an intimate life sex, love, and my journey as a surrogate partner
Cheryl T. Cohen Greeene with Lorna Garano
Soft Scull Press 2012
233 pages of text plus bibliography $11.51
This wonderful memior by Cheryl is a much needed look at the life of a surrogate partner who has worked in the field of sex therapy for forty years. I have known Cheryl for many of these years through our contact at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, the home of this Journal. I have had her as a guest speaker in my classes on Human Sexuality and the students are amazed and enlightened by the stories of her work and her unique life. I may also be biased by the delightful movie "The Sessions" (which I shall review shortly) which shows how she worked with one disabled client. I have also shared some of the time of her life when she was fighting cancer, successfully I am happy to report.
I believe this book and the movie should be part of every human sexuality class at the college level. It tells a powerful human story of a life filled with normal human difficulty, early lack of sexual education, and how a woman with a high libido became one of the first and best known surrogate partners, while surviving much of what the world could throw at her.
She interposes chapters of her developing life with chapters about clients she worked with and helped navigate the sexual difficulties they were having. Some of these stories are amazingly difficult for the people involved, and show how the surrogate partnership helps heal the trauma of sexual damage.
In the film, Cheryl is played by the beautiful Helen Hunt who writes "Cheryl's book allows us to share in her beautiful work. We read about sexual healing and we are healed ourselves. Give yourself the gift of reading this book and getting a glimpse of what is possible."
Born to French-Canadian Catholic parents in Salem, just outside Boston, she was deeply immersed in the Catholic Church and surrounded by evidence of the punishment of women, who were called witches, had received. Sex was not discussed, but it was clear from the culture and religion that it was really bad. She did learn that touching herself "down there" could lead her to eternal...