Who Was Betty Dodson

In lieu of Betty Dodson's recent passing at age 91, here at The Quiet Achiever we thought it would be nice to commemorate her life by revisiting who she was and the gifts she gave us as women.

Born in 1929, Betty Dodson was an American sex educator and pioneer of the pro-sex feminist movement. This movement began in the 80's and is centred around the idea that women's freedom is nothing without the essential component that is women's sexual freedom.

Woman's profile but with head turned gently to the right, wearing black framed reading glasses and her hand casually touching the side of her face.

Betty Dodson in profile. Image source: www.goop.com.

In earlier life, Dodson become involved in the 1960's movement for sex positivity.  The sex-positive movement seeks to promote the recognition of sexuality as a natural and healthy part of the human experience. Normalising sex education, discussions around sex and that act itself.


"Masturbation is a meditation on self-love. So many of us are afflicted with self-loathing, bad body images, shame about our body functions, and confusion about sex and pleasure, I recommend an intense love affair with yourself".


What About Those Infamous Masturbation Workshops?

Even in her late 80's Dodson was still teaching her two-day 'bodysex workshops' as she'd done since the '70s in her Manhattan apartment. The class description reads; "we're here to heal body shame, overcome sexual guilt and experience true sisterhood, there's no agenda and no expectations".

Day one is focused on sex education and includes all female attendees stripping bare and learning the names of each part of the vulva, while getting to know them intimately using mirrors, and each other for comparison. The second day is devoted to learning new masturbation techniques and trialing them out in a group setting.

Currently on New Zealand Netflix you can watch one of these workshops on Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Lab, Season 1 Episode 3, 'The Pleasure is Ours'.

Above: a scene from NetFlix's Goop Lab episode featuring Betty Dodson. Image source: www.thespinoff.co.nz.

What Is The Betty Dodson Masturbation Method?

One of the masturbation techniques demonstrated and practiced in Dodson's workshops is now referred to as the Betty Dodson method. This technique involved Dodson using a powerful mains-powered wand vibrator, originally this was the Hitachi Magic Wand but later other brands were used, in demonstrations and instructional classes to instruct women regarding self-pleasure techniques. She recommended women put a small towel, or light pillow, over their sex organs in order to dull the sensation of the vibrator and prolong the pleasurable experience. Each woman was provided with a wand to use during her workshops and the attendees would use it simultaneously to aid in masturbation and orgasm. Dodson has taught thousands of women to achieve orgasm using this technique.

"Masturbation is our first and natural form of sexual activity and if that's inhibited or damaged, then we suffer for the rest of our lives".


Shop the Quiet Achievers range of wands and vibrators here.

You can read more about Betty Dodson in the NY Times article here and more about the sex-positive movement here.

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