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 an American 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 of New York Radical Feminists.[3]


Koedt was an early member of The Feminists, a feminist separatist group that split in 1968 from the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women; other prominent members included Ti-Grace Atkinson, Sheila Michaels, Barbara Mehrhof, Pamela Kearon, and Sheila Cronan. In 1969, Koedt left the Feminists to form the New York Radical Feminists (NYRF) with Shulamith Firestone. NYRF was organized into small cells or "brigades" named after notable feminists of the past; Koedt and Firestone led the Stanton-Anthony Brigade. By 1970, conflicting factions within NYRF had driven both Koedt and Firestone out of the group they had founded and Koedt withdrew from organized activism, later commenting "I was done with groups after that."[4]

"The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"[edit]

In 1968, Anne Koedt published her most influential work, "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" in a radical-feminist journal titled Notes from the First Year.[5] In the article, Koedt frankly challenged the dominant understandings of female sexual pleasure held by most medical and psychoanalytic "experts" of the time, who were almost exclusively male. In particular, the article took issue with the predominant Freudian account of female sexuality that discounted the clitoral orgasm as "juvenile" and viewed orgasm achieved through the vagina as the only "mature" form. Women who failed to achieve orgasm through penetrative, heterosexual intercourse were therefore labeled as dysfunctional or frigid by the professional community. In Koedt's view, this approach placed unfair blame on women for their lack of satisfaction during straight sex, inaccurately pathologized normal female sexual function, and caused many women to seek unnecessary psychoanalytic treatment for a nonexistent ailment rather than exploring techniques that would lead to a more pleasurable sexual experience. In support of her position, Koedt marshaled up-to-date research on the female anatomy and sexual response, including recent work by Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, to demonstrate that the clitoris, rather than the vagina, is the primary site of erotic stimulation. Koedt went on to argue that male chauvinism and the urge to maintain women in a subservient role were the primary driving force perpetuating misconceptions surrounding female sexuality.

The article was widely circulated in pamphlet form, inspiring many supporters to advocate for celibacy or to promote lesbianism as positive alternative to heterosexuality for women.[6] Other feminist readers were more critical, taking particular issue with Koedt's assertion that women who testified to experiencing vaginal orgasms were either confused due to lack of education regarding their own bodies or "faking it " so as not to offend their male lovers' egos.[7]

Other Writings[edit]

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.[6] An 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.

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.[8]

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 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. ^ Faludi, Susan (15 April 2013). "Death of a Revolutionary". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 
  5. ^ Koedt, Anne (1968). "The myth of the vaginal orgasm". Notes from the Second Year. OCLC 2265246.  Available online.
  6. ^ a b Thompson, Denise (1991). Reading between the lines: a lesbian feminist critique of feminist accounts of sexuality. Spinifex Press. ISBN 9780646041964.  Details.
  7. ^ 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. ^ 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.