What do Helen Hunt and Sex Surrogacy Have in Common?

image courtesy of rottentomatos.com

Quite a lot, it turns out. A few weeks ago, I watched The Sessions, a new film starring Hunt as Cheryl Cohen Greene, a California-based sex surrogate. What is sex surrogacy, you may ask? I asked myself the same thing.

When my mom first proposed that we watch the movie together and explained a bit of the premise, I was dubious. “You’ll really like it Michaela, it’s about a therapist who has sex with her clients to help them with sexual issues.” I cringed- not because I was being judgmental, though maybe I was.

No, I cringed because of the number of times I’ve had to explain to people that my career plans in sex therapy do not involve sleeping with my clients. While I absolutely support the choice of sex work, it’s not my choice, and constantly being bombarded with “high-class hooker” jokes isn’t really my jam.

Despite my reservations, I gave The Sessions a chance. And I was very pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, sex surrogates get the same kind of questions that I get, and Cohen Greene has mastered the artful response:

“Isn’t that prostitution?” people wonder, sometimes aloud. Whereas prostitution is one of the world’s oldest professions, surrogacy is one of the newest. Clients are always referred to me by talk-therapist colleagues. They may be suffering from erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, anxiety around their sexuality, little or no sexual experience, difficulty communicating, poor body image, or various combinations of these issues. Virtually all of the men (and sometimes women) I see long for more intimate and loving relationships in and out of the bedroom. The work of a surrogate is to give them the essential tools for building healthy and loving relationships.”

I’m always appreciative when an article, book, or film can help change the way I think about things, and The Sessions certainly did that. I don’t want to give too much away- so go watch it yourself!

About Michaela


Michaela is a recent Seven Sisters graduate with a self-designed degree in Sexuality Studies. When she's not blogging, you'll find her teaching Health and Wellness and A Cappella to high school students, helping women find properly fitting bras, and working as an editor on a documentary. She hopes to continue her education one day with a PhD in Feminist Anthropology.