Good sex does NOT have an expiration date.
As I was researching masturbation for my book The Ultimate Guide to Solo Sex, a book about female masturbation, I decided to take a workshop under the tutelage of the queen of female maturation/founder of female sex positivity/the world's greatest cheerleader of female orgasm: Betty Dodson.
Though she's in her 80s and had taken many years off from this part of her practice, Betty had just recently begun offering her BodySex workshops: two full days of women sitting naked in a circle for orgasm talk, pussy show & tell, "recess" (where everyone masturbates at the same time while in the circle), and group massage. So when I saw the workshop being offered on her website, I knew it was time for me to take a class.
Betty lives on Madison Avenue in New York City in an apartment that the expression "if these walls could talk" was clearly inspired by. She's been playing, teaching, counseling and all but resurrecting — in what can only be described as a religious fervor — female sexuality, specifically, and sex, generally.
Her apartment has been home to key parties, a party for swinger, where half of the swinging couples put their keys in a fish bowl and at the end of the night, goes home with whoever randomly pulls your keys from the bowl. There have been bodies and orgasms and downright revolutions in Betty's apartment.
Since the 60s, Betty has been writing and teaching and turning traditional "wisdom" about women's bodies and sexuality on its head. Because for far too long, women have been taught their sexuality should be kept in the dark and should take a backseat to men's sexuality.
How women's bodies actually work has been shrouded in unnecessary mystery. In fact, the clitoris was not explored in its entirely until the 1990s. (Yes, the 1990s!) Not to mention the fact that we can safely say that 75 percent of women cannot come solely from penetration and that's citing things on the safe, as many experts will tell you that it's closer to 95 percent. This has also been kept under wraps, making women feel like failures for needing clitoral stimulation to get off.
Women have been sold a false bill of goods and Betty's life mission is to expose the fraud in the grandest of ways. So although I didn't go to her apartment expecting such a dramatic, shall we say, finish, the truth is I went in not knowing what to expect at all.
The weekend of the workshop, I nervously showed up at her apartment, stripped off my clothes as instructed, and took a seat, naked, awaiting the arrival of my fellow participants. They soon trickled in. There were 8 of us in all. Another writer. A woman whose husband deemed her "frigid." A woman with a perfect yoga body and a perfectly unnecessary case of vagina shame. Two women who wanted to become certified to host BodySex workshops. One woman who wanted to experience more meaningful orgasms, and Betty's business partner who she affectionately refers to as her "stunt c*nt," Carlin Ross.
We sat in a circle with towels beneath us, back jacks — those sort of free floating chairs with no legs that give you back support when you sit in them — behind us, and almond oil, Kleenex, Betty's barbell, and a Mystic Wand vibrator beside us. We began by introducing ourselves, talking about what brought us there, and talking about our orgasms. Betty's goal was for us to see that while we were all there for different reasons, ultimately our goals were the same: to get to know and appreciate our bodies and our orgasms despite whatever negative nonsense we had previously been fed.
Morning turned into afternoon and we moved onto genital "show and tell", which is exactly what it sounds like: We admired and praised and just plain validated one another's vaginas. Betty named mine cream puff and deemed it a “perfect p*ssy,” which made me giggle.
We closed the day with some wise words from Betty about the importance of looking at our bodies and recognizing that all pussies are different and equally "normal," a vital point these days with women paying big bucks to have their bodies mutilated in pursuit of some sort of imaginary vagina perfection. After class was dismissed, we all went out for dinner. There was a palpable energy in the group, a "girl power, I can do anything, f*ck society and the limitations it wants to put on me" vibe that I wish I could experience every minute of every damn day.
The next day we gathered once again at Betty's apartment, stripped down to nothing, and circled up. After more communing and conversation, we then prepared for exotic recess.
The process began with Betty outlining the "Rock 'n' Roll" method of masturbation which Carlin then demonstrated. You'd have to be a dead person not to be turned on by a hot woman getting herself off in a room full of beautiful women watching her, whether you think of yourself as someone who is attracted to women or not. So, I think I can safely say we were all in the right frame of mind for the main event.
We began by standing up and making a circle. We held our Mystic Wand vibrators at vagina height and Betty instructed us to thrust our pelvises. "F*ck forward," she implored us. Then we went to our towels.
