Were you a fan of Dr. Ruth Westheimer? If you have not heard her voice since the 1980s when her radio show, Sexually Speaking, was one of the most risqué and popular, click Dr. Ruth’s Youtube Channel . If you’re too young, did not live in the New York area in the 1980s or just did not tune in, click the channel anyway— you’ll understand the point of this post after watching her introduction. I had the most fortunate experience this past Friday night when she spoke during my Temple’s Shabbat service. Dr. Ruth is as spunky and full of good advice as ever! And, she is 84 years old! I always admired her. After learning more about her past and about the tremendous work she has done, I am just in awe.
As I sat in Temple, mesmerized by her presence and giggling as she told heart-warming and humorous stories, I could not help but wonder how I ever felt comfortable listening to her sex advice as a teenager and even more astonishing– with my parents in the car!! Did you listen to Sexually Speaking alone? Or, with others? Either we were intrigued enough to overcome embarrassment or she made the subject of sex tolerable, or both. Not only did she give explicit and seemingly sound advice, she normalized a taboo topic.
I would actually like to try an experiment and I’ll let you know if I do: listening to her give advice with my teenage children present. I can just imagine being in the car with my 16 year old son (my age when her talk show was becoming popular), and turning to a radio station featuring Dr. Ruth talking about various sex positions. My son would turn red and immediately change the station. I cannot as easily predict my 19 year old daughter’s reaction. I think she would be less embarrassed, but still not at all interested in listening together.
The best thing about the Dr. Ruth’s mission is that she tried to make situations better for couples and individuals. She wanted people to be happy. She thought good sex was a key to happiness (no more comments on that—phew, I certainly don’t want to stray from my blog’s main purpose….) and I bet she did save some marriages.
Most engaging for me, was her theme this past Friday night. To avoid any disrespect on the Sabbath, she refrained from explicit talk during the service (she did promise more open and less edited conversation after services ended). The advice she wanted to give was more about her life than sex. She emphasized the “Chutzpah” needed to find happiness and success. Her accomplishments, she said, were due to her seizing the moment and taking risks. She implored the younger generation to find opportunity, take advantage of offers and take chances. These are messages my mom endorsed. During her talk, I thought about my mom and the similar advice she gave.