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Sexual and General Bodily Autonomy

Danika's picture

There is a notion concerning both those within and outside of the disability community of what bodies are meant to do certain things, or have certain rights, and which bodies are not. There is also a sense of how to "correct" deviant bodies. It's also worth nothing how the onus of sexual autonomy and responsibility of reproduction is almost always solely shelled to women/people with a uterus and/or the ability to get pregnant. This can be seen pretty confidently in the relatively high ratio of women sterilized to men not only historically but also in the cases and stories we're reading about, despite the relative ease of sterilizing men. Additionally, this can all be further extrapolated to modern day institutions of sterilization or other genital modification vs. abortion arguments and policies, where we can see that clearly there is some sense to people about which bodies should be allowed to reproduce, as well as which bodies should be forced to reproduce (and even further, which bodies need to be "fixed" or normalized on the reproductive level). I have a lot of feelings about all of these things, but they all kind of boil down to this general frustration with "normative" practices, or what can be quantitatively categorized and considered. For example, sexually deviant bodies (in any sense) have consistently been seen as needing to be corrected; whether this applies to babies born with genital deviance who are then surgically "corrected" (and often even seriously harmed or at risk as a result of the cosmetic changes), or people with deviant bodies being sterilized so as to prevent reproduction. Even in some cultural practices of genital modification, etc. the overarching intent is to control some identifying sexual characteristic. All of these are varying degrees of manipulative and harmful and/or morally grey, but they all are rooted in a very binary sense of biology and categorization of people as male v. female, disabled v. abled, youth v. adult, sexually responsible v. irresponsible, etc. They seek to isolate people into categories of those deserving full autonomy over their body as is, and those who have bodies which need to in some way be manipulated or controlled to be socially acceptable and/or permitted to engage in sexual behavior. For all the taboo loaded around sex and sexuality, I think it says an awful lot how vehemently open and adamant about the sexuality of certain bodies our society tends to be.


cool44man's picture

The fact that some consider people with sexually devient bodies to be so defective that harmful and potentially deadly surgery to “fix them” is disgusting. These actions discriminate against so many groups of people. Since this often happens to babies who cannot give consent, this feels like doctors have the ability to modify anyone's bodies. I would not be surprised if these examples serve as precedent to protect those who sterilize “undesirables' ' since (at least as of ten years ago), it is not always illegal to modify someone's body without their consent. I would also imagine that the forced changes may also cause body dysmorphia and confidence issues which can be as crippling as the potential physical complications from the surgeries. Also, if forced genitalia “correction” is an accepted procedure, why are so many people are uncomfortable with folks getting gender reassignment surgery, since it allows people to feel better about their bodies. It seems like society cares more about deciding how people should be instead of letting people be.