Last night I watched a 2012 thought-provoking movie called “The Sessions”.
It stars John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy.
Based on at true story, it tells the story of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien. Paralyzed from the neck down due to polio and confined to an iron lung, he never had sex. At age 38, knowing that his days are numbered, he endeavors to lose his virginity.
With the help and guidance of a priest (William H. Macy) he hires a sex-surrogate (Helen Hunt) to help him reach his goal.
First of all, it never occurred to me that a man paralyzed from the neck down could entertain sexual fantasies.
Able-bodied men, yes. They think about sex all the time. But a severely handicapped man?
A misconception indeed!
According to a CNN report “men think about it about 19 times a day on average, whereas women think about sex 10 times a day on average.”
According to the same report “Having sexual thoughts is healthier than not having them.”
So regardless of your condition, you are better off thinking about sex than politics.
If you are buried in politics, you are probably a miserable lover.
I was also surprised to learn that a man in such a dire condition could have an erection. But obviously he can. Another misconception.
Mark, a deeply religious man confides in a priest about his predicament.
Again, you would not think that a priest would be the ideal person to talk about such subject.
But the priest (William H. Macy) is not an ordinary cleric. He is a long-haired hippy-looking dude who surprisingly encourages him to go through with his discovery journey.
I think that the Catholic Church would greatly benefit from such enlightened individuals.
Then there is the sex surrogate, Helen Hunt.
At 50, Helen Hunt is in a great shape and not a bit bashful about disrobing and appearing entirely nude in a few sessions. Few actresses her age would dare to pull such a stunt, but she does it in a tasteful natural manner and deserves a lot of credit for it.
She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role at the 85th Academy Awards.
This leads me to think about sex surrogates.
First of all, what prompts a woman to become a sex surrogate? Love of sex or sympathetic concern for the sufferings of others?
Possibly both. Who knows?
A sex surrogate, as Helen Hunt points it out, is not a prostitute. She gets paid for services rendered and cares about her clients.
In the movie she keeps detailed records of her encounters and works in cooperation with a team of professionals.
According to Wikipedia, “Many surrogates have professional certification in the fields of sex education, somatic psychology, sexology, psychology, or counseling. This allows them to work in an interdisciplinary mode including psychiatrists, psychologists, sexologists and other therapists.”
An intriguing profession, a thought-provoking story and a surprising ending!