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Disability As A Symbol Of The Ultimate Other

by Paul

Let's speak about some basic biology. What I say here is quite crude so don't flame me for that. But I believe that we essentially functions like animals and that everything else we call "culture" is brought in later and above what is essentially animal instinct. What I say here is only vaguely scientific, I admit, and I don't pretend having worked out everything. Those are just my personal conclusions but they seem to fit me quite well.

Human beings are like every other animals: they need to acertain the perenity of the speace, so they need to mate with one member of the opposite gender to procreate. To help identifying amongst potential partners who is going to be the unique chosen, the looking one uses some clues. This process, of course, goes both side: men to women, women to men. But as devoteism seems to be essentialy a male thing, let's assume here the men to women situation. So the man, this is well known, first uses visual external clues to identify his potential partner, and one of the very obvious pre-requisits is that the partner be female. So, he essentially looks at signs that help him identifying the partner as being undoubtedly female, signs that are obviously different from the one he is showing himself as a male. At the beginning of times, this was basically limited to a rather petite stature, less pilosity, larger breath and backside. With time, this has somehow become a little more sophisticated, but it remains essentialy the same: we males are looking for symbols of feminity and those symbols are the obvious physical differences between the two genders.

No one woman is looking the same, of course, and there is a wide variety of shapes and colors, so why does he picks this one in particular and not the other one just beside? He needs to make a choice and he is going to refine his selection by using some internal patterns he has been imprinted with in early childhood that has help him build an image of what a potentialy fitting partner looks like. Those patterns are, so to speak, reinforcing the differences inside the difference. And because those patterns can vary widely from one male to another, he has a pretty precise idea of what his fitting partner should look like.

Once this first "pre-selection" contact is made, the flirting process that follows is more subtle mix of physiological, emotional and intellectual identification and matching, both side. Sometimes, and because we have become quite elaborate creatures, attraction arises from getting acquainted to someone else we would not have been a priori attracted to, based on the obvious visual difference clues our animality would have looked after initially. Conversally, getting acquainted with a person that is showing the ideal clues might lead to the realization that she/he is not the one, for whatever reasons. But those are more elaborate social behaviours, and welcome ones for that matter.

Now, there is one external clue that is undoubtedly differencing the female gender from the male gender and that is the absence of something protruding where we male, well, have something protruding. My hypothesis is that male devotees are attracted to female amputees because the absence of one or several limbs (or part of a limb) is a symbol of this essential absence, which, of course, is everything but a void. So being an amputee would be a strong symbol of feminity. Therefore, my opinion, is that the devotee is not attracted to the stump(s) in particular, but to the symbol of the absence it represents, reinforcing the difference, that is a woman, as a whole, the exact one that he defined as fitted to be his partner. Using this hypothesys, I suspect that woman attracted to male amputees, something apparently less frequent, are probably using the phalic symbol of the stump as the attractor. Going a step further, but to some exceptions, other forms of disabilities are all obvious visual clues that reinforce the differences inside the difference. The differences as symbols of the ultimate difference: being a woman.

A devotee might have been imprinted by a combination of patterns that, for whatever probably complex reasons, have made that a woman needs to present this external clues to reinforce and confirm that she is undoubtedly female, different from him, a male. One may question why someone would find another who is an amputee to be an ideal partner for perpetuating the speace when most would argue that a maimed being might not be as fitted to bear and grow pops than a non-disabled one. It occured to me lately that to a devotee's instinctive search for a partner, this might be to the contrary a sign of exceptional fitness for this role. The amputee having had to face the adversity of missing one or several limbs AND survived it, might as well show exceptional talents for survival and ingenuity in general and therefor be even more fitted to this essential task that is bearing and growing children, eventually transmitting this inner force to their offsprings. As a matter of fact, most devotees will admit that they feel particularly attracted to those amputees who indeed show postive attitutes towards their loss and less towards those who seems to revel in a less appealing "my-God-am-I-so-disabled" attitude, but that, I assume, would be true for everybody, not only devotees.

The fact that the devotee might be so overwhelmed by the vision of a female amputee is probably due to the scarcity amongst the female population of those who present this feature, and not only this one, but all the others that he would "normaly" have looked after that are combining with this one in particular, further reducing the number of candidate partners. The probability to meet the one that would fit those patterns is so little that it would even ellicit a sense of panic at the idea of letting her go without trying to make contact, and once contact established trying to maintain it at all cost often leads to unwanted attentions :(

Personnaly, but I guess I'm not the only one, I've always have been fascinated by feminity. Woman, for men, is the ultimate unknown, something that I, and all my fellow males, will never ever have the opportunity to have even a vague idea what it is like to be, really be. I suppose that the revert is true also, but I have this macho intuition that women "know" more about men than men "know" about women. I'll rephrase this : I think that women has a more intuitive knowledge of men than the contrary. Saying that male and female are absolutely different is not a judgement of value saying one is superior to the other; it's a fact. Struggle for due equality has, to my opinion, had a negative side effect of introducing the confusing idea that we are not only equal, but similar.

