Growing up, I think sexuality is one of those things that is over-looked as a blind person. Many sighted teenagers learn a lot of things by seeing their peers interact in school, watching TV shows and movies, and by looking at body language. There are many things that sighted people learn growing up that we don’t think about until the time comes when we need to know the information. I hope to provide quality information that will inform you where to go when you have trouble with any of these areas.
What's Hot and What's Not
Growing up, you hear a lot of your sighted friends say that someone is hot because of their shape, their size, the clothes they wear, or the way they carry themselves. A lot of communication among sighted people is done by eye contact. How do we as blind people judge whether or not we think someone is attractive?
There are several e-mail lists where blind people converse about topics regarding blindness. One topic which recently came up was: How can you say someone looks hot when you can’t see them? The majority of blind people on that list said they obviously did not judge a person based solely on looks.
You might be able to have a friend describe to you what someone looks like but that doesn’t mean much to you. If someone simply tells you what color hair and eyes someone has, and their physical features, sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes, as blind people, we base our opinions on whether someone is attractive by their voice and personality, how they present themselves. I had a friend tell me a few years back, “How can you think Kid Rock is hot, he looks grotesque.” But by his voice and personality, and the way he presents himself in public, I find that sexy.
Knowing If Someone Is Interested
Many people can tell if someone is interested in them by their facial expressions. Others may tell by the ways in which people present themselves to them compared to the way they present themselves to others. As blind people, we obviously don’t have those things to use. We have to use direct contact. We have to listen to the person’s tone of voice when they talk to us, the wording they use when talking, whether or not their behavior is suggestive, and the physical contact they have with you such as holding your hand, putting their arm around you, etc. You can tell a lot from someone’s verbal indications and how suggestive they might be.
One concept everyone is taught early on, even in school now, is how to use protection and the danger of an STD. In school or somewhere along the way growing up, sighted people learn things like how to use condoms, where to go for birth control, etc. Sometimes, we as blind people are not properly educated about these things. I personally never gave it a thought until I became involved with my partner. There are many places you can go, however, once you turn eighteen. Any medical clinic can provide information to you on these topics.
I first started off with a sighted friend showing me how to put a condom on. She used my hand, and first let me feel her put the condom over my fingers. Then, she told me to get another condom, and as I took it out of the package she showed me how to pinch it at the top, and while pinching the very top between my thumb and pointer finger, I rolled it onto her two fingers. Though I appreciated her efforts and willingness to show me how it was done, I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I did not want to talk to family about it, because I felt it was my own personal business. So I made an appointment to talk to an educator at Planned Parenthood because I wanted to make sure I was properly informed. Many people will say that since condoms are used on the man, it is the man’s responsibility to know how to put a condom on. I believe, since sexual encounters involve two people, both need to be educated.
There are many further aspects of sexuality, too many to be discussed in one article. To learn more about various subjects relating to sex, I would recommend the following readings:
The Period Book: Everything You Don't Want to Ask, But Need to Know Karen & Jennifer Gravelle (a children’s book for young girls to understand the steps to becoming a woman).
What's Going on Down There: Answers to Questions Boys Find Hard to Ask Karen Gravelle, Nick Castro, Chava Castro (a book good for explaining to young boys how their body will change).
Nice Couples Do - Joan Elizabeth Lloyd (a book for couples that details how to enhance intimacy.
Sex In a Box – A book that pertains to sex for people with various disabilities
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort M.D.,A bit outdated, but still a good read.