Disability and Devoteeism

Disability and Devoteeism

They are linked.  There will always be disability and there will always be devoteeism.  The relationship between the two could be beautifully symbiotic.  Right now, I think, most feel that it is parasidic and/or antagonistic.

People who have disabilities often attack devs and call them sick freaks and perverts.  Devs with no outlet and no ability to talk about what they are in a safe environemnt, take images and videos without permission to use for their fantasy life.  Having been mostly denied a real life.

To break this cycle I think we need to ask why are devotees thought of with such hatred or revulsion?

Is the idea that someone could find paralyzed limbs erotic and beautiful disgusting to you?  What about the idea that someone could find long, tan legs erotic? Legs in lace stockings? What is it that makes disabled legs different?

Because paralysis is bad and broken and wrong.

Did that thought flit through your mind?

Allow yourself to imagine that maybe disability does not mean brokenness, helplessness, or wrongness. ¬†Once we can see disability as naturally as long hair or blue eyes, someone¬†finding¬†it attractive wouldn’t be scary.

Do you feel bad about being attracted to a man’s sandy hair? ¬†Why not? Because it’s not something¬†about¬†him that’s¬†worthy¬†of pity. It’s neutral.

If devotees had the oppportunity to talk with and interact with actual disabled people without fear of being reviled for their very existence, it would go a long way towards easing the complaints that some devs are socially awkward or highly inappropriate.

Before you criticize someone’s existence, think about how it feels when someone does that to you.

You’re disabled, the world would be so much better if you didn’t exist

You should die and leave the rest of us alone

I wish all people with disabilities would just go away

It stings, doesn’t it? ¬†Why is it wrong to say those things about people who have disabilities but it is okay to say it about devotees? ¬†Do you think we decided to be the way we are? We didn’t. ¬†We have every right to exist.

There are similarities between a disabled experience and a dev experience.  Do these sound familiar to you?

-Other people loudly making statements about you and your worthiness.

-Words used to describe you that you don’t find flattering or accurate.

-Serious challenge finding people you can interact with authentically, let alone date.

-Having days when you (pointlessly) wish that you could be living a different life, that your “difference” would just go away, and other days when you feel competent, confident, and in control.

I have as much right to exist as you. I WILL NOT be erased.¬†Consider this the next time you feel yourself judging someone else: If you want acceptance, you must also give it to others. Don’t treat other people in ways you do not want to be treated.

Peace. Love. Tolerance. Acceptance. These are what Ruth Madison stands for.


  1. Christy
    Oct 19, 2011

    Well put, as always.

    • RuthMadison
      Oct 19, 2011

      Thank you! I really appreciate that.

  2. Beverly Diehl
    Oct 19, 2011

    Some of the hottest men I’ve ever seen were in wheelchairs. I don’t think there’s anything “wronger” in being attracted to people with disabilities than to have a preference in hair color or bust size. (My ex preferred women with smaller busts than mine, and would frequently make comments to that effect. One of many reasons he became an ex.)

    Everyone is entitled to his/her own tastes.

    Consider, too, as we age, our tastes and hobbies may change. At 21, maybe your biggest interest in life is beach volleyball, and someone who can play it with you. But at 41, maybe your biggest hobby is writing and playing chess, and you want someone smart and funny you can talk to and who shares those interests. Be honest with yourself and be willing to look outside the box.

    • RuthMadison
      Oct 19, 2011

      All the hottest men I’ve ever seen were in wheelchairs ūüėČ Hahaha, sorry, couldn’t resist!

      Oh man, I had an ex too that told me he was “not a boob man.” I found that rather uncomfortable. I have a huge chest. If a guy doesn’t like that, it’s just going to be really awkward.

      You’re very right that interests change over time. I wonder too whether the importance that I currently place on sexual attraction will matter less when I’m not in the prime of my hormonal years. It will be interesting to see how that changes over time.

  3. Brandi
    Oct 22, 2011

    You know what they say … a few bad apples spoil the bunch. In this case, they spoil the reputation of all devotees simply by being more visible and vocal and by not tempering their attraction with common sense and respect. And because of these vocal few, who are overwhelmingly, aggressively male, the reputation of all suffers.

