The author of the book I'm about to review gave me my first orgasm.
not personally. Actually, it was her first book that gave it to
me. I was 19 years old, and I'd never had an orgasm. Oh, I'd had
sex a few times, mainly with my high school boyfriend, and he'd
had plenty of orgasms. I'd masturbated since before I could walk,
but not yet to *completion.* I did have involuntary climaxes occasionally
when I rode a horse or did kip-ups in gymnastics. But no full-fledged
voluntary orgasms until my first semester of my sophomore year
at Yale. That was when I read a book that was most definitely
not required reading for any of my classes: Betty Dodson's Liberating
I didn't date any Skull & Boners during my sojourn at Yale,
but I was seeing a gorgeous young math genius on the crew team
named Steven, tall and sensuously lean, with long flowing blonde
hair and eyes the color of an unspoiled lake. The only problem
was that Steven was very shy, and since I was fairly shy too,
our evenings tended to be pretty dull. But I was infatuated with
his golden athletic beauty and dazzling numerical brilliance.
And one night, when I let him stay over in my tiny little dorm
room in my tiny little single bed, we had sex. I don't remember
much about the sex. I think it wasn't bad, but I know it wasn't
Steven left for his early morning math class, I remember lingering
in bed. Lazily, I started to touch myself, picking up where Steven
had left off. But I didn't know what to do. Not exactly. So, being
a bookish girl, I reached for a book. We were reading Antony and
Cleopatra in Shakespeare class. Though I found the play to be
quite erotic, I knew old A&C wouldn't tell me what I needed
to know at that critical moment. Nor would my psych or philosophy
textbooks or even my French Fleurs du Mal. So I pushed them all
aside for a little illustrated pamphlet I'd picked up from one
of the women's consciousness raising groups so popular back then.
from Orgasms For Two.
was Liberating Masturbation. I perused a few paragraphs as I continued
to touch myself. Within less than a dozen pages, I'd received
a lesson in female anatomy like I'd never been given before. In
a smart, friendly, no-nonsense style, Betty told me exactly what
and where my clitoris was (nobody else ever had!), and how to
touch it to make it feel wonderful. She told me to relax and breathe
deep, something I'd never thought of doing with sex, despite my
years of yoga. So, I relaxed and breathed deeply, as I stroked
and played with myself like I'd played since I was a baby, but
this time I followed Betty's instructions, pushing myself farther.
I inhaled and exhaled deeper and deeper,and rubbed and tickled
and poked and pulled, licking my fingers and feeling the power,
checking back with the book for ideas, breathing more and more
deeply, rubbing faster and slower and then faster again, until
lo and behold, the proverbial dam burst, the bed shook, the dorm
room spun, and I bounced off the cliff into orgasm. My first full-fledged,
feeling awed and amazed, like I'd gone through a personal revolution
right there in my tiny, overprotected, little dorm room bed. I
knew I had passed through a "rite of passage" that none
of my anthropology books dared describe. I felt blessed, or maybe
just lucky, like I'd been given a gift from God, or the Goddess,
or Nature, a pure pleasure that I didn't have to work for, didn't
cost any money, didn't have any calories and didn't require *faith*
in myths or suppositions. I marveled that something so easy could
be so explosive, yet so gentle. And I remember realizing I was
hooked, that at that point, after 19 years of life on earth, I
had become orgasmic. I knew, right then and there, that no matter
what happened, the rest of my life would include these exquisite
explosions of pleasure, that pretty much whenever I wanted, I
could enjoy a little piece of heaven on Earth. It was all just
as close as my fingertips.
from Orgasms For Two.
remember drifting blissfully in that tiny little dorm room bed,
as if I were Cleopatra floating down the Nile on her perfumed
barge toward Antony, her erotic destiny. Then I remember glancing
at the clock and realizing that if I didn't get out of bed that
minute, I'd miss that Shakespeare class! So I threw on my clothes,
picked up my books and left--a New Orgasmic Woman--then, now,
and forever, a proud citizen of Betty Dodson's Masturbation Nation,
joining her "on the barricades" against sexual ignorance
Liberating Masturbation was eventually revamped and renamed Sex
for One. It became a classic. Over the decades, it has helped
millions of women like me to have their first orgasms. And it
has eased the guilt and opened the minds of many others, male
and female. Like another bestseller of its time, The Joy of Sex,
it carried the sexology research of Dr. Alfred Kinsey, along with
the pioneering efforts of Victoria Woodhull, Emma Goldman and
Margaret Sanger, into the burgeoning self-help arena. It reached
the masses, grabbed them (gently) by the cajones, and stoked the
the title indicates, Sex for One is the quintessential self-help
manual (pun intended). Its message is self-revolutionary: If you
can help yourself to the greatest sexual pleasure, you really
don't need to kow-tow to the demands of an unreasonable husband,
or wife, or religion, or government. No wonder masturbation is
still so taboo.
