A Response To Aura Bogado
by Susie Bright
June 09, 2005
This is a response to Aura Bogado's article "Hustling the Left" which appeared on ZNet on June 5, 2005.
Aura Bogado may think that I made a number of "incorrect assumptions" about her, but I think I had a better sense of her politics than she has made of mine. When Hustler called me and asked me to write a hit piece on her, I had enough sense to reply that they were out of line. I wish she might have given me the same benefit of the doubt. But no good deed goes unpunished, eh?
When a Hustler editor called me up and portrayed Bogado as a huge enemy to freedom of speech and sexual liberation, I said something along the lines of: "Oh Please." And that was knowing that her views on sexual politics were probably more conservative than mine.
I told Mr. Editor... and you can tell what an impression it made on me because I can't remember his name... that they were crazy and cruel to villainize her. I told them it made them look ridiculous to call her a "manhater," and accuse her of racism- or insist that she was trying to run them out of the antiwar movement. How absurd. It was definitely a case of Goliath clobbering David.
I assumed correctly that Bogado is a sincere feminist and longtime activist, a KPFK-type person, of which I am familiar because KPFK happens to be the first radio station I ever supported or broadcast on, when I was a feminist in high school in Los Angeles. I've worked with progressive public radio ever since.
I'm surprised that if Bogado is so sophisticated about Flynt, that she would then assume that the "interview" she read with me in a subsequent Hustler magazine was the whole truth, or an accurate picture of my views. Did she believe that stuff they write on the centerfolds too?
So why did I do any kind of interview at all, if I realized that it was going to be a game for them? Well, twenty some years ago, I wrote a story for Hustler that they published entirely intact. I've had lots of worthwhile conversations with people who consider themselves, or get labeled as pornographers, and I know the politics and intentions are all over the map. I was hopeful- and I'm embarrassed that the interview process turned out to be so manipulated and truncated. But anyone who read sit... and Aura is one of a handful... would probably not judge me as harshly as she did.
I've had friends who've worked at LFP, been fired by LFP, you name it. They are an extremely eccentric and contradictory chapter in the history of porn, both progressive and reactionary, sometimes simultaneously. It's always been interesting to me that although many institutions of the straight media have been guilty of flagrant bigotry and chauvinism in their pages, they don't get slammed the way sex periodicals do when they make similar editorial moves. It's a lot easier to sling mud at nekkid pictures.
I'll tell you what the funniest thing is about LFP's origins... they're long gone, they've been replaced by facsimile. LFP is the corporate gorilla in the sex world. It's not some grass roots proletariat staff promoting the working man's interests. There's the historical remnants of that, but it's more about the libertarian nouveau riche at the top, and the grumpy, beleagured employees. Welcome to the new boss.
Susie Bright in bed with millionaire Larry Flynt?--- Oh right, sure. I hardly know what to say, that's so ludicrous- like when the LFP editor got into a foam over the virulent "racism" he sees from "radical feminists" against white males. I'm mad at both parties for ripping on my integrity, and spreading the inflated rhetoric as thick as poster paste.
When Amy Goodman interviewed me for Democracy Now, it was a good show. And Amy's interview with Flynt was the first intelligent one I've seen with him in years. I told Goodman that it was bizarre to see how both Flynt and the Dworkin/MacKinnon faction seemed preserved in amber. Neither of them seem to have any idea that there's been a radical sexual liberation movement that superseded them, both artists and activists, who have redefined the very word "pornography." These same pioneers have written/performed/agitated on every sensitive matter of race, class, moral assumptions, family ties, you name it.
I didn't write a letter to respond to Hustler, because it's all just a big joke to them. And they really are in this pickle where no one is reading their copy except their enemies and litigants. But I am writing a letter to ZNet because I don't want to be described as a shill or some arrogant ditz in your pages.
As for the specifics:
I did say that Hustler is a 'deliberately proletariat' publication, with a 'working-class Southern flavor'- I was comparing it to Playboy and Penthouse in the 70s. I'm hardly the first person to write or speak about this.
As for being a "white feminist who conveniently avoids the issues of racism in Hustler raised by women of color"- Bogado doesn't know anything about my family, nor any challenge or convenience that has ever been presented in my life. She certainly isn't familiar with any of my written work about racism, class, and sexual representation. I may not know every detail about her life, but at least I was in the right ballpark.
As for any conjecture that Bogado would "end up in a room by herself" with her convictions, this statement was brought up in the following context: The LFP editor said that A.B didn't want them to be in any antiwar coalition that she was a part of. I said that anti-war coalitions bring together extremely strange bedfellows, which we last saw in the aftermath of Vietnam, where the Left split into a million pieces- because we never agreed about a whole lot except that one awfully important thing, peace.
If someone refuses to be part of an antiwar march because they don't want to march alongside communists, pornographers, church people, lesbian separatists, liberals, etc., then they are going to find themselves quite lonely. Another one of my not-so-original observations!
I have piles of faults, but Aura has not hit upon a single one of them- my earnestness for one. I may be at fault again for that by writing this letter to the editor, but it I don't want to be hit from both sides, a feather pillow in the War of the Roses.
(To prove Bright was lying about Hustler misrepresenting her Hustler published the "raw unedited version". They prove their point.)