Dating With Disabilities

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 12 2012 @ 1:11pm

by Chris Bodenner

Tracy Clark-Flory covers a controversial new show from the UK, "The Undateables":

Lisa Egan, a Brit who blogs about disability issues, says, "Most of the people who’ve claimed that the title is offensive are either non-disabled people or disabled people who are in long-term relationships; often relationships that were forged before acquiring their impairment." She points to a Guardian survey finding that 70 percent of respondents would not consider having sex with a person with a disability. "The reality is that I am undateable," she says, adding, "I am undateable because we live in a world where disablist prejudice is ubiquitous."

That said, Egan does take issue with the actual content of the series.

"My problem with the show is its obsession with ‘confidence,'" she says. One of the issues with "the confidence rubbish" is that "there’s an element of victim blaming going on," she explains. "If you’re disabled and you can’t get a shag it must be because you’re just not confident enough. ‘It’s nothing to do with our prejudices, oh no. It’s you. You must try harder.'"

Hephzibah Anderson is more forgiving of the series:

For anyone who's ever sifted through online dating profiles, each aiming at something quirky and thus all hitting a single, conformist note, there's something undeniably impressive about these individuals. Lumping them together is a patronising premise, but in the end, it's we the audience whom the voiceover really patronises, whether it's reminding us of what Asperger's entails or driving home the way modern romance encourages us to commodify one another. Meanwhile, Richard is shrewd, Penny keeps her cards close to her chest, and Luke appears to have found a girl who thinks his Tourette's is funny. "Slut!" he blurts across the pub table. "Thanks," she preens, giving as good as she gets.

Despite the documentary-makers' best efforts to obscure it with cheap laughs and a teaser campaign of questionable ethics, there is bravery here, as well as a powerful emotional understatement.

Any readers have an enlightening experience dating with a disability?