Thursday, 31 January 2013

Disability and Sex.... it's not just possible, it can be amazingly amazing!!!!

Anyone who has been reading my blogs recently, as well as watching This Morning, listening to the radio or reading various newspapers who have interviewed me will know that I have strong feelings about the subject of disability and sex. But this isn't a new thing, I began my media career working as a sex-pert on two Channel 4 Yoof shows, and have been working to champion the right for disabled people to have a sex life ever since. However, I want disabled people to treated just like the rest of society so I am dead against this current push to create special crip friendly brothels and for disabled people to get free visits to sex workers on the state. But I don't want to only be negative on this subject and so I have written a column in this issue of Disability Now giving my tips on chatting people up, under the title of "Mik's Rough Guide To Pulling". It's a humorous piece, written with my tongue firmly stuck in my check, but all the tips have worked for me. In fact I would go so far as to say that these tips have allowed me to be the sexually confident person I am today.

On top of these tips, I feel this is the time to put online an article I had published in a woman's magazine called Scarlet (yes I got the job by ringing them up and saying "I must write for you... Scarlet in Scarlet" and they went for it). The piece outlines some of the techniques that I have used during sexual confidence workshops with people with spinal injury, but in the article I have applied the tips to the wider community. Yes I am so arogant that I decided to give sex advice to everyone, disabled or not. But shock horror, it was really well received and was syndicated worldwide. You see I have always believed that the wider society could learn a thing or two about improving their sex life from disabled people like me, and the reaction to this article proved me right. But more importantly, it is essential for disabled people to know that not only is sex possible for them, no matter what their impairment, but it can be so good that it is better than the sex that the majority of non-disabled people have.

So whoever you are, and whether you are disabled or not take a look and see what you think. It's very honest and open, but I have always felt that this is a topic that is so important that if I want to ensure a change in the way the world thinks about sexuality and sex and disability then I can't only tell half the truth.

Right here goes....



Let’s face it we don’t live in a society that thinks of disability as “sexy”. Most able-bodied people think that coming to a disability as an end to sexiness, and in a way it is. When I found myself facing a life in a wheelchair after my spine collapsed when I was 16, I could not see how I was going to form sexual relationships. Due to nerve damage I was not only left with legs that didn’t work any more, but I also had to face my future with sexy bits that while they still had full feeling (which was lucky I admit) had no motor function. Put simply I was left looking forward to a future where Mr. Wobbly stayed wobbly all the time.

I considered trying to forge relationships with men, but found being very heterosexual got in the way of that. (I still have no idea how you girls put up with stubble on a bloke’s face, and I won’t even mention the taste of a cock….urk!) So with a heavy heart I got used to the idea that I was to face a future alone.

You see I had brought into the myth that sex is all about erections and penetration. Luckily for me, this was back in the early 80’s. Thanks to the whole New Romantic fashion (of which I was a HUGE fan) it was a time when young people questioned all of the sexual stereotypes. Most of my friends turned out to be Gay or Lesbian and through their friendships I learned the truth about sex.

The main reason for sex now we have evolved beyond shagging to reproduce is pleasure. Whether it’s in a loving relationship or between ships that pass in the night, great sex should leave you sweaty, knackered, fulfilled and very happy. All of my Lesbian friends made me an Honorary Lesbian once they learned I could have no part in the penetrative act (it was a different time folks – Lesbianism was very political life choice, and all penetration was considered rape). With their help I began to see myself as a sexual being, and even ended going out with one of them for two years.

I also read every sex manual I could lay my hands on. In fact I read all manner of books that I thought might be useful if I was going to be able to please any future partners. I even went as far as to read a S.S. torture manual for the WW2 just in case I ever ended up naked with a masochist. (On retrospect it hasn’t ever helped my sex life but it did completely freak me out at the time)

Well now you know why I think I am in a position to give you, lovely reader advice on sex. I promise you if you try out some of these tips, you will end up having a great time…

*Tip 1 – Open you mind (part1)

The major sex organ that we posses is our minds. Fantasy and imagination can make sex so much more rewarding. So forget any hang-ups you might have, ignore any baggage you might have from up bringing (either from religion, parents or bad experience) and most off all never feel guilty.

*Tip 2 – You’re only making it harder on yourself!

