You may remember Dr. Ruth Westheimer as the person who said that word on TV. However, stories about Dr. Ruth completely overshadow her liberal usage of blunt terminology. As it turns out, there are a few things you may not have known about Dr. Ruth aside from her lessons on the science of sex. Before frank conversations about intimacy spanned cultural and political mediums, her frankness on the subject was a breath of fresh air. Dr. Ruth certainly paved the way for the sex podcasts of today. Dig a little deeper into her biography, though, and her story goes well beyond the introduction of dirty talk to the mainstream.
A few of these wild Dr. Ruth facts may surprise you for how traditional they are juxtaposed to the pervasiveness of intimate concepts in the modern age. Even still, Dr. Ruth and her show - Sexually Speaking - completely changed the game.
In her youth, Westheimer joined the group that would become the Israel Defense Forces in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Luckily, she never had to test her skills on the battlefield, but she had quite a shot.
As she told New York Magazine, "I was...very good... I could put the [rounds] in the red circle. And I know how to throw hand [detonation devices]."
In 1939, Westheimer arrived in Switzerland at age 10, separated from her parents and other family members. "I remember my grandmother running down the platform," she told the Guardian. "That's the last time I ever saw [my grandmother and mother]."
The home in which she resided eventually became an orphanage. An only child to Orthodox Jewish parents, she discovered both perished during WWII. When she finally left the orphanage, Westheimer had just one washcloth and a doll, which she gifted to another child refugee.
The loss of her family later compelled her to study family planning and relationships. As she told the Guardian: "I was left with a feeling that... because I survived, I had an obligation to make a dent in the world."
While serving in the Israeli army in 1948, Westheimer narrowly avoided a cannonball explosion (on her birthday of all days). She considers herself lucky she survived, but the blast left her with shrapnel in both legs and feet. A nearby surgeon was able to offer quick assistance.
Westheimer told NPR about the experience: "I was very fortunate there was a brilliant surgeon, and he fixed my feet so well that I can ski. I still ski. And I can dance the whole night if I find a partner."
Following WWII, Westheimer moved to Palestine (which would eventually become Israel). She lived and worked on a Jewish communal settlement known as a "kibbutz." There, she wrote in Salon, she had her first intimate experience - in a hayloft.
Westheimer is still friendly with her first partner, whom she chose to leave anonymous to maintain his privacy.