An Icelander, an Australian and a Yank walk into a bar. The Icelander (a few drinks ahead of the others, naturally) brags: “Sex is so great here. We start the earliest in the world, we have liberal attitudes, and LET’S GET DRUNK AND SHAG.” The Australian blushes and drinks a beer, as both are shushed by the American, silver-haired, 85 years old and sober. “Y’all know nothing. Gather round and learn from the Godmother of Masturbation.”
If you’ve never heard of Betty Anne Dodson (BAD), this article may just change your life. At the fantastically advanced age of 85, Ms. Dodson has been there and done everything. She is a sex-positive feminist pioneer (introducing the vibrator into the mainstream world), masturbation advocate, sexual educator (with a PhD to prove it), controversial artist and author.
And she is coming to Iceland!
Ahead of her appearance as keynote speaker for the upcoming Nordic Association of Clinical Sexology (NACS) conference held in Reykjavik this October, we asked Ms. Dodson to share some sexual wisdom.
NORDS DO IT BETTER (MAYBE)
Have you had much exposure to the Nordic regions’ attitudes and culture around sex? What, if any, are the main differences you can note between American and Nordic sex cultures?
Carlin [Ross, Betty’s business partner and co-editor of the website www.dodsonandross.com] and I have spent time in Oslo, and in the past I made several trips to Amsterdam. While the laws are far more liberal than ours, the basic lifestyles of monogamous marriages still dominate. During my last presentation in Oslo, we thought we’d really bombed but were later told that Norwegians don’t show open enthusiasm. Afterward, many came up to express their appreciation, while during my talk, they all remained very reserved.
While those brought up in Nordic sex culture think of themselves as sexually liberated, they unknowingly base their sex information on the male model of sexuality, i.e. a penis inside a vagina. This is basically the pro-creative model, a sex style that rarely results in orgasm for most women.
NACS And You
Intrigued by what exactly societies of sexologists do? Want to know more about the upcoming sex conference? So did we! We had a chat to NACS’s Sigga Dögg about sex in the sagas, experts and “sex days.”
What are the main topics being discussed at the conference this year with its theme ‘Sexual Expression and Pleasure’?
The topics range from HIV prevention, determinants of female orgasm, sex in the Icelandic sagas, lifestyle group sex, premature ejaculation, sexual desire and satisfaction, sexual pleasure to erotica in art. Anything and everything related to sex in one form or another will be discussed by leading experts in the field of sexology.
What does NACS believe are the biggest issues in terms of Nordic sex culture in 2015? What are the hot topics?
Hot topics include getting local governments to formalise and standardise sexual education for kids and teenagers, along with ensuring that a qualified professional reviews the material and trains the teachers who teach sex education. NACS works hard to maintain a professional field of sexologists that have the appropriate training. A lot of people enjoy talking about sex and are often self-titled “sexperts.” However, they might not have had any formal education or training. Sex positivity is the name of the game and all the countries involved want to work hard to support and learn from one another to further the field of sexology. Funding is always a hot topic in relations to free clinics, education and counselling for sexual health matters.
With the conference being held in Iceland this year, how do Icelandic sexologists aim to impress sexologists from the other Nordic countries?
There are three certified sexologists in Iceland, but many more specialists working in the field, although they lack a degree. In my opinion, the fact that Betty Dodson agreed to attend in a heartbeat shows how the Icelandic sexologists think and just go do, without hesitation. She is one of the queens of sexology and even though we are a small organisation, Kynís (the Icelandic sexology association) is still a relevant and powerful voice in the international community. Kynís hosts Sex Days (“Sex Dagar”) biannually, where six sex related events are held on as many days. Last year that included a shibari show and an open mic night in a local bookstore, where authors of books on sexuality read from their books. I believe that this year’s conference will be amazing—whenever 100 or more sexologists gather, you’ll find some serious laughter and raunchy jokes.
The NACS conference will be held in Reykjavík on October 1-4. Find more information here.
The average age of first time heterosexual penile-vaginal sex for Icelanders is 15.6, apparently a world record. As an advocate for using masturbation as a way to learn about your sexuality and enhance sexual satisfaction, do you believe there is a link between beginning partner sex at a younger age and sexual satisfaction/dissatisfaction?
Personally I think 15.6 is basically a young girl getting “fucked,” which produces an ejaculation for the boy, confusion for both and utter dissatisfaction for her. What country teaches sexual pleasure, which would mean “Orgasms for Two?” That’s the title of my second book that is still available at Amazon, but never really sold that well. Seems the world is not THAT interested in both parties enjoying orgasms.
