"This is not about paying someone to get you laid and then sticking your company’s health insurance with the bill."
May 8, 2010 6:44 AM   Subscribe

"Imagine what it must feel like never to have known gentle touch, and then to have someone hold your hand, stroke your arm, run their fingers through your hair. It's a profound experience. Often, clients cry." Inside the world of sex surrogates.

Further readings at the International Professional Surrogates Association website.
posted by AugieAugustus (66 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Roger's father should be shot...everyone knows drummers never get laid. Shoulda given the kid a guitar.
posted by spicynuts at 6:56 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suspect Roger could have saved about $8,000 in reaching that "I'm less ashamed of my sexlessness." point.
posted by HuronBob at 7:01 AM on May 8, 2010


Maybe read the article, HuronBob.
posted by spicynuts at 7:04 AM on May 8, 2010 [6 favorites]


The danger of this, as noted in the article, is that this is an unregulated field, ripe for abuse and scams. I'm also picturing some prosecuting attorney getting all fired up about making a name by exposing this. Also interesting to me was the fact that Roger's regular Therapist wasn't all that hot about the idea...

A lot to go wrong here...
posted by HuronBob at 7:05 AM on May 8, 2010


spicynuts.. I read all the articles.... thanks for the reminder, however.
posted by HuronBob at 7:05 AM on May 8, 2010


Sooooooooo, then, you noted the point where he said he didn't want to go to a prostitute because it was about more than sex?
posted by spicynuts at 7:07 AM on May 8, 2010


Or am I mis-reading your implication?
posted by spicynuts at 7:07 AM on May 8, 2010


I've known a few damaged folks who could have easily been Roger.

Hell, for a while I wondered if *I* was one of those damaged people who couldn't have a proper intimate relationship. I can definitely see how someone could hang onto their busted coping strategies until they were in their 40s or older.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:09 AM on May 8, 2010


A lot to go wrong here...
More wrong than going to a hooker? Please.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:11 AM on May 8, 2010


Most of them are tech guys / Living in near isolation, Roger found solace in computers.

I think this is a real problem. In tech, people interact very rarely with women, a lot of the work is quite isolating, and there's a taboo against socializing with your coworkers (because they're all guys).

There's also a ill-conceived perspective of tech from outsiders: despite the good money, there's less perceived sexiness of a tech job (of course there are exceptions). This is strange because tech can be very much an art.
posted by niccolo at 7:18 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also interesting to me was the fact that Roger's regular Therapist wasn't all that hot about the idea...
Roger's therapist was very skeptical. "She kept saying, 'This can't be legal. It's prostitution. I could lose my license.'" Roger urged her to read an Internet interview with Blanchard and to call her. The therapist balked. Finally, Roger said, "Your license is safe if I see a prostitute and tell you about it. What's wrong with seeing a surrogate and telling you about it? I want to work with you on this, but if you won't work with me, I'll go to California and see a therapist there." His therapist relented (and has since become a big supporter of surrogate therapy for older virgins).
Emphasis added.
posted by djgh at 7:21 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


everyone knows drummers never get laid.

not true. the problem was that he was a JAZZ drummer.
posted by peterkins at 7:24 AM on May 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Previously on MeFi.

There are no studies on the prevalence of virginity over 30

In the seven years since this article was written, that changed, and MeFi has discussed that, too.

I'm glad that professional sexual surrogates exist -- it's not the right solution for everyone who has problems with intimacy, but the people they do help really, really need that help.
posted by Forktine at 7:26 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Most of the promotion of Sexual Surrogates is done by Vena Blanchard (do a google on her name, or on the term)...the practice is not that well accepted by mainstream therapists.

The $8k comment was a joke.. the "things could go wrong" comment is an honest opinion of what can happen in an unregulated, marginally regarded therapy modality.
posted by HuronBob at 7:31 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gotcha. I humbly offer my apologies. I was actually surprised that it was the surrogate who initiated every move toward sexual intimacy. Does the "patient" pay more depending on the extent of the service?
posted by spicynuts at 7:36 AM on May 8, 2010


Yeah, before everybody piles onto the "IT makes you into a middle aged virgin," I'd like to strenuously object.

