Salon.com has an interview with Betty Dodson (whom I once met at a TES meeting in NYC in 2005), author of Sex For One. She has interesting insights on the fall and rise of masturbation, and why we need gender parity in whacking off.
Obviously, the sexual climate was very different in 1974. How did people think about masturbation back then?
Who needed it? There was so much sexual freedom and there were so many groups and threesomes and couples getting together. It was very fluid in New York, L.A., San Francisco. I went to sex parties in the U.K., London, Amsterdam. I was one of the darlings of the jet set, so they’d invite me everywhere. I couldn’t have been happier. Then all of the sudden AIDS happened and the bottom crashed out of casual sex. That’s why the publisher in 1986 figured that they could finally deal with masturbation as the safest sex.
Do you think there’s less guilt associated with masturbation now?
I don’t think we’ve made any progress. If anything we’ve gone backwards.
Well, you can at least say the word now. In certain circumstances you couldn’t say it at all, when I first started off. The response I got to using the word was people rolling on the floor laughing, and when I talked about teaching women how to masturbate, they was even funnier. What would you do to teach someone to masturbate? But it’s a physical activity that has an art to it. You don’t just grab it and whack it. It’s everyone’s favorite thing to do if you can’t get laid or you don’t have a delicious romantic relationship, but if we don’t incorporate masturbation into our relationships, we are going to lose sex anyway.