Ask Me Another
7:14 am
Fri April 5, 2013

Dr. Ruth: Let's Talk About Sex

To kick off Season 2 of Ask Me Another, we invited one of America's most trusted names in therapy onto the show — sex therapy, that is. Dr. Ruth Westheimer may be best known for having pioneered frank and open discussion about sex. Since her late-night radio show, "Sexually Speaking," debuted over three decades ago, Dr. Ruth has been dispensing honest, compassionate advice over the airwaves, television, and now, the Internet.

Dr. Ruth joins Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg to dish some dirt on how people's views on sex and relationships have changed since she became America's favorite sex therapist, and also how some things never change. Plus, she reveals how she found her unlikely calling.

We knew we had to devise something special for Dr. Ruth's Ask Me Another Challenge. Listen as we quiz her on the rousing results of a not-particularly-scientific sex survey completed by members of our studio audience. What percentage of them still believe in true love? You might be surprised. And one lucky winner receives an autographed copy of Dr. Ruth's book, Sex For Dummies, and a bottle of her new low-alcohol wine, "Vin d'Amour." No one walks away empty-handed though; Dr. Ruth promises that after listening to her, everyone will have good sex for the rest of their lives.

About Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Dr. Ruth Westheimer became a household name for pushing the limits on discussing sex on the airwaves. As it turns out, that's only a small part of her life. After fleeing from Germany to Switzerland to escape the Holocaust, Dr, Ruth trained as a scout and sniper for Haganah, the Israeli freedom fighters. Following a wound from a bomb blast, Dr. Ruth moved to Paris to study psychology at the Sorbonne. While she earned a Masters degree in sociology from the New School and a Doctorate of Education from Columbia University's Teacher's College, it was her work for Planned Parenthood that led her to study sexuality.

She is the author of 36 books, the latest of which is Dr. Ruth's Guide for the Alzheimer's Caregiver. Dr. Ruth answers questions on her own YouTube Channel and Twitter account. Dr. Ruth, All The Way, a one-woman show about her life starring Debra Jo Rupp, opened June 2012 at the Barrington Stage in Pittsfield, MA. Dr. Ruth has two children, four grandchildren, and resides in New York City.


In the video below, watch as Dr. Ruth discusses her opinion of 50 Shades Of Grey.


This segment originally aired on January 3, 2013.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of trivia, puzzles and word games. I'm your host, Ophira Eisenberg. And before I introduce our VIP, I would just like to let our listeners know that we're going to be talking about some, perhaps, adult topics. So you might want to put a cartoon on the TV for the kids, grab some headphones for yourself, because joining me right now is superstar sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Welcome, Dr. Ruth. So you were giving people advice for three decades on the radio, and even now on YouTube. Has it changed over the time, what people ask, what they want to know about relationships and such?

DOCTOR RUTH WESTHEIMER: I'll tell you what has changed.

EISENBERG: Yes.

WESTHEIMER: What has changed is the vocabulary. In the olden days, they used to say, "She's with child," meaning she's pregnant. Nobody used to speak about issues of sexuality. I could do it because I have a doctorate in it. And what has changed for people like you, the ability of women to have sexual satisfaction.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

WESTHEIMER: I'm not asking you any personal question, because that I only do in my office.

EISENBERG: Right.

WESTHEIMER: But there is no question that the women have heard the message. I'm not the only one. Lots of people talk about sex. And what has changed, also, the "Fifty Shades of Grey." I'm sure you read it, but I don't ask personal questions.

EISENBERG: No, no, no, no.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: And I don't - and you can't ask me personal questions.

EISENBERG: No, I wouldn't dream of it.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: But all of your listeners have to know, I did read it, all three volumes, of course.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

WESTHEIMER: What a question. I have to read what you people are talking about.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: So what is interesting is the things that I've been talking all the time. Women, don't answer personally, but in generally, because I watch your face...

EISENBERG: I am dying to answer personally.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: You don't know what you're doing to me. I am dying to.

WESTHEIMER: So they used to say women don't get aroused by sexually explicit literature or movies. And this book proves what I have been saying all along, not so.

EISENBERG: So I have to ask you this. You have how many grandchildren?

WESTHEIMER: I have the best, four grandchildren.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And they're all the best.

WESTHEIMER: All four of them are the very best. Nobody has four grandchildren like mine.

EISENBERG: How old is the oldest?

WESTHEIMER: He's going to be 22.

EISENBERG: Twenty-two.

