Like most, I feel a shudder of shock whenever I read the words of Andrea Dworkin. On crime: "I really believe a woman has the right to execute a man who has raped her. Her death at the age of 58 deprives us of a truly challenging voice. But Andrea Dworkin was always more famous for being Andrea Dworkin than anything else. Never mind her seminal works of radical feminism, never mind her disturbing theorising that our culture is built on the ability of men to rape and abuse women. For many, Dworkin was famous for being fat.
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I first became friends with Andrea Dworkin in We both attended a week-long international conference in Brighton on violence against women where Andrea was one of the keynote speakers. I had seen her speak before at feminist events, but we had never exchanged a word. The crowds that surrounded her after any public event would have put all but the shamelessly sycophantic off approaching her. Andrea died 10 years ago this week.
Women involved in pornography were called to testify from all over America. It was an inventive use of civil law; rather than banning or censoring pornography, it would have enabled victims of the porn industry to claim damages and recognition for the harm it caused.
But to me, her finest and most radical work was the book Andrea wrote aged just 27, Woman Hating When Andrea and I eventually met in Brighton, we connected instantly. There was something intoxicating about getting to know a woman who had been vilified as a man-hating misery but who was, in fact, a warm, open-minded intellectual. Over the next eight years, Andrea and I wrote and spoke regularly, and met up whenever we happened to be in the same country.
I devoured it, gasping in wonder at the beautiful prose, and the brilliance of its reasoning. I did not hear from Andrea for much of until I received a page handwritten fax in July that year. The writing started out neat and tidy, but by the end was almost unreadable. The first line broke my heart. You have not heard from me because in May the unthinkable happened.
While I was on vacation in Paris I was drugged and raped. I do not think I can bear this. Andrea was never the same again. Her health suffered; the last time we met, in September , she had lost a huge amount of weight as a result of having a gastric band fitted in an attempt to deal with her dangerous obesity. But during that visit Andrea was in good spirits and we talked of reviving the feminist anti-pornography movement in Europe which was, we feared, dying.
That same week, an interview I had conducted with Andrea was published in the Guardian. Although Andrea could be high maintenance, insisting on special security measures when she spoke at conferences or other public venues her life had been threatened more than once , there was no monstrous ego to deal with, and nothing of the spoilt, pampered middle-class feminist we Brits had come to dread in our north American sisters.
But Andrea never forgot her manners or her humanity in the trenches. It may be a cliche, but Andrea was fuelled not by hatred of her enemy — male supremacy — but of love for the idea of a new world in which sexual sadism was obsolete. In many ways, despite the several knocks she took, Andrea was the most optimistic feminist I ever met. When the pornographers took their revenge on Andrea, publishing a nasty, sexually explicit cartoon parody of her, she sued, but lost.
Despite finding herself painted as a national hate figure, accused of attempting to dismantle the precious First Amendment , Andrea never gave up appearing in public, or engaging with individuals who fundamentally disagreed with her. There was no compromise with Andrea, but she would never refuse to debate a point with anyone, so long as they were on the side of social justice.
No matter how tired she became, Andrea would never leave a discussion until some bottom line had been agreed upon. Andrea healed her wounds by listening to the stories of other survivors, despite the pain that could cause, in order to remember how high the stakes were in this struggle. My hatred is geared towards the men that put that crap in their heads, and the ones doing the raping. There is the respect she had for the human rights defenders who came before her, and her loyalty to other women in the struggle who were attacked by those antagonistic to our aims and beliefs.
There was her sheer courage, in never backing down or renouncing her principles because it would make life easier or pay dividends; that was a defining characteristic of Andrea, as was daring to hate the men who hated women. One thing is certain. Unless you knew Andrea, either personally or by being involved in the same political causes as her, pretty much everything you think you know about her will be wrong. It is sadly the case that many feminists today are too scared to upset the applecart.
Andrea never was. Topics Feminism Opinion. Women Pornography comment. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular.
The Radical Style of Andrea Dworkin
I first became friends with Andrea Dworkin in We both attended a week-long international conference in Brighton on violence against women where Andrea was one of the keynote speakers. I had seen her speak before at feminist events, but we had never exchanged a word. The crowds that surrounded her after any public event would have put all but the shamelessly sycophantic off approaching her.
Book Review: Woman Hating By Andrea Dworkin
Welcome sign in sign up. You can enter multiple addresses separated by commas to send the article to a group; to send to recipients individually, enter just one address at a time. Black-and-white photos show a white hippie couple in a city hall ceremony in Amsterdam. The bride is not the Andrea Dworkin we know, who wore a uniform of denim overalls and sneakers, militant and unmitigated by a single capitulation to feminine beauty standards. This one is very young, just twenty-two, with black-rimmed eyes and a chin-length haircut with bangs. In September , Dworkin writes home in tall, fast cursive.
'She never hated men'
Apologies to Andrea Dworkin, who did not like book critics and who, fourteen years after her death, from myocarditis, at fifty-eight, is being subjected to a round of us again. Out of the fray emerged the idea that she believed all sex was rape, which, along with her frizzy hair, dumpy overalls, and uncompromising positions on sex work and sadomasochism, came to epitomize radical feminist hostility throughout the nineteen-eighties and nineties. Though she tempered her contempt for establishment stupidity with a naughtily blunt sense of humor and a deep-down belief that people could examine their ethics and change, her reputation always preceded her work, and she knew it. Others advised her to use a pseudonym. Nothing is off in its own corner, isolated from the rest. When she was a freshman at Bennington College, she was arrested at a protest against the Vietnam War and taken to jail, where she was subjected to a brutal pelvic exam that left her bleeding and traumatized; at the urging of Grace Paley, a fellow-protester whom Dworkin looked up in the phone book afterward, she reported her story to the newspapers, prompting a grand-jury hearing. The jail was eventually shut down.