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No More Nice Girls

Countercultural Essays

Ellen Willis

Publication Year: 2012

With characteristic intelligence, wit, and feminist insight, Ellen Willis addresses democracy as she sees it: “a commitment to individual freedom and egalitarian self-government in every area of social, economic, and cultural life.” Moving between scholarly and down-to-earth activist writing styles, Willis confronts the conservative backlash that has slowly eroded democratic ideals and advances of the 1960s as well as the internal debates that have frequently splintered the left.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

...my abortion rights zap group No More Nice Girls, the infamous Barnard Conference Planning Committee, and other advocates of feminist sexual revolution whose ideas about sex, gender, and feminism have influenced and challenged my own, with special appreciation to Ann Snitow,...

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Introduction: Identity Crisis

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pp. xi-23

...ast year I attended a feminist conference in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia,up the country and mutilate the city in the name of nationalism. The conference, which brought women from all over Eastern Europe and the United States, was the first gathering of its kind in the East, a historic event. We introduced ourselves by name and place. For the...

Part 1: No More Nice Girls

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pp. 1-25

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Lust Horizons: Is the Women's Movement Pro-Sex?

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pp. 3-14

My nominations for the questions most likely to get a group of people, all of whom like each other and hate Ronald Reagan,into a nasty argument: Is there any objective criterion for healthy or satisfying sex, and if so what is it? Is a good sex life important? How important? Is abstinence bad for you? Does sex have any intrinsicrelation to love? Is monogamy too restrictive? Are male and female...

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Nature's Revenge

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pp. 15-18

...the issue eliciting the most passionate public outrage from feminists should be not abortion, not "pro-family" fundamentalism, but pornography? The fervor with which some feminist activists have rallied against smut is more than a little ironic, for opposition to pornography is also a conspicuous feature of the new right's program. Further-...

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Toward a Feminist Sexual Revolution

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pp. 19-50

... perhaps some indication of the complex, refractory nature of my subject that this is the third version of my preface to the article that follows—itself the third revision of what began as a talk at a feminist conference in 1981. At that time, feminists were just beginning to engage in a passionate, explosive debate—or rather, a series of over-...

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The Last Unmarried Person in America

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pp. 51-55

...of its provisions merely took care of old, long overdue business—abolishing divorce, enabling local communities to prosecute single people as vagrants, requiring applicants for civil service jobs to sign offense, and so on—two revolutionary clauses cleared the way toward making a reality of what had until then been an impossible dream:...

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Peace in Our Time? The Greening of Betty Friedan

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pp. 56-63

...he classic blind spot of liberals is their faith that all social con-the différences, whatever the imbalance of power between opposing parties, one need only apply ingenuity and good will, reject "extremists on both sides," and the lion will sit down with the lamb. No matter how many lambs get eaten, liberals never learn. Faced with an...

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Marriage on the Rocks

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pp. 64-74

...cause of divorce. "Marriage," I say. I get a laugh, but a nervous one. For the first time in history, marriage has become, for masses of people, a voluntary association rather than a social and economic necessity; as both a cause and a consequence of this development,divorce has become an increasingly ordinary fact of life. It is still the...

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Putting Women Back in the Abortion Debate

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pp. 75-93

...group of liberals and lefties, feminists and gay activists, but on onepoint nearly all of us agreed: the right-to-life movement was a danger-ous antifeminist crusade. At one session I argued that the attack onabortion had significance far beyond itself, that it was the linchpin ofthe right's social agenda. I got a lot of supporting comments and ap-...

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Looking for Mr. Good Dad

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pp. 84-89

...will always have power over women and the will to exploit it, that if things change it can only be for the worse. But since few people can live entirely without hope, she tends to displace hers onto the past.For the feminist's Utopian vision, she substitutes a romantic nostalgia for patriarchal paternalism; she imagines that by pursuing freedom...

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From Forced Pregnancy to Forced Surgery

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pp. 90-100

...or once I did not feel isolated in my outrage: the courts ruled, and virtually everyone agreed, that in the Nancy Klein case the right-to-life movement had gone too far. A stranger purporting to represent the fetus of a comatose woman and challenging her husband's right to authorize an abortion on her behalf so violated accepted canons of privacy that...

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Sisters Under the Skin? Confronting Race and Sex

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pp. 101-116

...more basic determinant of social identity. This started an intense discussion: if someone shook us out of a deep sleep and demanded that we define ourselves, what would we blurt out first? The black woman I'm not sure it makes sense to say that one social division is more absolute than another. I wonder if it isn't more a matter of different...

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Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism

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pp. 117-150

...was a radical feminist activist in the late '6os. Today I often have the odd feeling that this period, so vivid to me, occurred fifty years ago, not a mere fifteen. Much of the early history of the women's liberation movement, and especially of radical feminism (which was not synonymous with the w.l.m. but a specific political current within...

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Feminism Without Freedom

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pp. 151-158

...that flew our way, along with "man-hater" and "lesbian," was "bourgeois individualist." Ever since, left criticism of the movement has focused on one or another version of the argument that feminism (at least in its present forms) is merely an extension of liberal individualism and that, largely for this reason, it is a movement of, by, and for white upper-middle-class career...

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Rebel Girl: What De Beauvoir Left Us

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pp. 159-164

...had wanted to go, but couldn't make it, so I heard about it from a friend: Ti-Grace Atkinson talked about going to de Beauvoir's funeral, women spoke about her impact on their lives, someone read a message from Shulamith Firestone. Listening to this account, it occurred to me that in a way my relationship to de Beauvoir had always been secondhand, mediated...

