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Ableism is the discrimination against men and women with emotional, physical, and mental disabilities. It is also alternately called ablecentrism, disability oppression, and handicapism. This social prejudice presumes that able-bodied people are superior to those with disabilities. It looks at being able-bodied as the norm that must be conformed with. In the realm of sexual health, ableism impacts the way the sexuality of disabled people is viewed, both by society and, as a result, disabled people themselves. Ableist views may lead to exclusion of groups of people from sex education and healthcare in a sexual context because they are assumed to not be sexual.
Ableism is a set of beliefs enacted by non-disabled people and experienced and often internalized by those with disabilities. For example, if our notion of "sex" is constrained to activities that involve moving the body in certain ways, we may assume that people who are incapable of such motions incapable of sex, even if those people are capable of experiencing sexual pleasure and enjoying their sexuality in many other ways. This is ableist thinking, and it can impact disabled people in their relationships and the way they are treated in settings that involve sexuality, including dating, sexual education and healthcare.
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