hit a bullseye with that first manifesto. But, unlike so many
"sexperts," she hasn't cranked out a library of sexual
self-help books. Now, after decades of doing her world-famous
workshops, videos, lectures, articles and photo collections, she
has written a *sequel*: Orgasms for Two. Yes, the woman who gave
us the best in autonomous pleasure is now sharing her intimate
view of doing it with somebody else.
did it take so long for Betty to count from One to Two? Only Betty,
and possibly Crown Publishers, knows for sure. Though I've known
Betty for about a decade now, I can't say I know for sure. But
I'd guess it's because right now, Betty has a sex partner who
really, deeply inspires her. Not that she hasn't had a wonderful
variety of what sound like terrific sex partners of all ages and
genders throughout her long erotic life. But her current love,
Eric Wilkinson, sounds very special, and it's not only because
he's about 47 years younger than she is.
right, Betty is now 74, and her live-in lover of six years is
28. Many might find that appalling. I find it refreshing. Still,
it's radical. Five decades would even be a big multi-generation
gap if Eric were the gal and Betty the guy. But when the female
partner is almost 50 years older than the male, most of society
is too shocked to shut their mouths, let alone treat the couple
as role models.
author of a self-disclosing, self-help book is, of course, a role
model, and Betty is no exception. Thus, this might be the most
revolutionary aspect of Orgasms for Two. It treats a relationship
between a female senior citizen and a guy who hasn't yet seen
30 as normal, sensible and sexy. It's way beyond the paltry erotic
dreams of modern feminism. Not that it's perfect. Betty is nothing
if not a realist, and she describes the problems, along with the
pleasures of coupledom. Some of the difficulties do reflect their
difference in ages. Still, it sounds like a remarkably good, loving,
healthy relationship. If ever any of us doubted that a hot sex
life keeps one youthful, we only have to look at Golden Gal Betty
carrying on like a teenager with a guy who practically is one.
often calls their bond a "mentor-student relationship."
But she isn't ashamed to say she's his "sugar mama,"
or that he's her "puppy." The term "boy toy"
doesn't seem quite fair since Eric does work hard at his job as
Betty's personal assistant. Though they do have different sets
of friends, and separate bedrooms and offices now, they seem to
be, for the most part, inseparable (and this from a woman who
used to scold me for spending too much time with my Max!). They
seem to have a lot more in common than many couples where both
are in the same age bracket. They share interests in art, literature,
philosophy, yoga. But their chief common interest is sex.
an apprentice approaching a master, Eric came to Betty to learn
about sex, and that he has. According to Orgasms for Two, he's
also teaching the teacher a few things, including how to feel
sexy at seventy-something. He's also taught Betty a thing or two
about screwing. Though Betty references various relationships
throughout her erotic history in order to illustrate sexual issues
or positions, her most descriptive and loving literary portraits
are of coupling with Eric. Betty might be a "wise woman,"
but she's eager to learn, especially when it comes to sexual pleasure.
her first book, the second is filled with engaging personal stories
and drawings that illustrate Betty's eminently practical advice.
Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a confessional self-help sex maniac
myself, but I've always felt that pleasure-pushing Betty has done
far more for real women than so-called regular feminists like
Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolfe who primly hide details of their
own erotic lives, as they equivocate about female sexuality. Betty
doesn't equivocate, and Betty doesn't hide. By giving women the
physical keys to unlock their own eroticism, as well as the secrets
of her own sexual success, she has liberated several generations
of women, and quite a few men as well.
though Orgasms for Two is subtitled The Joys of Partnersex, Betty
never stops singing the praises of jacking and jilling off. "In
a sex-positive society," she writes, "both partners
would start off with some degree of sex for one skill before attempting
sex for two." This makes complete sense. Indeed, this is
what many people do these days. So why do the words sound so radical?
