleton … Now I understand the absurdity of the situation, but before, I really thought of myself as an undead woman and believed that I had to prove the opposite.

Probably, men with disabilities also face many difficulties and stereotypes. But they should not obscure the whole picture, because according to UN statistics, women with disabilities live much worse, they are more often subjected to violence. When I think about it, it hurts.

When I was writing my story for the zine “Women. Disability. Feminism”, I realized how much more needs to be said about disability and sex. At one time, I myself really lacked information! We need sex education from an early age, so that girls understand that they do not have to “deserve” warmth just because they are not naturally as healthy as other children. That the behavior of adults may be inappropriate, but this is not their fault, the girls. I really want women not to suffer from stereotypes and sexism, so that they can look at themselves from the other side and accept their sex, which can be depreciated or condemned by society.



I am a transgender guy, but due to the nature of my disability, I cannot undergo surgery or use hormone therapy. When I was ten, I was knocked off an ice slide, I survived eighteen days of coma and suffered two craniotomy. I was diagnosed with spastic paraparesis, and two years ago I received a hip replacement. I walk with a cane and slowly, quickly get tired and often suffer from headaches. I have epilepsy and the left side of my face is also paralyzed - this is especially noticeable when I express emotions. I am now thirty-five years old.

My sex life began at twenty-two. I was very tormented by my lack of demand as a sexual partner, and my first experience was extremely painful and with a physically unpleasant person to me. At that time, I was just glad that at least some girl agreed to sleep with me. There was no pleasure, and I was in great pain because of the failed defloration attempt.

About six months after that, I began a relationship with a woman who was twelve years older than me. She is the first person with whom, despite all the rejection and rejection of my own body, I managed to get pleasure thanks to oral sex. Nevertheless, every time after sex, I felt a sharp shame. Unfortunately, that partner was abusive and after two years we broke up. Then there were a lot of chaotic relationships, without emotions and attachments - in my youth I had the strength to go to nightclubs, work hard, be among a large number of people and enter into such contacts.My partners mostly thought only about their pleasure, but because of my gender dysphoria and disability-related complexes, it suited me.


I had to put up with the role of another powerless lover

in the life of this woman - until sex itself became something humiliating for me

For many years it seemed to me that my body did not have erogenous zones and it was as if it was covered with an orange peel. Orgasm came only from direct stimulation of the clitoris. The last relationship lasted six and a half years, and I believe it was just a sex addiction. This time the situation was the opposite: the partner gave pleasure only to me, not even allowing me to touch her. It seemed to me that no one else would look in my direction, so I had to put up with the role of another powerless lover in the life of this woman - until sex itself became something humiliating for me, given out strictly on schedule and in a certain format. In the end, I decided that I'd rather be alone.

In the post-Soviet space, the position of women is oppressive, and women with disabilities are catastrophic and stigmatized. Moreover, the attitude towards men with disabilities is completely different. Last year, when I was in the Center for Social Rehabilitation of the Disabled, I had to face sexual and emotional aggression from disabled men. I didn't want to come out, so I had to avoid compulsive communication as much as possible and stop all inclinations towards me. There I had to end a romantic relationship with a woman with a disability that had started - I was again faced with the fact that, without even hiding it, they tried to use me to satisfy their emotional and sexual needs.

Anastasia Kot



My disability has been with me since childhood and is noticeable only when I start to walk in summer clothes - then it becomes clear that my body is asymmetrical. It is important for me to call myself "disabled" and "autistic", and not "a person with something", since my body and mental features are always with me, I cannot take them off and separate from myself. I am a biromantic asexual.

My sex encyclopedia was Wikipedia - I think so for many. Perhaps some of my sexual practices can be called deviant. Are people still surprised by BDSM and anal sex? Unlike pro-sexual people, I only do this for the mood that happens every six months. I came to asexuality and polyamory myself in school. The first time I kissed was when I was nineteen, and my first sex experience was with a polyamorous couple. Then there were several sexual partners, and at twenty-three I first began a relationship with a girl.

My ex-girlfriend was the first to whom I told that as a child she experienced sexual abuse in the hospital. And it was not some uncle from the bushes - they were my age. When you are faced with medical abuse from childhood, then it is the norm for you, because you live in it. Now I am in charge of a training apartment for girls and women from a psycho-neurological boarding school, and for me the issue of privacy and personal space, which people in institutions are usually deprived of, is especially important.

Growing up, I suffered a lot from the lack of intimacy, and, unfortunately, this was reflected in the only romantic relationship I had. I was ready to work on the relationship, but the girl decided that she did not need it. For me, it is logical that the partner should be the best friend, the closest person who sees you in different states and moods. Maybe I'm just very romantic.


Nadezhda Titarenko

blogger, activist

I have spinal muscular atrophy - this is when all the muscles in the body gradually atrophy, accompanied by severe scoliosis. I move in a wheelchair, many things I cannot do myself. But I have working hands, albeit weak. I can make myself a make-up and shellac, I can eat, draw, print articles.

My first sex happened when I was sixteen years old, and I didn't like it: I did it for my partner, not for myself. Then I tried different types of sex and found that none of them brings me such pleasure as masturbation: only alone with myself did I become safe and pleasant. Anal sex gave me terrible pain and disgust, vaginal sex also hurt. Then I thought that something was wrong with me, and did not understand that it was a partner. My second man turned out to be a lover of hard sex, we tried a lot, in particular BDSM. I endured pain, in return for pleasure, but psychologically it broke me.

