By Alexandra Christopoulos
Joeanne Horvat Kean was shocked when she saw a recent television advertising campaign for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Horvat Kean, a facilitator for the Anne Johnston Health Station, simply could not believe that an ad would portray a man in a wheelchair, gazing out of a window, witnessing his girlfriend hooking up with his best friend. The subtext to the message — “you have a lot to lose (from drunk driving),” — was clear to Horvat Kean.
She said it was part of the myth about the sexuality of people with disabilities. Media portrayal of disability and sexuality was one of the topics Horvat Kean and Gwen Reid, another facilitator at the Anne Johnston Health Station, discussed at Thursday’s interactive workshop “Sex: Think outside the box.”
The workshop was organized by RyeAccess and RyePride and was meant to break stereotypes and myths about the sexuality of people with disabilities. Horvat Kean and Reid began their workshop by saying that contrary to the stereotypes, people with disabilities can experience sexual pleasure.
“They’re ‘medicalizing’ the person,” Horvat Kean said in reference to why people make that assumption. The two speakers raised the issue that popular media wrongly link sexual pleasure with having an orgasm. “For some, having a genital orgasm is impossible due, for example, to paralysis,” Reid said.
“If sexual pleasure equals orgasm, does this mean that the myth is true? No. “There’s more to it. There’s kissing and touching. There’s a process,” Reid said.
Kevin Ng Yu Kwong, events coordinator for RyeAccess, said he would have liked if more people with disabilities had shown up.
“We don’t really have the turnout of disabled students… We would like to reach out to them and help them with nonacademic issues,” he said.