June Dobbs Butts, Sex Therapist Who Preached Frankness, Dies at 90
June Dobbs Butts, a intercourse researcher and therapist who argued for larger frankness amongst African-Americans about points that have been usually thought of taboo, died on May 13 at a care facility in Johns Creek, Ga. She was 90.
Her daughter, Florence Johnson, stated she died a number of days after having a stroke.
Dr. Butts was by many accounts the primary African-American to coach and apply at William Masters and Virginia Johnson’s famed institute in St. Louis, and she or he introduced their trendy, uninhibited view of intercourse remedy to black sufferers within the 1970s. A 1980 profile in The Washington Post, revealed after Dr. Butts had established her personal apply in Maryland, stated that “at Masters and Johnson, all of her patients were white; now 90 percent of them are black.”
Dr. Butts advocated sincere dialogue of matters like masturbation, bisexuality and gender reassignment. She hosted a short-lived radio call-in present in Washington and wrote articles for magazines like Jet and Ebony and a column, Our Sexual Health, for Essence within the late 1970s.
Not everybody was receptive to her concepts at first.
“When I first wrote the column, I sent a copy to one of my sisters,” Dr. Butts instructed The Post in 1980. “I didn’t hear anything. Finally I asked her what she thought. You know what she said? ‘Well, to tell you the truth, June, it turned my stomach. I didn’t think black women would write about things like that.’ ”
Dr. Butts pressed on. She wrote concerning the want for African-Americans to embrace intercourse training and to debate sexual points with their kids; the danger of AIDS and the way greatest to mitigate it; and the issues brought on by a scarcity of scientific and scientific analysis on African-American sexuality.
By the late 1990s she had seen some modifications.
“I increasingly hear African-Americans in their 20s and 30s seriously discussing their sexual relationships,” she wrote in Ebony in 1997. “These modern young Black couples should be applauded and encouraged, for they are moving in the right direction. By discussing honestly the pleasures and the pitfalls of sex — which any mature relationship is bound to encounter — they assess their attitudes not only about sex, but about values like privacy and decency.”
June Selena Dobbs was born in Atlanta on June 11, 1928, the sixth and youngest baby, all daughters, of John Wesley and Irene (Thompson) Dobbs. Her father was a postal clerk who protected mail on the railroad, in addition to a civil rights activist and a political chief of Atlanta’s black neighborhood; her mom was a homemaker. Martin Luther King Jr. was one in every of June’s playmates.
She earned a level in sociology from Spelman College, the traditionally black girls’s school in Atlanta from which all of her sisters graduated, within the late 1940s, after which a grasp’s diploma from Fisk University in Nashville, the place she met Dr. Hugh Butts, a distinguished psychoanalyst.
They married in 1953 and moved to New York City, the place she volunteered with Planned Parenthood, an expertise that sparked her curiosity in human sexuality. She and her husband divorced within the early 1970s, after she accomplished a doctorate in household life training from Teachers College at Columbia University.
In addition to her daughter, Dr. Butts is survived by a son, Eric, and a granddaughter. Another daughter, Lucia Butts, died in 2011. One of Dr. Butts’s sisters, Mattiwilda Dobbs, grew to become a coloratura soprano and a principal singer with the Metropolitan Opera and died in 2015.
Dr. Butts met Masters and Johnson at a convention on the University of Notre Dame within the 1970s. They invited her to affix them in St. Louis on the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation (later renamed the Masters and Johnson Institute), and she or he studied their intercourse remedy methods there for 18 months. She went on to work with them for a time earlier than persevering with a instructing and analysis profession that included stints at New York University, Fordham University, the Howard University College of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In a 1983 profile in Ebony, Dr. Butts was quoted as saying that she had recognized that her chosen discipline had its detractors, however that she had resolved to disregard them.
“I realize that there are a lot of critics,” she stated, “but I’ve found out that nine times out of 10 they have a sex hang-up themselves.”