Sexual Surrogate or Prostitute? Movie and Memoir Raises Renewed Questions Over The Definition of Prostitution

220px-The_ProcuressWe have previously discussed the curious definition of prostitution in this country. Many libertarians and others believe that consenting adults should be able to consent to such arrangements.  My long-standing interest is the legal definition (and fairness) of the criminal code in defining prostitution.  If someone agrees to have sex for money, they are arrested as a prostitute.  However, if you accept money to have sex with multiple people in a porn movie, you are an actress.  Now, Cheryl Cohen Greene, a 68-year-old grandmother and cancer survivor, adds another possible exception.  She is a “sexual surrogate” who works with men who are sick or disabled in ‘sexual therapy.’

Greene is happily married and going on her 34th anniversary. However, she regularly sleeps with men for $300 an hour — an occupation featured in a movie with Helen Hunt about her work with journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, who was disabled by polio.

O’Brien was paralyzed and connected to an iron lung. He was also a 38-year-old virgin. The case is detailed in Greene’s memoir An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner, published in November.

She says that she has slept with over 900 people for money in her home near UC Berkeley. Her husband, Bob Greene, a retired postal worker, met her as one of her clients.

There is even an international certifying body for such workers, the International Professional Surrogates Association. Notably, the president of the association says that more than half of the clients are middle-aged virgins. That would seem the same clientele for prostitutes in many cases. The association president insists that “[t]hese people are socially handicapped. They need encouragement in a safe, gentle environment.” Again, I am not particularly opposed to this work. I just do not understand why prostitutes cannot make the same argument.

What do you think?

Source: AOL

58 thoughts on “Sexual Surrogate or Prostitute? Movie and Memoir Raises Renewed Questions Over The Definition of Prostitution

  1. How many politicians has this particular profession brought down…… Can we include politicians and lobbyists?

    I agree with the professor’s point of view on everything regarding the Libertarian….. But can’t you include Republicans and Democrats as well?

  2. I see no need for crimiality here, at all.
    People have traded since time immemorial. No exception here.
    Exploitation, ay, there’s the rub. It amounts to slavery, with not only your life forfeited, but maybe your relatives in your home country.

    The well-documented ills must be fought with regulation, health service, etc.
    Otherwise what is new, except another step in learning that we have bodies not subject to paralyzing religions.

  3. Dread, it’s not really hard and you said perplexing pretty much the same interchange, play words it’s a stripper point……

  4. I hope the bit is clear about religions
    You know the movements that end in ceremonies where teenaged boys and girls promise their parents that they will be chaste until marriage.
    I imagine that if the church etc did not teach you these values, the societal norms would have.

    Remember the post which I call the “Three B’s—Being, Belonging, Becoming.” Without your being your own, then you don’t have a base to start with.

  5. Prostitution should not be illegal. I saw a documentary about Mr. O’brien that was quite moving and he is an extraordinary man who has had polio and has mostly been dependent on an iron lung since childhood. He has the capacity to have sex, why should his disability prevent him from having it? If people need to pay for sex, the they should be allowed to pay for it. What needs to be removed from the sex trade is the coercion, the pimps and the possible STD’s. This is a viable thing in many foreign countries and works well. Why not here?

  6. “Sessions” was one of the best movies of the year. if one wants to learn the difference between the two, see the movie.

  7. I think prostitution should be legal. The only role of law enforcement I see in that arena is ensuring the prostitutes (male or female) are of age and are not being coerced.

  8. possible new career choice!!!

    …….the hypocrisy surrounding sex never ceases to amaze me, some women (and men) trade it for a lifetime of supposed security while others pretend it doesn’t matter at all. Some impose it on children surreptitiously and then cavort in the limelight as ‘pillars of the community’.
    Some make a living at it by brutally forcing others to do it against their will for money and then convincing themselves they are doing ‘business’.

    Well, …..good sex is a consensual physical act…people who engage in fulfilling sexual lives are healthier and happier…..and compassion has become a dirty word in this new time of cut-throat, dog-eat-dog ‘it’s only business’ rationalizing. You don’t need sex in the equation to be a whore any more than sex is Love….

