Sex in motion
In addition to my work at Funka, I work as a personal assistant. This means I sometimes work as a fill-in when regular staff are prevented from working. This summer I was lucky enough to participate in the camp "Jumping Out of Your Skin" organised by Youth with Motor Disabilities and the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, in Stockholm.
The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education works with sexual and reproductive health and rights, through information on issues such as social life and sexuality. Youth with Motor Disabilities describe themselves as Sweden's most important youth federation for children and young adults with reduced mobility. They work to ensure that all children and young people have the same rights in Sweden. Thus, they are two important organisations that collaborates in the joint project “Sex in Motion”. As being previously active in The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education and interested in functionality issues, I was curious about the camp even before I was asked to attend as a personal assistant.
Participants from all parts of Sweden gathered at a conference center on an island near Stockholm, during five full-packed exciting days. The camp focused on questions about sexuality, function and norms. Topics that are important but not always easy to talk about. However, that these topics are supposed to be difficult to talk about was nothing that I noticed, the days were filled with deep discussions about everything from parenting to body activism.
Who can be personal but not private?
One issue that often arises at courses with The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education is about the difference between being personal and private. Sex can be an emotional subject, so it's important never to be private when you educate a school class about sex and relationships, but you are welcome to be personal. The same mantra was told in this camp as well. With my personal assistance experience, I know that it is a privilege to choose when you are personal or private. Working as a personal assistant can mean that you quickly end up in a person’s private sphere. This places great demands on me as an assistant, it is essential that I do not let my opinions or values colour my work and thus the privacy of the person I work for. It is a difficult balancing act between being personal and private and as a personal assistant, it is important to understand one’s role.
Sex and norms
Both external and internal lecturers were invited to capture different sides of the crossroads between sexuality and functionality. There are prejudices about people with disabilities and sex, which the camp wants to counteract. Although the camp was aimed at persons with disabilities, the disability issue was often secondary, everyone needs a dialogue about social life and sex, regardless of their disabilities.
Paralympics athletes, researchers, activists and The Swedish Association for Sexuality Education’s own information officers opened up and challenged the participants' way of thought. We learned that ways of thoughts are constantly changing, so also the concept of sex. One of the lecturers stressed the importance of having an open mind in a world filled with norms. Ableism, which means the norm that excludes people with disabilities from society through structural barriers, resting on an idea of categorization of people, was discussed extensively during the camp.
All bodies have both limitations and possibilities. What is my body able to do and what do I like? I can never know without trying. As an employee at Funka, I am already drilled in the importance of testing in order to get answers.