Aronowitz described his wife as painfully shy but fearless and “unflinchingly honest” on the printed page — and in her blunt assessments of his writing. She valued personal freedom above of all else, he said, and considered herself something of a “pariah on the left … and a pariah to some in the women’s movement” because she was “sex-positive.” Karen Durbin, a film critic for Elle magazine who had met Willis at The New Yorker, where Willis was the first rock critic, read from a tribute she was preparing for The Village Voice. Willis’s reaction to Hillary Clinton’s landslide reelection would have been “complicated,” Durbin said just after the service. She recalled Willis’s provocative essay on Bill Clinton, “‘Tis a Pity He’s a Whore.”
Meanwhile, Willis’s young political heirs in an offshoot of Redstockings, a radical feminist group she co- founded in the late sixties, said a week before her death that they would picket Senator Clinton’s Third Avenue office a second time to demand that she introduce universal-health-care legislation. That might be the most fitting tribute.
— Mary Reinholz
Earlier: Ellen Willis, 1941–2006