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Famed Sex Educator Dies

Nov. 3, 2020

The New York Times – Betty Dodson, a feminist sexologist and evangelist of self-pleasure who taught generations of women how to masturbate in workshops, books, and videos, seeing the do-it-yourself climax as a liberating social force, died on Saturday at a nursing home in New York City. She was 91.

The cause was cirrhosis of the liver, said Carlin Ross, her business partner.

Ms. Dodson was a second-wave feminist making erotic art when she began hosting consciousness-raising groups — but with a twist — in her Manhattan apartment.

The method involved a genital show and tell so that women could see that vulvas came in all shapes, sizes, and colors; this was followed by clitoral attention with a vibrator. As she refined her teaching, she realized that she had found her calling.

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“This masturbation business,” as she liked to say, was a kind of social justice work. If women could learn to pleasure themselves properly, she reasoned, they could end their sexual dependence on men, which would make everybody happy.

“The most consistent sex will be the love affair you have with yourself,” she wrote in “Sex for One” a quasi memoir and how-to guide that began as a short primer in Ms. Magazine and that has been translated into 25 languages since Random House first published it in 1987.

“Masturbation will get you through childhood, puberty, romance, marriage and divorce, and it will see you through old age.”

Gloria Steinem, a co-founder of Ms. Magazine, wrote in an email: “Betty Dodson was a brave and daring advocate for women’s right to sexual knowledge and pleasure. Her workshops turned women on to the beauty of our own bodies, and her outrageous honesty allowed more women to speak our truths.”

It was Ms. Dodson’s experience with orgies — group sex, in the parlance of the day — that brought home to her the fact that even in such a free-spirited setting, women were performing their orgasms and didn’t seem to have a clue about how to get there on their own … Read more. 

Betty Dodson and Fourth-Wave Feminism: “Masturbation is Key to Longer Life”

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By Lydia Smith

May 7, 2014

International Business Times – Betty Dodson, an American sex educator who was once dubbed the Godmother of Masturbation, is still helping girls and women discover their sexuality at the age of 85.

The educator, author and artist is relaunching her masturbation masterclasses for a generation of women who still await sexual liberation. Even feminists have been resistant to the idea of “sex-positivity”, she says.

Since publishing her bestseller Sex for One in 1973, Dodson has spent 50 years at the frontline of the sexual revolution. She became the face of sex positivity with her women-only masturbation classes called Bodysex, launched in the 1970s.

“They’re afraid of sex because they say it’s too controversial. But I feel it’s because they’re personally too conflicted. They don’t want to masturbate, they want Prince Charming. It’s Walt Disney. Puke,” she told the Guardian.

Dodson suggests that both women and men could improve their longevity by having more orgasms. In addition, masturbation has physical benefits, she says, including improving skin condition and lowering blood pressure. The female orgasm floods the brain with nutrients and oxygen, essential to keeping the mind sharp.

Although she was called an “early feminist” by Gloria Steinem, Dodson has previously said she failed to understand all of the political concepts of the time.

She says she felt the previous waves of feminism were banal and anti-sexual. “I always thought sex was a top-priority issue,” she says. “Feminists like Gloria Steinem thought it was private.” … Read more.

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