NO MORE NICE GIRLS by Ellen Willis


Countercultural Essays
Email this review


 The former Village Voice writer and editor (Journalism/NYU) collects almost 30 essays and book reviews spanning the 80's. All but a handful from the Voice, these widely disparate pieces are somewhat unified by Willis's unswerving faith in the countercultural pursuit of pleasure. At best, Willis's feminist libertarianism means dissent from the feminist orthodoxies about sex and pornography. A number of excellent pieces decry the sexual conservatism of mainstream feminists, expose the simple-mindedness of antiporn theorists, and rescue Freud from the know-nothing onslaught. Willis's articles on divorce, abortion, and the ``fetal-rights movement'' brilliantly articulate the issues while making her own views clear and persuasive. Her anti-family posturing, though, seems a hippie- communal leftover and doesn't really follow from her own line of reasoning. Similar knee-jerkism mars essays on race, Simone de Beauvoir, and a long, pointless memoir of a cross-country bus trip. The author's self-absorption also intrudes on otherwise excellent essays about feminist history, the 60's, and the Pollard/Israeli spy case. Committed to ``transforming people's consciousness,'' Willis is at her best when concerned with human freedom and dignity--the autonomy of our bodies, and the attendant risks involved. She wisely debunks the anti-drug hysteria and provides an absolutist defense of Salman Rushdie's blasphemy. Willis is at her weakest when she relies on politically correct rhetoric--``her women's group,'' ``patriarchal society.'' Those who remember her as a devoted guide to the 60's in Beginning to See the Light will find much of the same verve here in discussions of sex and drugs, but nothing about her strongest subject, rock 'n' roll. Despite the rhetorical excesses and some padding (two throwaway pieces about Picasso and Warhol): a must-browse for readers interested in feminism and the culture wars.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-8195-5250-X
Page count: 298pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992


NonfictionGOING INTO THE CITY by Robert Christgau
by Robert Christgau
NonfictionTHE BITCH IS BACK by Cathi Hanauer
by Cathi Hanauer