Penetration can be a prison for sexuality. Yes it can be fantastic, but getting too hung up on the “old in-out” can lead to a very unfulfilling sex life. While some women can only reach orgasm through being filled up, most find themselves getting there thanks to the most perfect organ, the Clitoris. But every girl’s “Love Button” is different. Some like gentle stimulation, some enjoy a more aggressive direct approach and others change their tastes like the wind changes direction. There is no right way to give the Clit the attention it needs and deserves, so experimentation is the only way forward.

When “giving” to your partner use your imagination and try everything. Watch the response. If it seems favourable, change what you are doing slightly and see how the response changes. More favourable – carry on, less favourable – try some thing else or go back to what you were doing before.

When “receiving” please, please, please talk to your partner. Tell them what you like, and if you don’t know let them experiment and say “Oh Yes!” when they are getting it right and “Oh No!” when they aren’t (but be gentle with them - nothing ruins your confidence like a partner knocking your technique – you always get more bees with honey than with vinegar). Try making it part of your role playing - being “The Boss” or playing “The Virgin”. If it works don’t knock it!

*Tip 3 – Open your mind (part2)

Role-playing and fantasy brings me to my best tip. I call it “Hands Free Masturbation”. In short this is a tip that once you’ve worked out how to do it will make sex a whole new ball game (if you’ll excuse the pun).

To learn H.F.M. you need to make yourself a gap in your day, preferably just before going to sleep. Lay yourself down, and basically think the sexiest, dirtiest thoughts you can imagine. It doesn’t matter what you think of, as long as it hits your spot. Remember to forget guilt, and just go wild. Now hopefully this will get you turned on nicely. When you feel your body starting to respond to what’s happening in your head,


Instead make your fantasies go even wilder. Really let yourself go. At the same time start focusing on the “nice” feelings that will hopefully be getting more and more intense as you fantasise. For the first few times you might need to touch yourself, but only give in if you really have to. If you keep resisting the urge, you will find yourself orgasming just through the power of your imagination.

This fantastic skill can help in many ways. It can be used to ensure you cum together, to make any sex that extra bit special and lets you wank any time, anywhere.

*Tip 4 – The Real Head Fuck

The best part of learning H.F.M. is that you can then use the technique to make other parts of your body as responsive as your genitals. It is something I teach to disabled people who have lost sensation in their sexy bits. It means they can start to really enjoy sex on an equal footing with their partners. What it means to you able-bodied shaggers is the ability to make any part of your body a “Love Button”.

All you have to do is when you are trying a bit of H.F.M. move your focus from your groin (where the “nice” feelings tend to start) to another part of your body. I would advise you to start with your nipples. They are already an erogenous zone, and so it easier to focus the sexy feeling to them. But any part of your body that you enjoy having touched will do. Try to push yourself over the edge without focusing on your groin. If you need to touch the part of your body you are focusing on, just to make the sensation more intense.

Now you can go wild and cover your body in “Love Buttons”. I even know of a guy who was a tetraplegic (broke his neck – think of Christopher Reeve) who turned the end of his nose into his sex organs. Just imagine how much it made having a cold.

*Tip 5 – Never say Never

All of my other tips involve some effort on your part. I have used them all to great effect, and I have taught them to others to equal effect. However the best thing that I have learned on my way to becoming the sexually confident Crip I am today is “Never be afraid to try something”. In fact it’s more than that. In the words of Diane, my fiancĂ© and the love of my life, “If you try something and you don’t like it, try it again just to make sure!”

(end) So, there you go kind reader. Give my tips a go, and see what happens. I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen?

Oh and one more thing before I go. If you ever want to try a bit of bondage, try using a wheelchair. They are covered in fixing points, and it means you can wheel your “captive” all over the house. Not that I’d know of course… Tee hee!!!!!
©Mik Scarlet 2005

Well I think that is enough on sex for now. I hope that my arguments around this attitude that disabled people can only experience sex if they pay for it, and my advice, both in my DN article and the tips above, go some way to changing the way you, dear reader, think about sex. If nothing else, I hope you give some of my tips a try. Might make for a fun night.

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If any groups or disabled people's organisations reading this would like to me to run a workshop around sexual confidence and disability, please contact me using the e-mail address on my website -

Monday, 21 January 2013

Has the everyone just started taking crazy pills?

Just when I thought the topic of disability and sex couldn't get more media focus, something else catches their attention. Alongside the proposal from Becky Adams to open a special "Disabled Only" brothel that I explored in my last blog there is now the story of Chris Fulton who is looking for a solicitor who will help him fight for vouchers from the NHS to pay for disabled people to visit sex workers on the state. I can't even begin to explain why this is a non-started of an idea. But I will try...