When I met my husband, I first learned what it was like to feel satisfied. I realized that I love gentle sex and that a lot of lubrication is almost the most important thing in the process. My husband treats me and my body with respect, love and awe, and in our sex everything is done only by mutual consent. I know that he will help you in everything: straighten your legs, take off your clothes, wash, straighten your hair, and lie more comfortably. In bed with him, all physical limitations dissolve and I feel my full participation in the process.

My disability did not play a role for my partners, I was never deprived of attention. But I myself set boundaries for myself due to disability, created complexes, I thought that I was not worthy of something. Only many years of work on myself, my mother's care and the right partner helped me understand that I can and deserve a lot to be a woman: beloved, sexy, free, beautiful. And not for someone else, but for yourself.

In April, I was invited to speak at an EU conference, where we discussed the differences in sex education in Europe and in Russia, they are colossal. In our country, sex with a disabled person is considered a perversion or a manifestation of pity, and women with disabilities do not seem to need an intimate life at all. But sex exists not only for healthy people, but for everyone. Sex is not only penetration, but everything from whispers to massage, from kissing to sleeping together.

It is important for me to talk openly about sex and disability, so I started channels on YouTube and Telegram, where I talk about the problems that women with disabilities face: appointments with a gynecologist, menstruation, diapers. The last topic is very relevant: almost all girls believe that a diaper will somehow prevent them from being sexy and active, they are embarrassed to wear it and, as a result, harm their health. I want to explain to them that this is not so, that sexuality does not depend on what we are wearing. Another topic is sex toys. I've always wondered why don't manufacturers make toys for us? Why aren't surveys and testing done? Isn't this discrimination? After all, we are the same users as everyone else.

Evgeniya S

tutor (name changed at the request of the heroine - ed.)


Since birth, I have been completely blind, but this did not prevent me from graduating from a music school and university, receiving a psychology degree. I go in for sports, I have many friends. I'm in love and dating a man. I cannot see a person and perceive him visually, but people with vision also enter into intimacy with the lights off, and they still succeed.

I can't watch videos, but audio content and reading are available to me: screen readers read texts from the screen. Once I came across several porno videos with tiflo commentaries, and I realized that porn is more likely harmful advice on how to not act. I can read erotic literature, and there, as a rule, there is a detailed description of what is happening, any frank actions - I think it's good that there are such materials.

Now I am twenty-five years old, and I have been living sex life since twenty-one. Strong feelings prompted me to her, a meeting with a loved one, as I thought, a person, a desire to get such an experience.Since I am a psychologist by education, and they also turn to a psychologist with questions about sexual life, I found it useful to have not only a theoretical, but also a practical understanding of sex in order to understand what is at stake.

In a person, the intellectual component, community of interests, and spiritual closeness are very important for me. I consider it unacceptable for myself to have sex for one night. I believe that you need to enter into a relationship when there are strong feelings. It is important to discuss everything and support each other, not to impose on each other what is not comfortable, and also to take care of protection. I do not think that this is only a woman's business, both should be responsible.


Sex exists not only for healthy people, but for everyone. Sex is not only penetration, but everything from a whisper to a massage, from kissing to sleeping together

Being a blind person, I can sense and feel a partner, touch, smell. I am a supporter of gentle caresses and touches, hugs and kisses. I like it when my partner and I stroke each other, caress with our hands and mouth, for me cunnilingus and blowjob are acceptable. My physical intimacy can last for several hours: we caressed each other, finished, then rested, stroked each other, lay down together, talked, and started again. It is clear that a woman ends up more often than a man.

When I was in school, some of my classmates already had sexual experiences, and at the institute everyone met someone. Next to them, I was complex and felt even more disabled, but I reassured myself that there was nothing wrong and love happens to people at different ages. I do not want children, and all my partners were aware that I would not change my point of view. A marriage for me will only be acceptable with a person who also has a severe visual disability: I want us to be together in the same conditions, so that I do not have to additionally depend on a man. I strive for relationships with guys who are at my intellectual level or when I need to reach for his level - then this contributes to my development and self-esteem. The experience of sexual intimacy also helps to increase self-esteem. At first there was uncertainty: can I satisfy a person, not disappoint, get satisfaction myself? It is always important for me to give pleasure, joy and pleasantness to my partner. With everyone with whom I have come into intimacy, I had sexual compatibility.

Relatives may be against your sex life and believe that you do not need it. But an adult decides for himself what he needs and what does not. Here you may not do without conflicts, but you will have to defend your borders and your freedom in front of your family, explain and convey your position. My personal experience is rather an action in spite of: "I want and will be no matter what."

I didn’t have sex education at school, but I think that it is very necessary. Disabled people have a special lack of information, in the same erotic literature they write about people without disabilities. Healthy people tend to either extol disabled people, considering us superheroes, or, conversely, belittle, presenting us as miserable and pathetic. But in life we ​​are neither one nor the other - just people. I think that the experience of personal relationships, even if it turns out to be traumatic, contributes to the development and growth of the personality. And each person should have their own individual experience.

Photos: wacomka - stock.adobe.com (1, 2, 3)

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