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G-Spot Orgasm Therapy? Inside the Sexual Healing Business

Ben and Jen Rode offer women coaching, massage — and G-spot orgasms. It's legal in California.

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Ben says they limit their services to women because his expertise is in the female body (although they have hopes of Jen getting her sexological bodywork certificate so that they can develop a way to offer couples joint treatment). At 17, he set out to read everything he could about female pleasure. He says his sexual partners started telling him, “This is sexual healing. What are you doing to me?” and he began to think this might be his calling. He completed a two-month program at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco to get his certificate in sexological bodywork and started booking sessions in the evenings after his full-time job as a mailman.

After falling in love with Jen, who was formerly a preschool teacher who offered Reiki, clairvoyance and “intuitive counseling” services on the side, he quit his postman gig and began doing bodywork full-time with his new partner at his side. Jen’s wifely presence seems to neutralize the practice. At the same time, it’s easy to imagine clients worrying, “Is she really OK with this?” But Jen tells me jealousy is simply not an issue — not even on the rare occasions when she can read a client’s mind and tell that she’s thinking naughty thoughts about her husband. (When Jen told me how rare this was, Ben joked about being disappointed.)

Comparisons to sex work are inescapable. Joseph Kramer, founder of the New School of Erotic Touch in Oakland, Calif., estimates that 90 percent of sexological bodywork does not involve genital touching. “We teach people to touch themselves well, to touch their partners,” he says. “We keep our clothes on, the touch is one way. We’re playing with erotic states, but there’s not any interaction.” He allows, though, that “it’s a form of sex work.” The key difference from prostitution, he says, is that “it’s contained.” Kramer explains, “The playground is not our bodies. The playground is your body and I’m here to help you to map out what’s possible with your body. This is foundationally about how you feel your own erotic embodiment.” And referrals are often made from psychotherapists, he says.

In California, the certification is recognized by the Department of Consumer Affairs, but Kramer still advises sexological bodyworkers to first talk to the county clerk, district attorney or police force about what they do. There’s a movement in several other states to recognize sexological bodywork. Kramer says it’s been “much easier” to get the profession recognized in British Columbia, Australia, Switzerland and Germany. This surprises him none: “Some [U.S.] states are still teaching pure abstinence for sex education, even though it’s been proven not to work,” says Kramer, but he remains optimistic. ”I think the actual breakthrough will come when there’s enough data on what we do.”

Kramer compares sexological bodyworkers to Freud and Jung at the turn of the century. “They were starting their psychological investigations and it’s taken 110 years or more to get to this place where psychotherapy is so prevalent,” he says. ”Not too long ago people thought psychotherapy was really weird.”

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In the denouement to Becky’s session, following a second explosive orgasm that did not quite reach my foot, the flushed 31-year-old yoga instructor showered and got dressed. Then she sat down with me next to a table bearing a crystal ball and tarot-like Oracle Cards. “It doesn’t feel sexual at all,” she says, wearing a blissed-out expression. “It’s not a place of thinking about sex.” She describes it as “an alert type of meditation” and a “restful awareness.” Indeed, the triad’s throaty exhalations were very reminiscent of your average yoga class. The squirting? Not so much.

 
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