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Title: (S)exploring disability : intimacies, sexualities and disabilities
Author: Liddiard, Kirsty
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 2873
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis details an empirical exploration of disabled peoples’ lived experiences of sexual and intimate life. Disabled people are predominantly desexualised and degendered and within ableist cultures; they are also, as Brown (1994: 125) states, assigned paradoxical social categories of ‘asexual, oversexed, innocents, or perverts’. Thus, this thesis begins from the position that disabled peoples’ access to and experiences of sexual life occur in the context of these dominant ableist constructions of disabled sexualities, and that the reclamation or formation of a sexual self requires resistance to, or strategic management and negotiation of such constructions. The research methodology worked to the central tenets of consultation, accessibility, empowerment and relevance. A Research Advisory Group made up of local disabled people was established, the purpose of which was to guide the research process, offer expert knowledge, and ensure that the research was accessible, engaging and empowering for the individuals who took part. Through a thematic analysis of the sexual stories told by twenty-five disabled people (and one non-disabled partner), in their own words and on their own terms, this thesis details the complex and variegated relationships between disability, impairment, sexuality, and gender. Findings show that heteronormative discourse had very complicated and contradictory implications for disabled men and women, but also empowered disabled men relative to disabled women. Moreover, analysis has illustrated the ‘complex invisible “work” performed by disabled people’ (Church et al 2007: 1) through participants regularly taking on the roles of teacher, negotiator, manager, mediator, performer, educator, and resistor within a variety of spaces in their sexual and intimate lives. While this work was evidence of sexual agency, the majority of participants’ labours were rooted in the oppressive and inherent inequalities of ableist culture. Furthermore, the majority of participants experienced extensive psycho-emotional disablism – ‘the socially engendered undermining of psychoemotional wellbeing’ (Thomas, 1999: 60) – as routine within their sexual and intimate lives.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HM Sociology ; HQ The family. Marriage. Woman