August 24, 1929|
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Known for||Sex-positive feminism|
Betty Dodson (born August 24, 1929) is an American sex educator. An artist by training, she exhibited erotic art in New York, before pioneering the pro-sex feminist movement, separate from mainstream feminism, which she sees as needlessly political and hostile towards males. Dodson's workshops and manuals encourage women to masturbate, often in groups. Although bisexual herself, she repudiates the labels that define sexuality.
Originally from Kansas, Dodson went to New York City to train as an artist in 1950, and has lived on Manhattan's Madison Avenue since 1962. In 1959, Dodson married Frederick Stern, an advertising director, with the marriage ending in divorce in 1965. Dodson's quest for "sexual self-discovery" began after her divorce. Dodson held the first one-woman show of erotic art at the Wickersham Gallery in New York City in 1968. She left the art world to teach sex to women. She is widely known as a pioneer in women's liberation, and to a somewhat lesser extent in men's sexual liberation, having sold more than one million copies of her first book, Sex for One. Much of her fame has come from her work not only advocating masturbation, but conducting workshops for more than 30 years in which groups of about 10 or more women (and at least once a group of men) would talk, explore their own bodies, and masturbate together. Her website, "Betty Dodson's Genital Gallery," showed many films of masturbation and intercourse, with close-up views of genitals.
She left behind the traditional feminist movement, because she considered it banal, antisexual and over-politicized. Dodson considers too much is made of sexual labels and embraces them all by calling herself a heterosexual, bisexual lesbian. She looks forward to the day we can all be just "sexual." In recent years she has criticized Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which she believes has a negative and restrictive view of sexuality and an anti-male bias.
Dodson earned a degree from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality for her research work on sexuality.
Dodson became active in the sex-positive movement in the late 1960s. Dodson used the Hitachi Magic Wand, a powerful main-powered vibrator, in demonstrations and instructional classes to instruct women regarding self-pleasure techniques. She recommended women put a small towel over their sex organs in order to dull the sensation of the vibrator and prolong the pleasurable experience. Her technique became known as the Betty Dodson Method. Her sessions were known as Bodysex workshops and featured 15 naked women in supine position, each using a Magic Wand simultaneously to aid in masturbation. She provided a Magic Wand to each woman for these two-hour masturbation sessions. Dodson taught thousands of women to achieve orgasm using this technique.
Dodson published a memoir, Sex by Design, in 2010.
In 2014, she expressed that she considers herself a fourth-wave feminist, stating that the previous waves of feminist were banal and anti-sexual, which is why she has chosen to look at a new stance of feminism, fourth wave feminism. In 2014, Dodson worked with women to discover their sexual desires through masturbation. Dodson says her work has gained a fresh lease of life with a new audience of young, successful women who have never had an orgasm. This includes fourth-wave feminists - those rejecting the anti-pleasure stance they believe third-wave feminists stand for.
Dodson maintains a private practice in New York City and has an active website. In an article on her website about hands-on sex therapy, she explains her choice against pursuing a degree in psychology and licensing as a therapist since it would have prevented her from continuing with the types of sex workshops and counseling for women that she had been doing for decades. She is available for group and solo Bodysex workshops and private individual and couples coaching.
Dodson's books include Liberating Masturbation, Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving and Orgasms for Two: the Joy of Partnersex. She also produced four videos: Selfloving: Portrait of a Sexual Seminar, Celebrating Orgasm: Women's Private Selfloving Sessions, Viva la Vulva: Women's Sex Organs Revealed and The Orgasm Doctor: Two Private Hands-on Sex Coaching Sessions.
In 2006, Carlin Ross, a former corporate lawyer, met Betty Dodson for an interview and became her business partner. They created an online sexuality portal for women under the brand Dodson and Ross. Together, they launched an online video series Basic Sex Skills: The New Porn.