    And then there is the argument that what devotees are attracted to is the result of pain and suffering and how dare devotees find something attractive that has been such a painful experience for the person involved. And, of course, this is a perfectly valid argument for the people who feel this way. Emotions can be very strong about the experience of becoming disabled and living a life that is not the one that you anticipated living, and if this is how someone feels, then clearly being with a devotee is not for them and I wish them luck finding the person who IS right for them.

    However, there can be a symbiosis between people with disabilities and devotees, provided that each is open to listening to and respecting the experiences of the other. Ruth said “Allow yourself to imagine that maybe disability does not mean brokenness, helplessness, or wrongness. Once we can see disability as naturally as long hair or blue eyes, someone finding it attractive wouldn‚Äôt be scary.” That reminds me of something someone said to me recently about how there was nothing wrong with him and he shouldn’t be bombarded with messages from the media about how he should aspire to be “fixed”, to be like everyone else, like his disabled body wasn’t good enough and he should want to be different when, in fact, he does not want to be anything other than he is right now. I think that the devotee perspective provides support and unconditional acceptance for people with disabilities. Devotees do not say that you are accepted only so long as you are trying to look like you are not disabled, or only so long as you are trying to find a cure so that you can be “fixed”, especially if science does not have a way to “fix” you at present. Devotees instead see the barriers in the world that make things more difficult for you and see the attitudes that are hurtful to you. Devotees see the messages from the media, from films like “Avatar”, with its magical cure for the main character’s paralysis, or from every soap opera that has ever blinded a character only to have them miraculously regain their sight at the exact right moment instead of incorporating a blind character into the storyline full time, and are frustrated with the lack of characters reflecting the real, lived experience of people with disabilities and wonder why there are only a tiny handful of disabled actors and actresses who work with any real regularity and why they are often not the ones being cast to play disabled characters in television and films. Devotees are capable of seeing the entire person for all that they are and all that they are capable of being, and are not afraid to tackle the difficult subjects that matter in the lives of people with disabilities. And most devotees I know are interested in a hell of a lot more than just stumps and paralyzed legs, and this is not a game to them, or even necessarily a sexual fetish, but more like a sexual orientation, like being gay.

    I think that the most important thing for any devotee is to see the whole person and to recognize that a relationship cannot be built on physical attraction alone. It takes the whole package, with common interests, shared sociopolitical and spiritual viewpoints, respect for one another, and a view toward truly being partners with one another. Rather than having any power-over dynamics within the relationship, it should be one of equality and sharing one another’s lives. At least this is how I feel about it. And if the attraction IS more than just about the physical, then there can be mutual respect and understanding on both sides, don’t you think?

    (Sorry for going on and on but I tend to get a bit wordy from time to time!)

    • RuthMadison
      Oct 22, 2011

      HELL YES!

      Thank you, Brandi, that was beautiful and absolutely what is in my mind too.

      1) Disability is not something horrible that has to be fixed and changed, it’s an aspect of life (and you know what? None of us are living the lives we anticipated and expected we would!)

      2) All the devotees I know (and my position allows me to know quite a few) are interested in the whole person and are better able to see a person with a disability as a whole person than the average person is!

      • Patrick
        Mar 15, 2012

        I am a quadriplegic and have been looking for a web site that devotees join to find people like me.

        • RuthMadison
          Mar 15, 2012

          Great to hear from you! First off, any dating site designed for disabled people is going to have a ton of devotees. They may not always be upfront about it, as it can be scary to admit that’s what you are, but it’s highly likely that the non-disabled women at sites like whispers or dating4disabled are devs.

          There’s also paradevo.net, which is not a dating site, but is a great forum for disabled men and devotees of disabled men (both females and gay men) congregate to talk and try to understand each other.

    • lucretia
      Oct 23, 2011

      Great response, Brandi!! ūüôā

    • Geekguy
      Oct 26, 2011

      Wow, very well put!!

  4. Elizabeth McClung
    Nov 2, 2011

    I have been thinking about this a lot, which is why I came back here, as the relationship has always interested me, as soon as I was getting a seating done and the person doing it gave me a warning. Then it came up in conversation with a sex-pos girl regarding sex work you could do without needing to have sex or even get naked. And of course, then the first restraining order always puts a different spin on it.

