inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #0 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Wed 3 Nov 99 23:11
    

Susie Bright is one of those people who can talk about sex without resorting
to euphemisms and without using her frank language to intimidate.  This is an
important and valuable skill.  In FULL EXPOSURE: OPENING UP TO YOUR SEXUAL
CREATIVITY & EROTIC EXPRESSION, Bright delivers a great deal of information
on a subject that is of universal interest but is very hard to talk about in
our weirdly prudish society.


Here are a few statements that I highlighted while reading the book:

"The puritans are suspicious of sex education because it leads to tolerance."

"Childbirth ... is the ultimate sex act.... If having someone make an
entrance to the world through your cunt isn't the last word in sexuality, I
don't know what is."

"Our language for sex -- the medicalized, the four lettered, and the roman-
ticized wordage -- is symptomatic of our apprehension about sex."

"Titillation is the American standard: first offer a peek, then slap the hand
that seeks too much."

"...everyone in a family is a sexual being, from the grandparents to tod-
dlers..."

"If you lie to your lovers to protect their feelings, you are first and
foremost protecting yourself from their reaction: anger, disappointment, in-
difference, whatever."

"What every citizen understands about kinky sex... is that this deviation,
whatever it is, is somehow making sex more intense and more pleasurable.
Someone is going to the moon on these sensations, someone is risking every-
thing to feel it again."

"The opposite of envy isn't carelessness, it's compassion."


Susie has written and edited many books of erotic fiction.  She's got a
regular column in Salon.  She's been around the WELL for years.

Susie, it's a pleasure to have you here in the Inkwell.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #1 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Wed 3 Nov 99 23:16
    

I'd like to begin by reposting a comment you made in the media conference's
HBO topic, regarding the series "Sex and the City":

> I do think it's the most explicitly sex-negative show on television ...
> the Catholic Church couldn't do a better job of scaring you celibate.

> Bushnell's orginal column in the Observer was never meant to be a ode to
> sexual liberation, it was a heartbreaking satire of how cruel and alienat-
> ing this particular group of people's lives are.  She was shocked to be put
> up in the media as the authoress of some new sex lib sensation.

> I don't think the characters on Sex in the City would have been made happy
> and fulfilled by keeping their virginity and holding out for a 10-
> Commandments kinda guy, loaded with cash, of course.  I can't watch the
> show because it makes me SO MAD that they completely dimiss and vaporize
> any notion of sexual joy or erotic intimacy with anyone.  You ever really
> 'get" why the girls continue to sleep around, other than in competition
> with each other. Their clitoris is a rueful punchline, not an inspiration
> or a basic foundation to their femininity.


Is there anywhere in the popular culture where sex is treated more
appropriately?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #2 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Thu 4 Nov 99 08:33
    
If you're talking about television, the only sexual honesty and erotic
savoir faire I see going on is animated, not live.  South Park, King of the
Hill, the Simpsons--  that's the only place where typical American sexual
attitudes and prohibitions get regularly roasted.  They're the only programs
where I'm laughting instead of cringing.

After my remarks about Sex in the City above, a lot of people posted in the
topic to the effect of saying:  HEY IT"S JUST A TV SHOW! DON"T GET ALL 'DAN
QUAYLE" on us now!"

Point taken, I do take these sit-coms way too seriously because they're
focussed on my topic!  I know lawyers who can't watch LAW &ORDER because it
just makes them irate, while I can watch all the episodes with dramatic
delight, except when they go after "pornographers"-- in which case I get
outraged all over again.

But you said "popular culture", and that covers a lot.  Certainly music,
independent cinema, theater, poetry, and many other forums have great and
original sexual ideas being put out there.  But that's the counter culture,
not Beverly Hills 90210.  You know, I like the sexual values of The Sopranos
more than Sex in the City, actually.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #3 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Thu 4 Nov 99 08:56
    

>I like the sexual values of The Sopranos more than Sex in the City, ac-
>tually.

Say more!
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #4 of 41: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Nov 99 11:36
    
A surprising amount of American tv and movies don't make sense if one
doesn't believe in monogamy.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #5 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Fri 5 Nov 99 16:47
    
I like the sexual rapport between the two middle aged stars of The Sopranos.
 It's the best one I've seen since the chemistry between the two leads of
"Jackie Brown."