Perhaps because our oh-so-sexy society, far from being truly "sex-positive,"
still publicly regards masturbation as perverse or, worse yet,
a sign of loneliness and desperation. Even though almost everybody
masturbates, even though half the videos on MTV seem designed
to encourage whacking off, nobody talks about it. Well, actually,
some of us do (Seinfeld, Stern, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, to name a
few), and those of us who do are all Betty's children. That's
why we call her the Godmother of Masturbation.
can be as pure and simple as a finger rubbing where it feels good.
However, like most human activities or hobbies, this one can include
accessories. Tennis has its balls. Surfing has its boards. Dining
has its knives and forks. Masturbation has its "adult toys."
Though Betty's open-minded enough to say, "Whatever turns
you on, as long as it's not hurting anybody," she does strongly
recommend use of a few special items for gourmet wanking.
beloved instruments of female pleasure are and always have een the
big plug-in vibrators that are sold in pharmacies where they masquerade
as "massagers" to "relax tired muscles." Well,
they're good for massaging your aching back, but they're great for
massaging your throbbing vulva (though the packaging doesn't say
a word about that). The plug-in massagers are 100 times more effective
than all the battery-operated vibrators, pocket rockets and pearl
divers out there. Betty's favorite brand is the Hitachi Magic Wand,
and no, they don't pay her a penny for endorsements.
right there with her on the plug-in massager being "women's
Viagra." As our foremothers were once revolutionized by electric
can openers, so we have been by electric vibrators. As a sex therapist,
I have found the plug-in massager to be the answer to a pre-orgasmic
woman's problems and a pleasure-seeking woman's dreams. In Orgasms
for Two, Betty goes into considerable detail - with the help of
her own graphic drawings - to describe just how to incorporate
a massager on the woman's clitoris (usually with a little towel,
cloth or panties in between to take the edge off the strong vibrations)
into sexual intercourse positions of all kinds. Guys enjoy them
too. But for women, they can be miraculous.
idyllic Betty Dodson moment: A loving couple watches a porn orgy
as they jack and jill themselves off. No, the girl isn't covering
her cunt out of modesty; she's using a cloth to diffuse the Magic
Wand's vibrations, as per Betty's advice. From Orgasms For Two
own favorite plug-in massager is my old Panasonic Panabrator (which
readers may recognize from my video Vibrators & other lovers.
Max picked it up for me at the local Rite-Aid in the early days
of our courtship, and I must say it helped him to make his case
for sharing my life. Unfortunately, Panasonic doesn't make these
beauties anymore, so I have several Hitachi Magic Wands (a very
close second) to fill in.
extremely effective sex toy is one that Betty designed herself:
Betty's Barbell is both a terrific pleasure toy and a practical
PC-muscle exerciser. The PC (pubococcygeus), also called the pelvic
floor or kegel muscle, is the muscle that you squeeze to stop
yourself from urinating. It's also the one that contracts and
releases before, during and sometimes after orgasm. Like building
up your biceps allows you to lift more weight without strain,
exercising your PC muscle lets you have bigger, deeper, longer,
more satisfying orgasms, and gives you better overall pelvic health.
You can exercise your PC muscles with or without Betty's Barbell_just
squeeze and release! But having something solid and well-formed
to squeeze makes it a lot more fun.
own Barbell has become one of my favorite dildos. It's so good
that my PC exercise sessions always end with an orgasm. The shape
is elegant and discreet, like a regular little barbell except
the ball on one side is larger than the other. What sets it apart
from other sex toys is the weight. Most dildos are so light that
they pop out if you don't hold them in. The Barbell, made of polished
stainless steel, weighs almost a pound. Once inserted, it stays
in place, even through the most explosive orgasms. Not only is
it effective, it's ultra-durable. While most sex toys seem built
to break after a few uses, Betty's Barbell is "a family heirloom
that can be passed down from grandmother to granddaughter."
Betty also recommends gobs of oil. Masturbation's Mama loves massage
oil like Chevron and UNOCAL love the other kind. She doesn't like
the non-oil lubricants unless you and your partner are not fluid-bonded,
in which case she (sort of reluctantly) admits that you ought
to use condoms, and thus water-based lube. But since you're fluid-bonded
with yourself (aren't you?), for masturbation, Betty says "fill'erup!"
with that sensuous massage oil. I agree, to a point. Certainly,
oil or some kind of lubricant is vital when a woman is dry or
tense, and it's mandatory for most anal sex. But when it comes
to vaginal sex, sometimes a woman's natural juices are more than
Juicy is as juicy does. Betty is not too impressed by the hubbub
over female ejaculation, and even less by the much-heralded G-spot.
