Most of the academic and popular literature on sexuality and disability focuses on how disabled people are desexualized, or seen as nonsexual. Meghann and Hailee mentioned several writers and theories; one term that was new to me (though the idea is familiar) was Harlan Hahn’s concept of “asexual objectification.” This is the idea that disabled women, disabled people of any gender really, are seen as things that don’t have a sexuality – in the most extreme cases, as things that don’t have a humanity. IN a session I went to earlier in the week, asexuality was presented as a sexual orientation, a way someone relates to their own sexuality, so I use the terms desexualization or nonsexual instead. I’m hoping Meghann and Hailee will mention this in their literature review. Maybe Hahn’s term can be updated to “nonsexual objectification.” That still contrasts attitudes towards disabled people with the ways North Ameerican cultures tend to sexually objectify people.
(here’s more information on the theory of asexual objectification.
These theories usually describe the experiences of people with visible physical disabilities.
Women diagnosed with mental illness, especially bipolar disorder, are instead seen as hypersexual. “Hypersexuality” is one of the bipolar disorder symptoms listed in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), the diagnostic tool most often used by psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners in the United States. There’s no definition of “normal” sexuality to go along with that. For that matter, there’s not really a definition of hypersexuality beyond evaluating behaviours like how many partners a patient or client has had, or how frequently they’re engaging in sexual behaviours.
So, each mental health practitioner makes their own judgments about what is normal, and how or whether their patient or clients deviate f