It’s been almost a year since Betty left the planet on October 31, 2020. I wrote this tribute to be read during her recent memorial at the Museum of Sex in NYC.
Betty Dodson® wasn’t my friend. But I was her student even before I knew she was my teacher. When I was a teenager, I looked at my vulva with a mirror after my mother’s persistent encouragement. It was the mid 1970’s and my mother probably had read an article written by Betty. Later in the 1980’s, my boyfriend facilitated my first vibrator orgasm using the Hitachi Magic Wand, another sign of Betty’s influence. It was in the early 1990’s when I was formally introduced to the work of Betty Dodson. I purchased her ode to self-pleasure, Sex for One, after finding it on the shelf in the self-help section of a Borders bookstore. I consumed Betty’s book eagerly, probably while taking numerous masturbation breaks. Her message about the importance of self-pleasure and self-love had a profound impact on me. Over the years, I’d go back and read portions of Sex for One whenever I had a romantic break-up or just needed to refocus on my relationship with myself.
About 25 years after purchasing Betty’s book, I found myself at a crossroads in my life. I was looking for something new that would challenge me personally and motivate a direction for my third act after retiring from my career as a first grade teacher. Of course I was still interested in sex, so I was very excited to come across DodsonandRoss.com while exploring the internet. My heart jumped when I saw that Betty was still doing workshops in her Manhattan apartment, just as described in Sex for One. After watching Betty and Carlin’s YouTube videos and reading Betty’s website articles, I was energized. With a mix of apprehension and anticipation, I signed up for my first Bodysex® Workshop for May 2016. I was 57. Betty was 87 then. I wanted to learn from her how to grow into my next 30 years alive with sexual energy and passion. I wanted to put to rest the years of shame that I felt in my plus-sized body. I wanted to feel sexually liberated and free.
That first Bodysex® circle was the catalyst for my tremendous personal growth and change since then. The women in that first circle were all incredible. The support and unconditional love that I felt was profound. I soaked up all of the wisdom that Betty had to share. I was impressed by Betty’s complete self-acceptance and comfort in her own skin. I wanted that too.
So I continued to immerse myself in Bodysex® practices. I took a second certification workshop with Betty and Carlin just five months later. I started to facilitate my own Bodysex circles in 2017.
Finding women willing to take their clothes off and masturbate together isn’t easy in Cleveland, Ohio. But I truly believe in the power of Betty’s work so I persist. I know that women’s lives are changing for the better through Bodysex because my life is so much better because of Betty Dodson®. I am free to explore my sexual desires. I have a more informed masturbation practice and tell my partners what I want. Pleasure has healed my body shame and past trauma. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I have evolved into truly loving myself.
I’m deeply grateful that I was able to spend time with Betty in workshops as well as in our two Bodysex® retreats. I’ll always remember an image of Betty at her 90th birthday retreat, standing like a general outside of the sweat lodge. She gave each one of us a soulful hug as we progressed in line to go inside the lodge for the Native American Sweat ceremony. It was as if she was passing the torch to us.
I’m proud to be a member of Betty’s Orgasmic Army, as she called us. I’m a certified Bodysex® facilitator. My third act is to support other women in their journeys of finding inner-truth self-pleasure, and self-love. Betty may have left the planet but there is still work to be done. I’ll spend the rest of my life carrying forward her legacy. There are many others like me in our global Bodysex® sisterhood, each of us with our own stories of evolution. Betty Dodson® and Bodysex® will not be forgotten.