There are people with social problems in many fields. This has nothing to do with computers. In my personal experience, smart guys with good jobs and nice money don't seem to have much trouble meeting women.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:40 AM on May 8, 2010


Everyone knows that it's working at BestBuy makes you a 40 Year Old Middle Age Virgin.
posted by HuronBob at 7:43 AM on May 8, 2010


I've been curious about sex surrogacy ever since reading an article by a severely handicapped man who lived most of his life in an iron lung that worked with one. As a fairly devout Christian who specializes in the study of the economics of sexual behavior, I've had to put aside my own presuppositions to think about it, though. One of the questions I've had is just what do we know, using a careful evidence-based form of evaluation, about its efficacy for treating psychological disorders and mental illness. So much of what I have seen about it dates back to Masters and Johnson. I can easily imagine how difficult it would be to get IRB approval to do any kind of clinical testing using sex surrogacy, and one would have to immediately question the validity of any study since self-selection bias is going to be a very real problem for drawing any inference - anyone who would agree to participate in a sex surrogacy experimental design research project is going to definitely differ from those individuals who were asked to participate but declined. And I doubt you could control for those differences as they are likely unobservable and deeply structural in person's preference structure. Still, can someone post links to what is considered to be the most impartial, scientific evidence that sex surrogacy has therapeutic benefits. Clearly, some dysfunctions can be better treated with pharmaceutical treatments - for instance, erectile dysfunction, which has no genuinely effective treatment prior to the discovery of the PDE5 Inhibitors like Viagra.
posted by scunning at 7:43 AM on May 8, 2010


Everyone knows that it's working at BestBuy makes you a 40 Year Old Middle Age Virgin.

Next you'll be telling me that breasts don't feel like bags of sand...
posted by djgh at 7:46 AM on May 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


BTW, for part of my research into the economics of commercial sex, we surveyed almost 700 prostitutes who advertise online. These were primarily escorts. But, having said that, a select group of them I interviewed over the phone. A recurring theme in those interviews was that many of their clients use them as a kind of sex surrogate therapist. They didn't use that language (eg, "sex surrogate"), but they did use the language of therapy. They often talked of their clients having psychological, social and emotional disorders. It seems like this is, if nothing else, a very common perception among clients and sex workers - that commercial sexual exchange can provide therapeutic benefits. Whether it actually does, or whether it's just a placebo, is another question though.
posted by scunning at 7:47 AM on May 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I never went to a sex surrogate because I cannot bear the possibility they may make me renounce my membership in the He-man Woman Haters Club.
posted by digsrus at 7:49 AM on May 8, 2010


and, thus, scunning lays the foundation for my "saving $8k" remark...

(it really would have been nice, scunning, if that had immediately followed my earlier comment...could we get a little bit more on the ball here???)

posted by HuronBob at 7:53 AM on May 8, 2010


In my personal experience, smart guys with good jobs and nice money don't seem to have much trouble meeting women.

It's this type of thinking that I always find baffling. I haven't clicked your profile, but can say with certainty that you're male. Is your circle of friends/acquaintances so limited that you know no nice people with good jobs who are perpetually alone?
posted by dobbs at 7:55 AM on May 8, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yeah I would have to say that that 'personal experience' is extremely limited. If it weren't, Match.com and eHarmony would have closed up shop long ago.
posted by spicynuts at 7:59 AM on May 8, 2010


the concept of courtesans is probably far more closely analogous to the introduction of the (mostly young) male to sexual pleasure and teaching in many cultures. they were not prostitutes in the sense we understand the word today

selected some previously on MeFi

also recall an Uncle taking his just graduated from high school son to Europe, specifically Amsterdam, to ..uh.. introduce him to the 'world'
posted by infini at 8:01 AM on May 8, 2010


To support HuronBob's point, I found this old review article here. Most of the literature on surrogates is ancient, though - at least 25 years old. The one review article I found was from 1976 and concluded that most of the therapeutic value did not exist, or actually had harmful effects on patients (see here). But, that study seemed mainly focused on "sex between clients and therapists" and not sex surrogacy, per se. Also, I couldn't get the actual study, so I don't know what methods people are using. It's not uncommon to read older pieces in psychology where researchers do not have clear counter-factual control groups when trying to test the efficacy of a treatment, so I never know what to make of a meta-analysis like that without knowing more about the methods of the papers they're reviewing.

