People with disabilities should be viewed as dateable

Dr. Danielle Sheypuk is taking on the myth that people with disabilities are disconnected from sexuality. The first model who uses a wheelchair to be featured at New York Fashion Week, and Miss Wheelchair New York 2, Sheypuk believes that people with disabilities should be seen as the beautiful people they are – capable of being just a sexy as the next person and deserving of healthy romantic relationships.

In her TEDx Talk Every body: glamour, dateability, sexuality & disability, available below, Sheypuk shares her personal experience with dating as someone who uses a wheelchair and why she believes that people with disabilities should be more included in our societal dating pools. She states that 52% of Americans report that they are unsatisfied with their sex life and questions, “What if this is because we are factoring out an entire amazing group of potential romantic partners, and that group is people with disabilities? [People with disabilities] are completely left out of the dating picture. Society – media included – seems to ignore the fact that we have the same emotional needs and desires as everyone else.” Society seems to think that people with disabilities are asexual, can’t have good sex, or won’t be good parents. And the consequences of this societal view are directly harmful to people with disabilities, she explains, saying, “We begin dating, and experience our first sexual experience much, much later than the general population. We are less likely to get married, and will report fewer sexual experiences overall, if any.”

“If just used one ad with a couple in a wheelchair…they could normalize this topic for millions, and also tap into this very lucrative market,” Sheypukk theorizes. Her message to society? “This makes economic sense for you too. If we open our minds to the fact that we can include people with disabilities into our dating pools, we will increase our sex lives, and improve our romantic relationships.”

This video may begin with a commercial which was not chosen by or for the benefit of Rooted in Rights.

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Emily Pate is a third-year student at Seattle University interested in Strategic Communications, learning Spanish, and working with non-profits. Her work for Rooted In Rights is focused on discussing current events in the community of people with disabilities. Her experience previous to Rooted In Rights includes writing broadcasts for KBOO radio in Portland, OR, and managing a neighborhood blog in the Seattle community. In addition to work, Emily enjoys drawing, spending time with her friends and family, and backpacking.

One response to “People with disabilities should be viewed as dateable

  1. You are entirely correct: people with disabilities are interested in dating and beyond – the same as everyone else.

    And make excellent marriage partners – regardless of whether the disability or illness comes before or after the marriage. They have often learned more about life than many people their own age – because they had to. We are realists.

    We see little of this in the media, because they’re going for the quick soundbite, the easy (easier) TV show. And there isn’t enough diversity which includes disability as well as race or gender or…

    I think fiction can make a huge difference here, and I’m writing it. Pride’s Children: PURGATORY (Amazon) has a disabled main character who is NOT the sidekick or the sick/disabled person who commits suicide to keep from affecting the normal people (an uncomfortably common trope). Fiction is a way around many of the barriers people put up to not be overwhelmed with forced empathy. I hope my fiction works that way.

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