Anne Koedt

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Anne Koedt
Born 1941 (age 74–75)
Nationality American
Occupation Radical feminist
Known for Co-founder for the New York Radical Feminists
Notable work The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm

Anne Koedt (born 1941 in Denmark)[1] is a United States radical feminist and New York-based author of The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm,[2] a classic feminist work on women's sexuality.[1] She was connected to the group New York Radical Women and was a founding member on October 3, 1969 of New York Radical Feminists in the group's first consciousness-raising and organizing group, The Stanton-Anthony Brigade, with Shulamith Firestone, Diane Cruthers and Minda Bikman among others.[3] Koedt became the editor of Notes From the Third Year replacing Shulamith Firestone in 1972. Some feminist groups felt that the more radical feminist positions that had been previously included were edited out of this third edition.[4]

Koedt's December 1969 Politics of the Ego, A Manifesto for New York Radical Feminists was first published in Notes from the Second Year and later in her anthology Radical Feminism.[5] A several page excerpt from this manifesto continued to be circulated as part of the 1976 "Introduction to New York Radical Feminists" pamphlet until the NYRF post office box closed in 1989.

"The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"[edit]

In 1968, Anne Koedt published "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" in a journal titled Notes from the First Year.[6] The journal also included other pieces written by radical feminists living in New York at that time.[1] In the article, Koedt challenges the meaning of sexual pleasure for women in what she understands to be a male dominated society and how female sexuality is understood in a variety of fields. The article begins by arguing that it is not possible for a woman to orgasm vaginally at all and instead only clitoral orgasm is possible. This argument, while agreeing with the notion of frigidity; what men define as a woman's inability to achieve an orgasm vaginally, contradicts the male assumption that vaginal orgasm is possible at all.[6] Koedt goes on to argue that the psychological stand point on the topic of female orgasm does not favor women and the refusal to reassess the definition of frigidity has led to "experts" wrongfully diagnosing women concerned with their supposed inability to vaginally orgasm, as failing to adjust to their role as women.[6]

Koedt's article sparked a frenzy of responses with opinions ranging from total agreement to total dismissal. The University of Pittsburgh published a response by a student disagreeing with Koedt's article due to her generalization of women and lack of credible sources on the subject. The response argues that "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" is disrespectful and demeaning to all women.[7] A comment that justifies the students' dismay made by Koedt in her article says that “because of the lack of knowledge of their own anatomy, some women accept the idea that an orgasm felt during “normal” intercourse was vaginally caused” (4-5 Koedt).[7] According to the response article, Koedt's view insinuates that women are uneducated about their anatomy and its functions and in result, are incapable of deciphering their physical feelings.[7]

Abortion Rally Speech[edit]

In New York during the year of 1968, Koedt gave a speech addressing the lack of input women have over their own fate, namely the act of getting an abortion. Throughout the speech, she makes several attacks on the American ideal that women are to be willingly passive to men and thus not only allow the male law makers decide what is appropriate to do with her body, but to be okay with those decisions regardless of her own opinion on the subject. In her own words:

"So: we must say to those bishops and pompous lawmakers and self-righteous men, we will no longer be shoved around. We will no longer submit to your definition of whet we should or should not be or do, to become truly feminine in your eyes. For unless we have a part in creating the laws which govern our fate, then we will refuse to follow those dictates and laws,"[8]

Koedt disputes the societal notion that women are only of relevance in terms of their relationship to men and informs men that this concept will no longer be tolerated.[8]

Effect on the Feminist Community[edit]

Anne Koedt was a part of many groups that helped to enlighten and better understand women not only emotionally, but as well as physically. As a woman who stood up for women's rights, Anne's views even prior to her publications made her a part of the feminist sexual revolution. Like many people who wanted change in life, she saw that the barriers that society held against women were unacceptable. One of Anne Koedt's main influences on the feminist community was her article The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm.[9] This article was passed around by women in the country.[9] In this article Koedt took a stand that shocked many women stating that the penis has no relation to the female orgasm.[9] She also advocated that the female orgasm had largely to do with psychology. This idea led many to advocate for celibacy and to believe that lesbian sexual interactions are more meaningful than heterosexual interactions.[5]

Koedt founded the group New York Radical Feminists (NYRF) with a woman named Shulamith Firestone. The driving force of this group was the idea that men purposely establish power over women to help feed their own egos. Women against this principle gathered together to inform other women and try to put a stop to what they believed to be an injustice to women. In 1970, Koedt and Firestone ended up leaving the group they had founded due to unsettled differences over leadership roles in the group.[10]

Selected works[edit]

And also as an article: Koedt, Anne (1968). "The myth of the vaginal orgasm". Notes from the Second Year. OCLC 2265246. 
Reprinted as: Koedt, Anne (1996), "The myth of the vaginal orgasm", in Jackson, Stevi; Scott, Sue, Feminism and sexuality: a reader, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 111–116, ISBN 9780231107082. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Gerhard, Jane (Summer 2000). "Revisiting "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm": the female orgasm in American sexual thought and second wave feminism". Feminist Studies. Feminist Studies, Inc. 26 (2): 449–476. doi:10.2307/3178545. JSTOR 3178545. 
  2. ^ Joannou, Maroula (2000), "From The Golden Notebook", in Joannou, Maroula, Contemporary women's writing: from "The Golden Notebook" to "The Color Purple", Manchester, UK / New York, US: Manchester University Press, p. 40, ISBN 9780719053399.  Preview.
  3. ^ Echols, Alice (1989), "Appendix C: a guide to women's liberation groups (The Feminists)", in Echols, Alice, Daring to be bad: radical feminism in America 1967-1975, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 388, ISBN 9780816617876.  Preview.
  4. ^ Bouchier, David (September 1979). "The deradicalisation of feminism: ideology and utopia in action". Sociology. Sage. 13 (3): 387–402. doi:10.1177/003803857901300302. JSTOR 42853376. 
  5. ^ a b Thompson, Denise (1991). Reading between the lines: a lesbian feminist critique of feminist accounts of sexuality. Spinifex Press. ISBN 9780646041964.  Details.
  6. ^ a b c Koedt, Anne (1968). "The myth of the vaginal orgasm". Notes from the Second Year. OCLC 2265246.  Available online.
  7. ^ a b c eck25 (14 June 2010). "A Reaction to Anne Koedt's "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"". Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies Program, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 14 October 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Koedt, Anne (1968). "Abortion Rally Speech New York, 1968 (transcript)". Monmouth College. Retrieved 22 October 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Evans, Sara M. (2010). Tidal wave: how women changed America at century's end. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781439135532.  Details.
  10. ^ New York Radical Feminists (1970). "Politics of the ego: a manifesto". Notes from the Second Year. New York Radical Feminists. OCLC 226965950. 
    Reprinted as: Keetley, Dawn; Pettegrew, John (2005), "Part 1: The Second Wave: 6 The feminists: a political organization to annihilate sex roles (1969)", in Keetley, Dawn; Pettegrew, John, Public women, public words: a documentary history of American feminism, volume III, 1960 to the present, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, p. 23, ISBN 9780742522367.  Preview.