Cripping Up Sex
Written by Eva Sweeney
Illustration by Jessica Oddi
When a person discovers sex toys, it is usually a private process either by themselves or with a sexual partner. They usually go to a sex toy shop or go online and browse the abundance of sex toy options available and pick the toys they think they will like. Sadly, because sex toys are taboo in our society, people don’t usually talk to their friends about what sex toys they like or are interested in.
I don’t have the luxury of keeping my sex toys private. I have Cerebral Palsy, which for me means I use a wheelchair and need help with any physical activities from eating, drinking, going to the bathroom, and everything in between. My aides are really cool people but for the longest time, I did not think they could help me with my sex toys. So I could not just order a sex toy and try it in private without anyone knowing. So how was I able to figure out what sex toys work for me?
When I was 19 I had this really cool aide, shortly after hiring him he asked me “Eva, do you masturbate?”
When I was 19 I had this really cool aide, shortly after hiring him he asked me “Eva, do you masturbate?”. I looked at him like “how the hell would I do that?”, he suggested I try vibrating underwear. He said he could put them on me and leave the room and let me have fun in private. At first, I was like, “No that’s too weird” but after a few days I was like “yes let’s try it”. So we ordered a vibrating thong and got it mailed to his house because I did not want my parents to see the package. One day, when my parents were not home I decided to try on the thong, which was a process in itself because he had to take my pants and underwear off and then put the thong on and then put me back in my wheelchair. He then left the room as I tried out the vibrating thong. They worked...kind of. They were way too big for me but as a horny teenager, they got the job done.
However, like most people, I had to try many different things in order to figure out what works best for me. I tried about nine different kinds of vibrators. Side note: I was living at my parent’s house and did not want them to find my discarded sex toys in the trash that I had thrown away because they did not work for me.
So my aide and I would go to the local grocery store and dump the sex toys in their outdoor garbage can, so that was fun. After a lot of trial and error, I figured out that for masturbation using a g-spot vibrator as an external vibrator that I can sit on, was the best option for me. Also, that gives my aide more of a handle to grab so they don’t have to awkwardly fish around for my toy.
They thought I wanted it to keep me in my wheelchair, but that’s a whole other conversation about how people don’t view disabled people as sexual beings
However, I again had to figure out what would work with a partner in terms of sex toys. I knew because of my spasticity (muscle tightness) that I could not use a “traditional” pelvic harness. My legs don’t straighten out so having a partner on my hips would be impossible and super painful. So I thought a chest harness would be a good alternative. I went to an S&M leather shop in the bay area to order a custom made chest harness. They thought I wanted it to keep me in my wheelchair, but that’s a whole other conversation about how people don’t view disabled people as sexual beings. The harness fit well but what I did not think about was when I am on my back my legs curl up. That poses an issue for anyone trying to get on top of me. Sadly, the chest harness did not work out for me, so I again had to search for more options.
I ended up using a thigh harness because I could lay comfortably on my side and have my partner ride me in that way. Also, we can maintain eye contact which is super sexy!
Open discussions and listening to each other is the way to have these conversations about your sex toys and masturbation
Now 18 years later, I feel comfortable talking to my aides about my sex toys. Part of it is obviously being a sex educator with a sex toy review blog, so from the beginning, my aides are aware of these things. However, I think just being upfront about your needs and not making a big deal out of them helps your aides feel more comfortable with these types of things. Some of my really cool aides have not been comfortable helping with my sex toys and that’s totally okay! I know the importance of respecting boundaries, especially with my employees. So open discussions and listening to each other is the way to have these conversations about your sex toys and masturbation.
Everyone’s sex toy journey will look different, however, with creativity and a sense of humour, you will find something that works for you!
Eva Sweeney (@crippingupsex) is a 37-year-old genderqueer disabled female who works primarily as a sex educator and freelance writer. Her topics include disabilities and sex, gender, and queer culture. She has been doing sex and disability workshops for over 15 years and started doing this work because she found a huge lack of good sex-positive information for people with disabilities. Eva wrote the book “Queers on Wheels” and has traveled the country giving workshops about sex and disability. She continues to give workshops online and in-person through “Cripping Up Sex with Eva”, and she is also available for private consultations.
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Jessica Oddi (@oddi.jessica) is a disabled graphic designer in Canada with versatility to spare. She is particularly interested in collaborations involving much needed representation, inclusivity and empowerment
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