Experiencing Acrotomophilia in Person
I am a severely disabled female who has been in relationships with able-bodied male partners for over a decade. I would like to express my opinion of them here.
In my view, people with disabilities and able-bodied persons are not members of two different species; rather, they are experiencing two different states of being. Regardless of whether a person's disability is caused by a congenital or postnatal defect, it permanently limits them physically. Moreover, social stigmas coupled with an imperfect social welfare system present a variety of obstacles. While ideally society would work to overcome them, it instead makes disabled people the subject of discrimination and exclusion, further alienating them and impacting their mental health negatively. This creates a vicious cycle as society further isolates them due to their mental state.
Contrary to popular opinion, many people with disabilities are repulsed by the type of aid abled-bodied persons try extend to them, often finding it condescending. This stems from the fact that equality and respect are more valuable than financial assistance. Instead of recognizing this and acting upon this universal truth, abled-bodied people have done little to counter social inequalities.
This also holds true within the realm of sex and love.
Love is the most basic and essential of human emotions. Most able-bodied persons are not sexually attracted to persons with disabilities. Many may also doubt their ability to engage in sexual behavior. Moreover, the special needs of the disabled create additional strains on love and marriage. As such, society doesn't view marriages between able-bodied and disabled persons as equal unions. Indeed, the media sensationalizes such marriages, extolling the virtues of the able-bodied partner. This implies that only an extremely noble person would burden themselves with such a marriage making the union also a source of mental pain for the disabled spouse.
This is but one example of how acrotomophilia is stigmatized by society. It is little wonder that acrotomophiles are not understood.
Only a minority of people are acrotomophiles. Some consider their behavior to be unacceptable or even abnormal. However, Li Yinhe believes that the word ‘abnormal’ is neutral, merely referring to a state which is not normal. I agree as that which is common is not necessarily right. For example, the view that men are superior to women is no more just or acceptable than the perception that people with disabilities are inferior to people without them. A civilized society should be diverse, including a menagerie of lifestyles and behaviors. Interferance in one's chosen lifestyle should be limited to situations where it causes harm to others.
In the eyes of many men, high-heeled shoes and silk stockings are sex symbols. In the same vein, many women regard men's pectorals and sweat as alluring. This is no different from an acrotomophile's attraction to a person with a disability. This attraction motivates them to approach and develop close relationships with the objects of their desire. In my opinion, this is a blessing for a disabled female who otherwise leads a life ridden with gender and disability discrimination.
Acrotomophiles are mostly able-bodied and lead affluent lives. My personal experience tells me that those lacking high income and/or social status generally don't identify as such. In contrast, most of non-acrotomophiles whose spouses are disabled face financial hardship. Therefore, acrotomophiles are more attractive to the disabled. A disconnect nevertheless exists between them. As a result, such relationships are generally short-lived and cause harm to the disabled partner.
According to Sexuality and Gender Plurality by Fang Gang, this disconnect is a result of the disparity between their sexual values within society. I wholly agree with this opinion; as an able-bodied person, an acrotomophile has more options in love and marriage than a person with a disability. Although they can obtain sexual satisfaction with a person with a disability, they face a great deal of social pressure to end the relationship. For many, the social cost is simply too high. Thus, they prefer to have a disabled lover meet their sexual needs, while returning home to an able-bodied spouse. Indeed, it is now common for people in positions of power to engage in this lifestyle. I, myself, have met such a person. The fact that an acrotomophile appears “superior” when compared with a disabled lover further feeds their desire to engage in these relationships.
In contrast, societal rejection, unequal opportunities, and self-imposed reclusiveness limits a disabled persons' opportunities to be exposed to and interact with able-bodied people, to say nothing of those with whom they are compatible.
Acrotomophiles are not only privileged, but also understand the psychology and physiology of persons with disabilities. While they can speak a common language with their sexual partners, they are nevertheless unwilling to discuss marriage or invest themselves emotionally in these relationships
Some acrotomophiles go so far as to discriminate against people with disabilities, regarding us as goods rather than human beings worthy of dignity and respect, thus further upsetting the fragile balance of these relationships.
That said, acrotomophilia is beyond reproach. It is the subject of derision only because of pre-existing societal discrimination against the disabled.
In fact, a loving marriage between an acrotomophile and a person with a disability benefits both spouses. The whole of society must work to recognize this. Stigmatization of acrotomophilia will disappear only once the disabled are no longer given special treatment, experience a higher standard of living, and anti-disability discrimination becomes a thing of the past.
Further reading: Acrotomophilia is a sexual preference. Acrotomophiles are people who are sexually attracted to the disabled. They can be divided into three, often overlapping categories: base-line acrotomophiles, pretenders, and self-injurers. According to the relevant literature, acrotomophiles are usually aware of their interest early in life. Pretenders often fancy themselves as amputees or disabled. Due to the lack of systematic research of acrotomophilia, we do not know how common this sexual preference is within the general populace. However, given the size of China's population, the absolute number of acrotomophiles in China is likely high.