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Cory Silverberg

What's a Sexologist?

By April 19, 2010

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Aside from the emails I get telling me I don't know what I'm talking about (less common than I expect) and the emails from people who like to make fun of my hair (more common than I could have ever imagined), the two kinds of emails I get the most are from folks either looking for some kind of sexual help, or looking to become a sexual helper in one way or another. In both cases, I'm struck by how hard it is for people who don't already work in sex, to know where to start.

So I thought I'd try to help by describing some of the ways people choose to make a living studying, teaching, and counseling around sexuality. There are of course many ways to make a living working around sex (including having sex for money or barter), and there are few things sex professionals agree upon, so let me be the first to say that the way I'm describing and categorizing different sexological work is guided by a logic, and twenty years experience, but it is by no means the only way to think about this work.

Without further ado, today's job title is,

Sexologist

The broadest umbrella term for sexuality professionals, a sexologist is simply someone who studies sex. Anyone can call themselves a sexologist, and many people with no formal training or education in sexuality use this term to describe themselves as someone who is interested in sex professionally and not just personally. A sexologist might be someone with a PhD in anthropology who studies sexual practices and cultures. A sexologist may also be someone who has written a book and wants to make themselves sound scientific. You might be a sexologist and a sex therapist or educator, you might be a sexologist and have sex with people for money. If we want to use the term to distinguish a sexologist from someone who is just interested in sex, we might say that a sexologist is someone who has set out to study sex in a systematic way.

Read more about sexologists.

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