Sex and disability – Eroticon 2016

As I said in this post, I promised a long while back that I would put my Eroticon slides up here, for the benefit of people who weren’t able to attend, as well as those who want to refer back to them for any reason.

The slides can be accessed by clicking on the link below, and the bullet points underneath summarise what I said in the session. Below that, you’ll find the reading list I handed out, a TED talk I think everyone should watch, and below that, two posts that I know were written after my session. If anyone else has written anything disability related as a result of my session, or if you choose to have a go at the exercise at the end of the presentation, please do let me know and I’ll link your piece up to this post, if you’d like me to.

Session notes and slides

Sex and disability – Eroticon 2016

  • Start by trying to identify what the author is trying to say about disabled people in each of the books/films on slide 2. The answers are on slide 3. All of these are ways in which disabled people have historically been portrayed in fiction which should now be avoided.
  • Look at the TED talks on slide 4. All, with the exception of ‘I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much,’ have the keywords inspiringfascinating, courageous, beautiful. These are the words able-bodied people tend to associate with disability – but ‘inspiration porn’ is just as damaging as any of the old-fashioned stereotypes, because it treats disabled people as examples, not as people.
  • Slide 6 shows why The Theory of Everything is a great example of how to write disability (although it’s important to be aware that some disabled people object to the use of an able-bodied actor to play Hawking). Stephen Hawking has more than one challenge in his life – the conflict in the story centres not only around his disability, but also his relationship and job. i wrote about the film in more detail here.
  • Don’t be tempted to make disability the character arc in your novel – very few disabled people do get cured, or end their lives, or completely come to terms with their body in the space of the time period covered by a novel or short story. Make disability part of their character, but not a part that necessarily has to be resolved or changed. Give them a plot other than their disability.
  • Slide 11 is the intro to a writing exercise using this amazing Girl on the Net guest post as a prompt. Look at how in the post intro, Girl on the Net doesn’t focus on the disability at all – the writer is disabled, but the focus is the lift, the snogging, the botanical gardens. Do any of these things inspire you? Can you take the post as a starting point and flesh it out to make it a full length short story or piece of flash fiction with a plot arc, rather than a vignette, as per the original post?

Recommended reading

10 Things Fiction Writers Need to Remember About Disability (1-5) http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/10-things-fiction-writers-need-to.html

10 Things Fiction Writers Need to Remember About Disability (6-10) http://blobolobolob.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/10-things-fiction-writers-need-to_10.html

Dear able-bodied partner…
http://www.autostraddle.com/dear-able-bodied-partner-331837/

Disabled gentleman
http://rebelsnotes.com/2015/06/disabled-gentleman/

Every body: glamour, dateability, sexuality & disability | Dr. Danielle Sheypuk | TEDxBarnardCollege
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PwvGfs6Pok&feature=youtu.be

Getting it wrong – writing disability in fiction
http://visibilityfiction.com/getting-it-wrong-writing-about-disability-in-fiction/

I am not here to inspire you
http://starsandspirals.co.uk/not-your-inspiration/

Kaufman, M, Silverberg, C, and Odette, F. The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness, Cleis, 2007

Kink praxis
https://xanwest.wordpress.com

Know me where it hurts: sex, kink, and cerebral palsy
http://www.autostraddle.com/know-me-where-it-hurts-kink-cerebral-palsy-226077/

Leandra Vane – disability & sex stigma
http://www.hotoctopuss.com/guest-blog-leandra-vane-on-disability-and-sex-stigma/

Moving beyond the stereotypes
https://feministphilosophers.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/moving-beyond-the-stereotypes/

Silent stares and rude questions: the disability minefield
https://ninachildish.wordpress.com/2015/04/15/silent-stares-and-rude-questions-the-disability-minefield/

Why we have to create more disabled characters in children’s fiction (yes, it’s about children’s fiction, but the advice at the end applies more widely)
http://www.theguardian.com/childrens-books-site/2015/dec/08/why-we-have-to-create-more-disabled-characters-in-childrens-fiction

Writing the Other
http://meloukhia.net/2012/06/writing_the_other/

Stella Young: I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much


Posts inspired by the session

Unusual Liaison – Rachel Kincaid
http://rachelkincaid4.blogspot.fr/2016/05/unusual-liaison.html 

Disability and sexuality – writers we love: Hot Octopuss
https://www.hotoctopuss.com/disability-and-sexuality-writers-we-love

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On the paralympics and inspiration porn

A month or so a go, I noticed that Sainsbury’s was stocking mini eggs again. ‘Oh good,’ I thought (even though I bloody love a mini egg), ‘We’ve finally lost it completely. Easter now starts in July.’

It doesn’t. Instead, Cadbury have launched the dubiously named Wini eggs in honour of the Paralympic Games, which, if it wasn’t for chocolate, might pretty much have passed me by.

Except they wouldn’t, obviously, because even though I have no interest in sport, I fully expect that in September, bullshit like this:

and this:

will be replaced by bullshit like this (also, why is the ‘F’ in ‘firmly’ and ‘B’ in ‘believe’ capitalised? You can’t emphasise something just by capitalising the first letter of random words!):

disability

Being part of a body- and sex-positive community is great. It means that most of the stuff above gets called out, retweeted, mocked, and generally shown to be not okay. I can’t help but feel that the same is not true when it comes ableism, which, believe me, you will see in spades once the paralympics start.

In May, after Eroticon, I promised that I would put my slides up here if people wanted to see them. Several people said they did, but I completely forgot, and so now I want to do a deal. I will put the slides up here, along with a brief summary of what I said, a video everybody should watch and a couple of great posts written by people who came to my session. In return, whether you’re able-bodied or not, please don’t mindlessly retweet inspiration porn during the games. It is perfectly okay to be inspired by disabled athletes, and it would be perfectly fine to tweet something like the below about an athlete whether they were disabled or not.

What’s not okay is the following:

a) Isn’t that person amazing for someone with a disability? (No, they’re amazing full stop)

b) Wow, if that person can do that even though they have a disability, I can definitely make a sandwich/go to the gym/ask that guy out/do couch to 5k (No, this is not about you and your life, it’s about them and their achievements)

In fact, go one better than not retweeting it. Flag it up. Make it known it’s ableist as fuck. The disabled community does this all the time. It’s exhausting and emotionally draining, and it takes a lot out of people. Like it or not, the able-bodied community is bigger and better able to make itself heard. So support us, and respond to this just as you would homophobia or sexism.

Please.

I’ll put the Eroticon stuff here.

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