I just read your response to Disabled Dilemma, the man who was trying to find
a girlfriend for his disabled friend. You told DD that his disabled friend should
“reconcile himself to being alone.” I’m not sure how to react. Part of me wants
to call you a cold, mean-spirited fuck. The other part of me wants to commend
you for refusing to sugarcoat the truth.
I’m 28 and have had a disability since birth. I use a wheelchair, and a ventilator
helps me breathe. As you can probably guess, I’m not getting any. I’ve managed
to do a few things with my life, like go to law school and get a decent job. But
my sexual experience is pretty much nil. I used to think that I could attract
women through my intellect and charm. Now I’m more realistic. I understand that
some physical characteristics are simply...
...my intellect and charm. Now I’m more realistic. I understand that
some physical characteristics are simply too much for people to deal with on a
romantic level. At the same time, I know people with disabilities who are in happy,
healthy relationships with able-bodied partners.
So I understand your response, Dan, but I wish you would have not sounded
so bleak. It’s hard enough being disabled without having negative attitudes
reinforced by a writer who probably doesn’t know anyone with a disability. At
the very least, Dan, you could have told DD to actually make the effort to take
his friend out to meet people. DD’s pen-pal idea just sets his friend up to
be bombarded with e-mails from people who are motivated by pity. People with
disabilities don’t deserve to be objects of pity. Disabled people should be
treated like anyone else.
Let me see if I follow you: First you slam me for painting a harsh but completely realistic picture for DD’s friend. Then you go on to say that I should’ve gone easy on DD’s friend because it’s hard enough being disabled without having your nose rubbed in reality. Then you wind things up by insisting that an able-bodied person’s interactions with a disabled person shouldn’t be motivated by pity. That’s a bit of a contradiction, don’t you think?
I don’t go easy on anyone in this column, Mark, not young people, old people, straight, gay, bi, or able-bodied people. In the spirit of treating a disabled person like I would treat anyone else, I was as blunt with DD and his friend as I would be with anyone else. Was my advice painful? I don’t doubt that it was, Mark, but I didn’t write it with malice.
According to DD, his friend suffers from “traumatic brain damage,” is missing a limb, and his speech is slurred. Any one of those three things would interfere with a man’s love life; all three together are going to seriously hamper DD’s efforts to find his friend a girlfriend because, as you put it, “some physical characteristics are simply too much for people to deal with on a romantic level.” While some people may think my advice for DD’s friend was cruel, I think it’s far crueler to fill someone with false or unrealistic hopes.
Finally, I didn’t say that DD’s friend would never find a partner.
My Aunt Judy (a.k.a. Madam Sin) is in a wheelchair and breathes with a ventilator,
and she’s got a swell boyfriend. So, yeah, I know for a fact that disabled people
can and do find partners. I also know for a fact that my Aunt Judy is a very
lucky woman. If my aunt were single, I wouldn’t want her to be miserable, and
I would give her the same advice I gave DD’s friend.
Let me send a ray of hope to the poor dude with the missing leg, slurred
speech, and brain injury. A pal of mine works for an organization that takes
paralyzed people sailing. She always remarks on how ALL the shriveled, sputtering
guys in wheelchairs had physically normal girlfriends, but none of the women
in wheelchairs had boyfriends at all. She chalked it up to the fact that women
love to nurture and heal while men are bastards who don’t give a fuck about
inner beauty. The point is, there are lots of disabled dudes with girlfriends.
Tell this guy to get out there with the rest of the gimps and start socializing!
Go, Gimp, Go!
Thanks for sharing, you sensitive motherfucker.
I’m a bi, crip woman in my 40s who’s had plenty of wild, wacky sex throughout
the years without paying. True, I’ve had to initiate it by placing or responding
to personal ads, but the occasional curiosity-seeker who is willing to go the
distance is richly rewarded! Although I prefer able-bodied partners and/or those
who don’t drool, tell the guy that there are disabled dating services online.
For a nominal fee (or free), he gets himself listed on services for those people
actually seeking disabled partners.
CripBabe In NYC
Thanks for sharing, CBINYC.
Your advice to the friend of a person with traumatic brain injury [TBI] was
right on. I have worked with several social service agencies that have clients
with TBI, and I can tell you this much: Most of my clients were young males
who had been drinking and driving. These men will NEVER have sex again with
the women they desired before their injuries. Most of these men cannot accept
the fact that they are no longer desirable to the general female population
and refuse to meet women from the one group that would find them desirable:
Females with TBI. My advice to the TBI gentleman is to join a TBI support group.
I know of at least one couple who met this way and are currently getting it
Do I Have To Signoff With Some Stupid Name
Thanks for writing, DIHTSWSSN, and thanks for giving me an opportunity to address a pet peeve of mine:
I get a lot of mail from disabled/ugly/fat/old people complaining about shallow able-bodied/pretty/thin/young people who refuse to date them. “Why can’t able-bodied/pretty/thin/young people appreciate me for how beautiful I am on the inside?” they write. “Dan, you should scold the able-bodied/pretty/thin/young for being so hurtful and shallow!”
When I suggest to these disabled/ugly/fat/old folks that they might have better luck dating other people who are disabled/ugly/fat/old, they invariably respond, “But I’m only attracted to people who are able-bodied/pretty/thin/young!” What this means, of course, is that the disgruntled disabled/ugly/fat/old folks who write me are every bit as shallow as the able-bodied/pretty/thin/young ones they’re writing in to complain about.
In this week’s column, CripBabe in NYC writes that she prefers “able-bodied partners and/or those who don’t drool,” and disabled Mark writes that he takes comfort when he sees “people with disabilities who are in happy, healthy relationships with able-bodied partners.” I’m not saying that CripBabe or Mark are shallow–God forbid–I’m only pointing out that disabled people (like fat people, old people, ugly people) often have the same cultural biases as the rest of us. People who want others to “see the beauty within” should, as a matter of principle, take off their own blinders.
Your advice to Disabled Dilemma was right on. As a motorcyclist, though,
I thought your response would have been improved had you reminded your motorcycle-riding
readers to avoid DD’s fate by riding helmeted and sober.
Right you are, Amy. Wear those helmets, kids, or wind up brain-damaged and droolin’.