On the night of Friday, April 10, 1998, the Tri-College community had the honorable opportunity to hear and see Susie Bright share her ideas at Haverford College. Susie sat at the front of the Sharpless Auditorium and gave an interesting, informal speech about herself and her books, and her opinions on sex. I took detailed notes of everything she said, which you can read below.
After her talk, she passed out index cards to the whole audience, asking everyone to answer a few poll questions and take the opportunity to write down questions we wanted to ask her. The following week, Susie then sent the results of the poll back to Abby & Abby (the Haverford students who organized the event), and they were kind enough to copy them for me to show you. After the event, I went up to the table where she was signing and selling her books. I introduced myself, and Susie said she had visited the Web page I had made in her honor. We chatted a little bit, and then gave me an autograph in a copy of her new book, Sexual State of the Union. She even gave me a hug! I'm thankful I got the chance to connect with Susie, a thinker who has many valuable concepts to share with the college campuses across the country -- and beyond.
A Summary of Susie's Talk at Haverford:
Ironically, while marriage before sex has been an issue of legislation, probably not a single legislator has done this. Abstinence has been integrated into educational programs, while pushing sexuality into certain categories. Sex is not merely about romance, marriage, and procreation.
Sex is also about creativity, self-expression, enlightenment, and pleasure.
In our age, there are many zines and web pages out about sexuality and women. But not in the day when On Our Backs was established. On Our Backs was started with "a conversation between dykes in a hot tub." They wanted to put out their voices. It was the first magazine put together by women addressing their sexual interests. (Playgirl is not about and for women; it is a male perspective.) They looked for women with sparks of sexual interest who were willing to express themselves.
"Have the balls to come forward with your ideas!"
"Stick your clit out!"
There should be a forum that spits in the face of the concept that there is only one way to be: to be respectable. The word promiscuity should be banished; it just means that someone has done it more than you. It's happening more now between young women too -- an attraction for degrading people for having sexual interests.
Before having sex, Susie had a full fantasy life. It started years before puberty. "It hit me how big sex was," she said. In school, it's only about disease and pregnancy prevention. There's a sense that you're never supposed to say anything about it. Yet at the same time, you're supposed to be the perfect lover when the lights go off.
"Lupin" was started in the 1930s. It was a nudist club started by a friend, Glen Stout. Guests would be ballroom dancing wearing only hats and pumps. Theories about sex are now more conservative than when he was young. Just look at what happened to Joclyn Elders (about emphasizing masturbation); it's quite depressing.
At a college campus a few states north [of Pennsylvania], you can't hold hands because it shows you're a slut. There the key thing is to say you are wasted when you hooked up. Yet alcohol should never be considered a requirement for sex!
There's a pregnancy prevention commercial with a tutu girl who says, "I'm not going to let sex ruin my career." It gives the sense that sex could derail you. "I defy all the people that made that ad," Susie declared.
Sex is not about swinging from chandeliers and gaining notches. Sex is about respecting your desires. Sex is beautiful and human and your birth right.
Sex is a scapegoat in many ways. Susie doesn't want her daughter to have an abstinence program in her school, for it would just implant the fetishistic idea that she's valuable in terms of her sexual innocence. Shame, anger and sinfulness are often associated with sex for many people. If young women really knew about their own sexuality, saying no would be a lot less complicated. When people who know what they want and are at ease with themselves say no, they know what they're saying.
"I've never felt as confident with my own sexuality as now," Susie said. Before, she knew how to come but didn't want to share it. Never gonna tell. But know she knows that showing and telling someone what turns you on in bed is the best thing to do.
The top complaint for heterosexual women: fucking without orgasms.
Bust is an On Our Backs for straight girls. It looks at all things that women want to do and change but are too scared to tell a man. The "little insecure girl" is secretive and not confident with herself. How one person is attracted to you has ZIP to do with how others are attracted to you. It's a mystery how some are attracted to others.
You have to appreciate the way young men are expected to initiate. Dykes don't fall into passivity. One of the best things about the lesbian side of life is taking risks and learning to handle denial.
"Can I use the dildo when you're done?" asked one woman to another at an orgy.
Puritanical prohibition is Susie's way, but she emphasizes not to overdo substances. Take chances to be yourself without relying on pot, alcohol, peyote, etc. Do something you haven't done before. Ask your partner to do things with you. Take risks (safely). Tune in to how others like it ("How should I lick your pussy?"). Don't just whip out tricks by the number. People change. You have the chance to see lots of people doing lots of things; watch videos, listen to tapes. talk to others, etc.
The gland of the woman's "cock" is at the top of the clit, but it extends down and inside. Anyone who wants to give good cunninlingus needs to pay attention to all the woman's plumbing. YOU HAVE TO ASK. A good partner wants to indulge their body and tell you what's going on.
Some people are tortured by the opposing forces of reputation and sexual desires, such as Bill Clinton. Yet sexual interests deserve as much respect as other parts. A holistic person can acknowledge all. Certain parts of San Francisco have communities of people very comfortable with their sexual practices.
Learn how to use the plastic stuff. Susie fooled around with a friend for the sole purpose of learning how to use plastic for oral sex, just to get the hang of it. She keeps a box of plastic gloves to use for entering -- fisting or anal. It goes much smoother and safer that way.
Have your own masturbation & safe sex party!
Figure out what works best for you and your own desires. With all the decision facing you, practice is the best way to figure it out. There are many thing open to women now to deal with their sexuality. There are campus groups for college students. 100s of women get together to talk and figure out how to have vaginal orgasms.
Can someone be spiritual and sexual? Yes! The problem is that many religions have rules regulating this, instead of respect for indiviual needs.
Abstinence is a political movement women and youth in the U.S. to make them feel shameful about their own sexuality. Susie said that there are times when she feels like wearing a t-shirt saying "Bad in Bed. Go Away. I Don't Care!" Yet the abstinence movement doesn't say that there are days that you don't feel like having sex; they are against it all, not emphasizing rest or even the joy of fantasies.
Don't push someone sexually when they're not ready for it. Susie reminded us that she's not saying all virgins should sit in the other room:
"I am for people having respect for desires and fantasies, and for their choice to make their own decisions to act them out."
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