Betty Dodson

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Betty Dodson
Dodson in 2010
Born(1929-08-24)August 24, 1929
DiedOctober 31, 2020(2020-10-31) (aged 91)
Known forSex-positive feminism

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.

Early career[edit]

Dodson went to New York City to train as an artist in 1950, and lived on Manhattan's Madison Avenue since 1962.[1] In 1959, Dodson married Frederick Stern, an advertising director, with the marriage ending in divorce in 1965.[1] Dodson's quest for "sexual self-discovery" began after her divorce.[1] Dodson held a first one-woman show of erotic art at the Wickersham Gallery in New York City in 1968.[2] In 1987, her Ms. magazine memoir and instructional series, Sex for One, was published. Random House later published the work broadly and it was translated to 25 languages.[3]

Dodson criticized Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, which she believed has a negative and restrictive view of sexuality and an anti-male bias.[4]

Dodson earned a degree from the unaccredited Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality for her research work on sexuality.[5]

Workshops and coaching[edit]

Carlin Ross

Dodson became active in the sex-positive movement in the late 1960s.[6]

From the 1970s onwards, she organised Bodysex workshops. Bodysex is a practice developed by Betty Dodson to help women connect with their bodies and erogenous zones, heal shames, improve pleasure perception and promote self-love. In the workshops, women were guided to explore their bodies and masturbate together to learn, with guidance, how to have an orgasm as a woman alone and with a sexual partner.[7] Her two-hour sessions featured 15 naked women, each using a Hitachi Magic Wand to aid in masturbation.[8] Dodson used the Magic Wand, a main-powered vibrator, in demonstrations and instructional classes to instruct women regarding self-pleasure techniques.[9][10] She provided a Magic Wand to each woman for these sessions.[11] She recommended women put a small towel over their vulva in order to dull the sensation of the vibrator and prolong the pleasurable experience.[12] The essence of her method was to provide vaginal and clitoral stimulation at the same time.[13] Dodson taught thousands of women to achieve orgasm using this technique.[8] Her technique became known as the Betty Dodson Method.[14]

She worked for many years with the lawyer Carlin Ross as a business partner, and the two women have since held their workshops mostly together.

In 2007, two other coaches, working with a sexologist,[15][full citation needed] tested the "Betty Dodson Method" in group therapy with 500 previously anorgasmic women. Of the 500, 465 (93%) had orgasms during therapy, 35 (7%) did not.[16] In a 2021 study, the female techniques for pleasurable vaginal intercourse taught by Dodson ("Angling, Rocking, Shallowing, Pairing") are again described by women.[17]

Later career[edit]

Dodson published a memoir, Sex by Design, in 2010.[1]

In 2014, she stated 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 support from an 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.[18]

Dodson died on October 31, 2020, at the age of 91, from cirrhosis in a Manhattan nursing home.[19][3]


  • Dodson, Betty (1978). Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Self Love. Dodson.
  • Dodson, Betty (1996). Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks. ISBN 0-517-88607-3. OCLC 15696491.
  • Dodson, Betty (2003). Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 978-1-4000-5203-5.
  • Dodson, Betty (2016). Sex by Design: The Betty Dodson Story. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1-5308-3412-9.
  • Dodson, Betty (2013). Learn to Orgasm in 4 Acts. ISBN 978-0-578-12140-6.

By others[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Theobold, Stephanie (May 5, 2014). "Masturbation: the secret to a long life?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 18, 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  2. ^ Allyn, David (May 23, 2016). Make Love, Not War: The Sexual Revolution: An Unfettered History. Routledge. p. 141. ISBN 978-1-134-93473-7.
  3. ^ a b Green, Penelope (November 3, 2020). "Betty Dodson, Women's Guru of Self-Pleasure, Dies at 91". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 4, 2020.
  4. ^ Grant, Melissa Gira. "Betty Dodson's Feminist Sex Wars". Truthout. Archived from the original on March 22, 2020. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  5. ^ "Betty Dodson author biography". Random House. Archived from the original on March 30, 2013. Retrieved April 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Love, Barbara J. (2006), "Dodson, Betty Ann", in Love, Barbara J. (ed.), Feminists who changed America, 1963–1975, Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, pp. 120–121, ISBN 9780252031892
  7. ^ Carlin Ross, Betty Dodson: Betty Dodson Bodysex Basics. Betty Dodson Foundation, 24 February 2017. ISBN 978-0578190723.
  8. ^ a b Winks, Cathy; Semans, Anne (1997), "Profiles in pleasure: Betty Dodson | Vibrators and partners", in Winks, Cathy; Semans, Anne (eds.), The New Good Vibrations Fuide to Sex, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Cleis Press, pp. 102, 154, ISBN 9781573440691
  9. ^ Trout, Christopher (August 27, 2014). "The 46-year-old sex toy Hitachi won't talk about". Engadget. Archived from the original on August 27, 2014. Retrieved August 30, 2014.
  10. ^ Westheimer, Ruth K. (2007). "Savouring solo play and fantasy". In Westheimer, Ruth K. (ed.). Sex for Dummies. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley. pp. 204–206. ISBN 9780470045237.
  11. ^ Dodson, Betty (1996). "Making love alone". In Dodson, Betty (ed.). Sex for one: the joy of selfloving. New York: Crown Trade Paperbacks. p. 154. ISBN 9780517886076.
  12. ^ Kemp, K. M. (June 2003). "25 ways to have your best orgasm ever!". Marie Claire. Vol. 10, no. 6. p. 233. Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 18, 2017 – via InfoTrac.
  13. ^ Dodson, Betty (2003). Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex. Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. ISBN 978-1-4000-5203-5.
  14. ^ Struck, Pia; Ventegodt, Søren (2008). "Clinical holistic medicine: teaching orgasm for females with chronic anorgasmia using the Betty Dodson Method". The Scientific World Journal. 8: 883–895. doi:10.1100/tsw.2008.116. PMC 5848654. PMID 18836654.
  15. ^ Hatim A. Omar et al.
  16. ^ Hatim A. Omar, Pia Struck, Søren Ventegodt: "Clinical Holistic Medicine: Teaching Orgasm for Females with Chronic Anorgasmia using the Betty Dodson Method". The Scientific World Journal, Volume 8, 27 August 2008.
  17. ^ Devon J. Hensel, Christiana D. von Hippel, Charles C. Lapage, Robert H. Perkins: "Women's techniques for making vaginal penetration more pleasurable: results from a nationally representative study of adult women in the United States". PLOS ONE, 14 April 2021.
  18. ^ Smith, Lydia (May 7, 2014). "Betty Dodson and fourth-wave feminism: masturbation is key to longer life". International Business Times. Archived from the original on May 11, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Orgasme-pioner død". Ekstra Bladet (in Danish). Archived from the original on November 2, 2020. Retrieved November 2, 2020.

External links[edit]