Dr. Ruth Westheimer Still Talking Sex
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is still at it – talking about sex. She spoke at
Princeton University, standing on two stacked crates, and told the students her
views on abortion, homosexuality, condoms and what it is like to be a
Only four-foot-seven-inch, Dr. Ruth is world-renowned. She
helped to pioneer the field of media psychology with her radio program, Sexually
Speaking. It began in September of 1980 as a fifteen minute, taped show that
aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it
became a live, one-hour show airing at 10 PM on which Dr. Ruth, as she became
known, answered call-in questions from listeners. Soon it became part of a
communications network to distribute Dr. Westheimer's expertise which has
included television, books, newspapers, games, home video and computer software.
During her speech at Princeton, Westheimer said people should always stick to
their moral values when making decisions about having sex. She said individuals
should "not to be pressured by others into having sex just because 'everyone
else is doing it.' It should be by choice."
Respect for all sexual preferences, including homosexuality, should be a
universal value, she added.
Westheimer said she believes abortion should be legal, but "only be used in
instances of contraceptive failures."
She said condoms should be made available on campus — they should be free and
put in private places. "They should be put in boys' and girls' bathrooms where
there is privacy, not in places like the dining halls where people can see who's
taking them," she said.
"We were really excited that she would be on campus," said Azalea Kim, senior
class president. "The turnout definitely exceeded expectations and the students
asked lots of questions." The lecture was sponsored by the Women's Center.
"I knew who she was and just had to go see - she's a dynamo," Melissa Rosenberg
said. "I really appreciated that she was older and expressed her progressive
views very frankly."
Born in Germany in 1928, Dr. Westheimer was sent to a school in Switzerland at
the age of ten which became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students
who had been sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 16 she went to Israel where
she fought for that country's independence as a member of the Haganah, the
Jewish freedom fighters. She then moved to Paris where she studied at the
Sorbonne and taught kindergarten. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1956 where she
obtained her Masters Degree in Sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New
School of Social Research. In 1970, she received a Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.)
in the Interdisciplinary Study of the Family from Columbia University Teacher's
She worked for Planned Parenthood for a time and it was that experience that
prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr.
Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center. She
later participated in the program for five years as an Adjunct Associate
Professor. She has also taught at Lehman College, Brooklyn College, Adelphi
University, Columbia University and West Point