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Does Valentine's Day represent disabled people?

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PSHEexpert
PSHEexpert Community member Posts: 170 Pioneering

Valentine’s Day has been on my mind for the last couple of weeks.  This year, my colleagues and students will all be on campus for the big day itself, rather than on our half term break.  I’m the sex and relationships education lead at a specialist college for young people with a broad range of complex needs, and whoever said ‘love is wasted on the young’ clearly hasn’t met our students.

Valentine’s Day can be a touchy subject.  I read an article that my friend posted on Facebook over the weekend about a major supermarket including a gay couple as part of their Valentine’s Day campaign.  It’s about time, I thought - and then, of course, I started having a look to see whether the steps towards diversity went any further.  I’m sure It’s no surprise that there weren’t a lot of visible disabled folks getting it on.  Why is that?  I have to say that, from where I’m standing, it’s certainly not representative of how things really are.

Heart shaped hole in wooden door

A shift in attitude about diversity has been taking place, but there’s nothing like enough representation, and that’s a really important issue.  There are still lots of people with learning, physical or sensory disabilities who feel excluded from the opportunities to enjoy romance, dating, love, and sex.   Feeling excluded isn’t unique to disability (and neither is it assumed!), but disability is often cited as a factor - whether that’s down to an individual’s feelings about themselves or their situation, or a lack of support from family or carers.  Feeling invisible or underrepresented in the conversation is sure to have an impact.

Everybody needs sex and relationships education that makes it clear that we all have the same rights, and should be enjoying the same opportunities to exercise them.  It’s not enough to just point that out, either - everyone deserves to feel special, desirable, interesting, loved; romantically and sexually as much as any other context, and that should be factored in.  Valentine’s Day turns the spotlight on love and romance, and it’s a great opportunity to think about not only how we express it towards each other (and think about ourselves), but also how we can support each other in that.  

Heading into the last week of half term, there are singing Valentine deliveries happening around campus, a poetry competition, and a real buzz in the air.  It’s really making me think about how we can make things properly inclusive ‘out there’. Working with young adults has a way of making me focus on aspirations, hopes, and dreams - the lives we all want.  I’m happy that we get one day a year where it’s expected that we’ll dare to say things that maybe we wouldn’t normally dare to - and where perhaps we’re all a little more receptive, a little more attuned to the excitement of a connection, a new opportunity, feeling part of something special.  Wouldn’t it be great if that were every day?  Perhaps that’s the place to start. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!


PSHExpert is our specialist sex and relationships educator, writer and researcher. Sex-positive, interested in forthright, relevant, accessible and INCLUSIVE sex and relationships education for all ages and abilities with a focus on pleasure as well as dignity and rights.  If you would like to ask her a question, head over to the Ask a Sex and Relationships expert page.

- Gill 
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Comments

  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    Valentine's day is just a money spinner for florists, card companies etc

    I have been with Donna for 27 years and get this morning no cards or gifts were exchanged, we don't need to be told or given a push to let each other know about our love. 

    I know she would rather get flowers or a gift as a surprise rather than expect it because we are told that today is the day. 

  • Fundamentalist
    Fundamentalist Community member Posts: 133 Courageous
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    Hi from Fm. I totally agree. "valentine's" is just another money-making scam like so many others. Anyone who really believes it's about love must be really naïve. And as for disability "inclusion" in the courting scene spare a thought for those who just don't have a hope in h-ll of having any love life because of such appalling conditions forced on them by totally unfit parents who were carrying, but not suffering all manner of life destroying conditions. Those are the kind of people I really care about, those who are never mentioned anywhere because no-one wants to know and far too many are too quick to blame the victim which is all totally wrong, folk can't help what their born with. Remember John Merrick, the so-called "elephant man"? Would you even consider trying to get "romantically" involved with anyone who can't go to a restaurant or a cinema etc. or go anywhere hot or can't even go on a plane or stay in a hotel or can't even watch TV with anyone or can't even have visitors at home? Some folk really are that seriously disabled, remember it's not all "white sticks and wheelchairs". Have a good think about it. I'm over 50 but for some unknown reason I still sometimes get young lasses trying to get my attention but I have to ignore them because of the absolutely appalling conditions forced on me and I can never think of a single remotely positive thing to say about myself. The sooner this valentine's stuff is over the better, good riddance to it. Fm.
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
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    I enjoy Valentines Day, I don't need gifts or anything expensive but I think it's a nice reminder to tell your loved ones that you love them.