But in the one paper I did find (here, I got the sense that surrogacy was effective at dealing with impotency and premature ejaculation. Whether it's *more* effective than other methods is not addressed, and as that paper was written in 1985, PDE5 inhibitors weren't available, and undoubtedly are going to be far more effective at lower overall cost, and ultimately to reach more people as a large number of people are going to find surrogacy-based therapies unethical or distasteful, but wouldn't feel that way with Viagra.
posted by scunning at 8:26 AM on May 8, 2010


In my personal experience, smart guys with good jobs and nice money don't seem to have much trouble meeting women.
My experience has been slightly different.
posted by planet at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


Yeah, before everybody piles onto the "IT makes you into a middle aged virgin," I'd like to strenuously object.

It's not that IT makes you a middle aged virgin, it's that many of the personal traits that contribute towards middle aged virginhood are also traits that contribute towards a preference for working in IT. While there may be people with social problems in many fields, the particular type of social problems prevalent in each field are attuned to the field itself .
posted by robertc at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2010


In my personal experience, smart guys with good jobs and nice money don't seem to have much trouble meeting women.

Smart guys with good jobs and nice money and no personal intimacy/relationship/self-esteem issues will likely have no trouble meeting and dating women.

Some people have these issues and end up isolating themselves. Or they are isolated for other reasons and then develop these issues. (Kind of like people who rarely drive who develop fears of driving).
posted by eye of newt at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2010


Why are so many people convinced that it's a bad thing to be a virgin? I can see the benefits of having a close relationship with another person, but you don't need sex for that. Sex itself is just sensual pleasure. Then again, I am someone who has seriously considered becoming a monk, so perhaps I haven't felt the pressure from society and my instincts as heavily.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 9:24 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The old article about the man in an iron lung that scunning referred to is this one, I think. It has an ambivalent conclusion, not a happy one exactly, but there is a sentence in it that really struck me: "Because of our talk, I had started to believe that my sexual desires were legitimate, that I could take charge of my sexuality and cease thinking of it as something alien." That's an enormous and empowering thing to realize! Maybe that alone is worth the price of admission.

(In this guy's experience it wasn't the sex surrogate who brought him to that realization, though, only talking with a sex therapist about the possibility of seeing a surrogate.)
posted by bewilderbeast at 9:37 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


a large number of people are going to find surrogacy-based therapies unethical or distasteful, but wouldn't feel that way with Viagra

I think this shows how fucked up society is. Personally I find Viagra much more unethical and distasteful, and dehumanizing.

But how can I argue, I've never tried either, I just can judge from the outside looking at their marketing campaigns.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 9:46 AM on May 8, 2010


Reading that first article, I'm super impressed with the way Roger demonstrated confidence, motivation and boldness in all areas of his life, and then finally in this last area that was troubling him. He did a number of things that kinda blow my mind, starting with asking for help. And then telling his therapist. And his parents. Involving the therapist in the process and threatening to leave if she wasn't on board. Just even being open and honest with his therapist is a big deal that many people don't handle very well. And committing to this strange new gentle touch method of therapy. And making progress with it so quickly. All of this is awesome and just goes to show how somebody can be incredibly capable in many ways, but really be hindered by a problem that they WANT to solve, if only given they've been really listened to and given the means and gentle encouragement to do so.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:55 AM on May 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


I found the article about "Roger" very moving.

It seemed to me, though, that his issues center more around social anxiety than sex per se. He just doesn't seem to have very developed social skills and said repeatedly that he just couldn't make himself go out and do social things. This has been a big problem in my life, the combination of social anxiety and just plain lack of skills for dealing with people. It made me a big fan of online dating; you can talk to a lot of people (that you already know you have things in common with) in a controllable, less-anxiety-inducing way (e-mail), then gradually work up to a face-to-face meeting if it seems right. It helped my confidence a lot and, though I did get my heart broken the first time I tried it, it showed me that there were men out there who might be interested in shy, plain me.

