Slate’s The Wrong Stuff has an great interview with Susie Bright. She’s one of my favorite writers, and quite the raconteur. The whole interview is well worth reading, and if you don’t know Susie Bright already, this is a great introduction to her style:
My first sexual experience, I went from never having kissed anyone, never having held hands, nothing, just me reading a story book and kissing my pillow, to a threesome where I did everything, all in one afternoon during the World Series.
That World Series line is the kind of detail that separates great writers from good ones.
They go on to discuss the current state of sex education, and sexual literacy more generally:
It has been impossible in this puritan country to be a scholar and an intellectual about sex. Do that at your peril. Look what happened to Kinsey; it wasn’t all accolades and flowers. People who’ve taken sex seriously haven’t gotten the same kind of recognition as, say, linguistics or mathematicians. It’s an essential of human nature, but if people have a moral agenda against it, they will trivialize it….
So I guess you’re saying things are not getting better.
We’re in retrograde right now. Sexual knowledge is the privilege of the highly literate, the highly educated, the bohemian. It’s esoteric.
Some people actually glorify that esoteric status—as if being in the dark or thinking that sex is dirty and bad is an important part of what makes sex sexy. Do you think there’s anything to that?
They don’t have a leg to stand on…. It’s prudery that kills people, not sexual education. When you look at what happens with AIDS and other places where sex was targeted as the illness, the vermin, the terror—over and over again, that kind of destruction is based on profound ignorance.
It sounds like what you’re saying is that the anti-sex impulse is also anti-intellectual.
Of course it is. It’s pro-ignorance, it’s anti-literacy. I used to describe my speaking tours as erotic literacy campaigns. I remember one of the first ladies, I think it was Nancy Reagan, was really big on literacy, and I was like: I’m going to be the first lady of erotic literacy. They’re anti-democratic and anti-intellectual, and they’re elitist.
And this on discovering exercise, which I completely relate to:
I never thought I would be athletic or take an interest in exercise or raising my heart rate other than dancing and having sex. Sometimes I admired other people’s physical prowess, but I was just like, “It hurts, it’s bullshit, it’s so stupid—
It’s a bourgeois institution.
[Laughing] It just wasn’t for me. I thought: I’m a bookworm, and I will never do that. And that has been proved wrong. I can’t believe I’m a runner. I still cannot believe that’s me. I never sweated like this in my life. I was 50 when I started becoming athletically active, and it’s been quite a shock to me.