Susie Bright is a writer, sex educator, editor, feminist and all-around rabble-rouser. And she's coming to St. Louis! You can check her out at a signing for her latest work, the autobiographical "Big Sex Little Death
" at Left Bank Books' Central West End
location on Sunday April 17 at 4 p.m., or check out her parenting workshop at Shameless Grounds, LLC
at 11:30 a.m. April 18.
recently caught up with the author and icon between tour stops for the book, which details her coming of age and radicalization during the labor, anti-war and feminist movements; through founding "On Our Backs," the country's first lesbian erotica magazine; up to parenthood and onward.
Daily RFT: How's the tour been? You've been to Detroit, Ann Arbor and New York.SB:
In Detroit and Ann Arbor we discussed labor and sex interchangeably --
there's no having to break people into a little taste of class
consciousness. If you're living in Detroit, you're a hardcore
homesteader who has to fight to get water and electricity.
York, you know where all the money went. You can start to understand
that there's people who don't realize parts of this country are falling
apart. The questions about feminism and sexuality there were much more
like luxury items than the down-to-earth questions I had.Do you struggle for legitimacy as a writer because people want to box you off as "the sex lady?"SB:
The pet peeve of the tour is when even positive reviews of the book --
and this has happened to other women who write about sexuality -- they'll
say, "surprisingly well-written." Oh my God, we were so surprised and in
If you had been reviewing a man who's published 31 books and had
significant impact on his genre, would anyone say it was surprisingly
well-written? No one would say this about Dan Savage, Norman Mailer,
Roth, Updike. It's a tangent of the dumb-blonde thing.
gender. Men do it all the time. There's autobiographies every day where
people are forthright and they delve into quite a wide range of
experiences. When it is a man author and he talks about sex, sometimes
he gets teased, but it's considered literary. With a woman, it's more
scrutinized and fetishized. Certainly being "the sex lady" adds to my
dilemma. But the thing is, I have a lot to say!
It's something I
do to try to break through the portrayal of sex as just some sort of
titillation and fakery and a tease to get you to buy something. It's
very consumerism-oriented: If you buy this, you will be sexy and get
laid, but here's one more thing you have to buy. It's just all Madison
Avenue jibber-jabber and false titillation. When people ask me, "Do you
think our culture is saturated in sex?" I say, "Really? Really
Tell me the last authentic sexual experience you've seen portrayed." It
wasn't in a Top-40 song or a Hollywood movie, that's for sure.How has the Internet changed sexuality -- with more access to different facets of it, are people better off?SB:
Because the Internet emerged in a place that wasn't constrained, it was
like, anything goes. That's the cradle of it. It still influences what
we see and hear on the 'net. You do get some amazingly highbrow in-depth
researched discussions you wouldn't see anywhere else.
also get rubbernecking porn -- that little kid who thinks it's hilarious
to examine the contents of his diaper. "Oh my God, there's someone with
a corn cob up their orifice, everyone come look!" That doesn't have
anything to do with being aroused.
What I believe is, if you can
get through the diaper period, everyone gets to grow up. You're ready to
be grown up and sophisticated about everything that turns on your
If you're going to create barriers and
elitism [on the Internet], you are never going to have a massive
developmental shift up in terms of developing consciousness about
sexuality: We'll keep playing the same poopy record.
immune to the charms of basic sexual pleasure. It's not that I like to
sit around and read post-modern essays on sex, and everyone is is such a
boor. I wish there were more basic pleasures represented in mainstream
culture. It's just that sex is being used to drive consumerism -- it's
the least sexy thing of all.
You're running a workshop on parenting. What's it like being a sex-positive parent in a puritanical society?
The first time I wanted to write a book on this very subject -- it
became Mommy's Little Girl, -- I approached a long-time editor who said
"Susie, you cannot be a mother and a sex goddess at the same time."
Really? That's so ironic -- guess how I got to be a mother?
am doing a workshop and discussion. I call it the "Mom Sex Diary: How
Raising Kids Changes our Sex Lives and Foretells Our Childrens' Future."
Whether you've been married twenty years to the person you met in sixth
grade or you are poly[amorous], everyone who becomes a parent deals with their
sex lives changing and watching their kids grow up. How am I influencing
them? Do I want to influence them? Are they going to be sane about
their sex lives? Can I have a voice in that? There's so many different