Last week I was once again approached by the TV news for a small interview, this time it was about an area that is close to my heart and has been something I have had quite a bit to do with over the past 20 years.
Sex and intimacy for the disabled. http://www.newshub.co.nz/tvshows/story/should-the-state-fund-sex-for-severely-disabled-2016022920
I have friends who have been working on making this a more accessible service from the disability sector side of things and have done some marvelous work. Together we have been able to facilitate this for a few people along the way.
For many years I have been a go to person for family members looking to find a suitable sex worker to see their disabled sons or brothers, I have put in a lot of my own time sourcing the right person for the job and it has so far always been a happy success.
People have said to me over the years that there must be a lot of money to be made from this, but just like most people have no idea about the actual workings of the sex industry, most people also have no idea that to provide these services is more for the love of the human rights aspect than for the money. Although that is not to say that a service set up to match sex workers to clients wouldn’t be a fantastic idea but it would really need to be government funded.
The reality of organising a booking for someone with a physical disability at an agency like ours is that we have to clear a lot of time around that booking to get the client into the premises without bumping into other clients. Our stairs are not easily negotiated by someone with a physical disability, and impossible for many. But for those that can manage it it means making their booking a bit longer than what they are actually paying for to allow them time to arrive and leave, to give them extra time for showering, undressing and dressing. It can also mean having care-givers arrive with the client which means one or two more people who have knowledge of our whereabouts than we would like although they are always sworn to secrecy.
The other option is having a lady visit the client at home which involves forethought as well. Being prepared for the lady to arrive into a clean and warm environment with someone having assisted the client to ensure they’re ready for their experience. If they have a care-giver then it means that person ideally is in on the whole thing and helps the client get showered and dressed and ready to receive a ‘special’ visitor.
Either of these takes a lot more work, organisation and preparation than an average booking from a client that has none of these issues to deal with so it ends up being a much bigger deal for everyone involved. But if it goes well imagine how incredible this would be to the client to have this happen in his life. This is the kind of memory that will keep him smiling for a long time after the booking. Imagine being inside that body and for an hour or so feeling as though you are not trapped by a body that has no intention of letting you feel like a regular person most of the time. Imagine being able to throw off that feeling while you are in the throws of passion, or intimacy or just lying naked with someone and sharing something really wonderful.
Sourcing the right sex workers is also a skill. Finding someone with the empathy, compassion and mental capacity to cope with what is expected and what is resting on this experience for the client. Many women I have spoken to over the years have had the warmth and compassion and have loved the thought of it, but the pressure on them to make this as special as the client is hoping can weigh heavily on some and cause so much stress and self doubt that they will opt out.
We deal on a very regular basis with people who have social and romantic disabilities, this doesn’t make them bad people or less deserving of love, they just don’t have the same ability to be in an intimate relationship outside of these services as other people in society. There is nothing physical stopping them accessing intimate services or earning the money to be able to afford them and in fact there is nothing about them that would make you realise they even have this disability, they are just everyday clients. But their lives are made richer by being able to be intimate on a regular basis with someone who is happy to provide that, they go back into the world a happier and more productive member of society – where is the harm?
But for someone who through no fault of his own has to rely on others to make this happen then things are very different. They have to open themselves up to someone about the fact that they feel normal human desire at the risk of being told not to be silly, or that it isn’t for them or that sex workers are bad and can’t be trusted or are made to work against their will or any other number of awful judgments. How brave to make your feelings known under these circumstances.
Then if you aren’t able to earn money you are completely reliant on the state for everything in your life so how ‘greedy’ would it seem to ask for ‘more’. OR if you are able to earn a good income as many disabled people do, they have a lot of extra cost in paying cares and things we don’t even think about. Also generally these people are the ones with the means to see sex workers without requiring financial help, but there are many who are not in this position.
And then imagine that you are disabled and gay? Or disabled and had some fantasy that the average sex-worker might not be equipped to offer. So many more hurdles just to access something that most people take for granted.
It shouldn’t be about the money but about the human rights of the people involved. Saying Tax-payer money’ seems so much more affronting than ‘government funded’ or ‘having more choice and flexibility over funding received’ so when the discussion comes up about tax-payers funding visits to sex workers for disabled people think about this – is it your prejudice against the sex industry that makes you cringe at the thought? Do you, like so many ill informed people think that the sex industry doesn’t even pay tax and has been cunning enough to fly under the IRD radar all of these years? Is it the fact that you aren’t getting much sex yourself so why should you pay for someone else to have it? Is it just something you don’t want to think about? Do you get annoyed because there are already so many areas of society ‘sucking’ money from the tax-payer? Imagine yourself being stuck inside a body that constantly let you down, that made daily living harder than it should be. Never forget that physical disability can happen to any of us at any time, it isn’t just something you are born with.
Challenge your beliefs and stand up for this – and after all of that thought about this subject imagine the disabled person is female.