Alice Wong interviewed Olivia Davis at StoryCorps San Francisco on May 18, 2015. Below are edited excerpts from their conversation for the Disability Visibility Project.
History of the Are Cripples Screwed panel at UC Berkeley
Olivia: It was started in 2006 by someone named Cash Moore. And they were sick and tired of just disabled people not getting laid. I’ve had people that knew this person tell me that Cash Moore was just a very horny individual which is awesome. It’s fucking awesome because that’s never discussed in the disabled community. Just like on that group that we’re in. We’ll start talking about it and then remember that one time where this one guy was just like, “Everybody’s so R-rated in this group.” Like, shut up. Just shut up. This isn’t a Disney group.
Olivia: It’s where all sorts of people with all sorts of experiences should be uncensored, right and if you don’t like the comment or post, skip it. Nobody is forcing you to read or comment…but with doing the panel, it’s been really, I don’t want to sound cliche, but eye-opening.
Olivia: And inspirational in a way.
Alice: In a good way.
Olivia: Yeah. Because going to a high school where you’re the only mainstream disabled kid, you don’t have a lot of other people you can talk to. And then suddenly you’re in this group where you’re all just talking about your sex lives. It’s just like, whoa. One of my close friends, I was teaching her, telling her, giving her tips on how to masturbate, cuz she doesn’t have a lot of arm movement. I was just like what if we put it on one of those back scratcher things, and you can hold it, or what if we get one of those underwear things that vibrates. It’s just really awesome to just go around and see these people that we’re talking to.
There’s always someone in the audience that’s looking at you with their jaw dropped and their eyes are just wide open the entire time. And they just look like they’re just shocked.
Alice: And that’s actually really good.
Olivia: It’s awesome.
Alice: It’s a first step, I think.
Alice: In their own liberation. I hope, right?
Alice: And I think this is what’s unique that UC Berkeley has enough students, a real critical mass of students with invisible and physical disabilities. I mean, it’s one of the most accessible schools that has a huge number of services for students with disabilities.
Obviously it’s a magnet for students with disabilities who want a good education. So you have this critical mass of horny, sexual, disabled people who want to get laid. So what happens in these panels? How do you run them? What is a typical panel?
Olivia: And then we start out with just who we are. What our major is, how old are we. What our disability is. And then we talk about just a brief history of disability. And a lot of things I like to talk about is the ugly laws which America does not like to talk about at all.
Alice: And not only that, but eugenics.
Olivia: Or eugenics. But you can type in the ugly laws on the internet, you’re not going to find it. That’s something that Uncle Sam likes to kick under the rug. And eugenics and forced sterilization and all this other stuff regarding the history of disability and sex and then we just talk about dating, parties. I love this section cuz back in the day where I used to drink alcohol, there’s a lot of times where I would go to co-ops and partied with my closest friends and there’s a lot of great stories that come out of that. And then we talk about sex. So we save that for like the last, hour to half hour. How we do it and how you do it better, or How we do it, how to communicate. The use of attendants during that. Cuz a lot of times, people think that attendants are going to be in the room, and like helping us move during that which isn’t always the case.
On sex and disability
Alice: This must be where a lot of young people, kind of their first exposure to other disabled people. Talking about their bodies.
Alice: Talking about pleasure.
Alice: … this is what it’s like really radical but it shouldn’t be radical, right? Because I feel like for so long, we don’t own our own bodies in a lot of ways. And part of that as you mentioned is this absence or invisibility of disability history.
Olivia: Right, well it also has to do with like sex education too. Like growing up, my sex education in my high school was horrible. All I learned was that teacher had crabs and don’t get AIDS. That’s all I learned, and it’s all I remember. And condoms. I’ve heard other stories where they would have the disabled kid just go to the library, and of course they’re gonna go to the library because I don’t have to sit in class.
Alice: So why would they segregate the kid with a disability?
Olivia: They assume that we’re asexual. Just that because we’re disabled we just have a Barbie doll vagina or a Barbie doll penis or just nothing down there at all.
Alice: Or no sensation.
Olivia: So yeah, it’s often this really weird. Since that oh, this is for people with disabilities. Like people who are in wheelchairs by themselves. Somehow that absence of being able to walk… Somehow our whole lower body is like a dead zone. Absence of walking equates to not getting laid at all, which is not the case at all.
Alice: Yeah and…I’m borrowing this paraphrase I guess from somebody else I heard, but it’s like, “I’m in a wheelchair, but my pussy ain’t broke.”
Olivia Davis is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the organizer of the Are Cripples Screwed panel for students with disabilities at Cal since 2014. Olivia wants to be a sexual health educator for people with disabilities.