Athena Stevens

I wear the top button of my jeans unbuttoned at all times. For most women, this would make me a slut, but in my case it just makes me pathetic. Today, I have funky red hair, I’m 5’ 2”, seven and a half stone, a 30-F, Banana Republic size zero. I have blue eyes, eyelashes so long I can’t wear sunglasses, lovely skin, and a smile that never stops. I’ve been schooled in classics, theology, philosophy, Spanish, Arabic, Attic Greek, ballet, athletics, kinesiology, theater, karate, and politics. I’ve traveled to 16 counties, broken 5 international track and field records, and taught school in Mexico.

Like what you’re hearing? I’ll go on. I’ve got a cute butt, an absurdly long tongue for cocktail party tricks, a set of wheels custom made for me, and a great sense of humor. I’m an hour glass figure, a la Marilyn Monroe, very flexible, and ready to embrace the true meaning of freedom.

All of this and I’ve never been asked out on a date.

After nearly twenty four years of living with a disability, I am still constantly amazed by how sexually frustrated young disabled women are. I’ve seen girls with all types of disabilities burst into tears and held them time and again as they sobbed, “but I’ll never have a boyfriend. Just look at me. Who would want to date me?” Often it seems as if perceived asexuality is the greatest disappointment from disability. I watch young women yearn to feel beautiful, desire a man’s touch, wish to have the freedom and confidence to invite him back to their room for the night.

Just like all women, we too crave to feel cherished. We want to open a magazine and see someone who looks like us. Most people think that body image issues revolve around a size or a reflection. But it doesn’t stop there.

It is particularly difficult to watch idealized images of love, even though my mind knows that these ideals will falter, fall flat on their faces, and cause more heartache that I can ever imagine. I remember coming home after a bridal shower for both of my best friends last year and sobbing in the bathtub, “I want to be loved like that. I want to be held like he holds her. I want to be someone’s sexual dream. I want so badly to be given dishtowels by my best friend and be excited about them.”

Perceived asexuality does have a wonderful advantage though. I may cry every time I see Cyrano de Bergerac, but I am able to take the time many girls primp and throw themselves ruthlessly at guys to truly excel at everything I wish to do. And I know I have given desire that only certain guys are man enough to fill. True, pure, hunger is made to be satisfied.

It’s amazing how guys who do not know about the disability will give me compliments without hesitation. On the way back from work today, I looked out the car window to see a car full of guys whopping and yelling at my eye contact and wagging their tongues at me. In Switzerland this summer, during a particularly hard evening, I opened my third story window and stood alone on the balcony to watch the sunset. Within a few moments, a Swissman walked by, stopping to stare at me. He yelled up, first in French, then in Italian, and then in German. After all attempts failed, he tried English. “You are the most beautiful vision I have even seen. I wish I had a camera to make your picture. May I came up to see you?”

Unaccustomed to such attention I always smile and back away, knowing that mystery is more romantic than exposure.

I am beautiful. I am sexy. I am built perfectly. I will be cherished by a man someday. I don’t need to waste my time with false lovers, for I know I have these characteristics, even if no one else suspects it.


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