Democratizing pleasure: Movement-impaired individuals’ perception of sex and the design of inclusive sex toys | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 8, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2055-2106
  • E-ISSN: 2055-2114

Abstract

The aim of our research and development is the promotion of technology embedment in everyday garments to augment their functionality, thereby increasing the wearer’s quality of life, with a special focus on inclusivity. The device (which combines user-centred design principles with soft-robotics integrated to textile) described in this article addresses the needs and desires of movement-impaired individuals with regard to their sexuality. Although sexuality is a human right, it is often neglected in research on disabled individuals. To promote a new sensibility towards this issue and make pleasure accessible to anyone, we have designed a device that allows autonomous sensual experience, enabling the wearer to self-explore intimacy and sexuality through a pillow-interface that activates inflatable components embedded into underwear. The findings and principles that guided the development of the project are also outlined. This transdisciplinary project used a mixed-methods research design. It commenced with identifying the barriers to intimacy for individuals with specific types of disability (including movement impairments) through questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. The participants were prompted to openly discuss difficulties in experiencing sexuality and their perceptions of sex toys. In addition, we examined available literature sources to map the current sex toy market and identify solutions that would be viable for individuals with disabilities. Moreover, we analysed the physiology of genitals and pleasure patterns, and identified design principles that could lead to the development of new solutions. Although sexuality is recognized as a human right, many individuals are deprived of a healthy sexual life because of physical, political and societal barriers. These obstacles are perpetuated by the sex toy market, as its lack of innovation and inclusivity prevents disabled individuals from using sex toys that can be operated without external assistance. The design principles presented in this work can be adopted to design products that can be used by disabled and non-disabled individuals to enjoy sexual pleasure. This work addresses the needs and desires of movement-impaired individuals with regard to their sexuality, which is an insufficiently examined topic. We further present the design principles that can be used for developing products that support independence and well-being of individuals with a wide range of impairments.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Award 825647)
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2022-03-01
2024-02-25
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