I followed the instructions. I used the barbell and the vibrator. Inserting the one pound, solid stainless steel dildo into my vagina while focusing the vibrator on my clit. This, explained Betty, is the key. I staved off each orgasm that threatened to appear too soon by removing the vibrator from my clit, not moving the barbell and using my brain to tell my body, "Not yet. Not yet..."
Betty said that coming too soon would rob me of what Betty promised would be a far more earth-shattering one. I began to hear the women around me orgasm, including Betty. She doesn't often orgasm during orgasm classes, so I was honored to be there when she did.
And then it happened — or rather, it didn't. I got stuck. I couldn't come. Or wouldn't come. Or something. All I knew was that the longer it took, the more worried I got, and the more worried I got, the farther away my elusive orgasm seemed.
So I did as we were instructed. I raised my hand. We had been told to raise our hands if we got stuck, an indication that we were in need of the more powerful Magic Wand if the Mystic version wasn't doing the trick. Betty saw my hand in the air, nodded, did not grab the Wand, and crawled over to me, as getting up and down from the floor is a task for her these days at 85.
"You're OK," she said, as she settled onto the floor between by knees. “Keep breathing.” She put her hand on my chest and took the barbell from my hand. “Keep the vibrator on your clit,” she said as she moved the barbell in and out of my body, changing its position and the speed ever so slightly, watching my face and my body as she did.
I instantly felt something different, something more connected and intense. I feel at a strange loss for words trying to describe how it felt without sounding cheesy. But the truth was, it felt delicious. I felt as if I was melting under her touch.
She moved her hand from my chest and made a fist, pressing it against my perineum. It was then that I was cooked. I began to arch my back, as I often do right before I come. Betty told me to press my hips into the floor, explaining that the arch blocks the intensity.
And then it happened.
If it had been a movie, the heavens would have opened and the sun would have streamed through and the birds would have begun merrily chirping. I began to come and come and come and to cry and cry and cry. I occasionally cry when I come, when the orgasm is super-intense and hard-won.
It was hard to discern whether it was one long orgasm or an intense series. Not that it matters, I suppose. All I know is that it seemed to incorporate every muscle and sensation in my body.
Betty smiled, looking nearly as satisfied as I felt. She took the barbell from between my legs and laid it beside me. Then she put her hand on my chest, patted me gently, and said, “Good girl.”
There was a wisdom and a generosity in her eyes that was so warm and genuine. I felt some sort of cosmic connection that seemed to be pulsing through me.
It’s crazy — if you had asked me if I would ever have sex with an eighty-five-year-old woman, I don’t think I would have even answered. I would have simply laughed. And for that, I am ashamed.
I bought into the rampant, arbitrary ageism that seems to rule the day. As if sexuality has some sort of end date on it. Well, I’ll tell you what, the last thing on my mind when Betty Dodson was f*cking me, was age.
All I know is that Betty told us at the beginning of the orgasm class: “Give me any woman, any age, and I’ll get ‘em off.” And Betty Dodson doesn’t lie.
Betty's Rock 'n' Roll Method of Masturbation:
1. Relax on your back, bend your knees, and allow your legs to fall open and to the sides.
2. Massage your vulva with plenty of oil (almond, for example). Don’t be shy. Massage the oil into your lips generously.
3. Begin paying close attention to your breathing. Breathe in and out deeply and slowly.
4. When you feel relaxed and ready, begin to slowly penetrate yourself with a dildo or vibrator. (Betty’s Vaginal Barbell is great for this practice. It’s weighted so it stays in place, and it has perfectly placed bulbs and ridges.) First, insert just the end. “Observe the space you are entering,” Betty advises.
5. Squeeze and release as you slowly penetrate. “No expectations,” Betty suggests. “Remember, this is a muscle, not a hole.”
6. Begin to manually stimulate your clitoris. Small circles or an up-and-down motion or anything in between. Experiment until you have something that feels right for you.
7. Rock your pelvis up and inhale. Then rock down and exhale. Continue this pattern as you masturbate.
8. Begin using a vibrator, starting on a low setting. Do not begin directly on the clit and do not leave the vibrator on the clit. Tease yourself, using the vibrator on your outer and inner lips, eventually coming to your clit and then moving away and coming back again.
9. Continue breathing rhythmically and rocking your pelvis.
10. If you feel an orgasm coming, pull back. The goal is the tease.
11. When you can’t take it anymore, give in. Follow it. Stay with it. Let it take you where it wants to go for as long as it wants to go.