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Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex, Dr. Ruth Westheimer (1983)

Let’s get it on

Stephanie Butnick
September 17, 2013

Dr. Ruth Westheimer has balls. How else could a 4-foot-7 refugee from the Nazis, orphaned during the Holocaust, end up training as a Haganah sniper in British Palestine? An exploding shell injured her during Israel’s War of Independence, but couldn’t keep her down for long. She got a psychology degree and moved to the United States, where her directness and lack of concern about what was “proper” for a little old lady to discuss allowed her to wage a new battle: against sexual ignorance. She spoke frankly, and even—gasp—humorously, about sex on her 1980s radio show, Sexually Speaking. Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex, published in 1986, combines transcripts of caller questions with Westheimer’s characteristically blunt advice on everything from achieving orgasms to combating erectile dysfunction, even addressing then-taboo topics like STDs and anal sex. Westheimer didn’t care what you did, she just wanted you to do it safely—and enjoyably.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.