    I do agree though that disabled people aren't represented, I didn't see any adverts including disabled people. But that is probably across the year, not just on 14th Feb.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    Do the adverts need to represent disabled people?
    Is it right for any group to expect to be represented?
    Like the BBC quiz show rule that every show must include at least one woman! Why?
    Now this may sound like I'm being a bit in PC, however life will never be balanced and fair and we can't force it.
    Before the character Donna appeared in EastEnders we used to joke about "token wheelchair man" who would in every episode be wheeling though the market just to make sure they were being inclusive.
    It's a bit like the disabled toilet sign, yes it should represent everyone but how can you represent all disabilities? The sign would be huge.
    If we sit there looking for reasons to complain, judging everything for not including the disabled, women, Asians, lesbians, etc etc well we will drive ourselves mad!
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
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    I think so yes!! I think our media (TV, film, books, adverts, etc) should represent our society.  Real society has men and women, it has people of all different ethnicities, it has people who are LGBTQ+.  I want to see the people I see in real life represented in the media I consume.

    Why should the BBC include women? Because historically it shows white men and no one else. Isnt it odd to not showcase women on TV? 

    As a disabled, mixed ethnicity woman who has an LGBTQ+ child, I want to be represented on TV.  I want to see people like me.

    If you went by who is shown on TV, you'd think that the world was made up of  90% white, middle class men.  So, yes, I think we should absolutely represent the society we live in.  
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Alex
    Alex Posts: 1,305 Pioneering
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    Great post!

    I agree that there's nowhere near enough representation.

    I think it would help attitudes a lot if things like advertising and television were reflective of society - whether that's disability, gender, age, sexuality or race. It's a shame that that hasn't happened naturally. Things like diversity targets can feel very forced and tokenistic - but I think they're necessary until it becomes the norm.

    People like Channel 4 and the BBC are leading the way and there are many other areas which have much bigger problems (for example, I find it fairly unbelievable that the percentage of companies being led by women is still so small, the percentage of disabled people in charge of companies is probably tiny).

    Hopefully one day it'll just be so normal, that we won't even mention it!
  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    That's not what I mean, they should be represented but not in a way that makes it obvious, if that makes sense?
    Like 'token wheelchair guy' yes it was right to include and see someone in a wheelchair but not necessarily making sure he had to be in every episode!
    With say 'Have I got news for you', it should be inclusive but is it fair to say it has to have a certain ratio for every show? 
    Equality is important, we have to make sure that people feel represented but as a disabled person I don't expect to see a wheelchair in every programme. However it's nice to see them x amount of shows.
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
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    Like Alex says, it may feel forced and tokenistic, and isnt that sad? That we have to have an enforced diversity quota?  But before quotas, shows simply used white, able bodied, heterosexual men.  Probably because the companies are run by white, able bodied, heterosexual men and we promote what we know.

    I learnt about blind auditioning for orchestras, there has historically been a HUGE gender bias in orchestras, in 1970 only 5% of the top orchestras were women.  It was generally believed that men were just better at playing instruments! 

    And so they began doing blind auditions, candidates audition on a stage behind a screen to play for a jury that cannot see them, researchers determined that doing this makes it 50% more likely that a woman will advance to the finals.

    There is a gender bias, an ethnicity bias, a sexuality bias in the media.  But if we don't do anything to try and amend this, then we, as a society will never change.
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Alex
    Alex Posts: 1,305 Pioneering
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    Yes, I agree that tokenism isn't very good.

    I'm sure comedians want to be on "Have I got news for you" because they're funny not because they tick a diversity box.

