Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And So, What Do You Think?

image from Facebook
A writer friend wrote me recently somewhat bemused -- I dare not say, "agog." 

She had read all of the I wanna take him to bed comments regarding an image of the actor Peter Dinklage.

The cynical person with a visible disability learns to be very wary of this sort of thing. I said so to her, but as I explained why, she didn't respond. 

Wary? Sure, but that's not to say people with disabilities cannot be sexually appealing, attractive, and sexually vibrant. And we should get one matter out of the way first. Peter Dinklage is handsome guy, at least as I attempt to perceive a female's idea of handsomeness, for he is man with a face that reeks of character, and a thoroughly masculine face it is.

He is, however, a little person. (I'm not sure is that's the correct terminology now.) He may be dark and handsome, but one thing he isn't is tall.

Here's what makes me antsy. And any sophisticated person with a visible disability knows out there in the world lurks wanna-be people and people with fetishes focusing on disability. Dropping "disability fetish" into the Google search box will return more than a half-million hits.

Of course, there's this to consider as well. Not all every sexual fetish is bad. I can think of some which are, and some which are not, and your list may be different, but in some instinctive way, I feel a disability fetish is more often bad than good. 

Perhaps I'm skittish because I doubt that I've ever been the object of someone with a disability fetish, or at least I've never felt so. The key word, I suspect, in that sentence is "object." 

A person with a disability no more wants to be an object of another person's sexual obsession than a woman, for example, might because of her bust size. If a woman doesn't want to be pursued by multiple admirers only because she boasts a 38DD bra size, I don't want to be pursued by multiple women (don't laugh) because my battered old wheelchair tickles some sort of kink.

And so we come to the actor Peter Dinklage and his admirers—"sexiest ever," "attractive," "this picture makes me want him," "sexy as hell," "sexy little man," and perhaps the most interesting (and to, accurate) assessment "I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things."

While most of the comments refer to sexual attraction—and that's where fetish lies, after all—the last comment broadens the discussion into an area where many people with disabilities might become uncomfortable. Dare we ask ourselves, Are we loved because of our disability?

Even to ask the question leaves the taste of irony in my mouth. I have spent most of my life thinking myself unworthy of all that is given by the male-female romantic connection because of my physical disability. I am dependent. I need tending. Were there but two of us left on this earth, I would need help from the other to survive.

However, to make it even more personal and more confusing, I am married (like Dinklage), and I am married to a beautiful woman who says she finds me attractive (also like Dinklage). Of course, I doubt anyone would marry a person they don't find attractive.

There must be something other than the twisted body, useless legs, and sardonic smile that makes me attractive to my wife, but even at that I cannot envision her, long ago before we met, seeing my photograph, shirt or not, grapes or none, and thinking me "sexy as hell." That's a convoluted way of saying, I suppose, that I suspect her of no fetishes.

So then if love is possible for a person hammered and dented by disability, I suppose sexual attraction—the pair bond, to be sexual-preference neutral—is possible as well. 

Why then I do I immediately think that there's an element of disability fetishism in the scrum of compliments appending the picture of Dinklage and grapes?

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