Good days and bad days : a grounded theory study of disabled women's sexuality : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Nursing at Massey University
Disabled women have been considered asexual for too long. Disabled women have experienced prejudice and oppression as a result of living within a social environment that expects its members to conform to a socially defined normality. Historically, disabled people have been considered the tragic victims. This has been acknowledged as the 'medical model' approach to disability. That is, that an individual is disabled, and it is the responsibility of the health professionals to cure or care for them. By contrast, disabled people have developed the 'social model' of disability. This model recognises that society disables people with impairments by excluding them. Barriers to inclusion are both environmental and attitudinal. Nurses and other health professionals have been educated in the medical model of understanding disability. The results have been that disabled women have not been treated appropriately. The aim of this thesis was to uncover how disabled women understand and experience their sexuality. As a disabled researcher, I am in a unique position to undertake this study. Very little has been researched about disabled women by disabled women. We have tended to be studied by nondisabled health professionals. This study includes information provided by nine disabled women, literature written by disabled women, and resources from a broad academic perspective. The methodology used to guide this research is grounded theory as described by Glaser (1992). The process included semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and then coded. The constant comparison method was used to discover six categories. By using the comparison method, the basic social process emerged from the data. The basic social process or pattern of behaviour was called good days and bad days. Simply, disabled women feel more sexual on good days as compared to bad days. Society and nurses have an impact on disabled women's experience of having good or bad days. If nurses are to make a positive contribution they need to understand disability from a social model perspective so that they can work with disabled women in partnerships. Change is needed in society to value us. Disabled women need to speak out and support each other in promoting social change. Disabled women are sexual beings and we can be proud to be all that we are.