Andrea Dworkin, 1946-2005

Andrea Dworkin

My favorite thing I’ve read about Dworkin today is this Guardian article by Katharine Viner. Here’s a sample:

Dworkin’s feminism often came into conflict with the more compromising theories of others, such as Naomi Wolf. “I do think liberal feminists bear responsibility for a lot of what’s gone wrong,” she told me in 1997. “To me, what’s so horrible is that they make alliances for the benefit of middle-class women. So it has to do with, say, having a woman in the supreme court. And that’s fine – I’d love a woman, eight women, in the supreme court – but poor women always lose out.” She did concede, however, that her radicalism was too much for some: “I’m not saying that everybody should be thinking about this in the same way. I have a really strong belief that any movement needs both radicals and liberals. You always need women who can walk into the room in the right way, talk in the right tone of voice, who have access to power. But you also need a bottom line.”

It was this bottom line that Dworkin provided. She was a bedrock, the place to start from: even when you disagreed with her, her arguments were infuriating, fascinating, hard to forget. Feminism needs those who won’t compromise, even in their appearance; perhaps I’m alone, but I find it pretty fabulous that, as a friend told me, Dworkin would “go to posh restaurants in Manhattan wearing those bloody dungarees”. She refused to compromise throughout her life, and was fearless in the face of great provocation.

Rad Geek has done a good job collecting links to posts about Dworkin – here and here.

Update: Heart posted a link in comments to the Andrea Dworkin Memorial site.

Update 2: Moderation Announcement from Amp, to everybody here:

I think, for a brief time after Andrea Dworkin’s death, I’d like a break from the usual debates about her. It’s appropriate to speak kindly of those who have recently died – especially when those people are feminists, and the place is a feminist blog.

Can the Dworkin-critics among us (me included) please save your criticisms of Andrea Dworkin for later or for elsewhere?

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111 Responses to Andrea Dworkin, 1946-2005

  1. 101
    Sheelzebub says:

    But for all I know, you spend your spare time mutilating kittens or spamming for Cialis.

    Actually, I train kittens to mutilate Cialis spammers. ;)

  2. 102
    piny says:

    And I bet I know where, too.

  3. 103
    Nikki Craft says:

    >”No kidding. Especially when the acusation is coming from someone who A)
    >Was not born to feminism and took quite a long, circuitous road to reach it.
    >Y’know, like the rest of us mortal women and

    I’ve been making feminist decisions since I was six years old and have been a feminist activist for three and a half decades, since my mid twenties. There wasn’t any “long, circuitous road” before that.

    >B) Used a pseudonym for years on another well-known board.”

    I’m not setting up a “false dilemma” or saying not to use aliases at all. I’ve done it. I’ve publicly advocated for it for decades, long before the internet. I think women need to always consider using aliases, and not just on the internet, to protect themselves from spammers, male supremacists and everything in between. I’m thrilled that women are not being so trusting and making themselves vulnerable on any number of levels and excellent points have been made about all the reasons to disguise one’s identity under certain circumstances and I agree with them all. I’ve been exposing sex offenders for 35 years and have been well aware of issues regarding protection and anonymity since the 1970s. For the same amount of time I’ve been doing civil disobedience which made me even more conscious of the balancing act when it comes to issues of personal accountability as juxtaposed with privacy and safety concerns. I’m not talking about nicknames either. From what I’ve read in this thread “Heart” lives the intentionality and practice of the ethic I’m having fantasies about.

    I’ve said I’m not speaking about this forum in particular, but lists and blogs all over the internet. I had not even read this forum until yesterday and had only scanned the page when I replied. btw, since that time I’ve read more more carefully: the page, the individual authors and the site in general. (I’ve been laughing my ass off at some, including the great post by Q Girl: “I’m not sure how far this will reach internationally, but fuck off.”) I only wish the high caliber of thoughtfulness found on this thread was representative of what’s on the internet in general. What I’m saying is not aimed at any particular individual/s. It has nothing to do with what any one person said or didn’t say about Andrea on this page. It’s not even necessarily about malicious slander as much as just mindless jabbering about other people, considered public figures, or not, but at least consider that in these public forums, with all these endless speculations, innuendos and rumors, that if you don’t want your own name “out there” that others might not want theirs “out there” either. And if you do put another person’s name “out there” there then do it responsibly and back up your sh*t. And to operate this way in public forums, consistently using a fake name and talking about others in a chit chat and even careless manner while using their real names is, yes, cowardly; certainly I’m not saying that it’s *ALWAYS* cowardly to use an alias.

    What I’m suggesting is that anonymity ought not become the “default mode” of feminism. That one doesn’t always have to express even the most general opinions, or even (god forbid :-) defenses (or criticisms) of Andrea Dworkin, or even the most controversial political positions hiding behind all these false identities. It’s irrelevant that anyone can post using any identity they want on the internet. I’m suggesting that feminist and profeminists, too, consider that feminist blogs and feminism in general will have more credibility if they consider coming out of hiding, and taking more individual responsibility for what they are saying, and asserting more courage in their every day lives. This is my opinion.

    I wrote:
    “Andrea lived a hugely courageous life that mattered. Read her memorial messages that 300 women have written about the impact she had, the difference she made in their lives. It’s a hard course to take, but you can do that too.”

    Since I think it might have been misinterpreted, I want to state finally that I wrote this not to “pull rank”, or set up any “feminist hierarchy,” but to say to those who stated on this page that Andrea didn’t accomplish anything with her life that Andrea impacted many women’s lives in very important ways and some of them are documented on her memorial. And you know what? Some of them are documented on this page as well. Like the excellent comment Shiloh wrote:

    “Even when I disagree with Andrea Dworkin, the compassion and strength in her writing is a joy to me – and while I don’t agree with some of her harsher statements, I still believe her anger was born out of compassion. She was generally angry about the right things, IMHO. I think her honesty and her willingness to expose herself – expose her experiences, expose her heart -sometimes frightened people who agreed with her even more than it frightened her enemies. Feminism has suffered a great loss through her death.”

    Thanks for that and for considering my opinions.

  4. 104
    Nikki Craft says:

    Correction: been exposing sex predators since the late 1970s, 25 years. It just *seems* like 35. :-)

  5. 105
    alsis38.9 says:

    Congratulations on being a prodigy, