The Erotic Habitus of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 17:50
Oral Presentation
Alan SANTINELE MARTINO, McMaster University, Canada
The intersection of disability and sexuality remains a taboo topic (Shakespeare 2014). Along with this taboo, a limited body of literature specifically addresses the sexual desires and interests of people with intellectual disabilities as well as how they make sense of and reflect on their own position as sexual actors. This paper investigates the romantic and sexual experiences of adults with intellectual disabilities in Ontario, Canada, by putting into conversation theories from the sociology of sexualities, sociology of culture, and critical disability studies. It uses a sexual fields analytic framework (Green 2014) to explore the consequences of sexual stratification on the experiences of people with intellectual disabilities. More specifically, this paper demonstrates how a lack of access to opportunities for sexual exploration, experimentation, and relationships, accompanied by the devaluation and invisibility of their sexuality, has an impact on the erotic habitus of people with intellectual disabilities, including their willingness and ability to auspiciously "play the field." Drawing on in-depth interviews with adults with intellectual disabilities, this paper examines the consequences of disenfranchising the rights of adults with intellectual disabilities on their desire to be active sexual actors within sexual fields, strategies and choices for sexual partners, and sexual practices. Examining these questions as well as language will shed light on the stratification that takes place due to erotic habitus, the common habitus of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and how their erotic habitus affects their sexual practices.