Beloved Sex Educator Dr. Ruth Westheimer Is Getting Her Own Documentary

This may be hard to imagine in these dick-laden times, but not very long ago it was rare to even hear someone say the word “penis” on television, much less get an eyeful of one. To quote Lindsay Lohan: Oh, the story changes.


As a sex educator with her own show and inimitable presence in pop culture, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was one of the few reliable “penis”/“vagina”-sayers on television in the ’80s. Thank god for her then, thank god for her now. She’s 90! She fled the Holocaust! And, like Joan Rivers, Carol Channing, Olympia Dukakis, etc., she’s hit that win/win milestone of being immortalized in a biographical documentary that we all get to enjoy.

Ask Dr. Ruth is set to premiere in a few weeks at the Sundance Film Festival and will stream on Hulu later this year. Ryan White, best known for directing/producing Netflix’s The Keepers, directed it and the trailer is above. “I have an obligation to live large and make a dent in this world,” she says. “At 90, still talking about sex, from morning to night.”

Some Pig. Terrific. Radiant. Humble.

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Oh, wow, Dr. Ruth! It’s very late, and I’ve had a few glasses of wine, so this homage to her will be fairly incoherent, but...

“Good Sex with Dr. Ruth” was a must watch (or must discuss) during my college years in the 80s. She talked about condoms A LOT, which was fairly revolutionary. We all learned about condoms in sex ed. classes, but conventional wisdom said that the pill and the diaphragm were “better.” (And in some ways they were, in terms of female empowerment, being methods that women used and controlled.) Condoms were seen as a old-school, despite their advantage in protecting against STIs (or VD, as we still said then). They were things guys in carried around in their wallets in the 50s, not necessarily something women carried around in their purses. No kidding, even my mid-70s copy of “Our Bodies, Ourselves” said something to the effect that it seemed a little strange to think of a woman pulling a condom out of her purse and suggesting the man use it. (!!!!!)

But in the mid-80s, AIDS was a scourge that even heterosexuals were starting to worry about, so condoms came back, or at least into discussion. Dr. Ruth was big on recommending condoms and diaphragms. She also talked about the clitoris and female orgasm a lot, which was also pretty new for TV. Good night, and good sex indeed. Can’t wait to see this.