Dating persons with physical disabilities: the perceptions of South Africans without disabilities
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionCulture, Health and Sexuality. 2017, 1-15. 10.1080/13691058.2017.1334964
There is good reason to believe that the attitudes of persons without disability towards dating a person with a physical disability might be unfavourable. However, in general, and in the Global South in particular, there is a dearth of research in this area. This study sought to take the first step in addressing this lack of enquiry, by surveying the attitudes of a general population sample in South Africa towards dating people with physical disabilities, using a vignette. Data from 1723 survey respondents were analysed thematically. Findings reveal largely negative attitudes towards people with physical disabilities. Respondents without disability perceived numerous barriers to dating a person with a physical disability, including social stigma, anxiety and concerns about the burden of care they believed such a relationship would place upon them. However, there was some evidence to suggest that some positive attitudes do exist, and a few respondents were open to dating a person with physical disabilities. Findings contribute to a nuancing and expanding of the ‘myth of asexuality’ among physically disabled people by showing that people with physical disabilities are actively desexualised by persons without disability. Future research is needed to explore how the inclusive attitudes, of which we did find evidence here, can be further cultivated.