I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome type 3; the hypermobility kind, the stupidly bendy 'how don't you snap?' one. Some people will probably call the majority of us with EDS 3 - double-jointed, but that's a myth, I mean, how can you have double the amount of joints? I've written quite a few posts on EDS, and here I explain just what it is. And trust me, if having EDS just meant being flexible, I'd be all over it...alas, it's so much more. Chronic pain is a bitch.
Whenever I meet someone new and I tell them about my condition there's often curiosity and empathy but sometimes sniggers. Don't get me wrong I'm the first person to make an innuendo or comment something filthy but when it comes to my disability, it pisses me off. If my collagen wasn't faulty and I wasn't as bendy as I am, I wouldn't have half of the problems that I do. I wouldn't need a powerchair, I wouldn't be in pain every second of the day and I could participate in society like everyone else. But because everything in me hyperextends (muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints) it's always working harder and therefore doing damage - hence the chronic pain, dislocations, subluxations, sprains, tears and everything else I have to put up with.
Obviously contortionists are hypermobile, and more often than not so are gymnasts and dancers. The media repeatedly objectifies gymnasts making out that 'flexibility is sexy.' Not only is this demeaning the hard work of the athletes but it is fetishising them. Futhermore, whenever a contortionist is on TV, mainly on a show like Britain's Got Talent, the artist is a spectacle because of his/her abilities but also sexualised due to the connotations of their flexibility.
Therefore, when I do tell these sniggering people about my condition and they hear the word 'flexible', a whole cacophony of excitement erupts and suddenly my disability becomes fetishized. 'Just how flexible are you?' 'Can you put your legs behind your head?' 'Can you do the splits?' Yes, I can get my legs behind my head but I may also dislocate a hip whilst doing it. How's that sexy?
I don't find anything about my condition sexy. My boyfriend has to put my socks on, to brush my hair, to make sure I have my medication, please tell me what's hot about that?
This is not a woe is me, I hate my disability post, because I don't. I'm happy with my life, my disability has opened so many doors for me and continues to do so. What I'm not happy with is being objectified because I'm practically a contortionist.
Who wants to jump into bed with me and potentially end up with a screaming girl freaking out over a jaw dislocation, or having to stop mid-thrust because I've pulled a muscle? Yes, I may be able to get in some particularly risque positions but I could also end up crying. And what kills the mood more than a little cry?
For my boyfriend and I, my elasticness is a non-subject; it's just another thing we take into consideration. He's not turned on or off by my flexibility or disability because that's only one part of who I am. My flexibility isn't sexy, but I am. Kind of.