And the second time I tried online dating, it worked in a rather spectacularly wonderful way. :)
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:01 AM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think this shows how fucked up society is. Personally I find Viagra much more unethical and distasteful, and dehumanizing.
How so? It seems to me that fixing a physical problem that interferes with someone enjoying sexual intimacy is a valuable thing, and well worth doing.
posted by planet at 10:11 AM on May 8, 2010


How so? It seems to me that fixing a physical problem that interferes with someone enjoying sexual intimacy is a valuable thing, and well worth doing.

Viagra allows men to fuck. It teaches men nothing about doing so with intimacy.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:32 AM on May 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is the best article about sex surrogates out there.

Yeah, in the pro-domme/dominatrix world the idea of sex work as therapy is really...well...to a lot of guys this stuff is really important and they can't get their needs met effectively without paying for it. That is sad and I wish there were some sort of charity. And I think the same thing about women too and that it's unfortunate that women aren't provided the same obvious opportunities that men are in this regard (although the dominatrixes I know work with women, more often than you'd think, too).
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:46 AM on May 8, 2010


Sex itself is just sensual pleasure.

For you. For me (and, I think, for a lot of people) it's about so much more than that -- including spirituality -- I don't know where to start. Yes, I'm talking about (just) "sex itself."

Then again, I am someone who has seriously considered becoming a monk

That makes perfect sense. If you do decide to hold a religious office, I'd urge you not to assume that sex is merely sensual pleasure for everyone. In my opinion, the damage religion has done (and continues to do) by upholding that assumption is absolutely staggering.
posted by treepour at 10:56 AM on May 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


"But, that study seemed mainly focused on "sex between clients and therapists" and not sex surrogacy, per se."

Eek! Very, very different!

I don't see any ethical problems with sex surrogate therapy.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:29 AM on May 8, 2010


I suspect Roger could have saved about $8,000 in reaching that "I'm less ashamed of my sexlessness." point.

i will beat or match any price that HuronBob is offering. guaranteed.
posted by the aloha at 11:30 AM on May 8, 2010


I think it's the most wonderful thing in the world to touch a woman there.

Yup.
posted by snofoam at 11:35 AM on May 8, 2010


How so? It seems to me that fixing a physical problem that interferes with someone enjoying sexual intimacy is a valuable thing, and well worth doing.

What WolfDaddy said and also, the comment being made was that "if Viagra and surrogate therapy were found to be equally effectuates in some areas (anxiety, performance issues, etc) people would prefer Viagra because they view it as 'less ethically dubious or distasteful'"

That is an unexamined position that the majority of society holds. The reason that most people would think Viagra is better is that they can go to a doctor, like they go to a mechanic, and say "my dick don't work, gimme some'thn" and get some blue pills. This is "better" because society finds being OPEN about the complex human activity and emotions that is and surrounds sex and intimacy 'ethically dubious and distasteful' due to... probably erroneous religious guilt etc.

Moreover, don't you find it a bit skeevy that a man will go to another man* and say "I can't fuck as well as I used to" and the man gives him a pill so he can penetrate better? Why is it a social good to make men more efficient sex machines no matter what age they are? Why is a pill with possibly detrimental side effects (blindness) better than talking to a real person of the opposite sex who might challenge the psychological/social/interpersonal issues that the sexually dis-functioned man might present with? No, instead society (or the market, or fear of sex talk, or whatever) just wants to blindly optimize a hydraulic bodily function? *(I realize women can be Viagra proscribing doctors, but a) most Viagra commercials do not portray that and b) I seriously doubt any female doctor faced with a male patient is going even risk the appearance of challenging his "right" to higher PSI in his cock by discussing psychological/physical risks or therapeutic alternatives.)

let me also say that this does NOT apply to men who had a healthy sex life that was impacted by pure physical trauma or disease... obviously Viagra is a logical and ethical treatment. But look at a penis drug commercial some time: What are they selling?

1) They are selling happiness in pill form, it is largely a psychological good they are attempting to make ad watchers believe they will attain by taking the blue pill. That is an unproven and not directly attributable side-effect of better PSI in your cock, and it feeds into a perverse social idea that the mechanical act of sex is paramount, and by logical extension intimacy is an afterthought or simply not important at all.

