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Dating while living with a disability: "Why shouldn't I be in a relationship?'

7 November 2021 12:38 PM
Tags:
Relationships
Disability
Dating
inclusivity
romance
inclusion
abelism
#TalkingPoint

A panel of guests discusses their experiences of dating and relationships while living with a disability.
  • People with disabilities are often excluded from conversations around desirability, dating, romance, and sex
  • Weekend Breakfast host Sara-Jayne King facilitated a panel discussion on the experiences of dating while living with a disability

People living with disabilities are equally deserving of dating lives, relationships, and sexual pleasure.

However, living in an ableist society means that disabled people are often invisiblised, othered or viewed as asexual.

Weekend Breakfast host Sara-Jayne King chats to a panel of guests about their dating experiences and views on relationships.

Laura Wagner-Meyer is a fashion designer and model who was born with a congenital neural tube defect that left her needing crutches to walk.

When having conversations about dating and relationships, Wagner-Meyer says a lot of people unknowingly reinforce the false idea that people with disabilities are destined to be alone.

She says that a lot of the ignorance in society is caused by a lack of disability awareness and education in South Africa.

If I would meet strangers, it could be anywhere, for example at a party, they'd come up to me and say "You don't need a man anyway", implying that it's not even an option for me or that I'm completely ruled out of that.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, Fashion designer and model

There definitely is that misconception but I think that just stems from the lack of education on the topic in our country.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, Fashion designer and model

I've done the Tinder thing way too many times than I would have liked to... I think I've had a alot more friendships come out of Tinder than relationships.

Laura Wagner-Meyer, Fashion designer and model

Motivational speaker Oscar von Memerty was born with Maroteaux Lamy Syndrome, which is characterised by dwarfism among other symptoms.

Von Memerty challenges the notion that disabled people should only date each other. He says compatibility and connection should be the key factors.

Von Memerty tells CapeTalk that he's been on various dating platforms and is transparent about his life. "I'm very open, I post pictures where people can see my height. I'm not ashamed."

He adds that dating apps are a hit and miss for anybody, disabled or not.

You connect with people and hope they will respond. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. That's the thing. I think dating for anyone, you have just got to keep trying until you find a connection or somebody, whether it's friendship, whether it's a sexual connection, or whether it's a potential life partner - just enjoy the process.

Oscar von Memerty, Motivational speaker

I think ultimately it boils down to the connection, whether that's an able-bodied person or a disabled-bodied person will be irrelevant.

Oscar von Memerty, Motivational speaker

I've been on every dating platform that you can imagine... I'm fishing everywhere... I have so many passwords that I've forgotten!

Oscar von Memerty, Motivational speaker

Writer and disabled inclusivity advisor Makgosi Letimile was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 2016 and lost the use of her legs.

After becoming a wheelchair user, Letimile did not date for four years. She says she finally got back in the saddle last year after feeling isolated during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Someone on social media once implied that she couldn't be in a relationship because of her disability. "And this is a complete stranger on the internet, and well, why shouldn't I be in a relationship?".

Letimile says she started using vibrators to manage incontinence and now she reviews sex toys online via her account @wheelsntoys on Instagram and Twitter.

She started the hashtag #DisabledSexMatters and says people living with disabilities are still sexual beings.

I didn't date for four years post my disability, I only became disabled in 2016. For four years, I could imagine myself being with anybody.

Makgosi Letimile, Writer and Disabled Inclusivity Advisor

We're disabled, yes, but we're still sexual beings.

Makgosi Letimile, Writer and Disabled Inclusivity Advisor



7 November 2021 12:38 PM
Tags:
Relationships
Disability
Dating
inclusivity
romance
inclusion
abelism
#TalkingPoint

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