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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

Coming Down Again

Coming Down Again

After the Age of Excess

(p.276) Coming Down Again
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses sexual freedom as a reflection of pleasure and transcendence. She first shares the story of the author’s friend who joined Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to solve her “drinking problem” and sees AA as the latest outlet for the thwarted Utopian energies of the 1960s counterculture. The chapter then describes author’s life as a mother with a dimension of transcendence before talking about sobriety and excess. According to the chapter, the image of excess that bedevils the conservative mind is that of the orgy—anonymous, indiscriminate, unrestrained, guiltless sex. The text reflects on the author’s own sexual behavior and argues that it was feminism that first displaced the counterculture’s vision of sex with a considerably harsher view. Finally, it explains how feminism inspired gay liberation and with it a renewed vision of unfettered sex as the key to freedom, power, and community.

Keywords:   sexual freedom, pleasure, transcendence, counterculture, excess, orgy, sex, sexual behavior, feminism, gay liberation

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