You know what my favorite movie was lately with a POLYamourous relatioship?
The Irish movie called The General-- did you see that, Sharon?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #6 of 41: John Payne (satyr) Fri 5 Nov 99 17:21
    <scribbled by satyr Fri 5 Nov 99 18:24>
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #7 of 41: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Nov 99 17:27
    
No, I didn't, but I don't see too many first-run movies these days. It
was On the List but it's kind of a ways down.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #8 of 41: first be a good (satyr) Fri 5 Nov 99 18:24
    
> the only sexual honesty and erotic savoir faire I see going on is
> animated, not live.  South Park, King of the Hill, the Simpsons

Why do you think that is?  Does having candor spill from the mouths of
not-quite-anatomically-correct characters make it less threatening?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #9 of 41: Geno Paris (jesuschrist) Sat 6 Nov 99 06:53
    <scribbled by tnf Sat 6 Nov 99 09:03>
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #10 of 41: Phillip Burton (phi) Sat 6 Nov 99 07:06
    
Uh Oh.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #11 of 41: Mike Gunderloy (ffmike123) Sat 6 Nov 99 07:13
    
Hi Susie! How goes the revolution? (Pick a revolution of your choice
to discuss <g>)
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #12 of 41: Gail Ann Williams (gail) Sat 6 Nov 99 09:58
    
How goes the revolution fits in with what I was wondering...  not being up
to date on some of the tee vee cited, I have noticed that for the last two
nights Jay Leno's writers have provided him with gleeful putdowns of Al Gore
for hiring Naomi Wolf *because she advocates discussing masterbation in the
context of teachign kids about sex.*

We already saw this with J. Elders...   the ultimate safe sex and birth
control method is still NOT something people are ready to talk about.  Or is
that true?  Is this the process of revolution with a laugh-track?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #13 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Sat 6 Nov 99 11:45
    
satyr writes:
>Does having candor spill from the mouths of
 >not-quite-anatomically-correct characters make it less threatening?

Yes, that fact that it's satire, and that it's illustrated means that no
actual celebrity has to account for their behavior, no actor or actress
becomes identified with these ideas.  What's funny is that the public by and
large doesn't understand that the actors on any given sit-com have no more
control or identification with their characters than Bart Simpson.  They
perform a script, and the writers "draw' what comes out of their mouths, and
how they look on screen.

For example, people always ask me about the lesbian gossip and sexual
qualities of Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon, as if these two women embodied
the characters you saw on screen.

But they don't have secret lesbian lives at all, that's not why they were
cast! They're very good actresses, and they were directed within an inch of
their lives on this set, not one pinky moved that wasn't on the page.

  What you "saw" up there in the Bound story was a certain  personification
of me, Larry, and Andy Wachowski, but thank god you didn't see our bodies,
because everyone would have screamed in horror.  Still, that movie is about
OUR lesbian persona, not Jennifer and Gina's.

Gail writes:
>We already saw this with J. Elders...   the ultimate safe sex and birth
> control method is still NOT something people are ready to talk about.  Or
is
 >that true?  Is this the process of revolution with a laugh-track?

Well, politicians aren't ready to talk about it, that's for sure.  I think
most thoughtful people in healthcare are eager to talk about it, as well as
in the education field.

But  that prohibition is the particular American malaise where our leaders
won't endorse something if it conceivably could lead to pleasure.

 It's like advocating marijuana if you're in unspeakable pain, but not just
because you want to get high and eat a box of chocolate cookies while
laughing your head off.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #14 of 41: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 7 Nov 99 06:30
    
While you're talking about media representations of sex, I'd like t'hear
your take on 'Eyes Wide Shut.' I still don't know wtf it was that I
saw....
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #15 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Sun 7 Nov 99 13:38
    

And after you answer that one, I'd be interested in hearing about the
audience for "Full Exposure."  Who were you writing for?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #16 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Mon 8 Nov 99 13:59
    
I haven't seen  "Eyes Wide Shut," because the  film began its
release just as I began my book tour, which resulted in me not seeing
anything for months.  It really is part of my "job" to see movies like that,
or like "Romance", which is also on my  to-do list, so I am embarrassed that
I am so behind.

I did have an interesting take on the MARKETING of E.W.S..
I realized that by focusing on the celebrity titillation of the
two stars, the promoters were avoiding the premise of the script, which
given what I've seen of Kubrick, promised to be anti-erotic, not a stroke
fest by any means.

 My guess is that unless you are aroused by sheer nudity,
this movie was not a "feel-good, let's get it on" type of thing.  I am
anticipating that it will be rather cruel, actually, and not in the erotic
sense.

 I'm not saying this to imply that it is a poor film, it might be
excellent.   I was simply turned off by the advertising, because I think it
was
misleading and insulting:  Oh goodie, let's go watch Nicole Kidman take her
top off.   That's not why Kubrick made the movie, I'm sure.  On  the other
hand, who was it that said bare breasts are the cheapest special effect in
Hollywood?

RE: my audience for Full Exposure:

 Every book I write I do think of as a
continuing conversation with the readers who have followed me so far.
Obviously there will be new readers who haven't been tuning into my thoughts
like a soap opera.  When I began F/X, I wasn't so much thinking about
WHO it was for, as I was thinking that I wanted to take a more personal, and
timeless approach to some sexual issues that cover a lifetime.  I was
interested in the philosophical more than the strictly political.

