“You Just Don’t See Us”: The Influence of Public Schema on Constructions of Sexuality by People with Cerebral Palsy

Tinashe M Dune


This study investigated how people with cerebral palsy (CP) perceived the influence of public sexual schema on their construction of sexuality. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with five men and two women with moderate to severe cerebral palsy from Australia and Canada. The interview discourse focused on how, if at all, public constructions of sexuality influenced the way in which respondents understood and negotiated their sexuality. Interview data were thematically analyzed using NVivo and manual line-by-line analysis. Findings suggest that people living with CP media to be informative, albeit it skewed in favor of typical others. As such, they perceive themselves to be asexualized by the public media and popular culture. This is highlighted by their absence from media portrayals as desirable sexual partners. They also believed the general public to share popular media’s regard of persons with CP as unlikely sexual partners due to their inability to meet normative expectations of physical movement and functioning. The respondents also believed public perception was linked tothe range ofaccess to services, resources, sexual opportunities and privacy for people with disabilities.Participants preferred typical others as their ideal partners regardless of being disvalued as sexual beings by popular culture and its manifestations. For people with CP inclusion in public presentations of sexuality and intimacy is necessary in order to reinforce people with disabilities as sexual (candidates).

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/wjss.v1n1p1


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World Journal of Social Science     ISSN 2329-9347 (Print)  ISSN 2329-9355 (Online)

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