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.
She Trained As A Markswoman
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]."
She Survived The Holocaust In An Orphanage
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."
She Once Had Shrapnel In Her Legs
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."
Her First Intimate Encounter Was On A Kibbutz
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.
Her Short Stature Forced Her To Get Creative With Prospective Partners
Part of what Westheimer advocates is cultivating a certain joie de vivre, or a love of life. She nurtured her love for life by refusing to allow her short stature to get in the way of getting it on.
Since I’m only 4'7, I never entirely grew out of my awkward stage, and for a long time in my youth, I was certain that no man would ever find me attractive... If I couldn’t rely on my statuesque figure to lure men, then I had to have a backup plan. And part of that was exhibiting joie de vivre, even though at that time I had no idea what that meant.
She Got Married Three Different Times
Though primarily known for her carnal advice, one of Westheimer's books covers break-ups. She speaks from experience: before marrying Fred Westheimer in 1961, she married two other men. Westheimer believes her earlier marriages weren't as serious, though they gave her more insight into relationships.