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

PUSH GIRLS: Sometimes dating is scary

This week on PUSH GIRLS, “Freaky Deaky” showed us some hazards of dating while you’re a wheelchair user, while still letting us see the girls having fun. As Auti, whom I’ve come to think of as the mother hen, reminded us, there’s an element of danger involved in going on a date when you have paralysis, because it involves a deep level of trust very early in your relationship. Tiphany related a scary story about being tipped out of her chair, underscoring the vulnerability wheelchair users experience in intimate relationships.

Mia’s date with Edahn looked like tons of fun; I love that he chose kayaking as a date activity after picking up on Mia’s love for sporty things and her fierce sense of independence. They definitely enjoyed themselves out on the water and on the beach, but Mia ultimately wasn’t feeling it. There’s a common belief that if you use a wheelchair, you’re going to end up settling for what you can get, relationship-wise. That’s not Mia’s style (or any push girl’s!), and she’s not afraid to admit it. That’s not pickiness, it’s just common sense; why invest energy in a relationship with someone you don’t totally click with?

Meanwhile, Angela got much more up in her date’s face, but he seemed to like her confrontational style, and so did I. She forced him (and the audience) to think about some things and their interaction ended with teasing and bantering, which showed he had the guts to stay the course rather than backing down from a strong woman.

First dates are awkward, as Mia has told us before, because they’re first dates. No matter who you are or what kind of baggage you bring to the encounter. When you’re physically disabled, they can come with some extra tension, and not necessarily from your partner; people like to stare at people in wheelchairs, and that can really put a damper on a romantic evening — or kayaking trip, for that matter. “People Stare,” as Angela calls it, is a constant accompaniment when you’re outside the house.

Tiphany and Auti also pointed out that wheelchair users have to deal with devotees, or “wheelchasers,” as Tiphany called them; people who claim to have a sexual attraction to disability. Some of them engage in stalkeresque behavior, and Tiphany’s lighthearted story about being followed around the grocery store is only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s no surprise that the girls look out for each other on their dates to make sure they don’t end up in bad situations, but a lot of their advice was great for anyone heading out on a first date: Meet in public, tell people where you’re going, and call in at the end of the night. Oh, yeah, and have fun.

Favorite quote, from Mia: “It’s cool to feel anonymous every now and then. Otherwise people are always staring or noticing you.”

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