Sex Work and People with Disabilities
Depending on what kind of sex work one is doing, there are different kinds of needs which require certain skills. People come to sex workers for a variety of reasons, but I want to discuss the importance of sex workers for people with disabilities.
People with disabilities may have sexual needs which cannot be fulfilled. They may not be physically able to meet their sexual desires, or perhaps they are unable to find a partner to engage in sexual relationships with (because of their condition). For these reasons (as well as other more complex ones), sex workers can really help people with disabilities.
“If a disabled person loses their virginity with a sex worker in a way that teaches them about their body and how to please a partner, it can set them up to become a confident, knowledgeable and sexually skilled individual who can proceed to finding a partner. However, if they have a progressive condition, their life can feel too full of disappointment and loss to try to find a partner and they may prefer to stay seeing sex workers, with whom a good outcome is guaranteed.”
“I hope this might extend to an acceptance of disabled people as sexual partners, and sex workers being wonderful people.”
“I really love the idea of sex workers giving disabled people the chance to be touched in a non-medical way, perhaps for the first time in their lives, to be held in a warm pair of arms and have their sexual dreams respected and lived out.”
In another article, a 35 year old virgin with a severe spinal and muscular condition discusses his decision to turn to a sex worker.
He describes his first encounter with a sex worker as an “enlightenment” and says, “I couldn’t make someone fall in love with me, but I could at least learn about my sexual potential and more about women by paying a sex worker.”
Thus, sex workers give people with disabilities a chance they would not normally have and help develop their confidence and self-esteem.
The reason I want to bring this issue up is also because it presents sex work more literally as a service. This type of sex work thus removes the negative moral judgments commonly associated with it. The buyer is not a morally questionable man (perhaps a misogynist abuser, or perhaps married and cheating on his wife). The sex worker must be skilled and have specialized knowledge of how to treat people with disabilities. Finally, with the above considerations, it is very apparent that a sex worker has to choose to work with people with disabilities and enjoy it.
In regards to servicing people with disabilities, if we are able to look at sex workers as doing something positive and devoid of the normal stigmatization, we should be able to recognize their choices, skills and the value of their work in general.
Lastly, perhaps one may argue that sex is a human right. In this case, there might be an obligation from governments to provide people with disabilities sexual services. Denmark actually provides government funding for sex work to people with disabilities and has a great campaign called “Sex, Irrespective of Disability.” Countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, and Sweden also provide similar government funding for sex work to people with disabilities. These policies have sparked debate in a few other countries.
As well, here is a great video which explores the sexuality of people with disabilities (in the context of providing government funded sexual services in France):
If you are interested in learning more about this issue, Scarlet Road is a great documentary to look into and The Sessions is a great Hollywood movie based on a true story (the quotes I shared above come from articles talking about this film).