WESTHEIMER: He's finishing college.

EISENBERG: Okay.

WESTHEIMER: The next one is 16.

EISENBERG: Okay.

WESTHEIMER: And the one's in Canada, the girl is 14 and the boy is 10.

EISENBERG: So the older ones, do they ever come to you for advice?

WESTHEIMER: God forbid. God forbid.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: And if they would, I would send them not to a comedian.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Don't ever send anyone to a comedian.

WESTHEIMER: I would send to somebody else. However, I know that they have read my books, because I did some books for children. And I also know that sometimes they know what I'm talking about.

EISENBERG: Sure, of course.

WESTHEIMER: But I do not want to ever counsel them. They have parents. But if you come to my office, you I take for free.

EISENBERG: Wow.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Now you have - I'm taking you up on that offer - now you have - you've done a lot of things in your life but when did you know it was your calling to be a sex therapist?

WESTHEIMER: I worked in public health, and the money ran out on a government project, and I needed a part time job. And Planned Parenthood of New York City offered me...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

WESTHEIMER: ...offered me a research position. I took it right away. And I thought I was very well qualified. I had already my Master's in Sociology and my degree in psychology. I took the job and I thought, "What's the matter with them?" All they talk about is sex. They don't talk about the weather. They don't talk about comedy. They don't talk about literature. Nothing else but sex.

Forty-eight hours later, I said hold it, what an interesting subject matter. The other idea I had for my doctorate dissertation, I said goodbye.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: And I used the data of following 2,000 women with their contraceptive and abortive history and used it for my doctorate dissertation. Then people like you came over and whispered questions.

EISENBERG: This is so specific, this interview, by the way.

WESTHEIMER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: But people whispered question and I didn't have an answer. And then I was very fortunate, I went to Cornell Medical School, seven years, and twice a week, and I was trained to be a sex therapist. And look, I'm pretty fortunate.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you...

WESTHEIMER: I'm still talking about it.

EISENBERG: Yeah, you're still...

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: I'm a grandmother. I'm going to be 85.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

EISENBERG: And also, you decided to do a line of wine.

WESTHEIMER: I like the way you say that.

EISENBERG: Line of wine.

WESTHEIMER: Now say what it's called, Vin d'Amour.

EISENBERG: Vin d'Amour.

WESTHEIMER: No, Vin d'Amour.

EISENBERG: Vin d'Amour.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: I usually say it to a couple, like you. Everybody is stressed. When you go home, drink a little bit of wine, just to relax. Don't drink too much.

EISENBERG: Like two, three bottles?

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: No.

EISENBERG: No.

WESTHEIMER: A little bit. Because if you drink too much, you fall asleep and he can't perform if he drinks too much. And it's only 6 percent of alcohol, which means people can drink. In their fantasies, they can say that they really drink a lot of wine.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: And then, they're going to have good sex right afterwards.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

EISENBERG: All right, Dr. Ruth, now I have to ask you, would you be up to getting some trivia? Would you like it...

WESTHEIMER: Do I get a prize if I win?

EISENBERG: You get a prize.

WESTHEIMER: Yes.

EISENBERG: Of course. You're up for an ASK ME ANOTHER challenge?

WESTHEIMER: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right, fantastic. A big hand for Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: All right, joining me back on the ASK ME ANOTHER stage is our puzzle guru Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: Hey, Ophira.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And our one-man musical band, Mr. Jonathan Coulton.

JONATHAN COULTON: Hello.

(APPLAUSE)

WESTHEIMER: Make sure...

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: That you two there ask me questions that I know how to answer.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: Otherwise, you are going to have good sex for the rest of your life...

CHUNG: Done.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

COULTON: The stakes are very high.

CHUNG: What is your first name?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Now, Dr. Ruth, we were talking about how times have changed and people's perceptions of relationship and sex have changed. And as you, as a relationship guru, we need your help, because earlier we asked our studio audience to fill out some anonymous questionnaires about sex and relationships.

The respondents were predominately in their 20s and 30s, and heterosexual, which differs from you listeners at home, who according to our research, often have sex while listening to our show.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: With numerous partners.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So we're going to go through some of the questions that we asked them and you have to guess how they responded.

WESTHEIMER: They're having sex with numerous partners while listening to you?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Our show is like an aphrodisiac to some people. I don't know how it works.

WESTHEIMER: Let them do it with one partner.

EISENBERG: Okay, I'll give them all a call.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: During our fundraising drive.

