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Love, Sex, and Disability: The Pleasures of Care

Sarah Smith Rainey
Love, Sex, and Disability: The Pleasures of Care
ISBN: 978-1-58826-777-1
ISBN: 978-1-58826-949-2
2011/197 pages/LC: 2010041200
Disability in Society
"For those interested in further insight into the human condition, this book will be welcomed as part of their resource library. Love, Sex, and Disability: The Pleasures of Care is an excellent contribution to the literature."—Sigmund Hough, International Journal of Disability, Development, & Education

"A timely and needed analysis of the beauty of expanding the concept of care, to include that given and received by disabled people."—Bethany Stevens, Disability Studies Quarterly

"A comprehensive primer.... Psychologists, nurses, doctors, and sociologists alike should add this to their must-read list.... Not only a good book to read, but one that can serve as a template for how research and clinical interventions could be formatted."—Eileen T. Crehan, Sexuality and Disability

"Prioritizing the voices of both disabled and nondisabled partners is a crucial contribution of this text.... [It] is a significant contribution to the critical disability studies literature, as well as qualitative research in general.... Valuable to a wide range of scholars, and to those outside the academy who want to engage more fully with notions of care, dis/ability, and intimacy."—Victoria Kannen, Canadian Journal of Sociology

"Strong, comprehensive, and enlightening.... Any reader will be able to enter this book and profit from it."—Tobin Siebers, University of Michigan

"Offers an important reformulation of notions of care, intimacy, and gender dynamics around disability.... A significant contribution."—Eunjung Kim, University of Wisconsin-Madison


In this exploration of intimate relationships between people with physical disabilities and those without, Sarah Smith Rainey shatters the myth of sexless, burdensome partnerships—and in its place reveals a rich and rewarding continuum of emotional and physical intimacies.

Rainey draws on interviews, autobiographies, and films to show how disabled/nondisabled couples not only build mutually satisfying relationships by giving and receiving in equal measure, but also move beyond traditional gender roles to create new forms of sexual intimacy. She also takes note of the challenges these couples face. With sensitivity and clarity, she offers an unparalleled portrait of the lived experience of disability and sexuality.


Sarah Smith Rainey is assistant professor in the School of Cultural and Critical Studies and the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Bowling Green State University.


  • Introduction: Love, Sex, and Disability.
  • Images in Popular Culture.
  • The View from Medicine, Rehabilitation, and Nursing.
  • Flexible Gender Roles.
  • Pride and Resistance.
  • Love.
  • The Sexual Pleasure of Care.
  • New Understandings of Care, Gender, and Sexuality.
  • Appendixes.