Disabled people who have impairments that effect their mobility or their ability to carry out daily activities easily already get payments through the DLA, which is soon to change too the PIP payments. It's our choice how we use those payments, so if a disabled recipient feels that they need to visit a sex worker they can use some of that money for that purpose. To claim that sex is a human right opens up a can of worms that might lead to many other members of our society demanding that they also have the right to visit sex workers of the NHS. I'm sure this idea will drive those people who believe the propaganda that disabled people are already getting loads of free stuff from the state into a rage. A visit to the Daily Mail online will prove me right I feel.

Of course at the minute disabled people are facing a mirriad of cuts and changes in how their lives are run. One of the biggest is the closure of the Independent Living Fund. The fund used to provide funding to cover the costs of paying for Personal Assistants, who allowed people who need help with dressing, washing and eating to living independently. These costs are now going to expected to be covered by local authorities, but there is no legal expectation for them to do so. This means that many disabled people are facing the prospect of a future in residential homes, after living their lives in their own homes totally independent. Surely this is the kind of thing that people like Chris should be campaigning for? How can you use your hooker vouchers if you can't get dressed, washed or fed?

But even if you ignore that bigger issues, how would this work? Who says who is so disabled that they are entitled to use the voucher scheme? Would the government get in Gok Wan to cast his eye over the claimants to decide who isn't sexy enough to get laid? Or even worse, would Atos being hired to run Sex Capability Assessments? Would you need to be assessed by a panel of Atos experts before you could claim for a freebie sex sessions?

Then would those pesky fraudsters start trying to get the vouchers even though they weren't entitled to them? Would non-disabled people be greasing down their hair and acting all disabled in the attempt to get some free sex? Or would sexy cripples try to down play the gorgeousness as they feel they should also be entitled to some extra sex? Maybe the BBC's Saints and Scroungers could run a sex special exposing those terrible people who are really able to get themselves sex but who have pretended to be unshagable to defraud the state.

In all seriousness, is state funded sex the real answer to the way disabled people are considered by society? I would hope that we would campaign to change the way we were thought of by the wider world. More disabled people in the media, more opportunities to find work and accessible housing and an end to the targeting of the benefits that allow disabled people to live an independent life would all be campaigns that might help a little. Now it might seem a bit like a "Giz a job" idea, but I really feel that more strong, confident and attractive disabled people in the media would help loads. It would show the non-disabled world that their stereotype of disability is wrong and create role models for disabled people. I know that I have met loads of disabled people who have told me that seeing me on the TV back in the 90's gave them the confidence to dress up, go out and have fun. Whether we like it or not, that is how most people meet a partner. I must also admit that I used to get a lot of steamy fan mail when I was a kids TV presenter. All those mums watching TV with their kids had no problems with the idea of sex with a wheelchair user that's for sure.

Disabled people want equality in choice and experience. Expecting the state to pay for us to have sex is so far away from this dream it hurts. On top of that it damages the way society sees us further. I want the wider society to start seeing disabled people are great protective partners and not tragic charity cases that all have to pay to get their bits felt.  So come on folks, let's stop shouting about such silly ideas.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Brothels for the Disabled? No Thanks!

Yesterday I did a radio phone in on BBC 3 Counties Breakfast Show on the subject of a proposed brothel that will specialise in providing a service for disabled customers. Yes, a brothel for cripples. Many of you will know that I do a lot of campaigning and work around the topic of sexuality and disability and so might imagine that I would be in favour of such an idea. However this could not be further from the truth. While I got a brief chance to air my views on the radio, I think it is really important to explain fully why I feel it could be so damaging for all of us, not just disabled people. It breaks down to three key reasons.

The first is the idea that disabled people have a greater need for the services of prostitutes. This is an attitude that runs throughout our society, yet the proof just isn't there. While I know and have met some disabled people, well disabled men, who have paid for sex, most have not. They have gone out in to the world and formed sexual relationships in the "normal" way. Ones that spanned from casual flings to long term love and flowers jobs. Not just those disabled people who could be said to have the sexier disabilities, like Paraplegics or Amputees, but people with all manner of impairments. People who have little or no ability to speak and who need 24 hour personal assistance who have had or who are in loving relationships. Yet time and time again, when the media focuses on the subject of sex and disability the story we mainly see revolves around a disabled person seeking paid sex. More than that, the prostitution industry uses this attitude to attempt to legitimise what they do and to further their campaign to legalise it.

