SEX TOYS UNLOCK PLEASURE FOR DISABLED PEOPLE
by carrie kaufman
I got my first sex toy a couple years after I had acquired a life-shifting disability, which changed the ways I could touch and move my own body, among other things.
I attended an event designed for young women with disabilities, and one of the table vendors was Early to Bed. They had vibrators and sexual health info, and it was the first time I had seen something like that at a disability-specific event. I had an easy conversation with the person selling them, and ended up buying a little finger vibrator. She was a cute, pink, silicone thing with bumps and ridges along the outside, and a thick and stretchy ring for slipping over my finger.
That first vibrator was such a game-changer for me. It brought ease and fun back to masturbation, which had become full of grief and complexity for me. I had to experiment with positions, and communicate some new needs and boundaries with my care workers.
I have always tried, whenever possible, to make sure that my care workers are sex-positive and queer-affirming. It's never easy to ask for help with the “On” button of a toy, or to have to have explicit conversations about the kind of space, privacy, and time I would like with myself and my toy. But it's not necessarily any harder than asking for all the other kinds of help I need daily, like support getting dressed, washing up, cooking food, stretching, cleaning my space, and tending to my altars. Self-pleasure and orgasmic release are regular and important parts of my self-care routine.
Discovering new tools and toys has been such an important part of reconnecting with my body and my sexuality after disability and sexual trauma. I care deeply about removing sexual shame from our bodies and our conversations. One of the many painful things about ableism is the way that society has decided that sexuality and pleasure are not part of the disabled experience. This assumption couldn't be further than the truth. Disabled people are some of the most creative, sensual, orgasmic, and magical humans. Sex toys are useful and often adorable extensions of our desires and wild imaginations. While being disabled in 2022 is difficult for a lot of reasons, I am definitely grateful for the technology that allows me to have better sex and more orgasms.
For myself and for people with many different disabilities, sex toys are assistive technology, allowing us the ability to do things we wouldn't otherwise be able to do. I have both limited mobility and chronic pain, so I rely on toys and accessories a lot during sex—solo and otherwise. Pillows, props, wedges, cuffs, and rope help me get myself into comfortable positions. Vibrators and dildos allow me to reach places I otherwise couldn’t, on my body and also on partners’ bodies. They help do the work of penetration, massage, or intense stimulation that I don't have strength or endurance for.
One of my new favorites is STRONIC REAL, one of FUN FACTORY’s self-thrusting toys, which provides hands-free penetration. I really like the gentle and rhythmic internal massage. This toy really does do most of the work itself, so it’s perfect, because I can just be comfortable and relax into it. Left to my own devices, my pain and limited mobility would never allow for a 30- to 45-minute session of non-stop rhythm. Personally, I like to build a little penetrative pillow fort with this one.
I also really like VOLTA for more of a clit-stimulating experience. I can only handle this intensity in small doses, but it is a lovely flutter. I also appreciate the shape of this toy; there's a hole in the middle of the handle where the power buttons are, which makes it much easier to grip.
For folks with penises, there are some great options. I've recommended COBRA LIBRE II to people with limited grip and dexterity. It grabs and holds the penis tip with pulling motions and intense vibrations. Another option is MANTA, which is great as a stroking toy or for targeted vibrations wherever.
When I talk with other disabled folks who are looking to get a new pleasure toy, I don't ever have just one thing that I can recommend. I love to talk with people and find out what kind of sensations they are interested in and what their specific body/mind needs are. Then, we explore options together to find some things that might work. As BlackQueerDisabledFemme Jade T. Perry reminds us, a key practice within disabled sex is making things easier and more comfortable for yourself, even if it's just a little bit more comfortable, at every opportunity.
Sex toys can bring so much ease and comfort, and so many new options, to our sex and self-care. Fulfilled fantasies and f**kable forts to you all.
carrie sarah kaufman, or ck, (she/they) is a queer, multiply disabled, white, jewish femme. she is a kitchen witch, a plant mama, an artist and a survivor. her work explores disabled embodiment, sexuality, care, and intimacy, as well as jewish magic and spirituality. she is passionate about supporting disabled survivors and providing pleasure-focused sex ed for disabled people.
This post was written by a guest blogger, and all opinions and ideas expressed are that of the author. All ideas included are for educational and entertainment value, and do not constitute medical advice.