In this study of women with mild and moderate learning disabilities, Michelle McCarthy investigates how these women experience their sexual lives. She discusses her findings in relation to the cultural forces which shape Western perceptions of sexuality, in relation to feminism, and in relation to theories and prejudices about learning disabilities. She also studies the impact of institutional and community settings on the sexuality of women. Her findings, which are based on interviews with women with learning disabilities, suggest that they commonly find themselves engaging i sexual activity which is not to their liking and not their choosing. A very high level of abuse was reported. The author makes recommendations for policy and practice which will protect this vulnerable group, and advises on education, support and seeking justice for abused women.
'Michelle McCarthy's book is therefore particularly important, because it is a vehicle for a group of women with learning disabilities to tell us about their sexual lives. While it documents one study, it also draws on accumulated experience of sex education, counselling and research with women with learning disabilities. (McCarthy, 1994, 1998a and b; McCarthy & Thompson, 1995, 1996). This book is accessible and practical, and a useful resource for service providers, policy workers, researchers and families.
Sexuality and Women with Learning Disabilities makes a significant contribution to both feminist and disability literature, because it challenges common assumptions about the sexuality of people with learning disabilities, forces a reconsideration of how this group of people are viewed by those around them and links gender and disability in its analysis'. -- Tizard Learning Disability Review Michelle McCarthy's latest book feels very complete. It reflects her wealth of experience in working directly with service users in the area of sexuality and sex education and, while scholarly, it is eminently practical, combining, as it does, methodological rigour with great sensitivity and respect for the seventeen women with learning disabilities who are the subjects for her research... Sexuality and Women with Learning Disabilities is eminently readable, even by busy and exhausted practitioners. It will be of great value to managers and direct care workers supporting adults with learning disabilities in residential and day settings and to those undertaking sex education with children and adolescents with learning difficulties. -- Ann Craft Trust Bulletin By tackling issues that have received little meaningful attention, McCarthy both makes a valuable contribution to the literature and provides a useful practical guide to those wishing to support their clients more effectively. -- Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Care