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Loneliness and Its Opposite: Sex, Disability, and the Ethics of Engagement
Don Kulick and Jens Rydström
Duke University Press / Softcover / Mar 2015
9780822358336 (ISBN-10: 0822358336)
Disability Studies / Sex Therapy
price: $36.95
376 pages
In Stock (Ships within one business day)

Few people these days would oppose making the public realm of space, social services and jobs accessible to women and men with disabilities. But what about access to the private realm of desire and sexuality? How can one also facilitate access to that, in ways that respect the integrity of disabled adults, and also of those people who work with and care for them?

Loneliness and Its Opposite documents how two countries generally imagined to be progressive engage with these questions in very different ways. Denmark and Sweden are both liberal welfare states, but they diverge dramatically when it comes to sexuality and disability. In Denmark, the erotic lives of people with disabilities are acknowledged and facilitated. In Sweden, they are denied and blocked. Why do these differences exist, and how do both facilitation and hindrance play out in practice?

Loneliness and Its Opposite charts complex boundaries between private and public, love and sex, work and intimacy, and affection and abuse. It shows how providing disabled adults with access to sexual lives is not just crucial for a life with dignity. It is an issue of fundamental social justice with far reaching consequences for everyone.

Reviews and Endorsements:

“Complex but important to disability studies programs. … Recommended. Graduate students, faculty, professionals." — J. L. Croissant, Choice

"This is far and away the best book on disability and sexuality I have read for years. The authors provide a fascinating analysis of attitudes and practices in Denmark and Sweden, which has relevance to how we achieve sexual citizenship for disabled people everywhere. It's a very welcome contribution to a very important debate" — Tom Shakespeare, author of Disability Rights and Wrongs

"Conceptually deft and sophisticated, based on fascinating empirical research, but above all radiant with a clear-eyed and respectful humanity, Loneliness and Its Opposite is a gem, a major contribution to disability studies and to thought about social justice." — Martha C. Nussbaum, The University of Chicago


Acknowledgments xi

1. The Subject of Sex 1

2. The Roots of Engagement 39

3. How to Impede and How to Facilitate the Erotic Lives of People with Disabilities 78

4. Shifting Boundaries 119

5. Paying for Sexual Services 174

6. Why the Difference? 217

7. Disability and Sexuality—Who Cares? 262

Appendix: Breakdown of Interviews 297

Notes 299

Bibliography 325

Index 345

About the Authors:

Don Kulick is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His books include Travesti: Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes.

Jens Rydström is Professor of Gender Studies at Lund University (Sweden). His books include Sinners and Citizens: Bestiality and Homosexuality in Sweden, 1880-1950.

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