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Betty Dodson (1929–2020), feminist sex educator

by Linnea Crowther

Betty Dodson was a sex educator known for teaching women how to masturbate via her workshops, books, and videos.

Sex positivity

Dodson began her career as a sex educator at the height of second-wave feminism by hosting consciousness-raising groups in her home, focusing on teaching women about their bodies and encouraging them to appreciate their own beauty. She taught women how to masturbate using a vibrator, advocating throughout her life for women to be comfortable and confident seeking their own pleasure. Dodson went on to write books including “Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving” and “Learn to Orgasm in Four Acts.” She continued to provide workshops on masturbation for decades, teaching generations of women. In 2019, at age 90, Dodson appeared on an episode of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix series, “Goop Lab,” explaining her technique and providing a slideshow of vulvas.

Notable quote

“The most consistent sex will be the love affair you have with yourself. Masturbation will get you through childhood, puberty, romance, marriage and divorce, and it will see you through old age.” —from Dodson’s book, “Sex for One.”


Tributes to Betty Dodson

Full obituary: The New York Times

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