Part 2: Exile on Main Street

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pp. 165-189

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Escape from New York

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pp. 167-193

...Americans, long-distance buses are the transportation of last resort. As most people see it, buses combine the comfort of a crowded jail cell with the glamor of a liverwurst sandwich. Though I can't really refute that assessment, I don't really share it, either. As a student with lots of time, little money, and no driver's license, I often traveled by bus. Un-American...

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The People's Picasso

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pp. 194-199

...Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art is, among other things, a reminder of the convoluted relation between so-called high art and mass culture. It's the best attended art exhibition ever; by the time it ends on September 30 more than a million people will have seen this definitive collection of works by the man who, in the popular...

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Sins of Confession

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pp. 200-205

...confession, as a literary genre, is based on one simple convention: the writer purports to admit to the reader (who may represent society at large, or a particular segment of it) some act or sentiment that the reader can be expected to find immoral, shameful, and/or shocking. The implicit claim of the confession is that the writer is braving condemnation, ridicule, ostracism to tell us something important; its implicit...

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Ministries of Fear

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pp. 206-210

...to all the Ramboid crowing that our guys finally got them some terrorists, punctuated here and there by party-pooping moralizing about how we should really be attacking the conditions that lead to terrorism, you would hardly know that the Achule Lauro hijacking was a specific act, with its own particular purpose and logic (or lack of it). As far as the government and the media are concerned, it's simply one more example...

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Exile on Main Street: What the Pollard Case Means to Jews

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pp. 211-218

...Jonathan Jay Pollard was sentenced to life in prison, I hought we were in for some national psychodrama, and perhaps some nasty politics. It didn't happen. If you're reading this article because you're angry about (or at) Pollard, you're probably Jewish. If, on the other hand, you're thinking, "Pollard? Oh yeah, one of those spy scandals—was there..

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The End of Fatherhood: Family Plots

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pp. 219-226

...veers quickly away from that scene, keeping the audience a safe cjistance from the horror, preferring to concentrate on Garp's eccentric but suitably heartwarming mom. In the climactic scene of Shoot the Moon—made in 1982,, the same year as the sanitized Garp—a man who has left his family deliberately...

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Andy Warhol, ?-1987

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pp. 227-229

...me interested in Pop Art a couple of years earlier. We didn't know Warhol personally and weren't trying to visit him. We just went and hung around waiting for news. I don't remember the details, only the conviction that we had to be there and the feelings of love and alarm about pop culture that artists whose mass-mediated personas were at...

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In Defense of Offense: Salman Rushdie's Religious Problem

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pp. 230-234

...devout Moslems are absolute truths and sacred writings as if they were simply the stuff of myth, a narrative like any other, fair game for his irreverent imagination. Islamic governments ban the book; in other countries political pressure and threats of violence lead to its suppression; Moslem demonstrators hold book burnings. Finally, in...

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Beyond Pluralism

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pp. 235-239

...deceptively unassuming, anti-ideological voice—about how to conceive of and move toward freedom; an argument that could hardly be more relevant to the debates among American radicals. Which is why I found myself scribbling notes in the margins, arguing back, and in general doing the sorts of things I do when a writer prods me to check out familiar...

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Now, Voyager

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pp. 240-243

...was a kid, I loved the Hayden Planetarium. I don't jiow what it's like now, but the show used to begin with a simulated sunset. Gradually the sky would darken and the stars come out, till I was sitting engulfed in a night more absolute, dusted with lights infinitely more numerous and brilliant, than the ordinary city nightscape could ever be. It was thrilling no matter how many times I saw it. I read to death...

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The Drug War: From Vision to Vice

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pp. 244-248

...out from my work-ridden, pressured, scheduled dailiness, my daughter asleep in her stroller, I found myself thinking, "This would be a beautiful place to trip." A weirdly anachronistic thought—I haven't taken any psychedelic drugs in 15 years and have no serious desire to do so now. Even if I could negotiate the unencumbered 24 hours or so I always needed to go...

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The Drug War: Hell No, I Won't Go

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pp. 249-254

...enlisted public sentiment in a popular war. The president's invocation of an America united in a holy war against drugs is no piece of empty rhetoric; the bounds of mainstream debate on this issue are implicit in the response of the Democratic so-called opposition, which attacked Bush's program as not tough or expensive enough. (As Senator Biden—fresh from his...

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Coming Down Again

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pp. 255-270

...I looked it up. There it was in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell," the "Proverbs From Hell" section, directly following "Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead": "The road of excess leads to ..." etc. No matter, I realize the poet is playing devil's advocate; anyway I'm willing to concede that Faith is more of an expert on the subject than I (or...

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Epilogue: The Neo-Guilt Trip

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pp. 271-274

...sentiment too often to dismiss it as new-decadespeak; a real collective attack of conscience seems to be coming on. And I have to say that even as I stand on line to order my Donald Trump dart board, this nouveau guilt makes me nervous. The image it brings inexorably to mind is that of a compulsive eater about to enter the vomiting phase of a binge-purge...

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Permissions

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pp. 275-276

Most of these essays first appeared in The Village Voice., © Villageoriginally appeared in The New York Times Book Review] "Toward a Feminist Revolution" (in somewhat different form) inSocial Text; "Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism" (in a slightly longe rversion) in The '6os Without Apology, éd. Sayres, et al., University of...

Index

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pp. 277-281


E-ISBN-13: 9780816682348
E-ISBN-10: 0816682348
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816680795

Page Count: 282
Publication Year: 2012