    But the counter argument is that having incentives / targets in place forces people to address the bias and barriers that might exist in their industry. It shouldn't be about forcing people into roles - but looking at why they aren't already in those roles - and changing that.
  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    I think the BBC are getting it right, people in programmes that feel right. 
    Like Donna in EastEnders and Liz Carr as Clarissa in Silent Witness who is so good, they should be there on merit not because they have to insert someone because a rule says so.
    Damn it feels good to be able to discuss this, I daren't on social media because you get attacked if question these things lol
  • Sam_Alumni
    Sam_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 7,671 Disability Gamechanger
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    I am so glad you feel like that @Zec Richardson we should be able to discuss and debate these issues without fear of being attacked! 
    Scope
    Senior online community officer
  • Rainbow_wheelz16
    Rainbow_wheelz16 Community member Posts: 30 Connected
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    It goes deeper than valentines  day. I think it ties in with disability, relationshipS and the taboos surrounding this issue. Can disabled  people  be loved and be  in love? Seen as someone  who can be loved like everyone  else?  I  don't think people with disabilities are generally seen by society, on the whole, as sexually desirable, or probably not seen as relationship material. Some people  may even question  if disabled people  can be in a long term relationship! If we are not seen as sexually desirable or someone you  can actually be in love with, then I think this has a  impact on people's  views, it's ridiculous and very  sad., we are human after all!! It's  like the friend zone but not relationship  zone thing.  

  • Fundamentalist
    Fundamentalist Community member Posts: 133 Courageous
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    It goes deeper than valentines  day. I think it ties in with disability, relationshipS and the taboos surrounding this issue. Can disabled  people  be loved and be  in love? Seen as someone  who can be loved like everyone  else?  I  don't think people with disabilities are generally seen by society, on the whole, as sexually desirable, or probably not seen as relationship material. Some people  may even question  if disabled people  can be in a long term relationship! If we are not seen as sexually desirable or someone you  can actually be in love with, then I think this has a  impact on people's  views, it's ridiculous and very  sad., we are human after all!! It's  like the friend zone but not relationship  zone thing.  


    Hi from Fm. I think this is why it's no good trying to find a partner from the successful normal crowd because they will only want someone from their own crowd who can be on equal terms with them and be able to offer what they expect which in my opinion is all too often far too much. I've listed some of it in another post about being locked out of love life because of disabilities. I think folk who are disabled need to find someone who they can be on more equal terms with, someone who will accept them as they are and not expect far too much as they all too often do. They have their standards and I have some of my own a bit different to theirs. In my experience far too many "dating" sites are far too elitist and are generally only used by professional classes. I also think it depends on what kind of disability(s) you have, in my case I'm so severely disabled it's so far proved totally impossible to find anyone remotely suitable but then who would have someone who can't do near enough any of the things that couples normally do together? But I CAN certainly still LOVE someone, but in our western culture that's never enough is it? Far too many out there are far too used to having far too much far too easy for far too long. Fm.
  • ChrisKz
    ChrisKz Community member Posts: 30 Connected
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    Too much hype and commercial **** , why on earth do people believe in this pathetic garbage ?. Is there some law that being single is taboo , I am enjoying life ( 57) not really dated in 17 years .. I can do,eat ,go wherever I want and answer to no one . No one to "snap" at when pain takes over .
      I have had long term relationships  never married , last relationship resulted in loosing my soul mate to ovarian cancer .. Never dated since. Just be happy with and in your life , do what you want to do , as being in a relationship sacrifices will have to be made .
  • Fundamentalist
    Fundamentalist Community member Posts: 133 Courageous
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    Hi from Fm. I am absolutely sick and tired of all those who arrogantly brag about how they so enjoy themselves.I certainly DO NOT enjoy having to be alone all the time by force and not by my own free will all because of absolutely APPALLING conditions forced on me by a totally unfit parent and because of him I can't be a parent either. Now I know what all those other folk feel like who so want a child but can't have any, full stop! I can't even adopt any because I'm so totally unfit. So I don't want to hear about those going "look at me, aren't I so free" I can't put the rest of it here. Perhaps it's time I left this site if this is how I'm going to be treated. It's alright for those who have a choice, some of us DON'T, it's all been decided by someone else who couldn't care less and only thought of their self. Only yesterday ( 16/02/17 ) some really stunning and really young natural brunette tried to get my attention but she was worlds apart from me as she was in some fancy restaurant so she wouldn't want to know me if I told her anything about any of the absolutely APPALLING conditions forced on me. I'm absolutely sick and tired of seeing those who are supposedly so disabled but can still have a right rip-roaring joyride life and who go out of their way to so smugly and arrogantly BRAG about it, I think that is blatantly anti-social! And if anyone thinks that's a bit strong I stand by every word! Think what you want. There is an enormous difference between being unsociable and blatantly anti-social! Fm.
  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    Seriously?
    People can't post that they enjoy things despite being disabled and or suffering from a chronic health condition!

