Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm

August 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

There are parallels for invisible disability, and this post helps me to clarify something I have been wrestling with. It strikes me that autistic people must bear all their psychological vulnerabilities to gain accommodations – we are forced to share intimate knowledge in order to get our access needs met.

Leaving Evidence

Photo of my wheelchair in a dark room, silhouetted against a doorway, with a large shirt outlined in lights hanging against a dark wall.

“Forced Intimacy” is a term I have been using for years to refer to the common, daily experience of disabled people being expected to share personal parts of ourselves to survive in an ableist world. This often takes the form of being expected to share (very) personal information with able bodied people to get basic access, but it also includes forced physical intimacy, especially for those of us who need physical help that often requires touching of our bodies. Forced intimacy can also include the ways that disabled people have to build and sustain emotional intimacy and relationships with someone in order to get access—to get safe, appropriate and good access.

I have experienced forced intimacy my entire life as a disabled child, youth and adult…

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