Thus, she's particularly skeptical about G-spot female ejaculation.
In a sense, she's kind of old-fashioned in continuing to focus
on the clitoris as every woman's pleasure center. She's also,
for the most part, correct. I've long suspected that the G-spot
is simply the backside of the clitoris, as Betty suggests. And
though it feels great to a lot of women, myself included, it's
just not as reliable an orgasm "button" as Little Miss
squirting: As a woman who has ejaculated (and no, I don't think
it's just pee; I think it's a delicious combination of vaginal
juices and pee), I can tell you that when I want to enjoy a really
nice pleasurable climax, I like a regular, old-fashioned, clit-centered,
non-ejaculatory orgasm. Or maybe two. Squirting tends to be what
I call "performance sex": fun, exhilarating, but more
for my audience (of one or one million) than for my personal physical
pleasure. Of course, for some women, it's the opposite. They can't
help squirting when they come, and we need to thank goddess for
the female ejaculation sexperts who, at least, help these ladies
to feel normal.
Orgasms for Two is about "partnersex," Betty has to
tackle the subject of penetration. She winds up going back and
forth (in and out?) about it. She adores it with Eric. And then
there's her beloved Barbell and a few other cherished items of
insertion. But sometimes her passionate love affair with the clitoris
seems to dull her to the deep pleasures of being screwed. "In
all my years of observing female sexuality, I never once saw a
woman doing clitoral stimulation until she was about to come,
then grab a dildo and fuck herself to orgasm," she writes
in her chapter on female orgasm. And all I can say is, "Betty,
come to my place!" That happens to be one of my favorite
ways to climax. Though sometimes, I manage to "grab"
Betty has been to my place. I remember her first guest appearance
on my show. As she made herself comfortable on my broadcast bed,
surrounded by my usual assortment of pillows, dildos, vibrators,
feather boas and various sexual souvenirs, she carped, "Too
much stuff!" Betty is a minimalist. Her own living room has
virtually nothing in it but a clean carpet and a few highly mobile
pieces of furniture. Not that she preaches the virtue of simplicity;
she just practices it for herself. Somehow, she manages to keep
most of her archives in one closet and all of her sex toys in
a single silver trunk.
she doesn't just go for simple sex, not at all. She loves orgies
- and is very strict in her definition; a true orgy must have
five people or more - though she hasn't participated in many lately.
And she adores anal sex, something she seems to enjoy more than
ever with her precocious apprentice stud-puppy. Though she'll
never be the Godmother of Anal (that title has to go to Cumisha
Amado or Tristan Tamorino when they reach 74), she certainly gives
hope to godmothers--and godmother-lovers--who want some. Her writings
on anal love, both giving and receiving, are extremely personal,
witty and, as always, eminently sensible.
Dr. Betty Dodson is one of the sanest writers in the sex business.
There are a lot of people writing and talking about sex these
days, but very few make sense, and even fewer are really helpful.
Having grown up in the sexual Dark Ages of the 1950s, Betty lit
a lamp in the darkness to show us the way to women's pleasure.
Of course, she didn't discover the way. She just illuminated it
for many of us who couldn't see where we were going, or even what
we were doing.
are those who say that bringing sex and masturbation out into
the open, saying that it's not "dirty" or morally wrong,
takes much of the fun out of it. I have to admit that they have
a point. Sex is often hotter when it's naughty--especially when
you've been brought up to believe that sex is naughty. But then
I think of that 19-year-old girl that I was--so smart in school,
but so dumb when it came to her own pleasure--and I have to thank
Betty for lighting my way. Otherwise, who knows when or if I would
have had my first orgasm?
Susan Block (left) is a sex educator, cultural commentator, host
of The Dr. Susan Block Show and author of The 10 Commandments
of Pleasure. Visit her website at http://www.drsusanblock.com
Send all hate mail, love letters, commentary, questions and confessions
to her at [email protected]
© February 22, 2004, Dr. Susan Block
For reprint rights, please contact [email protected]
Note: The above article is also available here:
Dodson books are currently unavailable for sale in $ingapore.
But you can order them at Borders bookstore.
here for a review of Jack Morin's Anal Pleasure And Health:
A Guide For Men And Women