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The Lewinsky interview was, for network television, an extraordinary event. Drawn out by Barbara Walters’s alternately stern and sympathetic prodding, a vividly telegenic (plumpness notwithstanding) and self-possessed young woman firmly defends her sexuality and that of her former lover, who happens to be President of the United States. Despite the havoc, both national and personal, that ensued, she cannot bring herself to regret her passion, her pleasure or her boldness in pursuing the affair. She is still excited by the memory of Mr. Clinton’s ”energy” and ”sensuality.” She describes the progression from intense eye contact to first kiss as ”a dance,” the notorious thong-flashing incident as a ”subtle, flirtatious gesture” that meant ”I’m interested too. I’ll play.” She recalls her efforts to persuade the President to have intercourse. If her subtlety is in doubt, her exuberant lustiness is not. It’s easy to see why Mr. Clinton was attracted.
Did you know that Ellen Willis was OBSESSED with Monica Lewinsky? (There are many pages in “The Essential Ellen Willis” devoted to why she and her affair with Clinton were so fascinating.) Bet you a million dollars that she’d be up at dawn tomorrow buying the new Vanity Fair. She’d definitely be enjoying, and probably participating in, our retrospective look at Monicagate this week.
May 7, 2014 / 6 notes
flavorpill:


Liberal politics is in trouble. In the few years since Occupy Wall Street came and went, attracting plenty of news coverage but effecting little lasting change, a commitment to liberal politics feels increasingly futile — not to mention dreary as fuck.
This is a necessarily oversimplified version of the problem Ellen Willis identified in her final, most ambitious, and tragically unfinished work. A book project with the working title “The Cultural Unconscious in American Politics,” it promised to use psychoanalysis to rescue the nation’s political imagination from the conservative hell into which it descended after the radical ’60s.

Feminism and “The Left” Need Ellen Willis’ Ideas More Than Ever

Razor-sharp piece on Mom’s ideas about the cultural unconscious by Judy Berman!
May 7, 2014 / 64 notes

flavorpill:

Liberal politics is in trouble. In the few years since Occupy Wall Street came and went, attracting plenty of news coverage but effecting little lasting change, a commitment to liberal politics feels increasingly futile — not to mention dreary as fuck.

This is a necessarily oversimplified version of the problem Ellen Willis identified in her final, most ambitious, and tragically unfinished work. A book project with the working title “The Cultural Unconscious in American Politics,” it promised to use psychoanalysis to rescue the nation’s political imagination from the conservative hell into which it descended after the radical ’60s.

Feminism and “The Left” Need Ellen Willis’ Ideas More Than Ever

Razor-sharp piece on Mom’s ideas about the cultural unconscious by Judy Berman!

When I playacted with my girl friends, I always wanted a boy’s part. And my model was my father, who drew me diagrams of magnets and the digestive system, not my mother, who intruded on my life of the mind by making me dry the dishes. Later on things got more complicated. On one level I was determined to prove that except for a little accident of hormones, I was a perfectly good man: I was going to be a famous writer/actress/scientist. Domestic chores were contemptible (I would have servants, since I couldn’t have a wife), and children—who needed them? Women were pretty contemptible too, except those happy few of us who were really men.

At the same time, without any feeling of absurdity, I worked obsessively at making myself a desirable object. I followed all the rules—build up their egos, don’t be aggressive, don’t flaunt your brains, be charming, diet, dance, be with it, wear a girdle, never kiss goodnight on the first date—until I learned that breaking them a little, or better yet appearing to break them, attracted the more imaginative boys.
May 7, 2014 / 83 notes
Courtney is such a site of feminist polarity. She just told Pitchfork: “All women are dichotomies, with a beautiful, sensual, passive side, and a monster, sexual, aggressive side.” She’s always lived that truism; she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club by reciting Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”
Mom liked her stars raw and outrageous, not polished and regimented. I have a feeling that she would have brushed off Beyoncé and J.Lo as “conventional,” which was her worst insult. I mean, “Put a Ring on It?” No. Even Bey’s last album, with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie clip, would have probably only been seen as lip service to revolutionary ideas. Although, I realize this may be because Mom didn’t have the greatest race analysis when it came to female pop stars. There are all kinds of reasons why black and Latina singers don’t feel they can be as envelope-pushing or outrageous as their white counterparts. And in some ways, when it comes to the modern black family, Bey is breaking with convention. Still, I think Mom’s allegiance was to tough bitches: She was much more into female rappers, like Lil’ Kim or Lauryn Hill.
I spoke to Sarah Nicole Prickett at Buzzfeed about my mom (and sooooo many other core ladiez, from Courtney to Sontag).
May 7, 2014 / 9 notes

Courtney is such a site of feminist polarity. She just told Pitchfork: “All women are dichotomies, with a beautiful, sensual, passive side, and a monster, sexual, aggressive side.” She’s always lived that truism; she auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club by reciting Sylvia Plath’s “Daddy.”

