Writing a Mother-Daughter Sex Column

It helps that they laugh a lot.

By Susie and Aretha Bright
Photograph: Illustration by Jameson Simpson.

Susie: I was asked to write a sex-advice column for Jezebel, a popular blog for young women. They think of me as the godmother of the feminist sex-positive movement, one of the old-timers from the ’70s and ’80s. The first question I opened was from a 19-year-old whose bashful boyfriend refused to have sex in anything but the missionary position, on grounds that it was “not normal.” I was ready to write him off; my patience for callow youth is gone. But my daughter said, “No, no, she just has to be a little clever.” Aretha came up with a solution, “the old back-rub trick”: Flip over, ask for a shoulder massage, start purring, and one thing will lead to another. Her prescription made me laugh so hard, I knocked over my laptop. “That does it,” I said. “You’re writing the column with me.”

Aretha: Our best columns came out of sitting on the bed in our pajamas, having immediate, funny reactions rather than trying too hard. I remember one or two TMI moments, but I wouldn’t say it was serious.

Susie: Yeah, we included those in our copy—“Mom, shut up!” “No, you!” Her generation is more modest than mine; Aretha rolls her eyes at my hippie nude sunbathing in the backyard. She’d listen to me parse a reader question on oral-sex gymnastics for only so long—and then she’d give me a hard stare, followed by a shout of “I can’t take this anymore!” But we never stopped laughing.

Aretha: I can talk to my mom about sex better than I can with anyone else. So the column never felt weird or adventurous; it was just another normal afternoon at our house.

Susie: After years of hearing my daughter’s ennui—“Oh, Mom, you and your sex-ed stuff”—I was surprised and proud to learn that she was even feistier than I am. She cared that readers put themselves first, that they be satisfied and not take any crap from a man. And we talked about details we wouldn’t have otherwise shared about ourselves because, after all, it was other people’s problems. Playing “Dear Abby” is a nice way to keep your privacy intact while learning how the other side really thinks!

An archive of the Brights’ column can be found at http://jezebel.com/tag/the-bright-spot.

To read Susie’s blog.

Originally published in the July/August 2010 issue of More.

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