Dating men in wheelchairs
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Or explain that I have no sensation from the chest down so they don’t think I’m casting aspersions on their masculinity when I ask: “Is it in yet?
*** Outside a jazz bar in Denver on Labor Day weekend, 1983, my friend and I met the man she would marry, who introduced me to the man I would subsequently marry. People often asked if I was disabled before we got married.
(Of course, as so many women do, I see myself in the worst light possible).
Then there were the nitty-gritty matters: my anxiety about how and when to tell a romantic interest that I control my bowel and bladder in a manner wholly unfamiliar to most people.
Returning to college a year after the accident I was as insecure as the next girl about my body, and then some.
We’re not talking cellulite or muffin top here, but withered legs, a slumping stomach and a bunch of ugly scars.
My self-esteem as a woman, however, took a big hit.
Intellectually, I know it shouldn’t, but the cultural messaging of revulsion and burdensomeness around disability that I was taught as a child and my inability to meet conventional definitions of womanly beauty, make me feel unattractive.He asked simple questions: “Why are you in a wheelchair? It was easy and fulfilling for me to fight for my rights–non-discrimination in hiring, equal pay, architectural access–but hard to fight against cultural norms of beauty. I was on many panels for doctors and medical school students about sex and the disabled. Which was so insulting, suggesting that I brought nothing to the table.But even some medical professionals were capable of questions like: “Is this really an issue? ” (Ah, there is nothing like rejection in front of a crowd). Together our lives were better, easier than they were apart. And yet, I felt lucky, as if I had been pulled off the seconds shelf.Then one night I met a man at a concert and the connection was so strong that I thought my life was about to change.It was wonderful, and scared me, and made me hyper self conscious about being disabled.The prospect of romance is really the only thing that makes me think of myself as disabled. Everything I have to do because of it is background noise. The only way out of the building for me was a metal wheelchair lift.