The Sexual Surrogate

In modern Western societies the messages about sex are extremely contradictory and confusing. We have no traditional rites of passage nor meaningful ceremonies to initiate young people into informed adult sexuality. I hoped that my work might establish standards that could help people of all ages have less confusion about sex and intimate relationships.

Much to my professional satisfaction, there were several enlightened parents who paid for a full course of sexual surrogate assisted therapy so that their sons could be initiated into the wonders of their own sexuality. How lucky to have subsequently been those young men's girlfriends or wives! I often wished that parents would take that same enlightened view toward sexual initiation for their daughters, but it was not yet the time for that. I predict, however, that this day will eventually come.

Until recently, the message was very strong that sex should be limited to marriage and monogamy. Yet everyone knows this standard is continuously being broken. But more often than not, it is broken in secrecy and with guilt. Our standards are very hypocritical. What we say and what we do just don't jibe.

Mixed Messages

We are led to believe through the incessant references to sex in the media that we live in a society that condones open sexuality, but when examined more closely, most of what is shown on TV, in the movies, or in print is labeled "X-rated" or "for adults only," which implies that the sexual activities depicted are really not OK. And, although sexual innuendo sells everything from baby lotion to trucks, the link between sex and violence is more prevalent than the seductive soft sell.

The number of children sexually abused, the number of teenage pregnancies, the spread of Aids, the high incidence of rape, and the millions of people who are unhappy in their sex lives shows that in our supposedly open and free culture things have really gotten out of hand. The authorities who shape our attitudes toward Sex attempt to make us believe that these problems are caused by too much openness toward sexuality. Just the opposite is true. It is the unwarranted sexual repression that causes sexual exploitation and aberrant behavior. Both the stifling of sexuality and the inevitable rebellion against prudery and ignorance is what puts us at the mercy of our sexual urges rather than being personally in charge of our sexuality.

Using the argument that sex is natural and therefore need not be discussed and taught in the schools, on TV, or in sexual surrogate assisted therapy is most often just a cover for the attitude that any reference to sex is sinful. What in reality is sinful is not talking about sex, not respecting and honoring our natural sexual feelings. Condemning and preventing all attempts to learn what sex is really an about is actually the root of the evil.

Sexual Surrogate Or Prostitute?

There are several major differences between what a surrogate does and what we typically think of a prostitute doing. Frequently a prostitute provides only the sexual experiences that are asked of her. In many cases her job is simply to provide instant gratification. She may never see the client again.

A sex surrogate's main purpose, rather than just to provide sexual pleasure, is to educate the client in how to reverse specific sexual problems. And it is the therapist, not the sex surrogate or the client, who decides what activities are appropriate in view of the overall therapy. A course of therapy is likely to take several months or more. And, in most cases, sex (defined as genital stimulation and orgasm) is the least of it.

The fact that money is paid for the services of a prostitute, a sexual surrogate, or a sex therapist is not the issue. We live in a society where monetary exchange for goods and services is the rule. The intent of those who insist upon comparing sex surrogate assisted sex therapy with prostitution is to demean and discredit both. It is a reflection of our basically repressive culture regarding sexuality.

For The Greater Good

Nothing daunted my determination to become the very best sex therapist I possibly could. Helping people accept and respect their sexual urges as a natural part of life and helping them to have satisfying sex lives was compelling for me. As a child I'd had several sexual experiences initiated by adult men. There had been no violence nor threats of violence. Yet I was sworn to secrecy and knew, from an uneasy place deep inside, that this was not socially acceptable behavior. The most traumatic part, however, was that I was blamed for being seductive and made to feel guilty.

From that time on, I searched for understanding about this most powerful of human energy: sex. I observed, asked questions, read everything I could get my hands on, and experimented wherever I could. In order to learn even more, I talked my husband into having an open relationship for a short while, in which either of us could, by mutual agreement, have other sexual partners. From all my searching I could only conclude there was something radically wrong with the attitude toward sex in our culture. The most important thing I discovered was that, despite the fact that we are continually being bombarded by sexual images and sexual innuendoes, our society basically denies the value and beauty of sexuality. Therefore we are taught very little about it, being left to discover what little we can, through a great deal of fumbling and bumbling and embarrassment. What masquerades as sexual freedom is often only a rebellion against the lies, secrecy, hypocrisy, and ignorance about sex that our culture imposes upon us. We have been given the message that our sexual urges and attractions are bad. They are not. They are natural and beautiful. However, in our ignorance, how we act upon those urges is often what turns the sublime into the horrific!

Sex therapy utilizing experiential methods and surrogate partners became for me a way of making sex right both for myself and for my clients. I also hoped my work might have a redeeming influence upon some of the negative sexual attitudes in our culture. What is desperately needed are clear, unambiguous standards of sexual behavior that support the responsible and joyous expression of our sexuality. But this cannot be achieved in theory only. Such standards can only become effective through societally approved experiential learning. Surrogate-assisted therapy has proven to serve that purpose.


Illustrated Manual of Sex Therapy by Helen Singer KaplanRecommended book:

Illustrated Manual of Sex Therapy
by Helen Singer Kaplan.

Info/Order book 


Another perspective:

"Sex by Prescription: The Startling Truth about Today's Sex Therapy"

by Thomas Szasz.


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