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This piece is an obituary and personal remembrance of the influential feminist theorist and activist, Ellen Willis, one of the earliest and most brilliant of the writers and organizers of the feminist second wave in the US. Willis was a radical who believed that it is pleasure and not self-denial that is the key to political engagement and effectiveness: “Radical politics is about being happy, not about being good.” She was on the “pro-sex” side in the feminist sex wars over the issue of pornography and believed that a feminism that did not champion everyone’s sexual freedom would be a weak and ultimately defeated undertaking. A lover and critic of rock and roll, she is generally recognized as one of the most original and independent cultural critics in America from the 1960s until her death in 2006.

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