  9. A documentary about a woman sex surrogate therapist won an Oscar one year as best documentary. That was in the 1980s, IIRC. It was broadcast on cable and I made a VHS tape of it.

  10. Woosty,

    Rationalization. I saw something on the local news a few years ago about a 30-something woman who had her own escort service, all internet based. She was married as well, and apparently there weren’t any objections from her spouse.

    She had her trusted clients and wouldn’t accept new clients unless they were referred by somebody she trusted. She would go to her client’s house or a motel of the client’s choosing. She always took a can of soda with her. She would ask the client “would you like to buy this can of soda for $200.00?” After the can of soda was properly purchased she and the client would do whatever they wanted.

  11. My long-standing interest is the legal definition (and fairness) of the criminal code in defining prostitution.

    Yeah! Mine too!:)

  12. I wouldn’t give libertarians too much credit for anything. When it comes to putting money where their mouths are, they only care about cutting taxes for the wealthy.

  13. Run this by President Hollande of France and get his opinion. Or the Mayor of Amsterdam. Or the citizens of New Orleans. Or the old farts in the Old Fart Home in your home town.

  14. If an old fart or any young fart can get it up with any 68 year old surrogate then more power to her. Any law against that situation is a law against nature. I asked HumpinDog what he thought about this and he asked for her address.

  15. Amonymously Yours 1, December 19, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Dredd, it’s not really hard and you said perplexing pretty much the same interchange, play words it’s a stripper point……
    The question I am in reference to is:

    Again, I am not particularly opposed to this work. I just do not understand why prostitutes cannot make the same argument.

    What do you think?

    (JT). I said what I think, and yes it was not hard for me to say that.

    Sovereign states can make laws of their own that differ from other states, so long as they do not violate federal law.

    That said, one state can look at it one way, and others can differ, and still be legal and even reasonable.

    Reasonable people can differ.

    It would be easy, therefore, to argue either side, but it would be wrong to take an absolutist position and solve it with brute force of law, then claim all other positions were inferior positions.

    BTW, by “absolutist position” I do not mean “bend over” …😉

  16. “I just do not understand why prostitutes cannot make the same argument.”
    because some people, the prostitutes and the patrons, want it that way.

  17. This is just as much prostitution as what’s going down at the Come and Go Motel.

    Saying it is some form of medical practice to give it legitimacy is hogwash. By that type of approach one could say that putting a depressed person in a Ferarri and driving him 180 mph down the highway to cheer him up means that one can avoid the reckless driving charge because it is “therapy”.

    Just legalize prostitution like it is in some European countries and put to rest these kinds of shenanigans and twists of the law.

  18. itchinBayDog
    1, December 19, 2012 at 10:12 am
    If an old fart or any young fart can get it up with any 68 year old surrogate then more power to her. Any law against that situation is a law against nature. I asked HumpinDog what he thought about this and he asked for her address.
    hahaha! that’s bawdy…..
    the problem with prostitution, and things of that ilk, is if it’s not real, it’s not worth it…..

  19. Being a libertarian this is a silly debate. And, what SWM said..great flick w/ 2 great performances that will “get your mind right” on this specific topic. I get the sense SWM and I are two of the few moviegoers here. There are good flicks out there. I’m fortunate because we have a Sundance Theatre in Madison. Unfortunately, Redford put out of biz a good, local indy theatre. That’s capitalism!

  20. In the Middle Ages, prostitutes in state-run urban brothels served as surrogate wives for soldiers and itinerant laborers.

    To a certain extent, this was seen as part of a larger program to control problems like rape (which was later encouraged leading up to the Witch Hunts, in order to subdue women, and finally strip them of what autonomy they may have previously enjoyed under mannorial custom, to make way for a social order dictated by the demands of manufactures, mercantilism and, soon, capitalism).

  21. Darren Smith 1, December 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

    Just legalize prostitution like it is in some European countries and put to rest these kinds of shenanigans and twists of the law.
    It is legal in Nevada.