2) A distant second is Viagra/Cealis etc as way of counteracting natural aging effects on the sex functions. That is better than #1, but still ambiguously pushing "ersatz happiness" not necessarily health.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 11:49 AM on May 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm probably one wonderful wife away from being "Roger." She's pretty much the only person I feel comfortable with, so I can appreciate how people can end up like that.

"Touching her breasts," he recalls, "was very intense. Vena's breasts are fantastic. I think it's the most wonderful thing in the world to touch a woman there."

Seconded.
posted by elder18 at 12:48 PM on May 8, 2010


"i will beat or match any price that HuronBob is offering. guaranteed."

Madam, we’ve already established what kind of woman you are, now we’re just negotiating the price.
posted by HuronBob at 1:16 PM on May 8, 2010


^ Madam, we’ve already established what kind of woman you are, now we’re just negotiating the price.

$20 bucks....
posted by tzikeh at 1:27 PM on May 8, 2010


let me also say that this does NOT apply to men who had a healthy sex life that was impacted by pure physical trauma or disease... obviously Viagra is a logical and ethical treatment. But look at a penis drug commercial some time: What are they selling?

Huh. Interesting.

I'm not sure that there is such a thing as healthy impotence. There are a lot of natural effects of aging that are considered disease. Like osteoporosis, say. We consider things to be disease precisely because they do have adverse effects on people's happiness. Now, impotence might not be a big deal to some men. That's fine; nobody's going to shove Viagra down their throats. But when a man comes to a doctor and says, "I'm having trouble maintaining an erection, and I'd much rather be able to," it's perfectly appropriate to help them with that problem.

1) They are selling happiness in pill form, it is largely a psychological good they are attempting to make ad watchers believe they will attain by taking the blue pill. That is an unproven and not directly attributable side-effect of better PSI in your cock, and it feeds into a perverse social idea that the mechanical act of sex is paramount, and by logical extension intimacy is an afterthought or simply not important at all.

I think that when we offer people better health, that what we're doing is offering a purely psychological good, because that's where the "good" part comes from. If somebody is happy with certain physical capabilities they possess or lack, then few would consider them to lack any kind of health. An example might be certain deaf people.

Medicine has come to realize that different people have different values, which is a great thing, and maybe needs to progress even further. Part of what that means is that medicine offers various tools to people, and then lets those people say, "This is what's important to me. This is what I want changed in order to be a happier, healthier person."

There's no need to assume that people seeking relief of ED (or whatever you want to call it) are interested solely in the mechanical act of sex-- but more, there's no need to judge anyone who might be solely interested in mechanical sex. If you find this idea perverse, cool, don't do it.


2) A distant second is Viagra/Cealis etc as way of counteracting natural aging effects on the sex functions. That is better than #1, but still ambiguously pushing "ersatz happiness" not necessarily health.


I think there are a lot of ideas in this statement that I find offensive. One is that the "natural" effects of aging shouldn't be counteracted. I feel that none of us has any right to make decisions about what counts as natural, and so shouldn't be treated. Is dementia natural? Is heart failure? Well, kind of, in the sense that they're inevitable. Really, aging itself is artificial. What would be natural would be if we succumbed to disease and predation at the beginning of senescence.

Second, I think it's worthwhile to spend some time asking yourself what you really mean by health, as opposed to happiness. Is hospice care a promotion of happiness instead of health? If so, is that a bad thing? The only decent way for us to act is treat each person as capable of defining what health is to that individual, and doing our best for them. There is nothing wrong with happiness.
posted by nathan v at 1:31 PM on May 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


Nathan - dually noted, but your missing the point.

The argument and facts that were presented were this:

P1: People suffer from various issues related to sexual performance
P2: Studies have shown (according to scunning quoting medical reviews in a post above) that surrogacy treatments are effective* at treating SOME of those sexual performance issue
O1: Society would prefer to use a pill rather than surrogacy treatment even for those treatments for which Surrogacy was found effective. (assuming they were just as effective or surrogate treatment/psychology etc or perhaps MORE effective)

My posts were entirely criticisms of Society's values if Observation O1 is indeed true. In addition I added my critiques of the pharmaceutical companies and their manipulation of social thinking on these matters through their methods of advertising and promoting mechanical health rather than ACTUAL well-being.