Mom liked her stars raw and outrageous, not polished and regimented. I have a feeling that she would have brushed off Beyoncé and J.Lo as “conventional,” which was her worst insult. I mean, “Put a Ring on It?” No. Even Bey’s last album, with the Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie clip, would have probably only been seen as lip service to revolutionary ideas. Although, I realize this may be because Mom didn’t have the greatest race analysis when it came to female pop stars. There are all kinds of reasons why black and Latina singers don’t feel they can be as envelope-pushing or outrageous as their white counterparts. And in some ways, when it comes to the modern black family, Bey is breaking with convention. Still, I think Mom’s allegiance was to tough bitches: She was much more into female rappers, like Lil’ Kim or Lauryn Hill.

I spoke to Sarah Nicole Prickett at Buzzfeed about my mom (and sooooo many other core ladiez, from Courtney to Sontag).

She writes that, “to avoid both the humiliation of being treated as an object and the frustration of celibacy, we have to be supersensitive game players.” This is “nerve-wracking and not much fun” except for a happy few. These aren’t obsolete ideas. To read Ellen Willis now reacquaints you with those attractive or pervasive fictions that obscure real power relations and halt progress. I read those lines and I think of looking at pictures of the body of Pamela Anderson, whose thoughts I can’t guess. I don’t know if she was having fun, if she felt humiliated, or if she has ever felt frustrated.
May 6, 2014
Before Ellen Willis was a radical feminist countercultural writer, she was a timid, 20-year-old bride. Her conversion journal, “Up From Radicalism,” is up at Guernica today (reprinted from “The Essential Ellen Willis”).
May 2, 2014 / 12 notes

Before Ellen Willis was a radical feminist countercultural writer, she was a timid, 20-year-old bride. Her conversion journal, “Up From Radicalism,” is up at Guernica today (reprinted from “The Essential Ellen Willis”).

Our problem is not the excesses of talk shows but the brutality and emptiness of our political culture. Pop bashing is the humanism of fools: in the name of defending people’s dignity it attacks their pleasures and their meager store of power. On talk shows, whatever their drawbacks, the proles get to talk. The rest of the time they’re told in a thousand ways to shut up. By any honest reckoning, we need more noise, not less.

Talk shows : 1996 :: reality shows : 2014.

EW’s “Bring in the Noise” up at Gawker.

May 1, 2014 / 16 notes
Remember when Tavi Gevinson tweeted “Memoirs of a Non-Prom Queen" and all the baby feminists of the world discovered Ellen Willis? My work here is done.
Apr 30, 2014 / 10 notes

Remember when Tavi Gevinson tweeted “Memoirs of a Non-Prom Queen" and all the baby feminists of the world discovered Ellen Willis? My work here is done.

“The first time I ever discovered that she wrote about sex and pleasure was when I found this magazine called Caught Looking. It was this really cool onetime publication of feminist writers writing about porn, juxtaposed with lots of pornographic images. I was like 7 years old. I’d show my friends, like, Oh my God, there’s this sex book that I found. And I sort of figured out that she’d written something in there — I could kind of read it, kind of not — and it was the first time I realized, Wow, my mom actually writes about sexy topics! Racy topics. That was my first introduction to porn. It wasn’t some cheesy Channel 35 or Playboy situation. It was a critical journal full of smart feminists.”
I talked to NY Mag about putting together “The Essential Ellen Willis” and what it was like growing up with my mom. Shoutout to the New Yawkas who get the Channel 35 reference!
Apr 30, 2014 / 8 notes

The first time I ever discovered that she wrote about sex and pleasure was when I found this magazine called Caught Looking. It was this really cool onetime publication of feminist writers writing about porn, juxtaposed with lots of pornographic images. I was like 7 years old. I’d show my friends, like, Oh my God, there’s this sex book that I found. And I sort of figured out that she’d written something in there — I could kind of read it, kind of not — and it was the first time I realized, Wow, my mom actually writes about sexy topics! Racy topics. That was my first introduction to porn. It wasn’t some cheesy Channel 35 or Playboy situation. It was a critical journal full of smart feminists.”

I talked to NY Mag about putting together “The Essential Ellen Willis” and what it was like growing up with my mom. Shoutout to the New Yawkas who get the Channel 35 reference!

Apr 24, 2014 / 24 notes

Sooo excited to show y’all the trailer for “The Essential Ellen Willis,” which is coming out in a mere week! The trailer, which is really more like a mini-doc, features the wisdom of Irin Carmon, Alix Kates Shulman, Daphne Brooks, Jay Rosen, Jennifer Baumgardner, and my dad, Stanley Aronowitz.

Oh, and my boo Aaron Cassara made the thing!