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The Cut Q&A: Nona Willis Aronowitz on Family Life and Feminism With Her Mom, Ellen Willis

By Molly Fischer
The Cut

Willis_Essential coverOne of the pleasures of The Essential Ellen Willis (a new anthology out this week) is watching the journalist and critic figure out how feminism translates into daily life, both for herself and for other women. Willis is intellectually rigorous and deeply idealistic, but also very fun — and her combination of curiosity, wit, skepticism, and enthusiasm grounds her work firmly in the real world.

Not many people are better positioned to describe the lived feminism of Ellen Willis (who died in 2006) than Nona Willis Aronowitz, her daughter. Having previously edited Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a collection of Willis's rock writing — she was the first pop music critic at The New Yorker — Aronowitz wanted to compile a more comprehensive look at Willis's diverse interests, from music to sex to politics to parenthood. Aronowitz says she hopes The Essential Ellen Willis will highlight the connections between her mother's work and the work of contemporary writers, some of whom (including Cut columnist Ann Friedman) have contributed commentary to the anthology.

Over lentil soup in Clinton Hill, Aronowitz talked to the Cut about her feminist upbringing and editing her mom's work.

Read the full Q&A.

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The Essential Ellen Willis