"EYE-OPENING, POWERFUL AND EMOTIONALLY NUANCED."THE DAILY BEAST
Push Girls
A SUNDANCE TV ORIGINAL SERIES
starring Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, Auti Angel, Mia Schaikewitz and Chelsie Hill

PUSH GIRLS premiere realness: Yes, people in wheelchairs have sex

Tonight’s episode was called Everyone Stares. And that’s a fact. Get ready to see a whole lot of sexy on PUSH GIRLS, because the premiere episode was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to frank talk on dating and relationships for women thinking about issues like finding life partners and choosing whether to have children (btw, sponsor a lady’s uterus, why don’t you). One of the things I loved about the first episode was the unabashed exploration of sexuality for wheelchair users, since it’s such a taboo topic, something we’re not supposed to talk about; everyone assumes wheelchair users can’t or don’t have sex.

Myth: Busted.

 

 


We also got a great example of these microaggressions—those small, irritating reminders of otherness—that plague wheelchair users in this episode as Angela called around about modeling gigs. I loved her phone conversation with the woman who said: “We are wheelchair accessible…just, there’s a staircase,” but the really priceless moment was “Just walk in,” followed by Angela’s snort of amusement:

 

 


The push girls are all at slightly different stages in their lives, which means we got to see some considerably varied relationships on screen this week. I already adore Tiphany even as I worry about her for wearing her heart on her sleeve, and I love her defiance of labeling; falling in love with a person “on a soul to soul level,” as she puts it, is such a beautiful expression of her sexuality. At the same time, it makes her very vulnerable, because she’s so open and loving; I wanted to hug her right along with the rest of the girls when they were at lunch. It’s also exciting to see a representation of something other than the heterosexual norm in combination with disability, because if there’s anything more taboo than sex when a wheelchair is involved, it’s non-het sex when a wheelchair is involved!

And I’m excited to see where Auti and Eric’s fertility journey goes; trying to have a baby at any age can be intense, let alone with the disability factor, and I know I’m not the only one with my fingers crossed for her. Have to say that growing up with Auti as my mama would be pretty much the most awesome thing ever. For one thing, I would totally be begging to borrow her totally blinged-out ride at every opportunity as soon as I was old enough to wheel.

Auti and Eric, like Tiphany, are confronting some dual notions about disability and sexuality—in their case, they’re encountering myths about both sexuality and childbearing. Like lots of folks using chairs for mobility, Auti can in fact have children (and we hope she will!), and I think that information may have surprised some viewers who will hopefully be interested in learning more about the logistics of pregnancy and childbearing with paraplegia.

Speaking of learning more, if you’re curious for more information on arteriovenous malformations like Mia’s, and warning signs to look out for, here’s a great resource on the topic. AVMs often aren’t apparent until you start experiencing symptoms like seizures, headaches, and numbness, and as Mia reminded us, they can rupture very suddenly. If you or someone you know starts experiencing seizures, slurred speech, confusion, or numbness, go directly to the emergency room, do not pass go, do not collect $200!

Favorite quote, from Mia: “Being yourself is really sexy.”

If you can’t stand up, stand out! PUSH GIRLS airs on Mondays at 10P starting June 4th.