    I am housebound, but I don't berate people who post that they have walked the dog!

  • ChrisKz
    ChrisKz Community member Posts: 30 Connected
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    OMG .. someone seriously has mental health issues .. Don't take "enjoying" as a jet set lifestyle .. It simply means that I prefer my own company rather than gripe, whine  , moan and generally bring anyone you come in contact with , to a depressing level that makes you feel better and upset them . I don't go out , I don't drink I don't smoke . I did 1800 miles last year . and that was just doctor/hospital appointments , and grocery shopping . Quit feeling sorry for themselves and wallowing in self pity . None of the Disabled people wanted  to become unfit , that is how life is dealt .
  • Chris_Alumni
    Chris_Alumni Scope alumni Posts: 689 Pioneering
    edited February 2017
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    Hey guys, just a reminder that we want the community to be a safe and supportive place for everyone, and that we ask you to be mindful of using language which may be offensive or insulting to others.

    Most people on here have their own unique challenges, and we ask that all users respect each others opinions and right to voice them, even if (and especially) if they disagree with them.

    You can view the community guidelines here if you wish.
  • Fundamentalist
    Fundamentalist Community member Posts: 133 Courageous
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    Hi from Fm. That's all they ever show on TV, especially on the regional news, people who are so supposedly "disabled" but still fully sociable and revelling in it in some kind of "social" centre. They never show anyone like me at all and there's two sides to every coin or biscuit etc. and disability is no exception in that respect. Why don't they show anyone like me and give the normal viewers a more wide and full view of disability, what's wrong, do they see folk like me as too "negative", so they want folk to think it's all so happy and wonderful and totally deceive them in the process just like they do with stories about Israel and Palestine where they go out of their way to stir up public opinion against Israel and try to make it look more like South Africa under apartheid. There are no "apartheid" type laws in Israel. That's an analogy. And it's the same with disability, too much one sided propaganda and never realistic enough. My existence is more like a life sentence in some dreadful military prison run by totally tyrannical robots with absolutely no feelings whatsoever. Any woman who tries chatting with me is in for a serious shock, she'd better be sitting down first. I've tried "defying the odds" and trying to join disabled "dating" sites only to be locked out because of some stupid technicality, and when I try to contact them I just get completely ignored no matter how long I wait. What's wrong has some hateful type somewhere "blacklisted" me because they've somehow found out I'm not a "preferred" member? That's what it looks like. And I have an absolutely zero tolerance of blasphemy and so should the site as I know for absolute fact that there is an all seeing, all knowing and all powerful God up above and I have absolute respect for him. I don't just blindly believe, I know. And it wouldn't matter what site I tried to join, I bet it would be the same even if I could get registered. I can't understand why dating sites make it so ridiculously difficult. It's not like that with other sites. I've come to the conclusion that there's no place for anyone like me in this world, it wouldn't matter what rules or laws or policies any politician came up with, it would only work against anyone like me as in my experience it always does, that's how it's all been set up with me, I can't help but notice. And I don't see any of that as "moaning" or "whinging" etc. but just simple fact. Fm.
  • Zec Richardson
    Zec Richardson Community member Posts: 154 Pioneering
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    Not true, I have seen recently on TV a piece about a girl who is confined to bed through ME. She wears noise cancelling headphones and people have to whisper and the room is kept dark.
    There are instances of this being shown on TV and online but disabled people are a minority and so there are fewer instances of them being shown or portrayed.
    TV is getting better, disabled people are being represented more and it's good news, but we can't expect to see all disabilities portrayed all the time!
    I'm in pain 24/7 and they aren't really sure why, some people are just in pain and I'm housebound. I don't see that shown on TV but it doesn't bother me. 
    I have enough of pain and the lifestyle it causes and I don't want to see it as well, I love countryfile and yes I miss being out there enjoying it but I don't moan that they are doing it
    Being unwell and disabled does make us grumpy, it's my hobby but sometimes that can drag us down, so going on @Fundamentalist post a happy post, I know you can!!!!!  :)
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