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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Memoirs of a Non–Prom Queen

Memoirs of a Non–Prom Queen

(p.67) Memoirs of a Non–Prom Queen
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores the notion that most people never get over the social triumphs or humiliations of high school by focusing on personal experience. The chapter states victims of high school trauma—which seems to have afflicted a disproportionate number of writers, including her and Ralph Keyes—tend to embrace the ugly duckling myth of adolescent social relations: the “innies” (Keyes’s term) are good-looking, athletic mediocrities who will never amount to much, while the “outies” are intelligent, sensitive, creative individuals who will do great things in an effort to make up for their early defeats. Feminism has inspired a variation of the ugly duckling myth in which high school wallflower becomes feminist heroine, suffering because she has too much integrity to suck up to boys by playing a phony feminine role. This myth is sentimental. It may soothe the memory of social rejection, but it falsifies the experience, evades its cruelty and uselessness.

Keywords:   high school, Ralph Keyes, ugly duckling, social relations, innies, outies, feminism, social rejection

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