    Some countries it is very big, some not. Females tend to be fantasized more than males, because of the aspect of female being ‘helpless’ romantically, and nothing plays that like a wheelchair. And that works even in countries where individuals in wheelchairs are not expected to EVER be in public alone, they are no longer full humans, like Japan. Yet Japan has some of the most frequent use of women in wheelchairs in popular media: endless anime including Air, Clannad, Clannad After Story, Code Geuss, Sister Princess, To Heart, (men don’t seem to show up in wheelchairs).

    To me the frustration of those in wheelchairs at the collective devotee community comes down to one word: Education.

    Though to comment on the ‘trauma’ aspect. Because society could care less how you feel about your wheelchair life, and tell you how to feel, and then expect that. This means that for most people, the most traumatic day and hour of their life is emotionally unprocessed. I don’t know anyone who can’t tell me when they started using a wheelchair, often to the hour or minute.

    So let me go sideways and talk about another traumatic incident and a group of people who are attracted to those who have experienced it: RAPE. You will find, after being raped, that there is a whole following, a culture of fantasy in book, film and media about rape but also about those who focus on ‘broken girls’. And rapists get out of jail, your rapist gets out of jail but there are always, and I mean often several times a week if not daily, guys who will try to force a relationship if they think you have been raped. Oddly, those raped don’t find this attention positive.

    It is mentioned that there are ‘bad apples’ but they are not the bunch. Well, then purge and attack the ‘bad apples’ – name and shame those who go to under 15 year old swim events to get photos of underage girls in swimsuits in wheelchairs and put them on the internet. And those who park across from the Blue badge spots in libraries and masturbate watching transfers. Get them out, if you want to clean up the name (or even keep it).

    But mostly the problem is that Devotees are focused, and with a laser like focus, on what their attraction is. So much that the fact that SCI doesn’t mean ‘paralyzed legs’ is oft unknown, even for para’s. Or that the person could be post-polio, or Spina Bifida, or a host of other spinal cord aspects from cancer to lesions. And it isn’t about male legs, or even male legs in a wheelchair, because having Johnny Depp sit in a wheelchair isn’t as hot as Johnny Depp as an SCI, right?

    Devotees are probably the greatest potential advocate for disability rights there could be. Which is why if anything, I wish there were more Devotees and (what is the name for those who pretend?) who worked with their GP or a therapist and moved forward in education and advocating. In case you are irked at the therapist, why? Those in rehab have therapy.

    But the questions indicate only perhaps a surface brush.
    Is the unemployment of a devotee 7 to 10 times that of the general population?
    Does everything a devotee buys cost two to 20 times more?
    Does having your apartment ‘tweaked’ cost $20,000 before you can move in?
    Do you go on vacation and get your room but be unable to shower, to move about the room, even to your bed (even if it is listed as ‘disability and accessible’ but has a shower bench thrown into a regular shower and that’s it.

    Should we be better off dead? Of course that doesn’t need to be said, after many family members say it, because the entire media says it all the time, has pictures on it. Are devotee’s chained to the back of trucks and drgged until dead? Do they show up on the FBI’s hate stats?

    If Devotees want to stand tall as supporters of those with disabilities (ALL disabilities, not just the erotic ones), then YES! I hope that through changes in approach, education and interaction the meaning of devotee changes from what it is now. Because right now it IS a one sided relationship: like the guy obsessed with a girl with glasses who then avoids her after getting contacts. If a drink, “SpinalConnect” appeared tomorrow, what would all those with the ‘orientation’ of para devotee do?

    Or rather, how much is the positive impact of devotees? Christopher Reeve for example started a chain of gyms and rehab for those with high breaks, and gets people who are C-3 breaks (considered by the medical community as ‘helpless for life’ and ‘better off dead’) and gets muscles build, sitting upright, torso control and then onto hand cycles. A friend who goes to a gym started by Christopher Reeve challenged me, so now I work out harder, I do more, I have a better life. That was the ripple effect. Please explain to me the ripple effect of devotees on my friend’s life, on my life, on the life of other friends male and female who are full time wheelchair users (even if they can leg support, or walk a few steps, or several steps)? Because if I can understand that, then I can understand where the two groups can positively meet. Heck, I’ll even sponser a tele-confrence with the para society here IF there are benefits, if there is more to offer than simply that we shouldn’t hate devotees. I want there to be, on both sides. But I don’t know what they currently are.

