I remember heading to the post office to pick up the package. As I went to retrieve it, I kept mumbling to myself thinking, "How am I going to use it?" and "Will I even be able to open it?" As I took it home, safely tucked in the backpack strapped onto my wheelchair, my concern grew that much more. I would have to call my attendant and ask them for help in unpacking it.
They came up to my room and grabbed the package. Without even thinking, they tore it open, and there on the box was the picture of my very first sex toy. I was actually kind of excited by the prospect of using it -- I had always thought of sex toys as completely inaccessible to someone with my unique vantage point. Each and every time I had ever seen one being used by a man, it was generally being inserted into an area that I am not able to access independently. (It's kind of an ironic twist that my body can go spastic and contort itself in so many ways, and yet, I can't achieve that. Le sigh.) Not to mention the fact that there is a real limited amount of research available to a sexy, seated guy who wants to stimulate himself (read: there is almost nothing available).
After the attendant had left, and the sting of embarrassment and shame had slowly subsided due to the fact that I had to openly share with them my need for technological titillation, I looked at the box myself. It then took me, thanks to my nerves, excitement and spasticity, a good 10 minutes to open the box that it came in. I dropped it on the floor during this process, and let out a giant sigh as I came to the realization that this did not bode well for my hopes that I could handle this on my own. Once opened, I pulled out the tiny device, which looked like a Bluetooth, rather than something you massage your member with.
I toyed with the buttons and the shape of the device, inspecting it as best I could to determine if there was in fact usability on my end. When I turned it on and it started vibrating, as it should, I had a spasm and flung the device across the room with such force I thought I had broken it. I cringed and giggled a little. If this were happening prior to playtime, what would occur when I actually wanted to use the thing? I shoved the thing back in the box (this took me another 20 minutes of frenetic fumbling). As much as I was excited to explore whether this device could in fact make this cripple come, I hid the box in my apartment. There was no instructional manual that would lead me into the conversation with my caregiver where I would ask them for help here. I mean, do you say something like, "Hi there. So, I want to pleasure myself, can you attach this to my dick?" I played the scenario over and over in my head, wondering and worrying about how it would go.
The evening finally arrived. I called my attendant into my apartment, and although I was thoroughly embarrassed to ask her, I said, "Can you help me put this on my penis, please?" I was trying to remain as professional as possible in that moment. I gotta be honest though, having to hold so much composure during an act that is typically marked by masturbatory fantasies, lube and a whole lot of heavy breathing, was very difficult indeed.
As she placed my manhood in the device and turned it on, I again went spastic. This was one of those moments as a disabled man, where you realize that your experience will not resemble anyone else's -- ever. As I was trying to get comfortable, my attendant, who was doing her best to be helpful, was setting up medical blue pads, towels and anything else she could think of for the clean up process. I had never once considered the medicalization of my masturbation or the processes of play, until I was staring at a blue pad sitting across my legs, waiting. When she was leaving, my attendant whispered that I should have fun, and that I could call her when I was finished.
That was definitely weird for me -- knowing that she had to know what I was up to. She would have to know so that I could be tended to afterward. It made me think about how much I really needed someone for all aspects of my daily life, and that has continued to scare me. I was trying my hardest to block out that reality, and just focus on the toy and its accessibility. As I had suspected, due to my spastic hands and limited dexterity, I was not able to shift the vibrations to where I wanted them, nor could I properly manipulate the device to achieve the desired effect.
I had to sit with this toy clamped to my cock, buzzing and whirring with reckless abandon, while I was in the "dead turtle position," physically unable to move or change positions whatsoever, surrounded by a sea of blue pads. Go ahead, the visual is pretty hilarious.
The toy was ultimately inaccessible to me as a Queer Cripple. Being unable to reach the buttons that would bring me to orgasm, as well as having to ask to even use it as intended, made me think about whether or not technology had truly done enough to enhance the lived experience of disability. We have devices designed specifically for PwD; gadgets and gismos that help us speak clearly, get around and even pee independently if needed. All this, and we have yet to create something so that the disabled can connect with their bodies and themselves by themselves. How far have we really come then, if with even the best toy on the market, some of us can't come at all?