So as to the debate that was being had, I find myself without on point rebuttals to refute. however I find our observations interesting and will review/respond elsewhere.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 1:53 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please pardon me. I know I was kind of off-topic. What I said was important to me, but I know it doesn't have a lot to do with sexual surrogacy. I'm afraid that I'm going to continue being a little bit off-topic, but I think it's appropriate for this thread because it does tie directly into the arguments that you're making. If it's really bad, I guess I'll get flagged :)

Drugs like Viagra aren't indicated for psychological impotence. This is a little confused by the fact that psychological and physical factors interact in ED. Psychological impotence is, however, very vulnerable to the placebo effect. But most physicians consider placebo prescriptions unethical.

In contrast, I would expect sexual surrogacy to have no efficacy for physical (cardiovascular, probably) ED. So, no, I don't think the indications for these treatments overlap, with Viagra prescribed when sexual surrogacy could be as effective.

It's very hard for us to talk about what "society" thinks, because I'm sure that each of us sees society in opposition to our own viewpoints. I think there is a strong cultural resistance to drug use in the English-speaking world. I see that reflected in the frequency of people disparaging the worth of "just popping a pill."

Now, we could pretend that sexual surrogacy and drugs like Viagra were both indicated for the same condition, and equally effective. In that case, is there any validity to preferring the pill? Well, yes. The pill takes less time. It costs less. It allows one maintain greater levels of privacy. Is there any validity to preferring sexual surrogacy? Yes. There are fewer adverse events, as you pointed out. You can engage in therapy and use nitroglycerin at the same time. So in that case, the appropriate thing to do would be to talk about the benefits of each treatment with a person seeking relief of ED, and allow that person to make the choice.

What happens is that people see the benefits of medications over therapy (convenience, generally) as somehow meaning that the medications are less efficacious. That's not necessarily true. If you have high cholesterol, you're going to see greater improvements through the use of drugs than through the effects of dietary modification. But, of course, mileage varies. And sometimes the less convenient treatment really is more efficacious.

But even if the more convenient treatment is less efficacious, so long as anybody's choosing it, it's not inferior. It's completely appropriate for a person to say, "No. There is no fucking way I'm seeing a sex surrogate. Is there anything less invasive that might help?" Is that really a sign of a sick society that people might make that choice?
posted by nathan v at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nathan,

Yes, I kinda got a little off topic myself. I can't argue with anything you've said. I have a different opinion I think that there is a love-hate-but use without thinking about it relationship (in at least the USA) with drugs.

What got me was the idea that what Rodger did would be, by some-perhaps may-viewed as wrong. either ethically wrong or socially "unsavory". While at the same time the same moral/ethical/cost-benifit analysis and then some are inherent in pills (side effects, etc) but we gloss right over those.

Anyway. My problem is still with society. A guy with consultation of a doctor working in good faith (not pushing drugs for the phrama companies or cowing to patients who demands a drug or treatment that won't really help them) can and should do whatever is best for the patient.
posted by DetonatedManiac at 2:48 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


This comment from Dharmasock on the earlier related thread is disheartening.
I actually looked into sexual surrogacy. The problem is that the signal-to-noise ratio on that pretty much drowns out all legitimate people: it's so commonly used as a legal fiction for prostitute that to find a legitimate sexual surrogate is extremely difficult. That having been said, I found a psychologist who, after a telephone conversation, would connect me with a legitimate sexual surrogate. All I can say is that the needle of my creepymeter was going off. the. scale. during that conversation, and I didn't follow up with him or his surrogate. Not to mention that the price of that consultation, and of the surrogate, was going to be a far, far greater price than that of a prostitute ... even of the "high-class" variety. It didn't, at the end of things, seem to be the best avenue to go down.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:56 PM on May 8, 2010


That the IT folks are virgins, or virgins with significantly higher probability, was something that I fervently believed until my first job as a software engineer. Within a short time I realized that almost everyone I knew at work was in a long term relationship, and that I was the weirdo outlier virgin. That was actually helpful, though, because I couldn't blame my calling for my lack of a woman.
posted by jewzilla at 4:38 PM on May 8, 2010


I don't have anything substantive to add to the discussion here but I did want to thank you, AugieAugustus, for posting this. I have a very dear friend who's struggled with this issue and it breaks my heart. I'll echo iamkimiam in saying I found Roger's bravery inspiring. It gives me hope for my friend.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 6:52 PM on May 8, 2010


For you. For me (and, I think, for a lot of people) it's about so much more than that -- including spirituality -- I don't know where to start. Yes, I'm talking about (just) "sex itself."

