So, here we are, August 4th, 2015, and I’m asking “Is a Woman A Person?” You laugh, no, scoff at me for asking this. Of course!, you say. But are we “persons” by degrees with some considered lesser beings? Consider the concerted attack on women’s health funding by Republicans seeking to defund Planned Parenthood. It seems women ought to be tethered to reproduction and firmly under the control of the male head of the family. Right? We’ll look at the essays of Ellen Willis in this program as a way to investigate the longevity of this male supremacist attack on women.
On June 30 I talked with Ellen Willis’s daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz, who had edited a selection of Ellen Willis’s essays, about Willis’s life and her influence as a writer,, which included her work as a music critic–rock music critic–for the New Yorker magazine, but was mostly political, and always feminist. We didn’t dig too deeply into the specifics of the Radical Feminism of Ellen Willis that night.
But, with the continuous onslaught against women primarily through access to care, which seems to be about restricting access to biological options regarding reproduction, we should return to Ellen Willis. No, we must to return to Ellen Willis.
There was something of a dismissive review of The Essential Ellen Willis in the Los Angeles Review of Books back in May of 2014 by Lisa Levy. It disparaged Willis exactly where I would praise her for sounding one particular feminist note for forty years. For FOUR decades what remained consistent for women while Ellen Willis was writing for both a popular and academic audience? The attack on women’s individual rights. The ongoing commitment to restricting women from being able to decide without the imposition of a man and a male supremacist society how to live their lives as equal human beings. But the book reviewer seemed to tired of that complaint, or too tired of having to read about it over and over.
Jennifer Maher, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Aretha Franklin – “RESPECT”
Eurythmics – “Sisters are Doing It For Themselves”
Bikini Kill – “Rebel Girl”
Beyonce – “Run The World (Girls)”
“Abortion: Is a Woman a Person?” (Village Voice, 1979)
“Radical Feminism and Feminist Radicalism” (Social Text, 1984)
Producer & Host: Doug Storm
Board and Music Engineer: Jonathan Richardson
Executive Producer: Joe Crawford