The effect of this false belief that disabled people need the services of prostitutes more than anyone else is the second reason why I am opposed as it causes issues for the way society thinks about disability. It not only effects disabled people but everyone. For disabled people, it means they grow up in an atmosphere that makes them believe that they just aren't sexy or potential sexual partners and for the non-disabled community it plays a part in continuing the prejudice around disability. More than that, as all non-disabled people are just disabled people before an illness or injury, it means that if they acquire a disability part of the grieving process they will have to go through revolves around the loss of their sexual confidence. I know as even though I have been disabled since birth, I went through it when my impairment changed and started using a wheelchair at the age of 15. Even before then, when I one of the walking wounded, I was unsure that anyone would want to go out with me. But when my spine collapsed and I lost the ability to gain an erection, I was positive that my chances to form sexual relationships were over. Yet I soon found I could not have been more wrong. With much of the work I do with newly disabled people this fear around them no longer being able to have sex or form relationships is a massive part of the journey they go on as they learn to put their lives back together. Much of this feeling of asexuality stems from the focus on disabled people having this deep need to pay for sex, which most people really don't want do to. So of course you will get down about being newly disabled is you truly believe that the only way you will be able to have sex from now on is if you pay for it. Why would your partner want to stay with someone who is now that lacking in the sexy stakes? I also think that this attitude leads to the need that there is for paid sex. If you grow up or become disabled so assured that the only way you'll ever experience sex is to pay for it, then that is what you will do. Thus the need for this proposed service is fuelled by the attitude, so it becomes self fulfilling.

Lastly, the idea that there should be a special place for disabled people who do want to use the services of prostitute is also wrong. The law states that any new business should ensure that the goods or services that they provide should be accessible to disabled people, so any brothel that opens should be open to disabled people. Not just one specializing in cripple sex. You shouldn't have to travel to Milton Keynes, or where ever it might be sited, if you want a paid sex experience, but you should be able to pop down to your local knocking shop. Remember that currently brothels are illegal, so if the law is changed and they can be opened then all brothels will be new businesses. So to comply with the law every single one of them should be fully accessible. If they aren't you can sue them! Thus getting you get your paid sex for free... tee hee.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not arguing that disabled people should not visit prostitutes. I want disabled people to have the right to choose how they live their lives, so if you want to pay for it then fine. But I refuse to stay silent as yet again this option is held up and the only choice for disabled people. No disabled person is so unattractive that this is their only solution to their needs, and if that is how some people feel then we should all be fighting to do something about that. We should not be fighting to make a world where it's easier for disabled people to pay for sex as they feel they can get it no other way, we should be fighting for a world where disabled people are seen and see themselves as viable sexual partners. During my career I have made several programmes and written loads of articles on the subject of disability and sex, and have met with quiet a few disabled people who paid for sex. Almost all them have said that the experience eventually left them feeling empty and depressed as there it was only sex. At the end of the day what we all really want is an emotional bond, friendship and companionship. Sure orgasms are nice, but sex is always best in a loving relationship and why shouldn't we all have the chance at that?

I know I could be described as lucky when it comes to this subject. I am happily married, and have had a succession of beautiful girls in my life before I met "the one". I am definitely always being told how lucky I am as I come across as confident, and recently my good friend Julie Fernandez told me I was overtly sexual, which was a bit of a shock to me. You see I might appear to be all these things, but I have all the same hang ups and insecurities as everyone else. Don't forget I can't get a hard on so conventional sex is out for me. So I do understand why some disabled men might feel the need to pay for it. It's just that this subject is bigger than personal need. It says something about disability that I refuse to accept and do not want the society I live to take as truth. Whatever our impairment, disabled people can be and are sexy, sexual and superb potential partners. And focusing on the minority who bang on about paid sex being their only option hurts us all, and does nothing to further disabled people's lives.

A final issue I might raise is that if this special needs brothel (catchy name huh?) does open will all the people who work there be fully trained to work with disabled people, will it be able to find full liability insurance in case of something going wrong and will it have the ability to cater for all disabled people, spanning the full gamut of their physical and mental needs?

At the end of the day, if you want to visit a brothel you should be able to. I just feel that the idea of a special one for disabled people won't work, will do more harm than good to those how use it and does nothing to make the world a better place. It might sound a bit optimistic and utopian but I thought that is what campaigning is all about. I don't want to work in the real world, I want to work towards making that world better. Allowing this brothel to open just won't do that in any way.