DARE TO ASK: If you can't see it, is it still sexy?
By PHILLIP MILANO, The Times-Union
With all the trials and tribulations blind people must contend with, I wonder
how, well, "lust" is handled. A sighted person can look upon a beautiful woman
or handsome man and feel pleasure. Is the blind person reduced to feelings of
extreme frustration that only lovemaking can relieve, or is fantasy and
imagination able to lessen the annoying "itch" nearly all of us experience?
John, 41, Boston
I have a close friend who's been blind since birth. He does fantasize,
thinking of past sexual experiences, sounds and sensations (he has much to draw
upon). He does not miss what he never had.
Cassandra, 36, Chicago
I don't think I am reduced to frustration because I can't look at a man.
There is so much more to the sexiness of a person than how they look. If a man
is charming in his thoughts and words, I can be attracted to him. Also,
masculine colognes mixed with the natural body scent can be arousing. Needless
to say, tactile and aural sensations are the best. A pleasing voice and soft
touches are wonderful. I don't feel I am deprived of a person's beauty. Fantasy
and imagination work for the blind just as for the sighted. The fantasies may be
of a different nature, though.
Meri C., 22, blind, Italy
Lynn Manning has seen lust from both sides of the lens: sighted and
The Los Angeles playwright and actor even discusses the topic in a play he's
completing titled "In the Absence of Light."
"In it, a character speaks of drinking a woman in with his eyes, and his
blind friend wishes he could," said the 52-year-old Manning, who lost his sight
to a gunshot at age 23.
In his play "Object Lesson," a blind character who was into porn movies
before losing his sight tries to get his new girlfriend to "describe the action"
"She has an aversion initially, but . . . well, it gets very funny."
His point, he said: Other senses must do the work of fulfilling one's sexual
"The fantasy realm that exists has to move from being visually stimulating to
[things such as ] the sound of a woman passing by, or of her shoes, or her
pantyhose, or her whistling, or her hand on your shoulder, or the tug of the
weight of her breast on her bra strap, or the smell of her perfume and hairspray
. . ."
As one can guess, things often must be more up-close and personal to fully
"You can't gaze at the mountain in the distance; we have to be on the
mountain," he said.
Does he miss his sight as it relates to sex?
"You can suffer some drop-off and frustration. For example, say your partner
is dressed sexy . . . you can't appreciate that from afar. Or slinky dancing and
all of those come-hither poses, it no longer exists."
But, you cope, and you adapt.
"You develop other ways of observing, of piecing together the world around
you. . . . All of it provides much fuel for fantasy, much fuel for inspiration."
Phillip Milano, author of I Can't Believe You Asked That! (Perigee),
moderates cross-cultural dialogue at Y? The National Forum on People's
Differences. Visit www.yforum.com to submit questions and answers. Send general
column comments to phillip. email@example.com. You can also hear his
podcasts or watch his