    But it is illegal to place a brothel too close to a school.

    Harry Reid tells the story of the school that was placed to close to a brothel, or vice versa, the brothel may have been placed to close to the school.

    Anyway, when it was brought to the attention of authorities, they ordered the school to be moved.

  22. Nick, We have a three indy movie theaters in Dallas. Two are owned by Mark Cuban. We see a movie every week or two.

  23. This is for those who are raising eyebrows at the woman’s age. I have no problem with mature women, and find most of them quite attractive. Additionally, I really do not understand the jihadist’s obsession with getting a bunch of virgins. Frankly, I much prefer a woman who knows what the hell she is doing.

  24. I have always thought it odd that sex is the one thing that can be given away for free with no penalty, but is a crime to sell. Seems counter-intuitive…

  25. Lots of great comments here.

    If it is bought then it does not work (paraphrase). Depemds on both the buyer and the seller, not us.

    Having sex is natural, being forced is another. We no longer have chattels officially in the USA. (forgetting WalMart for the moment)

    I have enjoyed prostitutes in Japan, Thailand, Mexico, and other spots. They were not feigning their excitement and attraction to me. And I can tell, even with the non’prostitutes.
    I have visited a whore house in Winnemuca, Nevada. They were literally on the other side of the tracks. The girls there thought it was a softer job while waitiing out their six weeks for a divorce—-especially compared to the life as a bargirl. My girl was very welcoming to my eagerness to please her. Hopefully it was tea that I bought at the bar..

    Hey. Maybe JT’s is growing up!

  26. SWM, Cuban is certainly an iconoclast. That’s why MLB wouldn’t let him buy the Cubs. The indy film industry is having a revival akin to the glory days of the 70’s. It was a long time coming. It takes indy film venues to play these good flicks. Sundance Theatre in Madsion does quite well. It’s upscale, you can buy beer/wine, NO COMMERCIALS prior to the flick, just trailers. Very comfortable seats, of course.

  27. SWM, Give me heads ups on good[and bad] flicks you’ve seen, I’ll do the same. I think we’re pretty sympatico. Argo was very good, suspenseful even knowing how it ends.

  28. You say that several people having sex in a porn film is legal, but that’s true in only three jurisdictions: The states of California (People v. Freeman, 1988) and New Hampshire, and New York City. No other jurisdictions have case law on this topic.

    Beyond that, the laws against prostitution are insane. Hell, back in ancient Greek/Roman times, temple prostitutes were highly respected! Prostitutes still perform a major social service by giving sexually-frustrated man (and some women) a release they are, for whatever reason — socially inept, disabled, ugly, etc.—unable to obtain in any other fashion. I think the case could be made that prostitution helps prevent rape.

  29. Thanks for the link, shano. All captured by dash-mounted cameras…

    From the RT article, “Texas troopers subject women to roadside cavity searches after routine traffic stop.”

    “The troopers, as well as Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw, will now be forced to attend court to settle the incident. McCraw said he was aware of complaints about “unlawful strip searches, cavity searches and the like”, but did not do anything to address the issue.

    Scott H. Palmer, an attorney for the woman, told the Dallas Morning News that this is a case of public sexual assault and that “no one’s ever seen the likes of this”.

    “We can’t let them get away with it,” he said.

    The case is currently under investigation by the Dallas County Attorney’s Office and will go before a grand jury in January.”

  30. If it is bought then it does not work (paraphrase). Depemds on both the buyer and the seller, not us.~Id
    yes, I was speaking of my own preference, but I don’t have the right to tel others what to do….and learning curves are important….

  31. It is ridiculous that prostitution is still illegal in today’s secular world. 80% of the harm/danger of prostitution could be greatly reduced if not eliminated by simply making it legal.

    Besides it is so silly. Having sex for money = illegal. Having sex on camera for money = legal. Having sex for money = illegal. Selling training = legal, selling your time = legal, etc, etc etc.

  32. Woosty,

    I did not even name you, so as to avoid you feeling attacked. If you do, then I humbly apologize.

