Friday, November 23, 2012

Thoughts on Sexual Surrogacy

So it's been a while since I've posted... With the launch of a new network for anti-human trafficking in my province, The Net Alberta, and being caught in the thick of midterms... It's been a little bit hectic lately.

But this week, I came upon an article that has compelled me to write... Lucky for all you readers out there, I took some time to reflect on it rather than writing in the heat of the moment. But truly, this article has astounded and somewhat horrified me. I'd encourage you to go read it before continuing to read my post.

Let me say firstly that I am by NO means trying to say that people with disabilities don't have sexual desires, nor that they don't deserve to love and be loved. But I think this article, and those who support the idea of sexual surrogacy, go way too far in their attempt to therapeutically help these people explore their sexuality.

There are a few reasons why I think sexual surrogacy is an inappropriate and unfortunate way of dealing with a disabled person's sexual desire.

# 1. While admittedly, there are SOME women who do claim to choose sex work (as is likely the case with a sexual surrogate), as a society we need to realize that this one woman's choice is normalizing a phenomenon that for the vast majority of sex workers is nothing other than exploitative, abusive, and seriously harmful. The normalization is apparent in this quote found in the article: "The thing about the sexual surrogate that makes it different than a sex worker is they always work in collaboration with a certified sex therapist". When I originally read this, a surge of anger and frustration raced through me. Do they really think this is the only difference?! This idea pervading our culture that sex work is just another job needs to stop. The thing about the sexual surrogate that makes it different than a sex worker is that they are most likely not forced into prostituting their bodies by poverty, coercion, or organized crime. What makes it different is that they are choosing to say, "Yep, sex work is a good thing and it should be allowed to happen," while 90% of real prostituted women in Canada are desperately wishing they could leave the 'trade'.

# 2. “Our philosophy is that everybody is entitled to explore healthy sexuality, no matter what that means to them – and that means something different for everybody". How relativistic. This is the second idea pervading our culture: That there is no absolute right and wrong. It should be the natural, moral response to agree that there is right, and there is also wrong. We need to get away from this fashionable post-modern idea that everyone is entitled to what works best for them. Take for example the men who feel the need to satisfy their sexual desires by flying over to a third-world country, solely for the purpose of purchasing sex from young children. Would we say this is okay because to them, this is what healthy sexuality means? Surely not.

# 3. I was expressing my frustrations with this article out loud to my mom as I read it. She said something very significant to this effect: "Life happens, and it doesn't mean we can turn to less-than forms [ie: prostitution, an affair, pornography, etc.] of what we're really meant for [healthy sex lives within the context of marriage]. What about women whose husbands are off to war, or the husband whose wife gets cancer, or anything like that? They learn to cope with their desires not being fulfilled as often or in the way they'd like them to, because that's what love does." Having a physical disability and a harder time finding love simply just does not justify hiring an escort. What my mom was getting it is that there are plenty of other situations that prevent people from having 'normal' sex lives, and we wouldn't say that it's okay for them to go see a prostitute... So why would we say this is okay for the physically disabled?

I think it is absolutely important that sexual therapy exists in order to help those with physical disabilities explore their bodies. After all, God made us as sexual beings! And I sincerely hope these people do get to discover their sexuality in a healthy way (which in my opinion, would be in the context of marriage). Please don't let that come off patronizingly. I have family members and friends with both mental and physical problems that I genuinely feel are entitled to experience the fullness of love. But rather than normalize a form of sex work, what about normalizing the idea that disabled people are human beings just like us--they are capable of love, capable of relationships, and worthy of our attention and affection. And there shouldn't be such a stigma against pursuing a caring, love-based relationship with someone who is disabled. Would it be easy to have a relationship with someone who was physically impaired? Nope, it sure wouldn't. But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be worth it, and that we should substitute something else for the fuller version. Love should be in sickness and in health, and any surrogate for the real thing is settling for something less than what we were made for.

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