You can’t work in the sexual health field without hearing about the pioneering work of Virginia Johnson. To honour her journey I am reposting The Australian post which shares a little about her life journey.
BEFORE she became famous as a pioneering sex researcher, Virginia Johnson was a twice-divorced mother of two who came to St Louis in 1957 looking for secretarial work.
She met William Masters, a prominent obstetrician-gynaecologist at Washington University School of Medicine. He asked whether helping with sex research would bother her.
“I can’t imagine why,” she answered. “But why does anyone need it?”
She had grown up on a Missouri farm and sex was no mystery – she took it for granted.
“Ginie” Johnson went from secretary to assistant to full research partner with Masters. According to her biographer, Masters told Johnson that her job would require having sex with him. They married in 1971.
They opened the Masters & Johnson Institute in St Louis and opened the world’s eyes to sexuality. They transformed knowledge about the human body and helped couples become more comfortable with sex.
They created the field of Sex Therapy.
Mary Virginia Masters, her legal name, died Wednesday at the Altenheim assisted living centre in south St Louis, said her son Scott Johnson of St Louis. She was 88.
Her role at the institute initially included gathering personal sexual histories and watching strangers copulate. She persuaded co-eds and staffers at Washington University to participate in sex studies.
They replaced prostitutes, whom Masters had initially enlisted.
The couple published their first book, “Human Sexual Response”, in 1966. Written in technical language, it unravelled myths and misconceptions about sexual functioning.
“It was a textbook on physiology and anatomy and dry as a dishwasher,” Virginia Johnson recalled in 2001.
But the subject matter was revolutionary at the time, and the world soon took notice. Before 1970, there was little in the way of useful help for people with sexual problems.
Couples from all over flocked to the clinic for help. Hugh Hefner put the Masters couple in Playboy magazine as experts on sexuality. Johnny Carson quipped about them on the “Tonight Show”. They were widely quoted in publications and their photos appeared in Life magazine.
They weren’t the first sex researchers; in the 1950s, Alfred Kinsey interviewed people to find out about their sexual habits.