I wasn’t looking for what I found when I found Betty, my teacher and mentor. I was looking for something but what I found was different than what I thought I was going to find. Even when I found her it took about a year for me to know what that something was. I don’t mean her. She is as real as they come and a national treasure in my book. “The feminist of all feminists,” to quote Carlin her business partner.
When I directly came into contact with her I was in the post afterglow of going out into the world and getting whatever I wanted sex wise. Much of my 50’s and early 60’s for me meant freedom from that guilt ridden role of Mother-all-the-time. My kids had left home and I was free and single and still had a lot of energy and passion and determination to get what I wanted. So I pursued whomever and whatever I was interested in pursuing.
This pattern wasn’t new for me. About every decade of my life I had become the hunter on the prowl. It’s just that now I was unencumbered, without children to consider so I did it with far more relish.
Since I did not stop seeking sexual pleasure when menopause hit I did not experience a loss of libido. Some women tell me when the hormone levels drop they lose a lot of their desire or their desire altogether. I believe it’s because they are not working for this. They are either not having sex with anyone, or very infrequently, whether they are married or unmarried and they are not self pleasuring. Sex with self and/or others keeps orgasmic energy flowing and desire alive.
I experienced a break from sex in the middle of this time. I did not decide one day I wasn’t going to be sexual anymore. Instead it was that natural time when grandbabies come along and kids need us to step in and help. I had four of these baby angels to love and so that’s what I did.
The energy it took for my day job and being the on call Nanny for four little ones while in my 50’s left me with no desire for the headaches and heartaches the pursuit of sex could sometimes cause. And besides, they were enough, my darlings. For a while anyway. I had not been celibate for longer than 6 months since I was a young teenager. This time I spent four years without a hoot or a holler.
I was certainly better understood by my peers during this time. I was the devoted grandmother unselfishly giving her life up for the next generation. I mean grandmothers don’t care about sex, do they? Understand, I think it’s wonderful, being a grandmother. It’s a lot easier than being a mother. It’s the sexless part, meaning that society perpetuates this idea that older women lose desire is the part I just don’t get.
I know I’m seen as this sex crazed woman because I am and I’m proud and happy that I am this way. What has bothered me at times is that I have felt alone being like this. Meaning I haven’t had women friends to share in my wild ways and have each other to egg each other on. My sisters have left me in the dust or maybe I’ve left them in the dust.
I do have married friends and though I like them and they like me we live a completely different life style. I am the odd duck. I don’t not fit in anywhere, with the marrieds or the older singles, except when I was sexless and living half my days off at the park with other grandmothers that are seen by the world as being sexless.
There came a time when I wanted my old self back. The one who hadn’t been interested in anybody older than forty since she was forty. So I tried to legitimately date. Laugh out fucking loud. The on line system for dating is a lot of hype when you’re in your late 50’s and a woman. I could not meet a man I was interested in enough to pursue. The interesting thing too was I hardly had any sexual desire. And why was that? Well, I had not been masturbating. Not much anyway. And the less I did it the less I had desire to do it.
Till one day, I was helping my best friend move, someone who doesn’t care about sex in the same way I do, and she hired a man to help us do the job. He hit on me when I didn’t see it coming. He was young and gorgeous and I caved and of course that started it. The fire was lit and it hasn’t burned out since. I have never pursued my orgasms so hotly since I was a teenager. But orgasms now at my age are so incredibly deep and wide it’s a different thing altogether. I chased man after man after man to have my orgasms with them, not a relationship. I had amazing unforgettable times with them. I also started self pleasuring more again so kept my flame of desire lit.
But something far better than even that came out of all that. I began to realize that I could not stop talking about sex. And even more than that I wanted to learn about it, teach and spread the good news and be revolutionary about it. I had to become a taboo breaker. I mean I already had been one but now it became a calling to be one. Little did I know how revolutionary I was about to become.
I blame that period of celibacy. Something went underground and took root unbeknownst to me. In my rediscovery of how powerful, amazing and beautiful sex is, I bloomed into someone who had to be its spokesperson. Also, in talking about it with people I realized a few things that left me astounded. First, and I always knew this but it REALLY bothered me now, it was taboo to talk about it in most circles. So I made a commitment to talk even more about it even when unwelcome. Second, when I did talk about it and it happened to be well received, people were acutely interested. And the reason was that there was a profound lack of knowledge or the wrong information in people’s minds. I’m talking the very basics sometimes. This in my mind had to change too.
