Anne Koedt

Anne Koedt (born 1941)[1] is an American radical feminist and New York-based author of The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm,[2] a classic feminist work on women's sexuality.[1] She was connected to the group New York Radical Women and was a founding member of New York Radical Feminists.[3]

Anne Koedt
Born1941 (age 79–80)
OccupationRadical feminist
Known forCo-founder for the New York Radical Feminists
Notable work
The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm

Early life and familyEdit

Koedt was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1941. Her parents, Bobs Koedt (born Andreas Peschcke-Koedt) and Inger Koedt had been members of the Danish Resistance during World War II, harboring Jews in their basement until the refugees could be smuggled to Sweden. Her father was an architect and photographer who forged passports for leaders of the Danish Resistance. Born in Riverside, California, Bobs grew up outside of Copenhagen. Bobs was arrested and interrogated by the Germans and sent to Nazi headquarters, but survived unharmed. Due to her father's American citizenship, the Koedt family was able to easily immigrate to the United States and settled in San Francisco. Her father, suffering from depression and seizures, died by suicide shortly before his 80th birthday. Her mother is 104 years old and has lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for over 60 years. While having been raised Protestant, Inger has been active with the Jackson Hole Jewish Community.[4][5]


Koedt was a founding member of the New York Radical Women, an early feminist group begun in fall, 1967 which pioneered women's liberation through activism, such as disrupting the 1968 Miss America pageant, writing and publishing feminist work, and connecting personal issues to political oppression in the form of small-group consciousness-raising.[6] By late 1968, she also co-founded The Feminists, a strict feminist separatist group begun by Ti-Grace Atkinson after she left the New York City chapter of the National Organization for Women; other prominent members included Sheila Michaels, Barbara Mehrhof, Pamela Kearon, and Sheila Cronan. In 1969, Koedt left the Feminists to form the New York Radical Feminists (NYRF) with Shulamith Firestone. NYRF (not to be confused, as it often is, with the larger and older New York Radical Women, which was still meeting and whose membership was fluid and often overlapped with the smaller groups] was organized into small cells or "brigades" named after notable feminists of the past; Koedt and Firestone led the Stanton-Anthony Brigade. By 1970, conflicting factions within NYRF had driven both Koedt and Firestone out of the group they had founded and Koedt withdrew from organized activism, later commenting "I was done with groups after that."[7]


"The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"Edit

In 1968, Anne Koedt published her most influential work, "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm" in a radical-feminist journal from New York Radical Women's members, titled Notes from the First Year.[8] In the article, Koedt frankly challenged the dominant understandings of female sexual pleasure held by most medical and psychoanalytic experts of the time, who were almost exclusively male. In particular, the article took issue with the predominant Freudian account of female sexuality that discounted the clitoral orgasm as "juvenile" and viewed orgasm achieved through the vagina as the only "mature" form. Women who failed to achieve orgasm through penetrative, heterosexual intercourse were therefore labeled as dysfunctional or frigid by the professional community. In Koedt's view, this approach placed unfair blame on women for their lack of satisfaction during straight sex, inaccurately pathologized normal female sexual function, and caused many women to seek unnecessary psychoanalytic treatment for a nonexistent ailment rather than exploring techniques that would lead to a more pleasurable sexual experience. In support of her position, Koedt marshaled up-to-date research on the female anatomy and sexual response, including recent work by Alfred Kinsey and Masters and Johnson, to demonstrate that the clitoris, rather than the vagina, is the primary site of erotic stimulation. Koedt went on to argue that male chauvinism and the urge to maintain women in a subservient role were the primary driving force perpetuating misconceptions surrounding female sexuality.

The article was widely circulated in pamphlet form, inspiring many supporters to advocate for celibacy or to promote lesbianism as positive alternative to heterosexuality for women.[9] Other feminist readers were more critical, taking particular issue with Koedt's assertion that women who testified to experiencing vaginal orgasms were either confused due to lack of education regarding their own bodies or "faking it " so as not to offend their male lovers' egos.[10]