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: For NPR.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Okay, and if you answer four of these questions right, you win a prize for Becky Davis Gardner from Greenwoods, South Carolina. So we asked whether it was okay to break up with someone by text. What do you think they said, yes or no?

WESTHEIMER: I hope that they said no.

EISENBERG: You hope...

WESTHEIMER: Because I would not like to get a message from somebody "Goodbye, I found somebody else."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Well, you hoped right, because 90 percent of our audience said that was not okay, not okay.

WESTHEIMER: I like that.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: However, we didn't ask for any notes, but some people wrote notes on their quizzes.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: A 48-year-old male who sees himself as heterosexual added the note, "but breaking up in a nice café, where everyone can see you cry, sucks too."

(LAUGHTER)

WESTHEIMER: That's very sad.

EISENBERG: Very sad.

WESTHEIMER: Because that happened to him, I'm sure.

EISENBERG: I know, numerous times.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We asked about online dating, specifically about lying on your online profile. And we asked what would you be most likely to lie about: your age, your height, your income or your desire to get married? The majority of men, which was 42 percent, would lie about what?

WESTHEIMER: Their income.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Nailed it. And nearly half of the women, 46 percent, said they would lie about what: their age, their height, their income or their desire to get married?

WESTHEIMER: Age.

EISENBERG: Actually, it turns out - I would go that way too - their desire to get married.

WESTHEIMER: They would lie about that?

EISENBERG: Yeah, they would lie.

WESTHEIMER: Yeah, because they would worry that he would not ever date. Okay.

EISENBERG: I know. They're like, no, no, no, I really want to get married. You know, instead they're like "whatever."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We asked which of the following was the most overrated: kissing, sex or monogamy.

WESTHEIMER: Oh boy, that's a difficult one.

EISENBERG: Forty-two percent of all respondents picked which one?

WESTHEIMER: Probably monogamy.

EISENBERG: Yep, afraid so.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Afraid so. Although, one of our respondents gave me hope, because she is a 20-year-old female, heterosexual, and with the choices of what's most overrated: kissing, monogamy, sex, she just wrote, "I think they're all really great."

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: When we asked whether friends can have sex and remain friends, hmm, again we had a gender split. Really? Interesting.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: A majority of which group, men or women, said friends can have sex and remain friends?

WESTHEIMER: Men said it but they are wrong.

EISENBERG: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: And they should get used to being wrong.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We asked how internet pornography has affected people's love lives. Results were fairly even. Did people say internet pornography improved their sex life or not?

WESTHEIMER: Improved.

EISENBERG: Our respondents said no.

WESTHEIMER: Then they didn't watch the right porn.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

CHUNG: Dr. Ruth, please see me after the show.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Finally, we asked if they believed in true love.

WESTHEIMER: I hope they said all yes.

EISENBERG: You think they did?

WESTHEIMER: I hope so.

EISENBERG: Seventy-five percent of all respondents said yes, they do believe in true love.

WESTHEIMER: Good.

(APPLAUSE)

WESTHEIMER: Good.

EISENBERG: Eighty-one percent of women and 67 percent of men.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Well, Dr. Ruth, congratulations, you got five right, so...

WESTHEIMER: That's pretty good.

EISENBERG: That is amazing.

(APPLAUSE)

WESTHEIMER: All right.

EISENBERG: Becky will be winning an autographed copy of Dr. Ruth's book "Sex for Dummies." Congratulations, Becky. And Dr. Ruth, we have our very own Rubik's Cube for you from ASK ME ANOTHER. So we will be giving that to you for your prize.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Thank you so much, Dr. Ruth for being an incredible VIP.

WESTHEIMER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton?

COULTON: Yes.

EISENBERG: Would you like to play a little something for us right about now?

COULTON: I would be happy to. And this - what's that?

EISENBERG: Dr. Ruth would like a love song please.

COULTON: Okay, Dr. Ruth.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: This is a George Michael song.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: That's close.

COULTON: It is a sexy song about monogamy.

(APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

COULTON: Well, I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body, I know not everybody has got a body like you. But I got to think twice before I give my heart away. And I know all the games you play because I play them too.

Oh, well, I need some time off from that emotion, time to pick my heart up off the floor. Oh, when that love comes down without devotion, well it takes a strong man, baby, but I'm showing you the door. 'Cause I got to have faith. I got to have faith. Because I've got to have faith, faith, faith. I got to have faith, faith, faith.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.