Big Sister

Betty Dodson has been called the “mother of masturbation”. Now in her 80s she has been teaching women how to touch themselves since before I was born and still offers insight and education through her one-to-one sessions, erotic art, and public podcasts. She is an incredible woman and I admire her greatly.

Betty started offering “self loving” workshops in America in the 1970s and published a book that she originally called “Liberating Masturbation”. Now called “Sex for One”, her book is still available – proving that the subject, and the need for information about it, are timeless.

Back in the 1970s women’s consciousness-raising groups were exploring all sorts of important subjects, with sex and sexuality being recognised as a vital part of what it is to be a woman. Fast forward 40 years and I feel our culture has regressed rather than progressed. Betty taught us to celebrate different body types, to embrace our sexuality, to teach our daughters (and our mothers) that orgasms are not a bonus extra – there are our right, and they are within our own reach.

Looking around me today I see such a narrow representation of what it is to be a sexual woman. We are merely scratching the surface with shows like “How to look good naked”. What about “How to be wild and passionate and not give two hoots about how you look because you feel good naked”? And where are our teachers? Betty is still doing her bit, and her fellow podcaster Carlin Ross is young and brilliant. They are also miles across the ocean from me.

 Coco de Mer in London offers a range of “educational Salons” on topics such as “Tricks to thrill a man”, “Japanese rope bondage” and “The art of attraction and seduction”. The salon concept dates back to the 18th century and Coco de Mer offers evenings with experts in their field, educating and entertaining the small groups of attendees. This sounds like it could be a great evening out in London, but sometimes it’s not enough to be the recipient of education, sometimes you need to get your hands dirty.

Masturbation is “the ongoing love affair that each of us has with our self throughout our lifetime.” (Betty Dodson, Self Loving: a guide to female sexuality and orgasm – dvd)

For many women, masturbation is a love affair that can be a source of shame. It can be a love affair that is sadly neglected, and maybe it is a love affair that is never even allowed to begin. But think about it: a love affair that can last a lifetime. No one else could promise us that. We have such power and joy literally at our fingertips!

So what does a woman do if she’s never had an orgasm? If she doesn’t know what feels good? If sex is frustrating at best and painful at worst? If she believes herself to be abnormal, or anorgasmic, or simply not sexual? Where can she go? Who can she ask for support?

If Betty Dodson is the mother, can I be the “big sister” of self loving? I want to help women to step into their sexual power, to learn about their bodies, to embrace their sexuality and, most importantly, to have joyful orgasms. The big question is: are we ready to be as brave and bold as Betty?

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