by Rich Moreland, October 21, 2011
An icon is powerful. I’m not talking about those little symbols decorating our LCD’s. They’re the navigation instruments that propel us into the cyberspace universe that dictates our lives. The icon I’m referring to is that personage who is the object of adoration, that distinct individual who gives meaning to a cause, an issue, or the history of whatever we’re into at the moment.
There are sports icons, music icons, political icons, icons of every ilk. This includes feminists, but I’m not referring to academicians. Their job is to lecture at universities and impart their particular world vision to students who absorb their insights, if ever so tacitly. My feminist icons are a wee bit different; they are a part of a feminism that I adore, unabashed pro-sex, pro-woman, pro-fetish, and pro-porn.
I remember meeting my first one, Annie Sprinkle, at an American University conference a few years ago. One of my more liberal students tagged along; we sat through some mildly interesting seminars with the understanding that the final event, Annie’s talk, was the game for us that day.
We got to the auditorium early and I introduced myself to Annie while my Kodak enthusiastic student clicked away. During her talk, Annie was open with her thoughts; spoke of her sexual adventures, her disagreement with the anti-porn radical feminists of the old feminist sex wars, and her current passion for ecosexology. Her watchword was acceptance and love of others and herself, the most important lesson.
Afterward I spoke with Annie again. I had finished a brief bio of her for my research and conveyed it to her via email. I did not expect that she would have read it, but in truth she had and wanted to know why I had not included her victory over breast cancer. It was the first of a handful of kindnesses Annie has sent my way. On that early spring Saturday at a venerable university, she was truly the Annie Sprinkle I anticipated: overflowing with a gentle aura of wisdom that blossomed in the flower child she once was and shapes her philosophy today.
Later in an email to her Cub 90 mates, that feminist support group formed decades ago among a handful adult film actresses, she paid me the ultimate compliment, “He’s one of the good guys,” Annie wrote. I treasure those words.
A couple of years later I met another feminist icon, Susie Bright. I sought her out at a similar conference just to say “hello.” We had exchanged email communications but this was my first opportunity to actually meet her. Surviving in me is the little boy my mother so assiduously taught to be polite. Into my teenage years when raging hormones directed my attention to female bodies and thoughts of fornication, that politeness reinforced a natural shyness that has made me exceedingly deferential to women. Susie Bright, Annie Sprinkle? Believe me, it took courage.
If you know nothing of Susie’s genius let me recommend two books, both a bit dated but worth your time and what little money you’ll spend. The Sexual State of the Union (1997) is cultural wisdom spiced with political wit. Full Exposure (1999) should be read by anyone who is personally unforgiving of his or her sexual desires. In other words, our personal failure to achieve the erotic happiness that resides in the pantheon of rights we label as human is a tragedy. And that, if I don’t miss my guess, probably includes most of us. What did T.S. Eliot say in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?” We have,
“And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.”
Yet in the end, he insists, we are often left with a disillusioned life “measured out” with those ever famous literary “coffee spoons.”
A modicum of Susie Bright brilliance is enough to drive me forward in my writing and for this I am grateful. Words are movers of nations on a grand scale and attitudes on a personal one and hers far surpass mine, so I can only issue praise for an intellect and an icon I greatly admire.
In my deference to Susie’s insights, I must pay homage to a thought from Full Exposure. Susie references the tyranny of growing up in a society that remains culturally defined by Victorian sensibilities. She reminds us that from childhood we learn to “’keep our hands to ourselves;’” that “our naked bodies are flawed, that our desires and curiosities are dangerous.” The unmitigated truth of this admonition sucker punches our self-esteem like the country preacher who, to quote Jonathan Edwards, insists that we are sinners who must “fly out of Sodom” before the judgment comes.
Susie Bright is here to persuade us that we are responsible for however we wish to define our sexual self-image and are beholden to that judgment. Her message is bravery. If we can negotiate the tornadic activity of our desires, our sexuality will be swept and delivered into an erotic “Land of Oz” where we can skip along a golden path of alluring smells and touches. And if we are lucky, the Annie Sprinkles of our fantasies will welcome our intimate proclivities, whatever they are, with open arms.
Please read a little bit of Susie. It’s worth your time. I’d like to recommend her latest book, praising without having read a word of it. I have faith in Susie Bright; I know it will be terrific. This time she is trying her hand at a little history in The Erotic Screen, Vol. 1: The Golden Hardcore and the Shimmering Dyke-Core. It’s Kindle, no paperback version. I’m old school. I like the feel and pleasure of a real honest-to-God book. But I’ve discovered I can put it on my computer.
We’ll see. If I can make it work, I’ll come back with a review.
So, there you have it. Two iconic feminists who, if you pay attention, will nurture your sexuality with words and thoughts that will help you understand exactly how to make it all come together. And if successful, you can fly into Sodom if you dare.