    • RuthMadison
      Nov 3, 2011

      I’m quite shaken by your comparison to attraction to rape victims.

      I hate that there is an aspect of pain to this and it is a part of devness that does, in all honesty, continue to disturb me.

      I personally think that it’s important that devs do not let their own desires get in the way of what is best for the people who have the disability, but that is not always how it plays out in practice. I know that I myself continue to study and learn about disability rights and I’m a very passionate supporter. But there’s no way for me to promise that any other dev would go that direction. I encourage all that I encounter to educate themselves, to learn as much as they can about the realities of disability and not just fantasize and act like the people they are attracted to don’t get a say in how they are perceived and treated by devs.

      What devs are lucky in is that our difference is invisible. I shudder to think what would be done to us if it were obvious. The venom, disgust, and hatred that can be found in any message board talking about devness is a scary indication to me. However, that said, I don’t mean to paint us as victims or anything like that.

      I do believe that if there could be a more positive dialogue between devs and people with disabilities, it would solve a lot of the scary issues that are coming up in regards to devness. It would allow devs to learn more about the real people behind their attraction and it would allow people who have disabilities to see that we are human beings and we didn’t get a choice about what we feel.

      Now, that lack of choice should not be used as an excuse for poor behavior.

      The question of what would happen if a cure for whatever disability were avialable is a good one. All the devs I’ve ever had conversations with have said that they are initially attracted to a physical form, but the relationship becomes deeper than that and when they love a person, they would want that person to choose to do whatever is best for her or himself. In other words, the devs I know are in support of a cure if that’s what their partner wants, even if it goes against their own lust. However, I don’t know all devs. Far from it, obviously! And I can’t speak for them all. I would hope that real love blossoms after the initial dev-draw. That has been my experience.

      • Elizabeth McClung
        Nov 4, 2011

        I was talking about rape because of personal experience. I was bringing my experience and trying to come up with an example of an experience that is as traumatic and memorable, and how life goes on, but never quite the same.

        I so focused on trying to explain the emotional impact that I did not anticipate you or others would think I think that you are like the very disturbed individuals who are attracted to the ‘broken’ aspects of those who have been raped. I’m sorry that I did not make that clear. I was hoping to demonstrate how this is going to be a very emotional topic because for those who had a traumatic break or amputation it is an extremely emotional experience which has them in a wheelchair or an amputation.

        For me, when I first met people, people who felt that becuase I was in a wheelchair I was more interesting – fine, okay. But the ones who blocked the path, who stood in a hallway in the middle with the legs spread, making it impossible to pass. That is, to a wheelie like holding them down, that is not consensual. These individuals, acting in such a way, for whatever reason, do not understand what that is like, having someone standing over you, blocking you.

        Now I hit them. Hard.

        The statistics list quite clearly that wheelies and amputees are targets for violence and rape, and indeed have the highest instance of both. When I was in the UK, 15 drunk guys beat a man with a leg amputation. Over 50 people watched or walked by. The drunks thought they would show some Iraqi what for. The man was a Kurd, who had lost his leg walking over a land mine, escaping Iraqi to Turkey, to the UK, only to beaten to death on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the sidewalk.

        I think that the general population could care less about devs. The film that came out about dev’s had little to no significant general impact, in fact, it was recommended twice to me by people who knew ‘you will probably like this, it has something to do with disabilities’. Wheelies are the lowest social place in society, so while parents might mind, society won’t care, and don’t. Most wheelies have experiences of drunks, kids, someone pushing them off their chair and stealing it, even if that is on the street.

        Doctor’s, spouses, specialist, all will sit in a person’s wheelchair without asking, like it is a public chair. This is the social importance which ignores what should be common social graces, but then, people don’t bother with those for those who are wheelies. Amputees can, for the most part, pass, so they avoid a lot of the hassle (but have to be refit every year or so – so more mobility and blending but a week off annually).

        To encapsulate: traumatic emotional event which suddenly changes how everyone sees and treats you, going from the top to the bottom in society and having almost every single person you interact with making assumptions about you ,the person, because of what you are sitting on. So you can see that when a group which is dedicated to the attraction of the object, not the person, announces that, it goes across badly. And when those who act in a poor to illegal manner are not shunned, and it is made clear that they do not represent the group, it becomes harder still.

