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ability and are therefore not considered to be part of the game in terms of flirtation,
sexual initiation, or courtship rules (Longhurst 2001). Disabled women are effectively
sexually set aside (Michalko 2002): “In a sense, to be treated as a sexual object is a
'privilege' that non-disabled women have, and disabled women do not” (Tremain 1992,
The notion of disabled women being off limits in terms of sexual availability, or their
assumed unsuitability as appropriate sexual partners, seems to have changed little over
time;asElizabeth experiencedinthenineteensixtiesandasTheresacurrentlyexperien-
ces: “I was standing at a bus stop this night going out to the dancing at the time, and I
heard this guy at the back saying, 'Oh! She's all right, but oh! Oh! Look, look she's got
a calliper (brace) on her leg'” (Elizabeth 51-56 years).
Theresa talked of numerous occasions in her local pub where men had approached
her, chatted her up, and were interested in her. However, when Theresa harnessed up
her guide dog making herself identifiable as a blind woman, men usually responded by
sexually setting her aside:
that a lot, people apologizing for having spoken to me.… Or they've been chat-
ting me up and they're like, “Oh I shouldn't have been chatting you up, you're
blind,” and I'm like “Why?” I find that one a weird one. (Theresa 36-41 years)
The notion of disabled women as substandard or unsuitable sexual partners is also
illustrated in Goffman (1968), where a young woman recalls her realization of being
sexually set aside:
I think the first realization of my situation, and the first intense grief resulting
from this realization, came one day, very casually, when a group of us in our
the fellows and girls thought I was asleep. One of the fellows said, “I like Do-
menica very much, but I would never go out with a blind girl.” I cannot think of
any prejudice which so completely rejects you. (quoted in Goffman 1968, 47)
Similar experiences were recalled by many of the women, revealing a theme to do
with the intertwining ofsocial space and the complexities ofsexual citizenship. Insome
instances, nondisabled men who find disabled women attractive may possibly be con-
sidered to have deviant sexual tendencies, as Theresa's experience illustrates:
One of the guys in the pub had been chatting me up he was really interested in
me.… Another guy had told me that someone was slagging him and calling him
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