Perhaps you are simply used to associating sex with spirituality?


That makes perfect sense. If you do decide to hold a religious office, I'd urge you not to assume that sex is merely sensual pleasure for everyone. In my opinion, the damage religion has done (and continues to do) by upholding that assumption is absolutely staggering.

I'm not religious. You may use sex for spiritual benefit, of course, but that doesn't mean there's anything innately spiritual about it.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 8:13 PM on May 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


You may use sex for spiritual benefit, of course, but that doesn't mean there's anything innately spiritual about it.

You don't get to declare that categorically. It just isn't true for everyone. Which was treepour's point, I think.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:20 AM on May 9, 2010


What criteria are we going to use to decide whether spirituality exists, or is innate, again? I always miss this part on the test. I have a little mnemonic, but then I always end up getting it backwards.
posted by nathan v at 12:32 AM on May 9, 2010


Dharmasock quotes by i_am_joe's_spleen: I actually looked into sexual surrogacy. The problem is that the signal-to-noise ratio on that pretty much drowns out all legitimate people: it's so commonly used as a legal fiction for prostitute that to find a legitimate sexual surrogate is extremely difficult.

The interview with Vena mentions this point; she says that to find a legitimate one, you basically have to go to California.

I expect she's right—or at least that Dharmasock's "creepy meter" wouldn't have gone quite so high. The hippie meter, maybe. (Then again, this related and supposedly-credible organization set off my BS-meter, so there's that.)

I imagine that, were sex surrogacy a more visible form of therapy in the U.S., it would become that much more beset by charlatans and weirdos trying to attain a more plausible facade of legitimacy. One would hope that the practice will one day be taken seriously by the medical establishment (or already has? these are still pretty old resources), and that the resulting broad oversight would weed out that phenomenon.

Another advantage of that hypothetical scenario might be that it could function as a great distraction for reactionary politicians, giving them something else to scream about for votes. "No decent American has any need or desire for this type of so-called 'therapy'! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a reservation at Totally Hetero Motorcycle Hug Men's Camp."
posted by AugieAugustus at 2:24 AM on May 9, 2010


On the issue that Viagra is somehow inferior because it merely gives a man an erection, and that therefore is too mechanical and/or too impersonal. I think that's an incredibly extreme and unwarranted position to take. Medical advances do not move linearly, first of all. Sometimes we have ways of only treating part of the problem. Insofar as erectile dysfunction is both partly psychological and physiological, then clearly Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors are only going to fix part of the problem.

But, having said that, I seriously doubt that even given the assumption that ED is partly psych, and partly physiciological, that Viagra is somehow inferior. The discovery of the PDE5 inhibitor had such huge benefits for men and couples with ED. The consumer surplus generated by it was undoubtedly astronomical - well beyond the $1 billion in sales that you saw in the first few years. Prior to Viagra, there was no oral treatment for ED. There probably wasn't a treatment that even came as close to as a success rate, including psychotherapy, because much of ED is believed to be physiological and not merely psychological. Just as we wouldn't try to give someone tips (eg, "positive thinking") to deal with chemical depression, we should give someone tips to deal with ED. At least not primarily. The first line of defense will be chemical treatment.

Prior to Viagra, for instance, treatments for ED were almost grotesque and totally random in their effectiveness. There were the pumps, the cock rings and my personal favorite, the syringe injections directly into the head of the penis. Talk about ruining the mood! A sex surrogate is never going to be able to address any underlying physiological issues; if anything, it'd be talking therapy kinds of solutions for mental disorders.
posted by scunning at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2010


You don't get to declare that categorically. It just isn't true for everyone.

What criteria are we going to use to decide whether spirituality exists, or is innate, again? I always miss this part on the test. I have a little mnemonic, but then I always end up getting it backwards.

