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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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(p.49) Introduction
The Essential Ellen Willis

Irin Carmon

University of Minnesota Press

This section contains chapters written during the 1970s. These chapters feminist debates about sex, porn, and abortion, pointing out the strain of conservatism in the mainstream wing of the women’s movement. Signs of the incomplete work of liberation were and are everywhere. Women were having sex with fewer consequences but with the lingering side effects of inequality, where “freedom for women is defined solely as sexual freedom, which in practice means availability on men’s terms.” This can be heard in the music of the time, the text diagnosing the precise contradiction of liberatory yet misogynistic music. For the text, retreat—from pop culture, from sex, from bodily autonomy—is not an option. These chapters reject separatism and also, implicitly, essentialism. In this idea of utopia, desire, and ultimately sexual freedom, is not about decadence or novel ways to organize the same exhausted battles; it comes with a responsibility for justice and self-knowledge.

Keywords:   sex, Ellen Willis, porn, abortion, women’s movement, sexual freedom, music, separatism, essentialism, desire

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