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Susie Bright

An interview with Susie Bright


Susie Bright

Photo credit:Jill Posener

I gather from your brand new Twitter account that you were less than pleased with the recent New York Times coverage on sexual desire. I heard this complaint from so many quarters. There seems to be such a huge divide between people who devote their lives to writing and thinking about sex and those for whom it is a token assignment. So I have two questions here: First, why do you think the coverage of sex is so bad, and second, how do you think we can improve mainstream coverage of sex?

The Times in particular, and New York publishing in particular, is a wee bit behind the curve when it comes to sexuality. Everything avant garde about sexual politics has come out of California and the North West since the 70s. They have no role models or traditions in their institution, The Times, to discuss sexuality or erotic expression. It's as if you want to take the whole building and make them do SFSI (San Francisco Sex Information) training. They don't even have a vocabulary. They are erotically illiterate. They don’t make interdisciplinary connections. It's also done with a lot of cynicism, because they know sex sells their paper, they're under pressure to cook something up, and they usually have a book or film that’s coming out whose promotion fuels the whole special section.

I find their best coverage on sex in places where sex is a secondary discussion. Like in Fashion, or some random book review, or travel, or dining out. When the reporter doesn't think anyone's looking for it.

The solution, of course, is to raise the bar and make them meet us, which is happening. They are competing with bloggers.

Nina Hartley has said that if we lived in a completely sexually healthy society there wouldn’t be any porn (or at least not porn as it is today). Do you have a vision of what America would be like if we had our sexual stuff together?

I know what she means: "Porn" wouldn’t be the vaguely illicit category it is today. Erotic interest would be integrated in art and culture like any other basic part of human creativity. You'd still have specialty interests, you know, but it wouldn't be ghettoized. The guilt factor would be a historical note! Nina and I like to think about such utopias as escape fantasies!

One way of putting it, is when you are with your friends who are sexually aware and empathetic, you know the ease you feel, the fun, the humor, of not having to bite your tongue, etc. Well, just imagine that writ large.

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