My life's greatest loss, turns you on?Aug 04 05:31
When you’re a woman in a wheelchair and you’re online, watch out. There’s a huge reason to be suspicious of who you talk to when meeting new people. There are thousands of wheelchair fetishists (also known as “devotees)” crawling the internet. And while what turns them on - atrophied legs, spasms, watching a cute woman transfer - may seem laughable, you need to be aware. They have been using the internet since it’s onset to lure lonely, naïve disabled women, and they can be highly dangerous.
Whenever I tell people about devotees, they are like WTF, crack a smile and pass it off as another crazy internet thing. But when you’re the target, it’s a totally different story. See, there’s a thing about fetishists, they get obsessive. Most are so determined to live out their fantasy they’ll take predatory, even illegal, measures to make it happen. And its even worse with wheelchair fetishists because hey! “We’re defenseless cripples.“ Most even think we appreciate their attention because they are also prejudiced against us and think we can‘t do any better.
The main place they’re hanging out right now is Facebook. They’ll add you, even pretend to be a newly injured woman, ask for advice on personal matters, only to be a fat guy who can walk in Anaheim, Cali. And what they really love in the interim is video of disabled women. There are these devotee channels with hundreds of videos of women in wheelchairs doing a variety of things, combined into an easy-to-watch list. And if they can’t get a video of you, of course a photo will suffice. They’ll download as many full body/wheelchair pics of you as they can find. Some even put hundreds of pics onto a CD and sell them online to other devotees.
And the worst instances of devotees being dangerous is when they find your address and show up at your house out of the blue like its no big, and then just expect to be let into your bedroom for a romp of fun; no questions asked. WTF. And of course calling you is another common tactic (do not put your number on Facebook). Simply put: You need to be careful. They do not respect us.
Now if you’re in a wheelchair and you like the attention, all the power to you, have fun. As for me, the idea of someone getting sexually aroused from my life’s greatest sadness - my spinal cord injury which took so much away from me - I don’t even know where to begin. I just wish they would understand how offensive they are, and desist from offending, and downright frightening so many of my friends online.
What experiences have you had with devotees?
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1. Helen Wheels | Aug 05 03:21
This issue definitely needs more discussion, and NOT on Facebook for reasons you point out. My experience pre-Internet in the early 80s, and post-divorce in this millenium, has been that 'devos' needed for poor self-esteem reasons to be the shining-knight, how noble of him since she must live with a Glass Menagerie. I'm sorry you've had dangerous experiences beyond the pathetic. As for them getting aroused by 'your life's greatest sadness:' it has nothing to do with you, human beings seem to be able to make a fetish out of any human attribute, let them find the lid for their pot over on Craigslist and leave us alone.
2. Tiffiny | Aug 08 01:17
Thx for responding, Helen. I just hope this blog gets to those creeps, so they can take a long hard look at their actions.
3. ppssenior | Aug 28 11:51
I ran into one on one of the yahoo groups...I just thought he was another disabled group member and after writing for a couple weeks he started to ask weird questions. that was it for me. I want someone to want inspite of my disability not because of it!
4. Patrick | Mar 14 09:59
Wannabes, yes I agree WTF. On the other hand when I meet someone I like, I can't get their phone number. They tell me how smart I am or funny or I have such a great attitude.... Nothing, nada, zilch!!! I have been shooting blanks for 25 years now when it comes to getting a date. Hhhhhhhh.......
5. Gila | Apr 20 09:36
I'm in a chair 18 years now and just today learned the word divotee and it's meaning. However I have met some men online that do want a pwd just 4 sexual fantasy. I am lucky that I met a man after just two months of trying on pof dating site that has turned out to a serious thing with us living together over a year now. But thanks for your blog and warning of the dangers for us out there.
6. devotee-response | Jul 09 02:43
I believe there is nothing wrong with finding disabled bodies particularly attractive, as long as you are not a disrespectful perv about it. Historically, African americans faced slavery, abuse and discrimination because of skin color. If you find them particularly attractive, does not mean you condone their painful past. Transgendered people often live in agony due to gender identity confusion, social isolation and surgeries. If you are sexually attracted to trans people, does not mean you enjoy that pain they had to endure. it means you find their body beautiful, and unique as it is. I"m a woman who finds disabled men attractive (if they're handsome, "my type" and intelligent). There are many rude devotees on the web, and I hate them, because they misrepresent thoughtful and respectful devotees who do not engage in creepy stalkerish things on the web. Thats why you don't see them. They are busy minding their own business.
7. pretender/wannabe | Jul 09 02:55
and on the note of pretenders/ wannabes: I do not understand this behavior, but I think they are mentally ill. Just as physical disabilities are very real challenges, mental illness are challenges...people who want to be disabled are sick, in their minds. I'm not saying it's okay, but don't be so quick to make fun...they have mental problems you can't understand. Instead of judging, have compassion and be happy that your mind is healthy
8. Devils Advocate | Aug 07 01:44
I agree that the behaviors outlined in this article DO happen, but I argue that there are plenty of Dev's who are kind, respectful, loving, caring, and who love a person for more than their disability. There is a difference between admiring and being a fetishist. Some men want big breasts, should he feel bad because his girl went through pain to get those big breasts? I've had some really bad experiences with Dev's in my 20+ years on the net, and I've met some wonderful ones. They don't need me to need them. They don't need to "care" for me. I've been engaged to and living with a Dev for 4 years. You'd never know he's a Dev. I cook, I clean, I help take care of his kids. I'm expected to be a full partner in this relationship. The only "difference" is he appreciates my WHOLE body (I'm a DAK w/ 2 ostomies) where men before him appreciated me DESPITE my body. I feel sexier and more alive now than I ever have. Don't count out a whole group because of a few bad guys.
9. Devils Advocate | Aug 07 01:54
1000 characters isn't enough. Most of the bad apples you'll run into on the net couldn't have a real relationship with any woman, let alone a disabled one. There are just as many non-Dev jerks online as there are bad Dev's. There is just as much, if not more, able bodied porn on the net as there is disabled. My friends thought it was cool! Knowing how I had been treated in the past they were thrilled I finally had someone who loved me, ALL OF ME. My relationship works because we work at it. We talk, we're loyal, we care for each other as any two people would. He works at a job I work at home to keep things clean and streamlined. He doesn't need to be my "knight" though in many ways he is, as any man in your life should be. Don't believe all the bad. There is good out there.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.