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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Susana the Sexologist

So the other day, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, working on a fundraising letter, when I happened to say hi to the woman sitting across the table from me. She smiled and introduced herself as Susana (a beautiful name, pronounced "soo-sah'-na"). It was the first time she had been to Infusion, and she was enjoying both the atmosphere and the coffee while her car was being worked on in the garage down the street. We chatted for a few minutes, and then I asked her what she did.

"Oh, I'm a sexologist. I'm getting ready to start working on my PhD in female masturbation."

Wow. How do you respond to that? I learned a long time ago that honesty is the best policy, so I owned up to my ignorance: "Really! That is fascinating. So what exactly is a sexologist?"

(At this point in the recounting, both Ryan and Marilyn interrupted with "How do you get INTO these kinds of conversations, anyway???" Hey, I was just sitting there in the coffee shop, minding my own business...)

At any rate, Susana very kindly proceeded to tell me all about it (short answer: it's not just therapy - it's the scholarly study of sexuality; cf. IASHS). One of the more interesting things she said was this (I'm paraphrasing):
"We don't understand is why women feel guilty when they masturbate. We know there's a connection with religion (eg. making you feel bad for things you "shouldn't" be doing), but religiousity has been on the decline for years now, and most women just aren't that religious. Yet they still feel guilty. We can't figure out why."
That is a very telling statement, and it will be interesting to see what she concludes after several years of study. One possibility is that our sense of guilt (not just over masturbation, but for all manner of things) is not just a sociological thing, but a God thing.

Of course she probably won't reach that conclusion, because her anthropology does not allow it - in her eyes, there really is no such thing as deviance. Everything is ultimately relative: "We work within the client's ethical system, within their moral code" (this approach is common in psychology now, as well).

But now it was her turn. "So what do you do?" she asked.

"Oh, I'm studying to be a pastor," I replied.

"Ah, many of the sexologists at our institute used to be ministers..."

And with that, we proceeded to have a delightful conversation for the next hour or so. I was interested in her sexology (and her love for social dancing, and her vision for an adopt-a-grandparents program); she was interested in my church planting ("So what does your chuch believe - are you conservative or liberal? Why would you want people to convert?").

All told, it was a great opportunity for dialogue. I don't think either of us knew very much about the other going in. I hope both of us went away having learned something (although I felt like I did a pretty poor job of explaining the gospel in language that she could understand). But most of all, I really enjoyed getting to know this person who has such an interesting perspective on life, and yet who knows very little about Jesus or what a Christian worldview has to say about sex. I hope we get a chance to talk again in the future...


At 9:46 PM, February 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This entry is freaking me out: my daughter is named Susanna.

Please use pseudonyms in the future.



At 6:12 AM, May 14, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said... relax. "Susanna" is a *very* common name in the western world. At any rate...the name is only connected to the profession of Sexology. It's the scientific study of human sexuality. It's my profession too, and very proudly so. Without this science, you perhaps, would not know why you (one) may be attracted to your partner, but can not maintain an erection, how you can orgasm and ejaculate but not at the same time and what happens chemically and hormonally ion your brain when your beody experiences that "falling in love" kinda feeling. The only thing you have to worry about this 'Susanna' persona, would be in the case that she *was* in fact your daughter...and you didn't know what her passion in life was. It'd be a worry if all along, you thought her doctorate was in "the scientific study of Bermese tulips". Is "Mark" a pseudonym?? Kind regards, Lydia; Australia.

At 9:06 AM, June 09, 2007, Blogger Erin said...


I know you posted this ages ago, but I'm a UC Berkeley Graduate Student working on a project about Religion and Private Life aka God, Sex, and Family, and I found this entry interesting...may want to link it on our blogspot. With a group of other students nationwide (from Northwestern University, USC, Columbia and even some participants from Harvard...) we're examining the Faces of Faith in America. I hope you'll visit our website at and comment on our work. Much of the reporting is still in progress so your comments would be great. I've been reading your site ocassionally along with Molly's site Thanks for the fun read and have a great day!

At 7:20 PM, December 30, 2007, Blogger Elizabeth-Hadley said...


My name is Elizabeth and i am a sexologist.

there I said it.

And it wasn't bad at all!

At 9:27 PM, October 07, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello- This may sound weird, but I am interested in becoming a sexologist. I am not sure where to start in school and everytime I mention it to someone they just kinda laugh at me. So if someone could, tell me please what would I need to go to school for and major in, and classes I will need. I know it sounds weird but I just dont know.

At 8:16 AM, October 08, 2008, Blogger Christian said...

Unfortunately, I have no clue how you'd go about becoming a sexologist - I'd probably start by finding a handful on line and asking them how they went about it.

That said, I'd be fascinated to hear why this particular profession interests you - what makes you want to BE a sexologist?

At 1:48 PM, February 18, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol, My Name is Susan.... Im interested in the study of Sexology. Its funny cause i just went on the web looking for info and i find this. And i have only met one old lady with the name Susan. How funny is it that thats a common name for sexologists, when i have hardly met any susans....

At 5:17 PM, June 03, 2009, Anonymous Jessica said...

I'm actually really interested in taking a psychological approach to sexology, but I'm not sure if the university which I am attending is licensed.. or, whatever? I, like Anonymous up there, am interested in the profession. I have been since I read an article in a medical magazine by a sexologist. But I've no idea where to start! Any help?


At 2:30 AM, April 23, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am actually interested in becoming one as well. I just finished a human sexuality course at the college I attented. It was required of me for my counseling degree. In the future I hope to counsel women who have been victums of sexual abuse and human trafficking. The trauma of being sexual abused as a child and even into adulthood causes so many sexual dysfunction. Learning about these dysfunctions is very interesting to me. We are sexual beings and that is how God himself created us. The mind is a very powerful thing and the most sexual charged part of the body. Discovering one's sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. Its important and should be disvoered. It is no different then learning about one's personality. Sex doesn't always have to be so perverted and awkward.

At 2:01 PM, August 06, 2010, Anonymous Jill McDevitt said...

Hi, my name is Jill McDevitt and I am a sexologist. When I was in high school I hadn't the faintest idea how to get started. I went on to get a bachelore's in Sexuality, Marriage, and Family at the University of Waterloo. I'm now finishing up my Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education at Widener University. If anyone is interested in knowing what sexologists do and what kind of jobs there are, I write a blog about the goings on of my job called "a day in the life f a sexologist", which you can read at and click on the "blog" link.
Hope that helps!


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