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Something about the initial
plunge into this subject (and this text) is disquieting, even distasteful. The
authors wisely deal with this phenomenon early: society as a whole doesn't want
to acknowledge, much less grant, the active sexuality of disabled people. So,
Chapter One is "Myths about Disability and Sexuality" and Myth #1,
you guessed right, is "People living with disabilities and chronic
illnesses are not sexual." And the other myths are closely related to this
theme--disabled people can't have "real" sex, are not desirable, are
pathetic choices as partners, disabled people who want sex are perverted, and
so on. These really are myths, and one of the very best things about this Ultimate
Guide is that in the end a reader comes fully to viewing disabled people as
completely human and as sexual as everybody else.
So, while this book, aimed
primarily at disabled and chronically ill people themselves, is a terrific
resource on many subjects related to sexuality, it is also a much-needed
compendium for raising the consciousness of the remainder of the
population. In fact, its later function may finally trump the former when
readership numbers are finally tallied at the publisher. All people should read
Most readers will recover from
those initial inhibitions reading and be brought along by the forceful, clear
prose into an energizing romp throughout the world of sex for the disabled and
chronically ill. Even one's suspicion about the title, "The Ultimate
Guide…" fades while seeing the wide range and variety of topics the
authors handle skillfully and candidly. The language is explicit, the topics
are revved up, and the pace keeps any reader turning pages. Consider Chapter
Seven, "Oral Sex." Okay, you read the book; then you can consider it.
Shame, silence, orgasm, fetishes,
masturbation, partners online, incontinence, penetration, sex toys, role
playing, fantasy, violence, tantric sex--it's all here; it goes on and on; it's
the ultimate guide. And there are cute drawings and other illustrations, and
lists of Resources and organizations at the back. But it well may be that the
very best of the Guide emerges, as in a good novel, deep into its
subject, in this case Chapter Ten, "Yoga and Tantric Sex." You don't
have to be disabled (or even care about them) to be fascinated, even deeply
moved by what the authors reveal in this chapter.
Yoga has an adaptable version that
can nicely suit many disabled people. Yoga opens the door to breath work and
breath can be both healing and very sexy. See how that goes? Breath and yoga
and body awareness and stretching--and then beyond the body! After yoga, the
authors begin to look at Tantra and sex and the whole subject expands into
history, culture, awareness of greater paths. Tantra means, we're told,
"tools for expansion" as in expanding the mind. Tantra brings sex to
a "higher power," to evolving sex beyond the merely physical--which
for people disabled or ill of body is a very powerful message and modality.
It's generally known that the best of sex is in the mind, but Tantra brings
that nascent awareness to something far more enriching and fulfilling. Opening
the doors to this through yoga is the business of Chapter Ten; it's done well,
and there are exercises.
Two of the authors, Miriam Kaufman,
M.D. and Fran Odette, MSW, are women. The man is Cory Silverberg, M.Ed. Whatever
process (or trouble) these three went through to work together is not evident
in the seamless prose they created. It reads like one story but with the
balanced viewpoints of a team of professionals. It's good reading from the
opening page right down through the index (say, F, "fantasy, feathers,
fellatio, femme, flagellation…") It's a book both to read and to keep
handy for reference.
© 2005 David Wolf
Wolf is the author of Philosophy That Works, a book about the practice
of philosophy. His book page for orders (hardback & paperback) is www.xlibris.com/philosophythatworks
; readers can also see the first chapter there.
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