Betty Dodson: Guru of Women’s Self-Pleasure

March is Women’s History Month, so I’m writing a series of posts honoring important female pioneers in the fields of sex education, research and therapy.

Betty A. Dodson, PhD (1929-2020), was a sexual revolutionary and known by many as the “Mother of Masturbation.” In her radical Bodysex workshops Betty taught women how to overcome negative body image and anxiety about pleasure. Additionally, through her books, videos and art, millions of women have known orgasmic bliss!


Mark Schoen’s award-winning documentary “Betty Dodson: Her Life of Sex and Art” can be viewed on www.SexSmartFilms.com. In the documentary Betty reveals her history through the images of her art. She teaches as she entertains! Betty had her first one-woman show of erotic art in 1968 in New York City, followed by others. In 2017 she was listed as number 43 of the 55 most important people in sex by Playboy magazine.


I first met Betty in 1991 at the Amsterdam World Congress Of Sexology. Over the last 30 years I enjoyed our friendship, discovering that she was a sexuality educator extraordinaire! She also enjoyed the fact that here initials—BAD—were a reminder of her naughty nature. Our last in-person visit was in her NYC apartment in 2010. She signed her book, Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Self-Love, “For Diana – a sister sex educator with an overload of T.” She wrote this in her Foreword: “…no matter where the sexual pendulum swings from the right to the left, enjoying sex for the pleasure of it will endure, including our constant companion – sex with ourselves.”


Photo by Newcherrybomb - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

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