Author: Ellen Willis

  • Media: On Bill Clinton and Paula Jones

    “‘Tis a Pity He’s a Whore” OKAY. SO WE DON’T HAVE NIXON to kick around any­more; fortunately we have Joe Klein. I feel as if I owe the guy royalties, given the mileage I’ve gotten out of his whine some 15 years ago in Mother Jones — an irresistibly quotable classic in the annals of male […]

  • Sisters Under the Skin: Confronting Race and Sex

    Recently, at a feminist meeting, a black woman argued that in American society race is a more absolute divi­sion than sex, a more basic determi­nant of social identity. This started an intense discussion: if someone shook us out of a deep sleep and demanded that we define ourselves, what would we blurt out first? The […]

  • Tom Wolfe and Optimism: He Blew It

    Tom Wolfe's THE PAINTED WORD reviewed by Ellen Willis

    My deepest impulses are optimistic, an attitude that seems to me as spiritually necessary and proper as it is intellectually suspect. In college and for some time afterward, my education was dominated by modernist thinkers and artists who taught me that the supreme imperative was courage to face the awful truth, to scorn the soft-minded optimism […]

  • Simone de Beauvoir: Rebel Girl

    On May Day, the remnants of my old radical feminist group Redstockings held a memorial for Simone de Beauvoir. I had wanted to go, but couldn’t make it, so I heard about it from a friend: Ti-Grace Atkinson talked about going to de Beauvoir’s funeral, women spoke about her impact on their lives, someone read […]

  • The Black-Jewish Conflict, Part II: The Myth of the Powerful Jew

    The Black-Jewish Conflict, Part II: The Myth of the Powerful Jew  September 10, 1979 “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of fools.” — August Bebel, German social­ist and leader of the Social Demo­crats in the late 19th century Obviously, the fury of black people at Andy Young’s departure reflects a decade or more of in­creasing tensions between […]

  • On Abortion

    From March 5, 1979 If propaganda is as central to politics as I think, the opponents of legal abortion have been winning a psychological victory as important as their tangible gains. Two years ago, abortion was almost always discussed in feminist terms — as a political issue affecting the condition of women. Since then, the […]

  • The Family: Love It or Leave It

    When I talk about my family, I mean the one I grew up in. I have been married, lived with men, and participated in various communal and semi communal arrangements, but for most of the past six years — nearly all of my thirties — I have lived alone. This is neither an accident nor […]

  • Hell No, I Won’t Go

    September 19, 1989 At last the government has achieved something it hasn’t managed since the height of ’50s anti-Communist hysteria—enlisted public sentiment in a popular war. The president’s invocation of an America united in a holy war against drugs is no piece of empty rhetoric; the bounds of mainstream debate on this issue are implicit […]

  • Lust Horizons

    In 1972, Karen Durbin showed some passages from her journal to a friend who was writing a book about the counter-culture and wanted to quote her on living in the age of radical feminism. After reading the material he told her, “This is great stuff! You should expand it into an article.” “But who would […]