Betty

May 22nd, 2009

“Masturbation is our first and natural form of sexual activity and if that’s inhibited or damaged, then we suffer for the rest of our lives.” -Betty Dodson

I had met Betty several times over the years while building my business. She is an icon among the sex therapist crowd, and even in much mainstream media her name and work over the last four decades is synonymous with the feminist sexual movement. Her earliest books, Self Love (1974) and Sex for One (1987) sold over a million copies. Even more ground-breaking were the hands-on, educational group workshops called ‘Body Sex’ that Betty ran for over 30 years, and through which thousands of women learned how to touch themselves and achieve orgasms. She also produced and directed 5 erotic sex educational videos from these workshops. She says of orgasm, ‘that it is simply when the body takes over.’

This year at AASECT, Mark Schoen, a friend of mine who has produced sexual education videos for decades won an award for his film about Betty’s life and work. The award presentation was touching and funny. Dodson presented the award to Mark, and then took it back, saying ‘Hey, this is my life, where the hell is my award?’ The audience roared at Dodson’s typical outlandish and fearless truth telling.

Betty Dodson is considered the founder of sex-positive feminism, which centers on the idea that sexual freedom is an essential component of women’s freedom. Her outspoken views of sexuality exclude labels and as such she has long called herself a heterosexual, bisexual lesbian. She looks forward to the day we can all be just “sexual.’

Seeing her last weekend in the company of her beautiful new young partner, it was clear that her lifelong career in making pleasure a priority was paying off again. Their new online website and video series “Basic Sex Skills: The New Porn.’ is entertaining, and adds Betty’s own inimitable touch to the emerging field of women-created porn. It is made by and for women to both focus on female pleasure and engage in challenging traditional gender and sexual roles. If you’re curious, I can recommend Candida Royalle’s Femme Productions who pioneered and defined the field.

In honor of National Masturbation month I invite you to explore the history and eroticism of Betty Dodson, the ‘mother’ of masturbation. Heck, try out one of her timeless videos and see if it doesn’t awaken something in you that you didn’t know you had.

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