        And that most of the money raised is for the elimination of spinal cord nerve breaks, that makes the goals even more split.

        I think if it just wasn’t so obvious that it was about the chair, amputation, etc, then it wouldn’t matter. In fact, most welcome the converstation. But, to gain function, mobility, independance, that is the goal of wheelies – men even more so than women.

        • RuthMadison
          Nov 4, 2011

          “Now I hit them. Hard.” Good for you! I remember I had a friend who used to tease the only boy in our school who used a wheelchair by doing this. I found it really terrible, but I didn’t know what to do. I had a crush on him and I hated for her to be demeaning like that. He laughed it off, but he did seem pretty annoyed.

          It is so hard for me to imagine that people who have disabilities are the target of violence, and yet what you say is true. I can’t understand how any human being can do these things to others. In a culture where disability is supposedly weakness, how can anyone justify violence?

          Thank you for clarifying about the rape aspect. I had no idea there were people attracted to those who have undergone that violence and I’m not sure how to process that knowledge!

          Maybe this is really misguided of me, but it is my hope that my books and stories can help shift the way society views those with disabilities. Maybe I just tell myself that and it won’t actually ever make a difference. But I stay motivated by writing characters who have disabilities but are not stereotypes, who are normal, flawed, beautiful human beings. Because men are my interest, that’s all I’ve written so far, but I may try a story with a female protagonist with a disability at some point too.

          In terms of “bad devs,” I would very much like to publicly shame them. I don’t know any, though. If you see bad behavior, you could maybe send me an email with details and I will make statements against it. I think those with the lower moral values do not get in touch with me, for better or worse. I think the majority of “bad devs” also are using very shady personas that are hard to pin down because they can just move on to another one. Over the Internet it can be so hard to tell what’s really going on. I’ve been hearing about a number of male devs using female avatars on websites, pretending to be women, in order to befriend women and gain their trust. Which makes me sick, but I don’t know how to figure out who is doing it. ūüôĀ

          • Elizabeth McClung
            Nov 4, 2011

            My partner has read two romances published by Harliquin, I think, one of their new imprints which had a wheelchair guy in it. I know she likes Jill Shalvis because she writes about guys who have issues, and strong women – like the firefighter who is scared of flying and has PTSD from losing friends in the last forest fire and the woman who flies him in, and how she owns her own plane. Her assumptions, his irritation, the frission of romance between equals.

            Sadly, she told me both books had the protagonsist in the wheelchair ‘walking again’ which simply avoided the entire issue.

            I think writing and romance is good. I have been told by professionals that even those who have been raped can be aroused by rape fantasies, or have that as their primary arousal (and still hate the rape), and that is not Stockholm but just the difference between self accepting erotic aspects and life experience. For me, not so much. I am however in admiration of good romance writing as it is too oft undervalued in society, and in writing circles. I find that excellent romances require excellent writing, to juggle humor, likable protagonists, identifying leads, and all of it is a challenge that I admire those who do.

            I hope your writing this month goes well.

            Your comments on the nature of the skeevy type don’t surprise me, as they tend to be like that in real life. Sad though, as I live close to where X-men is filmed and the children in wheelchairs in X-men school are often stalked and photos collected, underage girls from 10 to 15. It is a problem that the seating clinic ends up having to deal with, as the police will not.

          • RuthMadison
            Nov 4, 2011

            I hate when the romances end with walking again. I guess there’s a segment who like to read about men being nursed back to health…? I feel like a terrible person when I say I don’t like to see a cure ending, but it’s not just because I find guys who are disabled perfect the way they are, it’s also that these cure books make it seem like you can’t have the happily ever after unless you get rid of the disability. Big problem!

            I agree that writing romance takes skill, much more than I realized at first. In my MA program in writing I learned to be a snob and look down on romance writers. Now I find that it is quite challenging and it’s startling how much really bad writing is out there in these love stories. Seems like there is definitely a space for me and my love stories.

            The stalking and photo collecting is a huge problem. I wish I knew what to do about it ūüôĀ Children shouldn’t be having to deal with that, and really no one should be having to deal with that.

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    Apr 30, 2013

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