Heroes of Masturbation - Betty Dodson
Betty Dodson is a living legend. I'm sure a lot of people know who she is. I've certainly mentioned her many times in my writing, speaks and blog posts. Many people have seen her videos and read her books.
But as Betty has gone into semi-retirement - she will turn 90 this August! - we're hearing less and less from her. Betty has some great folks taking the reins of her workshops and education for her, but they will never be the legendary woman herself.
So you may know who I'm talking about already, but I thought because Betty's heyday was a couple of decade ago, and some younger folk may not know her so well, it bears repeating. Betty Dodson is the mother of the masturbation liberation movement.
She was (and is) an artist, who after finding herself divorced and single in her late 30's decided to learn more about her own sexuality. Her journey of self-discovery led her to develop workshops to help other women explore and appreciate their own bodies. She later became a full-fledged sex educator, earning a degree from the Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality in San Fransisco.
Betty scandalized many people by leading 'body sex' workshops in which women sat, naked, in circles, with legs open and mirrors in hand, learning all about what was really going on 'down there'. She was one of the first to openly give permission to women to look at their genitals, to get to know them, and to not be ashamed of them. Further, she even taught them how to masturbate, right there, in front of each other! Talk about liberation! Betty was all about being absolutely shameless - and I mean that in the most positive way.
I do believe that much of the progress, however slow, we've made, towards being more open and posotive about self-pleasure is owed to Betty Dodson. She was a trail-blazer that led the way for many amazing, body-positive sex educators that came after her.
EDIT: Betty Dodson died on October 31, 2020. This is a huge loss of an irreplaceable icon in the sex positivity movement. Fortunately for all of us, Dodson has been training and working with Carlin Ross for more than 20 years. The two of them have taught and trained many sexual health educators who will continue the work Betty started.