The point I was trying to make was that I think it's a mistake to think you need sex or any romantic relationship in order to feel better about yourself. I think it's sad when someone is convinced that they're depressed because they haven't had a sexual relationship. I'm certainly not saying that such a relationship can't be a good thing, not at all. These things depend upon your intentions, expectations, world view, neurology, biology, etc. That's what I meant by there being nothing innately spiritual about sex itself.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 11:04 PM on May 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


These things depend upon your intentions, expectations, world view, neurology, biology, etc.

This is true for just about every spiritual experience I can think of.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2010


I agree.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 6:54 AM on May 12, 2010


FTFY, Soupisgoodfood:

Sex itself is just sensual pleasure. Then again, I am someone who has seriously considered becoming a monk, so perhaps I haven't felt the pressure from society and my instincts as heavily is either intentionally ignoring, or naively unaware, that sex raises oxytocin levels, decreases stress levels, decreases chronic pain, aids heart health, is so spiritually and emotionally fulfilling that it has inspired much-to-most of the world's great art throughout history, and is psychologically important to human mated pair bonding (so obvious I'm not going to bother linking).

Oh, and it was almost certainly was the causative act behind your very existence.

So, yeah, any idiot would have to agree with you: sex is just sensual pleasure.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:36 AM on May 12, 2010


I thought someone might bring up that point. Correlation does not equal causality. What makes you think that you can't get those benefits some other way? Hugging someone raises oxycotin levels. Meditating can decrease stress and pain. Exercise is good for your heart. That those things can be had another way is a good indicator that they are not an innate part of sex.

It seems that you are still misinterpreting what I'm saying. I'm not denying the benefits of sex or that is has had a large influence on society, just that the sex itself is not responsible for the benefits people get from it. It's dependent upon other things, like pretty much everything else.

You are right though; sex isn't just sensual pleasure. My mistake. Sex itself is just sex, and nothing more. To put more on it is to talk about more than just sex itself.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 9:30 PM on May 13, 2010


That's like saying "Families are just about procreating." "Eating is just about fuel for the body." By insisting in that, you'd really be missing the essence of both family and eating if you insisted that that's all they are, which to me is what you're doing with sex. Yes, sex can be just sex, but that's a mightly low bar.

Sure, you can subsist awhile, but for many of us actual living requires more.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:50 AM on May 14, 2010


Yesterday, I thought, "And this guy wanted to be a monk? He's so unempathic, he's unable to recognize importance in other people's joy!"

Today, I think, "Oh, wow, logic is not really your strong point, either."


"Correlation does not equal causality."

The experiments cited exhibit a large body of evidence suggesting that the correlation is not coincidental. I think we can safely rule out (for example) the possibility that raising oxytocin levels causes sex... ergo... Less snarkily: throwing that phrase around does not invalidate the implications of the research. It merely reminds us that sometimes (not always) correlation is noncausal.

"What makes you think that you can't get those benefits some other way? Hugging someone raises oxycotin levels. Meditating can decrease stress and pain. Exercise is good for your heart."

I can get iron from vitamin tablets; to follow your logic, eating green leafy vegetables is therefore unimportant.

OR, I could eat green leafy vegetables, AND take vitamins.

"That those things can be had another way is a good indicator that they are not an innate part of sex."

No, it's not. It only indicates that there are multiple ways to get improvements in those life quality factors.


It seems that you are still misinterpreting what I'm saying. I'm not denying the benefits of sex or that is has had a large influence on society,
Previously:
Sex itself is just sensual pleasure.

You were in fact denying the other benefits of sex. You simply changed your argument.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:16 PM on May 14, 2010


Some people consider holy orders because they are under the very mistaken impression they won't have to deal with pesky irrational humans. Just wait til they have to have dinner with the same 8 men for the next 60 years, including that one guy who sniffs and eats with his mouth open.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:31 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


OR, I could eat green leafy vegetables, AND take vitamins.

Of course you can. But wouldn't it be wrong to think that you needed one in particular? I'm making the assumption that in this analogy, supplements can be just as good as vegetables.


You were in fact denying the other benefits of sex. You simply changed your argument.

I already said that was a mistake. I was trying to be contrary.
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 10:43 PM on May 15, 2010


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