I’ve just read in today’s paper the rather tragic tale of the couple that have gone to the courts to try to get their intellectually challenged daughter forcibly sterilised after the birth of her current child. They are already looking after the first child and say their daughter has absolutely no comprehension of parenting or responsibility towards her offspring. I’m not writing in response to this particular case, but I’d like to make a few observations about the vulnerable and their sexualisation.
Two things spring to mind. Firstly my memories of working with the special needs young adults at a college of Further Education. I was horrified by the woman in charge of the unit. She was one of these bosomy, matriarch types who unfortunately always manage to wind me up. Personality clashes aside however, what got to me was the way she both mothered and sexualised her students simultaneously. I can only imagine how confusing it was for them to hear things like “Aww, give him a love, Tommy looks like he needs a love”, “Are your going to be girlfriend and boyfriend now?”, “Sally, give him a kiss. There that’s better isn’t it?”. She was an advocate of the contraceptive patches for her female students.
Did the students really need to be treated like dolls playing at mummies and daddies? This was many years ago, I assume things now are more enlightened. I’m not saying the students had no sexual feeling of their own, but I do wonder about the wisdom of encouraging them.
Secondly, in such cases, who is the father? Is he a young man with similar learning difficulties? In which case, why should such a couple be allowed to spend so much time together, alone? Or is he someone who is taking advantage of a vulnerable young woman, knowing full well what he is doing, in which case surely his actions are criminal?