Consent is key!
Discussing disabilities in the kink community can feel like tiptoeing through a minefield. Not only are BDSM and kink-related activities themselves a topic of controversy, but the prospect of discussing fully consensual activities with people with disabilities without fetishizing it can feel nearly impossible to achieve without a bit of social or personal discomfort. As a result, this subsection of the community is often passed over.
This awkward avoidance causes many disabled people to attempt to hide their disability or to refrain from participation in the community entirely. It is a personal mission of mine as a disabled sex worker to help bring disabled kinksters out of the shadows together and encourage able-bodied and able-minded folks to overcome their discomfort and embrace the growing movement of disabled voices in our community.
Though not often represented, disabled kinksters exist in droves. For the purpose of this article, we will define a disabled person as any person with a condition, physical or cognitive, that considerably affects their day-to-day activities in a negative way.
There are several common concerns that arise when discussing play with a person with a disability.
1. Is it possible to appreciate someone’s body and abilities without crossing the line into fetishizing their disability?
2. How can you make sure the person with a disability is safe and healthy during a scene?
3. Are they a vulnerable adult? Can they willingly give their full consent to the scene? Are they fully aware of their actions and the way results of their decisions?
If you are concerned that you could be fetishizing someone’s disability, first examine whether you enjoy them solely for their disability, or if their disability is simply one of the long list of wonderful things about them. If the only thing you are attracted to them for is their disability, take time to get to know them and appreciate the other aspects of their personality and body.
Remember that a disabled person does not owe you a list of diagnoses or their medical history. This being said, it is the disabled person’s job to share any information regarding their disability that would be crucial to the functionality and safety of the scene. Withholding information could result in accidental injury or death.
For example, if Brenna and Audrey have agreed to a scene involving tying Brenna to a bed with rope, Brenna needs to let Audrey know that she had a blood clot in her arm several years ago and needs to be careful restricting blood flow to the area. If Brenna does not tell Audrey, Audrey might tie the ropes tightly around Brenna’s shoulder and arm and accidentally cause more damage. With the knowledge of Brenna’s history, Audrey can tie Brenna’s arm separately and more loose than the rest of her body, and be sure to check in with Brenna regarding blood flow in that arm more often.
Accommodations can be made to ensure that everyone can enjoy the kinky spice of life with whatever limitations they may have. It may take a bit of brainstorming, research, and advice from fellow kinksters, but it is possible to make the community accessible in every way.
Before engaging in play with a member of the disabled community, if you are unsure whether the person is able to consent or not, sit down with them and discuss your concerns. They should be able to explain their condition in better detail and confirm their ability to make informed decisions for themselves. If they cannot, it is best to be safe rather than sorry. It goes without saying that it is necessary to ensure that your play partners are capable of consent.
Everything that has been discussed can be boiled down to one word: Communication. Communication is crucial to any kink scene, and is even more important when an individual with a disability is involved. Abled people often struggle to communicate with disabled people because of awkwardness or confusion on how to speak with them without causing offense. The answer is easy: Speak to them as if you were speaking to any other human being. Stop being weird and awkward about it, for fuck’s sake!
by MV Girl LaceBaby