At first I thought I wanted to teach both men and women. I had all sorts of ideas and considered all manner of things in the sex world to study and pursue. I remained open to the possibilities. It was a given that I had had a wide variety of sexual experience, enough so that judgment about what other people do and want would not take place in any conversation with me. I also had a high level of at easeness in talking about it and a keen curiosity when listening to people share about their sex lives,
But the path? I kept searching for a path that resonated with me.
Through a series of events I discovered Betty Dodson. I had heard about Betty. I knew she was a big name in the sex education world and that she had had a lover and partner much younger than herself. I resonated to that. All my lovers had been 40 since I was 40. I understood this.
But as I learned more about her I came to know that her method of teaching to be the most real compared to all others. First it involved the women sharing about their sex lives with each other. This I love as I so wish more women shared at this level. I can learn and they can learn the reality of sex, not the magazine articles views. Also, in her workshops women are in the nude and this I love too as I have been a practicing nudist since I was eighteen. I love the shedding of the masks and how this puts us on equal footing with each other.
When I heard her concept that “masturbation is the foundation of all human sexuality” it clunked in as a truth I had always known but just had not put into words. She is considered the mother, grandmother and now GREAT GRAND MOTHER of masturbation. She took the consciousness raising group idea of the 70’s to the best and next level by incorporating into it sexual awareness of the frankest and most real sense. She is also an amazing artist and is the most courageous person I can think of. She has remained for the last 40 and so years steadfast and true to her commitment to help women find their way to a more pleasurable life by knowing themselves sexually through their orgasms and masturbation practices.
I now knew that what she was about, the good, the BAD and the beautiful and it was what I wanted, where I felt the most comfortable and the most uncomfortable.
The comfortable part is that everything she believes I believe when it comes to sex. Her books, her videos, her podcast, essays and advice column are practical and realistic regarding what goes on between the sheets and outside of them too. We are simpatico there.
The uncomfortable part is I needed to take a long hard look at myself, how I have conducted myself in the world, especially toward men. I saw the seductress in me who wanted the attention of men so I could have the sex I wanted. It wasn’t the want of sex, that is a wonderful thing. It was the way I went about getting it. At times I gave up too much of myself to get it. I could be pretty bold and forthright about it and still hold on to myself while engaged with them. But there were enough times of this other pattern, not truly being me, that did not set well with me now. I needed to come home to myself, my real self.
Betty’s way of seeing masturbation as the way to come home, as this amazing gift we are given, is what has changed for me and I feel it viscerally. Being in her bodysex workshop with the experience of my naked self and the naked women facing me, their honesty looking back at me, mirrored all I needed to know and this has over time tremendously changed my awareness.
Because of this I have had to say goodbye to a few folks along the way during this hard looking time. That was not easy as this process involves letting go of parts of me too. I think deep down women know if they were to participate in this type of ritual they suspect it will change them on a very real level. It may initially feel like getting naked with other women and showing their most precious vulvas to each other is scary and unknown but what is really at work here is how all this might change them in ways they have never known before.
It is with the women where lies the truth about our sex. I no longer want to be that seductress giving up parts of herself. I still want to be sexual of course and I am with myself. When sex with another comes to me I want to be seen for who I am and me see them for who they are. I want to be a real sister to women, help them to shed the centuries of shame put upon them and help them to know their bodies and their sexuality. Because this is where the real change can arrive in the world is through the empowered sexuality of women.
Betty has been brave and all she asks is that I be brave too. To follow her path and do what she does is the absolute bravest thing I could ever think of. To flash all over the internet my masturbation practices, declare to everyone in writing that I LOVE MY SEXUAL SELF and hope to inspire more women to love themselves too so that they might have more vibrant and fulfilling lives. Well it goes against the grain of my family and some of my friends and the whole world, to be so bold.
Yet I am doing it, feeling the fear of being vulnerable and doing it anyway. Because the greatest gift is that I am becoming the real me, showing that to the world. I am being freed, freeing myself in the greatest way possible. That is what I meant about what I really found when I found Betty. By setting the intention to love myself in every way with my sexuality as the foundation, I have found the courage to be the real me.