Judge Me Not!

In Everyone has one, Opinion by Laura Stinson

Dating is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re man, woman, black, white, purple or green. It’s just hard. Then, there are other factors that can make it even harder.

Does having a disability make it hard to date? Certainly. Begin by assuming a person with a disability already has a date. Where will the couple go on their date? Will the place chosen be accessible to that particular disability? Will it be feasible for the couple to enjoy themselves without excessive worry about accessibility or other matters? Is there any danger to the disabled party to be found in a chosen activity? All of these concerns and more make being disabled and dating an extremely difficult challenge.

First, of course, one must find a date. It’s hard enough attracting someone that shares common interests and ideas, even if one is considered “normal”. If a person happens to be disabled, it can be even harder. The disability must be overcome by both parties before an initial connection can be made and this can take a very long time to happen, if it happens at all. If it cannot be overcome, then the whole cycle must begin again.

This assumes that only one person involved has a disability. If both parties have a disability, there are numerous additional concerns and stresses that must be addressed in order to have a successful date and, hopefully, a successful relationship.

Who has it harder, disabled men or disabled women? This could be in the eye of the beholder, or to say in the eye of the one being beheld might be more accurate. But, let’s face it, men are visually stimulated creatures. It’s scientifically proven. Men enjoy looking at women who look like the women they fantasize about. Women are not as visually stimulated as men and are more often won over by personality. It’s why a short, fat, balding man is often seen with a woman who looks like a supermodel. Everyone sees those types of couples and most often the thought is, “What does she see in him?”

This visual stimulation theory explains why Playboy and Penthouse sales figures far outnumber the sales figures of Playgirl. It also explains why disabled women, no matter how beautiful they may be or how sparkling their personality, can have such a hard time finding a decent man to date. Unfortunately, the assistive devices associated with most disabilities do not scream out, “Take me now!!” The physical appearance of a disability can be detrimental to an attraction. Even if a man sees a woman whom he is attracted to, when he discovers she is disabled, his entire perception of her will most likely change dramatically.

Men and women both associate a certain status with the type of mate they have.

When a man has a woman on his arm that exudes sensuality, his buddies generally build him up as being “the man”. A woman’s partner is more often judged on how attentive he is or what his personality is like. If a woman’s partner is in a wheelchair, her friends will focus on his personality and are more willing to overlook his differences. However, this is much less likely to happen with a man who is dating a disabled woman. His friends will question his choice in women and may even try to convince him that he can “do better”.

There is a biological reason for all of this. According to many scientific studies, men are biologically driven to “spread their seed” and therefore seek out as many sexual partners as possible. These partners are chosen based on the appearance of their physical health. The healthier a woman looks, the more likely a man is to be attracted to her and approach her, seeing her as a fit partner to give birth to his children. The biological drive in women is much different, as they are driven to find a man who will be a good provider for her and her children and this, of course, cannot always be determined by a man’s physical appearance.

The idea that a woman appears to be healthy enough to bear children can often be misleading. Many disabled women give birth to perfectly healthy children and there are seemingly healthy women who are unable to ever bear children. There is no way to know for sure how capable a woman is of giving birth or how healthy her future children might be.

Thankfully, there are some exceptional men out there who have been able to overcome their biological urges and can look at women and see them as more than vessels for their precious “seed”. These men are rare gems indeed and it is difficult for any woman, disabled or not, to find one.

Unfortunately, women with disabilities cannot do much to change their situations. The most they can do is to continue to prove to society that they are as valuable, as beautiful, as wonderful to the world and to men as any other woman. As the disabled community continues to make strides toward acceptance from the wider world, one can hope that the women—all women—will begin to be judged by what they are as opposed to being judged for what they are not.