Betty Dodson  

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"Would you come and masturbate for me in the studio so I can draw it?"--Betty Dodson interviewed in W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism (1971), 22:54

"Betty Dodson is widely known as a pioneer in women's (and to a somewhat lesser extent men's) sexual liberation, having sold more than 1 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 would talk, explore their own bodies, and masturbate together. She even hosted a public access cable television program in New York City in the early 70's, and conducted her workshop - a dozen or so nude women discussing and practicing masturbation, on TV!"--Sholem Stein

"As Betty Dodson has written in “Liberating Masturbation,” “Masturbation is our primary sex life. It is the sexual base. Everything we do beyond that is simply how we choose to socialize our sex life.” ... Good books in this area are Liberating Masturbation by Betty Dodson, and For Yourself by Lonnie Garfield Barbach. ... Artist Betty Dodson has done many drawings, personal “portraits” of friends and other women, which can be found in her book Liberating Masturbation. They show how varied vulval anatomy can be, and how sensuous and elegant." --The Hite Report

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Betty Dodson (August 24, 1929 – October 31, 2020) was an American sex educator. An artist by training, she exhibited erotic art in New York, before pioneering the pro-sex feminist movement. Dodson's workshops and manuals encourage women to masturbate, often in groups. Her sixty-page book Liberating Masturbation (1974) sang the praise of the vulva and promoted male, but primarily female, masturbation.


Early career

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 considered that too much is made of sexual labels and embraced them all by calling herself a heterosexual, bisexual lesbian. She looked forward to the day we can all be just "sexual." In recent years she has criticized Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which she believed has a negative and restrictive view of sexuality and an anti-male bias.

Dodson earned a degree from the unaccredited Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality for her research work on sexuality.

Women's masturbation education

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. Dodson taught thousands of women to achieve orgasm using this technique.

Later career

Dodson published a memoir, Sex by Design, in 2010.

In 2014, she expressed that she considered 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 said 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 maintained a private practice in New York City and had an active website. In an article on her website about hands-on sex therapy, she explained 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 was available for group and solo Bodysex workshops and private individual and couples coaching.

On November 1, 2020, Carlin Ross reported that Betty Dodson died on October 31, 2020.

Publication and other works

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.

Media appearances

Dodson appeared in a Season 4 episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit! that dealt with abstinence. She was also on The View, and has appeared in numerous sex documentaries. Dodson also appears in an episode of The Goop Lab on Netflix entitled "The Pleasure is Ours".


  • Liberating Masturbation (1974)
  • Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving (1987)
  • Orgasms for Two: the Joy of Partnersex (2002)
  • Sex by Design (2010)
  • Learn How to Orgasm (edited by Carlin Ross, 2011)
  • Learn to Orgasm in 4 Acts (2013)
By others

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Betty Dodson" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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