Let’s talk sex: a Paralympian breaks a taboo
Yanqing (China) (AFP) – Athletes at the Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing aren’t just breaking sporting barriers on the slopes and on the ice – Argentinian skier Enrique Plantey is pushing for a revolution in the bedroom.
The 39-year-old and his non-disabled Spanish girlfriend Triana Serfaty have published a practical guide called ‘Sexistimos’ – a nod to the Spanish term for ‘we exist’ – on disability and sex.
They hope this will spark an open conversation about what is a difficult subject for many.
“People are afraid to talk about it openly,” Plantey, who is a paraplegic, told AFP.
“The main problem is that a lot of people with disabilities think they can’t have a sex life and give pleasure anymore, and that’s not the case,” added Plantey, who placed fourth in the sitting category. in giant slalom in alpine skiing.
Some people with disabilities experience anxiety about sex, such as whether a partner will find them attractive, pain issues, concerns about fertility, and lack of confidence.
For some, there are also logistical hassles like moving from a wheelchair to a bed.
Society often views people with physical or intellectual disabilities as “non-sexual” – many live in isolation and don’t have long-term romantic partners, according to Disabled World, an independent organization that provides health resources.
Signs of change
But there are signs that attitudes are changing. The issue broke new ground when Hollywood actress Helen Hunt starred in the 2012 film The Sessions, about a polio survivor’s quest to lose her virginity with the help of a sex surrogate.
Dating sites specially designed for people with disabilities also help a lot in finding a romantic relationship.
Plantey, a three-time Paralympian, has used a wheelchair since suffering a spinal cord injury at age 11.
Growing up, he lamented the lack of information and resources on how to have a healthy sex life as a young man using a wheelchair.
He uses Viagra but has no sensation below the waist.
Nonetheless, he said it was possible to “find sources of pleasure in all parts of the body, not just the genitals.”
Serfaty said it was important for couples to try to communicate honestly about their practical needs and desires, without fear, judgment or embarrassment.
“This information exists. The problem is that it often doesn’t get out there,” the 29-year-old said.
Some medical professionals were giving people with disabilities incorrect information about sexual function, Serfaty noted.
“His doctor told him he couldn’t have sex,” she said.
“But since he got to know his body, he realized that wasn’t true. You have to see for yourself what you are capable of. Nobody can decide for you.”
The couple turned to tantric sexual techniques and their book and corresponding Instagram account are inspired by their personal experiences.
The Argentine flag bearer said the couple’s efforts to promote the theme of gender and disability were paying off – generating a lot of interest in the Athletes’ Village in Beijing.
“A lot of people in the Paralympic Village come up to me to talk about sex and ask questions,” Plantey said.
“The other day, someone – I won’t say who – came to find me, outside my room, to ask me for Viagra”, he laughed.
© 2022 AFP