02/25/2013 12:19 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Sex for One for the Ethical Slut

WARNING: This post contains sexually explicit language. Please read on at your own discretion.

Betty Dodson has done more for masturbation than anyone I know. Her workshops and books, particularly Sex for One, have helped countless women connect with themselves as ground zero for pleasure. Betty has inspired me in my quest to reframe the word "slut" as a positive term for having an abundant and healthy sex life. Dr. Dodson will be joining me at the next Ethical Slut Salon at the Out Hotel NYC on March 4. In preparation for the Salon, I asked Betty a few questions. They are worth sharing:

Robert Levithan: As a pioneer on self-pleasure for women and the author of Sex for One, how does it feel to be addressing a Salon that will be mostly men?

Betty Dodson: The great thing about masturbation is that it applies to all genders and sex styles. It's a very universal sexual activity but totally under-acknowledged, except with humor. I've been many peoples' favorite dirty joke for decades.

Levithan: I believe that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to enjoying sex is the internalized ageism that leads many men and women to believe that they have a "shelf life." How do you address this, personally and professionally?

Dodson: Yes, if we only define sex as hard, throbbing cocks thrusting inside plump, wet vaginas or anuses, then sex does have a limited shelf life. For women, our sex hormone levels drop after menopause, around the age of 50, and although it's not widely acknowledged, many men go into a sexual decline about the same time. However, if we include oral, manual and vibrator sex, then the shelf life gets extended. Clearly masturbation is the most ideal sex for older people, alone or with a partner.

Levithan: Is it fun to be identified as the "Grande Dame" of self-love?

Dodson: Yes, yes, yes! My life has been more wonderful than I could have imagined. While it was tough at first, I soon realized what a privilege it was to share this basic good news, especially when it came to teaching women how to enjoy orgasms alone and with partners.

Levithan: What is the most important thing you hope is taken away from a talk or appearance that you make?

Dodson: One more person will let go of their unnecessary sexual guilt about enjoying masturbation. And in spite of the commonly assumed information, most women do not orgasm from penetration sex. Get over it, guys!

Levithan: Anything you'd like to add?

Dodson: I'll be extremely happy when society is able to acknowledge masturbation as the foundation for all of human sexual activity. How we make love to ourselves is what we bring to partner sex.

Levithan: Thank you, Betty. I look forward to our conversation at the Salon and the questions from the audience. I think the guys will get a lot out of hearing from you!