Monday, July 8, 2013

AmputeeOT Followup: "Devotees"

One of AputeeOT's videos is about "Devotees", people who are sexually attracted specifically to people with disabilities.

I had heard before of the fact that there are people who are attracted to people with disabilities specifically because of their disabilities, but I didn't know there was a term for it, or that it was any kind of recognized subculture. My first reaction was that it's more like a "fetish", and therefore mostly a negative thing, at least from my point of view. I still feel that any such attraction worthy of a name is probably more of a fetish than a milder interest. I also suspect that most "Devotee" attention is objectifying more than appreciative. That is, it is an attraction that is very narrow, that doesn't involve much personal connection, and that turns people with disabilities into objects of highly focused interest rather than appreciation of the whole person.

On the other hand, maybe that's not saying much. A lot of sexual attraction is objectifying. Are guys who are heavily into breasts or feet, or women who are into big muscles or mustaches (or breasts or feet for that matter) all that different from people who are attracted to amputations or paralysis?

If these attractions are just the first step … the hook if you will … that can lead to a fuller connection, then fine. It's when they stay laser-focused on these particular aspects that the attraction of Devotees would be troubling to me, and unwanted.

That said, I don't object to Devotees per se. I think it all depends on behavior and whether the interest … or fetish … leads to real human connection.

Here's what Wikipedia says:

Note: Wikipedia identifies three sub-groups, Devotees, Pretenders (people who like to pose as disabled), and Wannabes (people who actually want to become disabled), abbreviating them together as DPWs.

A couple of quotes that stood out for me:
"Despite the explosion of the DPW Web [Internet sites], many disabled people remain unaware of the attraction. Those newly introduced to it often report initial alarm and deep shock. Subsequent reactions (often after further research) appear to involve deep introspection and an eventual revision of attitudes." 
"The [disability rights] movement perforce backs the DPW stance that the disabled ought not to be branded unattractive and asexual, but by the same token resists suggestions that they ought to welcome the attentions of a sexual minority. If it has any real stance on DPWs, the movement is generally negative, seeing them as unacceptably needy and fetishistic. Despite early hopes that DPWs were welcome allies in the battle against lookism, the movement has found that they do not offer any escape from the tyranny of visual norms; they merely pile bizarre standards atop mainstream ones. In addition, the 'hero adulation' and protectiveness elements of the attraction are ideologically most unwelcome to the movement."
Weird, wild stuff … sometimes, but not necessarily, in a bad way.

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