One of my most passionate beliefs is that everyone is entitled to intimacy, both emotional and sexual.
This is not just because intimacy gives pleasure. Yes, the delight of touching and being touched, whether by someone else’s body or by their mind, is wonderful.
But people are also entitled to intimacy because it is essential for health and happiness. Study after study suggests that without intimacy, the body may become less healthy; the mind may tilt towards negativity and self criticism; an individuall may become less able to fully care for themselves or reach out to others.
When it comes to emotional intimacy, our society largely does admit the need, that “it is not good for man to be alone”, that “it’s good to talk”, that all of us need affection, care, support, love.
But when it comes to sexual intimacy, society is so often wary. We live in a world where passion is too frequently seen to be only for the younger, the fitter, the ‘able’. A world where lust is too often judged as ‘offensive’ when experienced by the older, the less fit, the less able. A world which holds back from asserting that everyone – whatever their age, health, mental ability – fully deserves to give and take physical love often and ecstatically.
And because of all this, there is a lack of permission, knowledge, guidance. The sexual desires of those physically or mentally challenged are rarely mentioned, let alone addressed. Formal sex education regularly omits to address the topic. The issue is rarely raised by medical or caring professionals. In my opinion, this lack is one of the most shameful things about today’s society.
School of Sex changes the game.
In developing the site with her team of contributors, Dr Tuppy Owens not only asserts that intimacy is for everyone, but offers information, insight, inspiration and strategies to make that assertion a reality.
The articles, all written by disabled people and those who support them, address the basics of who, what, where, when – and above all how. There are also numerous ideas for creating emotional and sexual connection, stepping around blocks and barriers, resolving challenges, overcoming obstacles. There is wide coverage of approaches, from ‘straight’ sex through to swinging and BDSM.
Throughout, the site is useful not only for those who are less able but for also their close supporters – and for the wider support network of teachers, carers and social workers. Happily the site’s content is growing all the time, with more articles planned; if you, when reading this, want to contribute, please do get in touch.
Having spent most of my professional career working with those who want better relationships, I am beyond thrilled that School of Sex has been created.
For it opens the door to a fact that society can longer deny, opens the door to a possibility that will become increasingly true.
That whoever we are, whatever our seeming limitations, there are always ways to gain, and maintain, the emotional and sexual intimacy we all need and deserve.
Susan Quilliam, advocate for sexual health and pleasure, author of the rewritten version of The Joy of Sex (Alex Comfort), and Patron of the Outsiders charity.