While we know Mother Nature (or biology) supports the continuation of her species, a penis inside a vagina gets top billing. That’s what we call a “sex drive.” HOWEVER, when it comes to end pleasure, it’s more likely to happen for the boy, but rarely the girl. Most young boys today are obsessed with “making a girl come” which gave rise to female ejaculation as a sure sign. But squirting is NOT the same as having an orgasm.
First, a girl must have some form of birth control or she’ll end up with a teen pregnancy. While the teens are an ideal time to procreate, physically, neither the girl nor the boy are ready to become parents. Unless she has explored her sexual body via masturbation, most teen girls are pre-orgasmic. Meanwhile, most boys have discovered that marvelous toy hanging down between their legs and they are already happy masturbators. They can’t wait to get their penises inside a warm wet vagina to prove they’re a man—not just a wanker!
LISTEN AND LEARN
What would be your best piece of advice for teenagers in Iceland in regards to sex?
Masturbate freely and privately without shame or guilt. Ideally sharing manual sex between teens is a great way to begin their sex lives. They can talk about what they liked and what worked. If kids advance to oral sex, it must be mutual. Once birth control is in place, intercourse with some kind of clitoral stimulation before, during or after is usually necessary in order for the girl to enjoy her orgasm. Sex educators MUST challenge the elusive “vaginal orgasm” and put Freud in his place as misguided. If it happens, great, but it is NOT the gold standard of sex.
Dodson and Ross promote clitoral stimulation with vaginal penetration at the same time. While there are a few women who do not want their clits to be touched, I suspect it’s due to clumsy handling by an unsuspecting partner. Women need to show their lovers what they like instead of faking orgasms. More communication as well as lubrication!
In your recently released memoir [‘Betty Dodson: My Sexual Memoir’, 2014], you talk about how you learnt early on that for you alcohol and sex weren’t a good mix. Icelanders are infamous for forging a link between severe drunkenness and sex from a pretty early age. What advice would you have in regards to alcohol and sex?
Alcohol is a stupid drug because it’s a depressant. While it lowers our inhibitions most of us don’t know when to stop. The person takes a drink and then the drink takes a drink. I am a BIG supporter of marijuana as the perfect aphrodisiac. Although it’s rare in my experience, pot can also be overdone. The ideal situation will always be two healthy young bodies consciously exploring sexual pleasures without shame or guilt with both being able to discuss what feels good, better and best, sexually speaking.
MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR
After decades as a sex educator, do you believe attitudes towards sex have changed much for the better since you began your work, and how/why not?
I wish I could report more progress, but alas, I cannot. The main obstacles I see are organised religion and conservative governments; both are authoritarian in order for a few to control many. Until society agrees that masturbation is the foundation for all sexual activity, we will remain in the dark ages of sex with the ability to enjoy our orgasms alone, with a partner and in a group setting. Sexual pleasure is an antidote to violence.
What’s next for Betty Dodson?
To continue expanding Dodson and Ross’s “Army of Orgasmic Women” by making Bodysex Workshops available worldwide. It entails women teaching sex to women via first-person sharing. Once a woman understands her sexual response, she can then show her individual lover(s). This process will eventually replace pornography as the primary source of sex education, which has been devastating for women. Online porn is simply jerk-off entertainment based on male fantasies that do NOT factor in women’s desires or sexual needs.
You have achieved so much and helped so many people—will you ever get to rest on your laurels and bask in your achievements? You deserve to be made a modern-day secular saint of some sort!
Actually I’m aiming for a Nobel Peace Prize for ending the war between the sexes. Unfortunately, many of us first learn about violence within our nuclear families. It’s the rare household that functions with equality in work, play, money and sexual pleasures. Women are a long way off from being equal to men. Yes, we have made some strides and I’m grateful for that. My hope for the future lies with the kids growing up with the internet. WikiLeaks and the hacktivists have shown us new possibilities with freedom of information. It’s time we include freedom of sexual information from women’s perspectives, that will lead to more happy orgasms for everyone who wants them.
Betty truly believes in sexual information being freely available. Her website is a wealth of information on any sexual topic you could imagine (including zoophillia. You have been warned). So this October, if you see a foxy octogenarian strolling down Laugavegur, feel free to thank her for (as her MO states), “liberating women one orgasm at a time.” Surely that is something we can all get excited about.
The NACS conference is at Reykjavík Natura Hotel, October 1-4. Click here for more information.