Stephen Hawking and Sex Clubs: why is this news?

Stephen Hawking and Sex Clubs: why is this news? February 29, 2012

Christina here.

A friend of mine handed me this link today, “Stephen Hawking Frequents Sex Club In California: Report

Stephen Hawking may be confined to a wheelchair, but that doesn’t seem keep him from making the rounds. The celebrated astrophysicist is a regular at a sex club in California, according to media reports.

The 70-year-old, almost completely paralyzed by a neurological disorder known as motor neurone disease, frequents a San Bernadino “swinger’s club” called Freedom Acres, a long-time member of the club told Radar Online.

“I have seen Stephen Hawking at the club more than a handful of times,” the member told the blog. “He arrives with an entourage of nurses and assistants. Last time I saw him, he was in the back ‘play area’ lying on a bed fully clothed with two naked women gyrating all over him.

Apparently, Cambridge issued a statement on the matter:

A spokesman for the university, where the 70-year-old is a world-renowned physicist, described the reports on an American website as “lurid” and added the cosmologist was not a “regular”.
Tim Holt, a press officer for the university, told the News that the celebrated author of A Brief History of Time did visit the Freedom Acres, as first reported on the website Radar, but it had been a one-off.

Here’s my question: why is this news at all?

Could it be because he’s famous? 70 years old? An astrophysicist? Someone who has been a controversial figure with regard to religion? Someone with a disability?

Could it be because the club is not just your run-of-the-mill strip club, but a swinger’s club?

I don’t know, but some of the language used in these reports have my ableist sense tingling.

“Stephen Hawking may be confined to a wheelchair, but that doesn’t seem keep him from making the rounds”

Stephen Hawking is not “confined” to a wheelchair. Without the wheelchair, he’d be stuck in bed, unable to move about on his own. Wheelchairs set people free, they do not confine people.

That someone with a disability engages in sex-related activities should not come as a surprise to anybody.  Yet part of the reason Hawking visiting sex clubs is news seems to be because society dos not see Hawking as a sexual being.

Society does not see people with disabilities (or people who are older, and other groups of people) as sexual beings. Case in point: people who have sexual attractions to people with disabilities often find themselves labeled deviant, sick, or fetishists.  I bet you can’t remember the last time the media portrayed a person with a disability as a sexual being without sensationalizing it, yet people with disabilities have the same needs for emotional and erotic closeness as anyone else.  Sex and disability shouldn’t be so taboo.


Learn more about Christina and follow her @ziztur.

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