Sex therapist and all round Renaissance woman Dr Ruth Westheimer had a very rough start to life. She grew up in Germany in the 1930’s and with the rise of Nazism her mother decided it was too unsafe for her to remain in Wiesenfeld and through the British program Kindertransport (Children Transport) she was sent, at the tender age of eleven years old to an orphanage in Heiden, Switzerland. Westheimer to never see her parents again, they both perished in the Holocaust.
After surviving such a difficult adolescences, she proved to be a brilliant academic, completing a psychology degree, a masters in sociology and and a Doctorate from the Teacher’s College, Columbine University in 1970.
Upon receiving her Doctorate, she briefly worked for Planned Parenthood and this experience encouraged her to continue studying human sexuality. She went on to work as a postdoctoral researcher for Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Presbyterian Hospital
Dr Ruth’s media career began in 1980 with her show ‘Sexually Speaking’, debuting on radio WYNY-FM. The show began very modestly but it soon took off. It ended up running some ten years. From there, Dr Ruth ‘s blossomed as she became a prominent public figure, appearing on radio and television programs and with articles written about her in leading publications.
Now in her nineties she is still and avid social commentator, for example she has over 7,000 tweets registered to her twitter account.
Ryan White’s documentary captures Dr Westheimer’s indomitable spirit. The poster says ‘Size doesn’t matter’, Yes we all know there is the sexual reference there, but in this case there is another meaning to, that a woman of such a small stature can have such a big impact.
The movie left plenty of impressions. Family means a lot to her with interviews with her children and grandchildren.
Through the film different interviewers ask her to comment on the political scene with one asking her for her reaction to President Donald Trump’s latest tweets and her response is always the same – no comment She doesn’t want people with different political viewpoints to turn away from listening to what she has to say.
Interestingly, when quizzed, she didn’t see herself as a feminist, though all her work points to equality in the sexes when it comes to sexuality. I couldn’t quite make sense of that.
I loved this film and I think that you will too. ASK DR RUTH is screening exclusively at the Randwick Ritz cinema from Thursday 5th December, 2019