Disability in Advertising

So, there was an ad broadcast concurrent with the paralympics by candy company Maltesers. It reminds me of a couple of times in the past where I’ve had to confront the ableist bullshit expectations of various persons… but not in a bad way:

20 or 25 years ago, a magazine called Mouth – the best damn disability-oriented rag in the US ever – published a “Sex Issue!” Shortly thereafter, a local librarian who had supported her library adding Mouth to their periodical collection wrote in saying that she was cancelling the subscription because it is “unseemly to bring sex to the attention of the disabled.” This has always been laughable to me – or at least has been laughable since my early adolescence. Who the fuck isn’t acquainted with sex as an adult? You think polio stopped women from fantasizing about Katherine Hepburn or guys from fantasizing about Rock Hudson? Not a chance, my good readers. Not. A. Chance. Yet some people continue to cling to the idea that losing a couple of legs piloting an aircraft in a combat zone is suddenly going to cause someone to renounce coitus? I think the odds are firmly against that one.

People are so wedded to the idea of crippled celibacy that language that otherwise might be seen as entirely unfit for a given context instead passes without notice. There have been quite a number of times when I’ve had to point out just exactly how kinky the phrase “wheelchair bound” can be. Several of those times the following silence has been very, very awkward.

I have no idea if you’re someone who has or hasn’t thought about the sexual humanity of persons with disabilities. But since more and more people seem to be willing to engage in humor at the expense of those who react like an ableist librarian, if you haven’t thought it through yet, this ad suggests your time to do so before you find yourself at the awkward end of a joke is diminishing quickly.


  1. jazzlet says

    I and two of my brothers are physical proof of sexual activity by the disabled so it’s never beeen something I had any doubts about. My mum got polio in the early 1950s in her thirties, among other things it did for the nerves to her balance muscles, she managed to learn to walk again, but had to use crutches out side the house, she couldn’t squat or carry much or run after us etc. But like I say, three very solid reuslts of a disabled woman having sex. Personally I didn’t think about it because mum and dad not because of the disability, though I got over that in time 😉

  2. Curt Sampson says

    It was a great joke, but what kinda got my mind going off was a video suggested from that one, We’re The Superhumans | Rio Paralympics 2016 Trailer. All the stuff going on with the feet was amazing, but watching a woman write with her foot made me instantly think, “poor thing, she should be typing.” (For, by the way, the exact same reasons I type rather than write with a pen with my able-enough fingers.)

    Now, I was looking at the Tap input device the other day and thinking it was cool, but not quite cool enough to buy in that it’s not only slower than a keyboard, but still would be distracting at meetings. (Even if you tap on your leg under the table, well, let’s just say no matter how subtle your motions, if they’re ever detected, they’re not going to come across well.)

    But heck, typing with your feet and toes, there’s the solution, isn’t it? And ironically enough, I’d be using it (at least in part) because I don’t have the ability to lift my foot on to my desk comfortably, much less write with a pen when I’ve done that. Now who’s the less-able one?

  3. Tecolata says

    Senator Tammy Duckworth recently had a baby. I doubt anyone could claim immaculate conception.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *