Why Sexpert Betty Dodson Is Wrong

In the days since New York said “yes” to gay marriage, I still feel a sense of pride that Massachusetts was the first state to do so. But not all supporters of same sex marriage are as enlightened as we might think — even famous sex activists have their moments.

On a recent TV5 documentary, Betty Dodson, whose bestselling book Sex for One changed American attitudes toward masturbation in the 1990s, argues that porn is “basically male entertainment” that pushes her, as a woman, to view on-screen sex from a male point of view. In the documentary, Dodson doesn’t specify the type of porn she’s talking about, though to me, it’s obvious she’s referencing heterosexual movies as if they’re the only porn.

Dodson’s statement makes little sense — look no further than Jennifer Lyon Bell’s Matinee for a female heterosexual point of view — because plenty of erotic films are lesbian, gay, trans, kinky, or vanilla. Locally, retailer Good Vibrations only sells erotic films that promote female pleasure. “In our films, the women all look like they’re enjoying themselves,” says Coyote Days, manager of marketing and product development.

But in reality, porn, like marriage, is too often seen as a solely heterosexual domain. Regardless of whether we live in a heterosexual community, we need to be aware of the valid differences and the fact that we have choices when it comes to porn and the way we view it. Those of us who look at porn are merely consumers. We can choose lesbian hardcore or vampire threesomes or transgender seductions or personal recordings of sex on the couch with wobbly camerawork.

Women who buy porn at Good Vibrations’ Brookline branch are often looking for ways to learn more about their sexuality, according to Days. “Erotic film can help us work out what turns us on,” says Days. “Our range of desire and attraction is often far broader than you might think.”

While marriage is often seen as the worthiest of unions and porn as the trashiest, the range of pornography, at the very least, also deserves equal recognition from all people — Betty Dodson included.