    My comment has mislead others into thinking I am some sort of sexual athlete or Casanova. I am neither. Having discovered orgasms, I went on at 13 to read the Kinsey book, standing in the stacks. Certainly not the best way to learn.

    Getting in touch with yourself is difficult for some of us. I never did but for one time. So I know what I missed sexually, and emotionally.
    Some of us regard our value in what we provide for others as a measure. That is incorrect I feel.

    Hope it has been better for others.

  33. Legalize.

    In the 2009 thread here on “John School” I wrote:

    Two people who make a voluntary exchange are both better off or they wouldn’t do it. In this case the exchange is sex for money. Laws against sex for money seek to impose a moral constraint on actions that actually benefit both parties.

    In the article it states “The thinking is: Women won’t stop selling sex until men stop buying.” That underscores that both parties are voluntarily making this transaction!

    The government has worked on the supply side and the demand side in the war on drugs for decades, and what has it brought us? Global criminal gangs? Corrupted law enforcement? Rampant property crime? Twisted economic opportunities for youth? Ever harder drugs? Widespread diseases and dangers for users?

    Hypocritically, our society both permits and accepts this same conduct – sex for money – when both parties are compensated, such as in adult films.

    Decriminalize. Legalize. Walk away.

  34. Nick, I like Argo a lot. I am going to recommend “Silver Linings”. I could see it again. You will love it… Italians, Philly.

  35. SWM, It’s on my list. They must have done a limited initial release because it’s not playing here yet. Thanks for the review.

  36. Not much discussion about the Reasons for outlawing pay for sex. How about monopoly? How about Faust? A Faustian Bargain. Lets say you have a religious monopoly in a place like England. The Church of England. They control the flock by controlling things like marriage, legitimizing children, letting you into heaven for having done good deeds and not doing bad deeds. The Male head of the Flock cuts a Faustian bargain with the women of the human flock. The Church of England will give you a monopoly on the conduct, the attention, the proceeds from the sheep that the husband fleeces less tenpercent to the Church, in exchange for Rules that outlaw non married woman from selling sex to these male schmucks. So, the men can only get laid at home with wifey poo, the wifey poo can trade her favors for the work that hubby does out in the fields, the Church gets its Ten percent, and all go to heaven except the hooker on the corner who is sneeking around with hubby at odd hours.

  37. @Barking: In a pre-industrial world of hunter-gatherers without any effective means of birth control, I can see a social interest in outlawing pay for sex, or even sex outside of marriage, on the grounds that a disparity exists between short-term interests and long-term interests.

    A woman might trade sex for money with an itinerant man, and both seem to benefit in the short term, but the man wanders on while the woman has risked pregnancy. In cases where that risk is realized, the money was spent, and the tribe is left with a single mother and child without a father to provide for it or train it. Thus the short term gain was consumed by the two that had sex, but the long term loss of raising the child to adulthood is partially borne by the society.

    Many of the rules of society subjugating women are basically worries about paternity, and issues of cuckolding or free-riders (men fathering children they do not have to provide for, or wives getting pregnant by men other than their husband). For example, the requirement of (female) virginity before marriage can be viewed as insurance that a woman is not already pregnant at marriage, and the groom is not about to raise somebody else’s child believing it is his own. (Of course a woman can get pregnant with an intact hymen…)

    Birth control, accurate paternity tests, the recognition of women having all the rights of men, and the decline in influence over policy by the various churches will eventually make those concerns negligible.

    I imagine prostitution will become legal if the world continues to modernize, just as in modern countries the taboo against sex before marriage, the taboo against having children out of wedlock, and the taboos against females appearing sexually attractive have all been greatly diminished.

  38. Back to the question. I believe that intent matters. Prostitution satisfies immediate goals. Sexual surrogacy ostensibly satisfies long term goals. If a prostitute argues that s/he is working toward the same goal as a sex surrogate then wouldn’t s/he seek similar credentials? Only if we legalize prostitution will we know. If it’s legal then there would be no reason to continue a charade of credibility. Why waste time and money? I believe both are legitimate and should be legal.

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