The absolute mistery that the opposite gender represents can materialise in many ways, sometimes into such a powerfull a fear that it goes to total rejection, but more generally into an overwhelming attraction, that would focus to those clues in particular that makes a woman undoubtedly feminine. And for a devotee one of those clues is the amputation; which is probably stronger because it is quite unfrequent. Here, I do indeed speak about those physical attributes that we like to get in contact with and carress when we spend tender moments with our partner, and that will include, but not only, the amputated extremity(ies), and I believe not only or not necessary for a devotee. So the "stump" (gee, I hate this word) is not the attractor by itself, it is a symbol. And playing with the symbol, this one and the others as well, can be quite satisfying for both side when tenderness is at the program.

I, like a lot of devotees, also am a wannabe, while this is not very strong in my case. This would be easily explained by the above statements. If I, being a male, am so fascinated by feminity, and this fascination leeds to an urge of knowing what it is to be a woman, becoming an amputee myself (and the amputation being a symbol of feminity) would be an attempt at trying to incorporate and better understand what being a woman means. While, of course, this is only a substitute as really becoming female is not an option. Furthermore, I don't think I want to BE a woman, what I want is to understand what it is like to BE a woman. And being an amputee, or disabled in general, when you are not, is as powerfull a mistery as being a woman when you're a man. Hence the strength of the fascination.

Now there are also more sophisticated reasons why I would be attracted to a woman who is an amputee, or disabled in general, but those reasons are elaborate social and psychological rationalisations of what I believe is something quite deeply rooted in our primal animality described here above. Nevertheless those reasons are interresting for both side, I believe.

I quote from an article I've been introduced to the other day (this is in part 4):
Sexual Attractiveness and Physical Disabilities
by Ken Tittle

Many disabled persons find it hard to believe or accept that their disabilities can in many ways enhance their attractiveness. Some even angrily reject the idea. However, despite what some of you may have always "known," and without denying the problems and challenges, there are many ways that your disability can be an advantage, one of your attractive attributes.

I would have signed this particular part of this article which has been written by someone who might very well be a true devotee. Now, you might as well disagree because there is a subtle play with stereotypes in those statements. Nevertheless, those stereotypes are an intimate part of what we all are build-up with. That is: our culture. We might decide that stereotypes must be eradicated, or at least struggled upon or questionned, but I also think that some are so deeply rooted to our biology that this might not always be a good idea (I mean, to eradicate them; questionning is certainly a healthy process anyway).

I also believe that our biology, the essential ways in which we are basically functionning, have been long overshadowed by culture, and especially religions, that have educated us to the fact that we are not animals but devine creatures, negating the animality that is what we primarely are. Those denegations have created taboos, and taboos are leading to behaviours that are abnormal, sometimes to the extreme, because they are the expression of an inner conflict between what the biology says and what the morality (culture, religion,...) says, a conflict that may express itself in such a chaotic way that it becomes a danger to oneself and the community.

Disability devotees and wannabees are probably part of one of those conflicting shady areas where, to make matters even worse, two strong taboos are combining: sexuality AND disability. Some are expressing it in reasonable ways, something manageable by both party, something that can even be beneficial to both party, and sometimes they express it with behaviours that we can not accept and that we need to fight. To the extremes, rapers or pedophiles, for instance, are victims of an inner devastating and uncontrollable conflict. While it is necessary to secure the community (and themselves) from the potential damages they can inflict, it is to my opinion shamefull to threat them like they usually are. And there are also devotees and wannabes who present extreme, and sometimes dangerous behaviours, and those are the ones that are the most visible, attracting undue attentions and disapprovals to an otherwise pretty harmless community.

Now, I'm not pretending that we should go back to the animal we once were, but I suggest that negating it is not a good idea either. If we would be able to better understand our animality, get rid of the taboos and integrate the result into the acquired sophistication of our culture, then I suggest that we might be able to better live our lives in the community.

Disability is an obvious and powerfull yet sophisticated symbol of being different, a difference that helps identify the other as being a potential partner to mate with and reproduce. Disability as a sexual symbol of the ultimate other.


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