 I just got a letter from an editor friend of mine, Joe Maynard,  today, and
he said
something interesting about Full Ex:

" Almost every point of discussion in this book could be applied to elements
of lifestyle far beyond the realm of sexuality. It was more of a non-
conformist manifesto . You hippie! You brisket-eating hippie....

 ( He says this last line because I made him take me out to a deli when I
was in NYC so I could pig out.)
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #17 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Mon 8 Nov 99 14:38
    
I agree with Joe!

And I think this is the sort of book that kids should read.  As I said in the
topic intro, there's a lot of material in here that seems so commonsensical
once you see it on the page, but the subject matter is so fraught that it
must be a great relief to see it right there on the page.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #18 of 41: Ron Hogan (grifter) Mon 8 Nov 99 15:26
    

I'd be interested in your take on "Romance," Susie. I thought it
excruciatingly bad, and the protagonists so-called sexual crisis
a ridiculous problem of her own making.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #19 of 41: John Payne (satyr) Mon 8 Nov 99 17:46
    <scribbled by satyr Mon 8 Nov 99 17:47>
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #20 of 41: Indra Sinha (indra) Wed 10 Nov 99 03:59
    <scribbled by indra Wed 10 Nov 99 09:17>
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #21 of 41: Indra Sinha (indra) Wed 10 Nov 99 09:39
    
"Childbirth ... is the ultimate sex act.... If having someone make an
entrance to the world through your cunt isn't the last word in
sexuality, I don't know what is."

"Our language for sex -- the medicalized, the four lettered, and the
romanticized wordage -- is symptomatic of our apprehension about sex."

Hi Susie, apropos these quotes from your book cited by David at the
start of the topic, "cunt" has been called "the most offensive word
left in the language" (Megan Gressor, 1993, Sydney Morning Herald). 

Germaine Greer in "The Female Eunuch" says, "Part of the modesty about
the female genitalia stems from actual distaste. The worst name anyone
can be called is cunt.' 

This perhaps fits with what what you call "our apprehension about
sex", but there are dozens of names for the female genitalia - quim,
pussy, twat, etc - and none of them has the same shock value.

Why is "cunt" so taboo? From where does its power come?

(NB This is a slightly amended version of the message I scribbled.)
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #22 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Wed 10 Nov 99 17:42
    
I wrote a book a couple years ago that included a whole chapter called
"CUNT", and I was so curious about the word's background that I asked my
dad, a linguist, to tell me what he knew about it. Here's what he told me:

"there are related words in Dutch and the Scandinavian languages.  So it has
proabably been in English for as long as the language has existed.  The
oldest printed occurance is from 1230, when a list os streets in London
included "Gropecunt Lane".  That suggests that the word was not particularly
taboo at the time.  In 1400 a medical textbook says: 'In wymmen the necke of
the bladdre is schort, and is maddfast to the cunte'--- so apparently is was
respectable terminology then.  But in 1622 I found a source which jokingly
spells it as 'sunt', suggesting that there was a some taboo associated iwth
it at that time.

"It's interesting that use of the word as an insulting term, not for the
body part but for a human being, is quite recent. The oldest printed record
is only from 1929: 'What's the cunt want to come down 'ere buggering us aout
for...?'  I can't tell whether the reference is to a woman or a man.  But in
1932, George Orwell used it in referring to a man:  'Tell him he's a cunt
from me.' "

I included all this in my photography book, NOthing But the Girl, as my
intro to the subject!  I'll continue in the next post...
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #23 of 41: David Gans (tnf) Wed 10 Nov 99 17:46
    

And what do you think of my contention that the most dangerous image in all
of western civilization is the erect penis?
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #24 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Wed 10 Nov 99 17:50
    
My introduction to the word 'cunt' came during my puberty, and first
exposure to radical feminism, where, since you mention Greer, I was reading
the Female Eunuch and taking up her dare to taste my mentstrual blood.  I
was thrilled with things like The Cunt Coloring Book, and Betty Dodson, and
all the dykey "reclaiming" of dirty words as a sort of militant rebuttal to
ladylike perspiration about what goes on "Down There."

It's interesting that the British are much more comfortable with this word
as a casual insult, usually between men. It's rough language, but not
absolutely beyond the pale.  I was interviewed recenlty by the NY Observer
about the word CUNT was making such a splash on Broadway in some British
play, and seemed to be gaining some American respectability, at least in the
hip crowd.  i asked the interviewer how old he was, because as I explained,
this was hip alrady with Dykes, Henry Miller, Beatniks, and assorted other
bohemians.

I dont' use the word every time I refer to pussy-like subjects, but I do
like it.  And I am so sick of people putting motherhood on non-sexual
Madonna ground, that I deliberately used it above to emphasize the sexual.
  
inkwell.vue.54 : Susie Bright
permalink #25 of 41: Susie Bright (sueb) Wed 10 Nov 99 17:52
    
David slipped in.  Gosh, it's such a toss-up between erect penises and wet
throbbing cunts I can hardly make up my mind which is more taboo!
  

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