People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, Feministing executive director and Planned Parenthood global communications specialist Lori Adelman tells us more about what it’s like to chill with Dr. Ruth.
— Lori Adelman (@Ladelman) March 18, 2014
Lori! So what happened here?
Dr. Ruth was delivering the keynote at a fundraising dinner for the New Jersey chapter of the nonprofit where I work, which I’d been asked to attend on behalf of my division. For some reason all the higher-ups who would normally be there repping for us were out of town or unavailable. So I ended up going and helping out by being what can only be truthfully described as one of Dr. Ruth’s de facto “handlers.” (Sensing a pattern here for how all the exciting things in my life happen.)
The thing is: Dr. Ruth is not a woman who needs a lot of people fussing over her. We’re talking about someone who was a trained sniper in the Israeli army and who knows how to throw a hand grenade.
So as we’re hanging around waiting for the event to begin, people were mostly bringing her tea (Lipton, two cups, no sugar) and taking photos with her. My boss showed her the final version of a video Dr. Ruth had recently shot with PPFA President Cecile Richards on the Affordable Care Act and sexual health, and she really liked that. She watched it twice, and then made everyone around her watch it (on my boss’s phone *evil laugh*). I was trying to connect with her, and I mentioned that I was a really big fan of her Twitter presence—which is true: She’s got one of the best feeds in the game (see, for example: this). She lit up at that, and I got to learn a bit about her “process” (sorry), which I feel kind of bad revealing on here, but basically she dictates all the tweets herself and then an assistant posts them. She was excited about the number of Twitter followers she had, which she knew to the tens of thousands.
Despite this, when I tried to tell her about my blog, which seems like it would be up her alley, she dismissed my explanations and maintained that she was “Internet illiterate.” Now, that is not the first time someone has claimed to not know how the Internet works rather than listen to me talk about feminist blogging. I know all the tricks. But it was very effective, and we did move on to other subjects. Touché, Dr. Ruth.
Somewhere during this exchange, I asked her if she wanted to take a selfie with me, and she was kind enough to oblige. I try not to subject my Twitter followers to too many photos I’ve taken of my own face, but in this case I made an exception.
You two seem like you’re having a blast in that photo. It’s such a great shot. Does she come across in the same way as she does when you see her on TV?
She very much comes across as you would expect: cheeky, blunt, light-hearted, and didactic. I also learned that Dr. Ruth is someone who freely shushes others mid-sentence if she is annoyed by what they are saying, which I definitely respect a lot. It is a skill I hope to hold and deploy as effectively as she does one day.
Also, she collects turtles, *swoon* <3
Lesson learned (if any)?
My major takeaway from all this is that Dr. Ruth is a G. The woman is 85 years old, not even close to five feet tall, and still spreading a message of health and sex positivity with humor and charm.
Also, fun sex-related fact: According to Dr. Ruth, most cases of erectile dysfunction do not have physical but emotional or psychological root causes, and can thus be “cured” very easily (“within minutes!”) by talking to a therapist or your sexual partner.
Just one more thing.
I feel like I have milked this enough, so in closing I offer you this photo of Dr. Ruth and Madonna at a party together:
Here's picture of me with Madonna at party after same event. pic.twitter.com/L8DKNX2zKc
— Dr. Ruth Westheimer (@AskDrRuth) November 26, 2013
Matthew J.X. Malady is a writer and editor in New York.