Libido: Reviews: Viva La Vulva
Viva La Vulva

By Marianna Beck

If an award were being given out for the person most responsible for promoting positive and celebratory female sexuality, it would no doubt go to Betty Dodson, the queen of cuntiousness-raising and a true "vulvalutionary."

For the last three decades, Dodson has been an indefatigable sex educator running workshops teaching women about masturbation and sexual pleasure. In 1973, when Dodson began her Bodysex workshops, genital show-and-tell became part of a powerful healing process on the road to self-acceptance and sexual growth.

In her new video Viva la Vulva: Women's Sex Organs Revealed, Dodson has expanded on the show-and-tell theme by gathering together ten women from 25 to 68 to discuss how their attitudes about their genitals have been shaped (not to mention how their genitals are shaped) by varying cultural attitudes and backgrounds. They go from discussing their inner-most thoughts (and pussy pet-names) to preparing for their pussy portraits, a ritual that is preceeded by a round of serious primping prom-style. Suddenly, one begins to understand what Dodson means by the healing process. The giggling and preening, are a powerful antidote to earlier recollections of negative imprinting. One woman remembers being slapped by her mother every time she touched herself; another, a 50-something nurse, used to shaving patients' pubic hair prior to surgery, reveals that she has never, until now, really looked at her own vulva.

And then there is Betty Dodson, pointer in hand, extolling with great delight the infinite vulvular variety of those in her group: we get to see a Classical Cunt with its perfect proportions, a Gothic Vulva with its cathedral-shaped arches, a Baroque Pussy with its elaborate drapery and an Art Deco Yoni with its graceful lines. (And here we thought Sister Wendy's TV series on the great masters was giving us a whole new take on art). Dodson's disarming approach also works wonders on eradicating general misinformation, particularly when she dives into general anatomy and carefully points out that the clitoris is not just a pea-shaped nodule of erectile tissue but a whole internal structure complete with legs!

The light-hearted girlie-group dynamic in Viva la Vulva makes for a spirited and joyful ride -- especially in the brief excursions involving genital self-massage techniques and the final, celebratory vulva art-project each participant furnishes. In an ideal world, this video would be required viewing in all university sex-education classes.

Viva la Vulva is Dodson's third video (after Selfloving and Celebrating Orgasm) and one can only hope that this patron saint of orgasms goes on to make many more.

Viva la Vulva: Women's Sex Organs Revealed produced by Betty Dodson, Ph.D (P.O. Box 1933 Murray Hill, New York, NY 10156; 51 minutes, $35.95).