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My issue with the video isn’t that naked women are inappropriate. It’s that featuring naked models and clothed men in party mode is … boring. Uninventive. Slightly alienating. But when I also considered the lyrics, which are about a woman who doesn’t want to admit she really wants it, I started to feel icky about this song’s presence on my summer playlist. Culture writer Julianne Escobedo Shepherd tweeted, “i predict ‘Blurred Lines’ will be huge among the drunk-dads-at-weddings set for years to come.” Channeling that apologetic-drunk-married-guy vibe, Thicke explained, “it was actually the director’s idea, Diane Martel,” as if it’s impossible for anything directed by a woman to be sexist. “I had mentioned to her that I wanted to do a very funny and silly video. … And she said, ‘well, what if we have the girls take their clothes off?’”


Funny! Silly! Except if you’re a woman who is not really offended, per se, but certainly kind of annoyed at the lazy trope of prancing, naked female bodies. This, as Anupa Mistry said in a roundtable of women critics discussing Kanye West’s Yeezus, “is the kind of tiresome racist, sexist shit that really dumbs down otherwise good songs.” I want to like popular music. I want to participate in it. But paradoxically, in order to consume and enjoy it, I often have to disengage from lyrics or accompanying videos. Or, at the very least, think about them separately. Compartmentalize.

Jul 18, 2013 / 81 notes
Feminism and gay liberation have already seriously weakened marriage as a transmission belt of patriarchal, religious values; conferring the legitimacy of marriage on homosexual relations will introduce an implicit revolt against the institution into its very heart, further promoting the democratization and secularization of personal and sexual life.

This quote, from a 2004 forum on marriage in The Nation, was cited by Samuel Alito in his dissenting statements on the DOMA case. Willis was celebrating this “revolt”; Alito, of course, was not.

(Also: Lol @ “homosexual relations”! How much it’s all changed in even a decade.)

Jun 28, 2013 / 18 notes
Music that boldly and aggressively laid out what the singer wanted, loved, hated — as good rock ’n’ roll did — challenged me to do the same, and so, even when the content was antiwoman, antisexual, in a sense anti­human, the form encouraged my struggle for liberation.

Feels like fate that I read this part of Out of the Vinyl Deeps the morning before listening to Yeezus for the first time.

Recommended Kanye prerequisite.

Jun 19, 2013 / 54 notes
It was only when I was working on a book investigating what it means to have, and to be, an only child that I realized how many of the writers I revere had only children themselves. Alongside Sontag: Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Hardwick, Margaret Atwood, Ellen Willis, and more. Someone once asked Alice Walker if women (well, female artists) should have children. She replied, “They should have children—assuming this is of interest to them—but only one.” Why? “Because with one you can move,” she said. “With more than one you’re a sitting duck.”
Jun 10, 2013 / 5 notes

One, rad feminists of the 1960s and 1970s did not all look alike. That cliched Norman Mailer-esque view overlooks the fact that it’s war-paint makeup and girdles that cause women to look like clones, not going au naturel. I get so sick of people saying rad fems were not beautiful — have they ever seen pictures of the young Ellen Willis, Shulamith Firestone, or Jill Johnston? How about Michele Wallace when she wrote “Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman?” Hot!! I’d burn my bra for any of them.

Two, if Dowd thinks that only non-feminists like “Desperate Housewives” clothing — i.e. sexy retro duds — then she’s never met Carol Queen. Or Nellie McKay. Or these ladies.

Ann Powers, 2005, on this Maureen Dowd tome.
Apr 10, 2013 / 7 notes
Mar 26, 2013 / 5 notes

Former Facebook staffer Kate Losse’s piece on “Lean In”:

For someone with fewer family demands than Sandberg, freedom is depicted not as a pleasure but a problem to be resolved by getting a family. The single woman goes out to a bar goes not to have fun or be with friends (the main reason most women I know attend a bar), but to find a husband with whom to procreate. “My coworkers should understand that I need to go to a party tonight…because going to a party is the only way I might meet someone and start a family!” Astonishingly for a book published in 2013, there are no self-identified lesbians, gay men, or even intentionally unmarried or child-free people in Lean In’s vision of the workplace. It’s not clear why Sandberg thinks that everyone should be in the business of getting a family, since the book argues that family gets in the way of work. But it seems that Sandberg can only imagine the dreaded “leaning back” as a product of family demands. Who would take a vacation voluntarily?

Has definite Ellen Willis-like pleasure politics vibes.

Besides, most people made endless assumptions about married couples and treated them accordingly; it wasn’t so easy to get married and pretend you weren’t.
My mother, summing up my feelings about matrimony 5 years before I was born. (From “The Family: Love It Or Leave It,” included in the forthcoming collection!)
Mar 22, 2013 / 6 notes
Mar 21, 2013 / 15 notes

Cute bangs, Mama! (18-year-old Ellen Willis on the College Quiz Bowl show, 1959)

slaughterhouse90210:

“The emphasis on sex that currently permeates our public life attest not to our sexual freedom but to our continuing sexual frustration. People who are not hungry are not obsessed with food.”
—Ellen Willis, No More Nice Girls
*Quote recommended by Emily of Emily Books, a fantastic new indi(e) bookstore.
Mar 15, 2013 / 285 notes

slaughterhouse90210:

“The emphasis on sex that currently permeates our public life attest not to our sexual freedom but to our continuing sexual frustration. People who are not hungry are not obsessed with food.”

—Ellen Willis, No More Nice Girls

*Quote recommended by Emily of Emily Books, a fantastic new indi(e) bookstore.

It’s less a matter of “the right to control our bodies” than the freedom to accept and relish our bodies, to explore our capacity for pleasure.
Ellen Willis on women’s sexual freedom
Feb 18, 2013 / 20 notes