Susan Gordon Lydon, 61, a writer launched by the counterculture of the 1960s who helped found Rolling Stone magazine, wrote a seminal feminist essay -- "The Politics of Orgasm" -- and later became a guru of knitting as a spiritual endeavor, died July 15 at a Florida hospice. She had cancer.
Mrs. Lydon, who lived in Oakland, Calif., was the author of three books, including the memoir "Take the Long Way Home" (1993) about her battles with heroin and other drugs, and "The Knitting Sutra: Craft as a Spiritual Practice" (1997), which addresses knitting as a form of meditation.
She also had been an editor and columnist for the Oakland Tribune before going on medical leave in late 2002.
She was a New York native. While majoring in history at Vassar College, she met Michael Lydon, a Yale student whom she married in 1965, the year she graduated. They moved to England, where Michael Lydon became a writer for Newsweek and Susan Lydon wrote for the magazine London Life.
They returned to the United States in 1967, arriving in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury in time for the full flowering of the counterculture in the Summer of Love. She dropped out of graduate school at San Francisco State and began to write freelance articles about rock bands.
Many of her assignments were for Sunday Ramparts, an offshoot of the radical journal Ramparts. She often wrote for its arts editor, Jann Wenner, who wanted to start a rock-and-roll newspaper. He launched Rolling Stone when Sunday Ramparts folded in 1967.
Journalism, even in the counterculture, was a lonely place for women. Mrs. Lydon recalled responding with an expletive when Wenner asked her to type address labels instead of write stories. After refusing the menial role, she not only wrote reviews and articles but served as an editor and production manager.
She left Rolling Stone after the birth of her daughter, Shuna, in 1968, as the women's liberation movement was beginning to stir. Mrs. Lydon attended one of the first consciousness-raising groups, which drew women into the feminist movement through intimate group discussions of their lives.
It was at one such meeting that a woman confided to Mrs. Lydon's group that she had never had an orgasm. When her confession spurred other members of the group to talk honestly about their sexuality for the first time, Mrs. Lydon decided that she wanted to write about the myths and realities of female sexual fulfillment, including why many women lied about climaxing during intercourse.
With "The Politics of Orgasm," published in Ramparts in 1970, Mrs. Lydon became one of the first in the women's movement to write about the predicament many women faced. "With their men," she wrote, "they often fake orgasm to appear 'good in bed' and thus place an intolerable physical burden on themselves and a psychological burden on the men unlucky enough to see through the ruse."
The provocative article, later anthologized in Robin Morgan's "Sisterhood Is Powerful," marked a new period in Mrs. Lydon's life. Her marriage broke up, and she moved to Berkeley with her daughter and a new lover. She began freelancing for other publications, including the Village Voice and the New York Times Magazine.
Survivors include her daughter; her mother; two sisters; and a brother.