Googling Stereotypes

Mike ErvinI wanted to write about the overly-medicalized stereotypical images of caregiving a lot of people carry around in their heads, so I entered the word “caregiver” into a search engine and then clicked images.

Sure enough, nearly all the stock pictures that popped up were of young women taking care of old women. The young women were almost always dressed in medical scrubs and the old women were usually wearing robes or pajamas, as if they never left their bedrooms.

No surprises there. That’s how most people see caregiving — a female medical professional taking care of a female shut-in. Nobody on the receiving end is young or active, and very few of the people on either end are men.

So I entered “caregiver man” into a search engine and up popped a whole bunch of images from porn videos. Yep, apparently there is an entire genre of porn videos known as old man/caregiver. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn this.

I watched a few of these videos for research purposes because that’s what journalists do. (You’re welcome.) Or maybe I should say I watched a few of them long enough to get the gist of the stories they tell, which wasn’t very long. Videos of this genre seem to follow a specific plot structure that begins with a buxom young caregiver arriving at the home of an old crippled man. I won’t tell you what happens from there so I don’t spoil anything. I’ll just say that although they’re all pretty much the same, some of the videos have deeper, more elaborate plots that involve sponge baths.

This cinematic discovery had me curious as to what else might be out there. So I entered “old woman care-giver” and “young man caregiver” into a search engine, but nope, no porn video images there. I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise to learn this. I think it’s because porn video producers assume there’s no market for that kind of junk. A crippled young man seducing a buxom young caregiver is somewhat freakish, being that the young man is crippled and all, but it’s only half as freakish as a crippled old man seducing a buxom young caregiver. And the premise of a crippled old woman seducing a hunky young caregiver is too absurdly freakish for any self-respecting porn producer to touch.

Another thing I noticed is that the male leads in these old man/ caregiver videos don’t look very crippled — almost all of them aren’t in wheelchairs and they have all of their limbs. I guess Hollywood casting directors aren’t the only ones who always cast uncrippled actors to play crippled characters. Porn casting directors must also assume that no cripples are properly equipped to handle starring roles.

However, it did appear that the protagonist in one of these videos might actually be crippled. He had that actual-cripple air about him. He didn’t have a quad belly or bony legs, but his wheelchair wasn’t one of those clunky models you only see at hospitals and airports. A woman wearing nothing but a nurse’s cap with a red cross on it sat on his lap and a caption on the image showed where the complete video could be found. I went to the website for research purposes, because that’s what journalists do. (You’re welcome.) This site calls itself the “ultimate handicap hardcore sex site” featuring “handicaps, amputees and all kinds of freaks!” And the people getting it on in the images are wheelchair users or amputees or amputees in wheelchairs.

I wasn’t sure what to make of all the stereotypical imagery I’d Googled for research purposes until I went to that site, but after going there I was truly offended. Yeah, it’s true that all those playing the roles of amputees appeared to be actual amputees, but this site sunk to a new low. It made me feel demeaned and degraded. I always feel that way when somebody still calls us handicaps.

** This post was originally published on

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