At thirty-two years old, everything in Nona Willis Aronowitz’s life, and in America, was in disarray. Her marriage was falling apart. Her nuclear family was slipping away. Her heart and libido were both in overdrive. Embroiled in an era of fear, reckoning, and reimagining, her assumptions of what “sexual liberation” meant were suddenly up for debate.
In the thick of personal and political turmoil, Nona turned to the words of history’s sexual revolutionaries—including her late mother, early radical pro-sex feminist Ellen Willis. At a time when sex has never been more accepted and feminism has never been more mainstream, Nona asked herself: What, exactly, do I want? And are my sexual and romantic desires even possible amid the horrors and bribes of patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy?
Nona’s attempt to find the answer places her search for authentic intimacy alongside her family history and other stories stretching back nearly two hundred years. Stories of ambivalent wives and unchill sluts, free lovers and radical lesbians, sensitive men and woke misogynists, women who risk everything for sex—who buy sex, reject sex, have bad sex and good sex. The result is a brave, bold, and vulnerable exploration of what sexual freedom can mean. Bad Sex is Nona’s own journey to sexual satisfaction and romantic happiness, which not only lays bare the triumphs and flaws of contemporary feminism but also shines a light on universal questions of desire.