"Women and the Radical Movement"Edit

On February 17, 1968, Koedt delivered a speech regarding women's liberation and the role that radical women must play in the female revolution in order to change the overall fundamental concept of women. Koedt advocates for a systematic change, and urges radical women to challenge dominant/submissive dynamic that shapes the relationships between men and women. Koedt refers to women's issues and women's liberation as a social and political issue that has many similarities to the black power struggle. Koedt also touches on the topic of male supremacy and how to improve the condition of women as an oppressed group within society, highlighting the importance of fighting for women everywhere, not just within the radical movement. In her speech, Koedt calls for radical women to learn from history and from past revolutions in which women were a part of yet reaped none of the benefits, such as the American revolution and the Economic/Soviet revolution. The speech concludes that in order to change the basic structure of society which gives men power over women, women shouldn't support any revolution that aims to create change but does not care about the liberation of women from men's dominant position in society. It is not enough to improve secondary characteristics of freedom or to gain certain privileges, the real radical revolution must tackle the basic structure of female oppression within a patriarchal society.[11]

"Notes From the First Year"Edit

New York Radical Women compiled a group of feminist texts and speeches from their work in 1968 called "Notes From the First Year," which was edited by Koedt. The compilation included texts from Shulamith Firestone, Jennifer Gardner, Kathy Amatniek, and Koedt herself. Koedt's writings included The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm and "Women and the Radical Movement," the speech she gave at the Free University in New York City on February 17, 1968.[12]

Other writingsEdit

Koedt's December 1969 Politics of the Ego, A Manifesto for New York Radical Feminists was first published in Notes from the Second Year and later in her anthology Radical Feminism.[9] An excerpt from this manifesto continued to be circulated as part of the 1976 "Introduction to New York Radical Feminists" pamphlet until the NYRF post office box closed in 1989.

Koedt became the editor of Notes From the Third Year replacing Shulamith Firestone in 1972. Some feminist groups felt that the more radical feminist positions that had been previously included were edited out of this third edition.[13]


In 1978, Koedt became an associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP).[14] WIFP is an American nonprofit publishing organization. The organization works to increase communication between women and connect the public with forms of women-based media.

Selected WorksEdit

  • Koedt, Anne (1970). The myth of the vaginal orgasm. Somerville: New England Free Press. OCLC 2393445. Available online.
And also as an article: Koedt, Anne (1968). "The myth of the vaginal orgasm". Notes from the Second Year. OCLC 2265246.
Reprinted as: Koedt, Anne (1996), "The myth of the vaginal orgasm", in Jackson, Stevi; Scott, Sue (eds.), Feminism and sexuality: a reader, New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 111–116, ISBN 9780231107082.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Gerhard, Jane (Summer 2000). "Revisiting "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm": the female orgasm in American sexual thought and second wave feminism". Feminist Studies. 26 (2): 449–476. doi:10.2307/3178545. JSTOR 3178545.
  2. ^ Joannou, Maroula (2000), "From The Golden Notebook", in Joannou, Maroula (ed.), Contemporary women's writing: from "The Golden Notebook" to "The Color Purple", Manchester, UK / New York, US: Manchester University Press, p. 40, ISBN 9780719053399. Preview.
  3. ^ Echols, Alice (1989), "Appendix C: a guide to women's liberation groups (The Feminists)", in Echols, Alice (ed.), Daring to be bad: radical feminism in America 1967-1975, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, p. 388, ISBN 9780816617876. Preview.
  4. ^ "Centenarian feels lucky, is still enjoying life". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  5. ^ "Koedt still cooking as she nears 104". Jackson Hole News & Guide. Retrieved 2019-10-22.
  6. ^ "In Our Time: memoir of a revolution" by Susan Brownmiller, Dial Press, 1999, p. 20-21
  7. ^ Faludi, Susan (15 April 2013). "Death of a Revolutionary". The New Yorker. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  8. ^ Koedt, Anne (1968). "The myth of the vaginal orgasm". Notes from the Second Year. OCLC 2265246. Available online. Archived 2016-05-13 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ a b Thompson, Denise (1991). Reading between the lines: a lesbian feminist critique of feminist accounts of sexuality. Spinifex Press. ISBN 9780646041964. Details.
  10. ^ eck25 (14 June 2010). "A Reaction to Anne Koedt's "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm"". Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies Program, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 14 October 2015.
  11. ^ Koedt, Levine, Rapone (1973). Radical Feminism. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company. pp. 318–321.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ Koedt, Levine, Rapone (1973). Radical Feminism. Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company. p. 318.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. ^ Bouchier, David (September 1979). "The deradicalisation of feminism: ideology and utopia in action". Sociology. 13 (3): 387–402. doi:10.1177/003803857901300302. JSTOR 42853376.
  14. ^ "Associates | The Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press". Retrieved 2017-06-21.