Sex for One Book Summary - Sex for One Book explained in key points
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Sex for One summary

Betty Dodson

The Joy of Selfloving

4.2 (197 ratings)
24 mins

Brief summary

Sex for One by Betty Dodson is a guide to understanding your own body and sexuality. It provides practical advice, techniques, and stories to learn to enjoy and explore your body, alone or with others.

Table of Contents

    Sex for One
    Summary of 7 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 7

    Masturbation can liberate us from sexual repression.

    Before Betty Dodson became a sex educator, she, like many women, believed that her sexual pleasure should come from her partner’s penis. Cultural sex-negativity had conditioned her to deny the pleasure she got from masturbation. She believed her sexuality didn’t truly exist until she had sex for the first time with a partner, at age twenty.

    For the rest of her twenties, in the 1950s, Dodson’s ideas about sex were drawn from Freudian psychology and marriage manuals. The available resources on sex at the time taught her that masturbating too much was infantile behavior; mature sex meant having vaginal orgasms within a meaningful relationship. So when she fell in love and got married at age twenty-nine, she couldn’t understand why her sex life wasn’t fulfilling. She’d hoped that orgasmic sex would be part of her married life. When it wasn’t, she blamed herself.

    The key message here is: Masturbation can liberate us from sexual repression.

    Dodson later realized that, although she said she’d married for love, she’d really exchanged sex for economic security. She’d hoped to please her husband, but she worried he wouldn’t love her if she were honest with him about her sexual desires. The couple’s sex life worsened, and Dodson began to believe she had no value at all – since providing sex was her unspoken end of the bargain. The lack of communication and shame intensified her sexual repression. Ultimately, they divorced.

    It was then that Dodson began the erotic journey that would change her life. In her first post-marital relationship, with a divorced man named Blake, she started having rampant, experimental, exploratory sex. Together they spoke honestly about sex and masturbation, discovering that communication and sharing are at the core of true intimacy – which both of their marriages lacked. 

    Dodson had further breakthroughs: she realized that when we limit our idea of what constitutes romantic sex, we limit our sexual satisfaction. She also realized that society programs us to feel ashamed about touching ourselves. She resolved never to give in to sexual guilt again, and began masturbating more – not less – with Blake. They even masturbated together to learn more about one another’s sexual responses. 

    Dodson began to regard the first time she masturbated, rather than the first time she had intercourse, as the first time she had sex. If masturbation is as monumental an experience as penetrative sex, then it must be taken seriously as a profound form of self-love, rather than disregarded as a mere substitute for “something better.” When we know what feels good for us, we build confidence, and we let go of our inhibitions with partners. 

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    What is Sex for One about?

    Sex for One (1987) is a part-memoir, part-guidebook by Betty Dodson, a pioneering pro-sex feminist and masturbation advocate. Dodson recounts her own erotic journey and offers a step-by-step approach to embracing self-love.

    Sex for One Review

    Sex for One (1996) is a book that delves into the exploration of sexual pleasure and self-discovery. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a refreshingly open and honest perspective on solo sex, empowering readers to embrace and celebrate their own pleasure.
    • Through personal anecdotes and practical advice, the book guides readers on a journey of self-discovery, enhancing their understanding of their own desires and needs.
    • With its emphasis on self-acceptance and removing societal taboos around masturbation, the book challenges conventional beliefs, making it an engaging and thought-provoking read.

    Who should read Sex for One?

    • Anyone who masturbates
    • People interested in sexual politics and feminist history
    • Anyone who wants to learn how to embrace pleasure and sex positivity

    About the Author

    Betty Dodson, PhD, was an American sex educator, artist, and author of several books on sexuality. She received the public service award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, and the Masters and Johnson award presented by the Society for Sex Therapy and Research. She was regarded as a leading sex expert and named one of the top ten sexual revolutionaries by Cosmopolitan magazine.

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    Sex for One FAQs 

    What is the main message of Sex for One?

    Sex for One empowers individuals to explore and enjoy their own sexuality fully.

    How long does it take to read Sex for One?

    The reading time for Sex for One varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Sex for One a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Sex for One is definitely worth reading as it encourages self-acceptance and provides valuable insights for personal sexual exploration.

    Who is the author of Sex for One?

    Betty Dodson is the author of Sex for One.

    What to read after Sex for One?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Sex for One, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • Going Solo by Eric Klinenberg
    • The Art of Living Alone and Loving It by Jane Mathews
    • Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown
    • How to Think More About Sex by Alain de Botton
    • A Biography of Loneliness by Fay Bound Alberti
    • Your Brain on Porn by Gary Wilson
    • Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson
    • Magnificent Sex by Peggy J. Kleinplatz and A. Dana Ménard
    • The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    • Better Sex Through Mindfulness by Lori A. Brotto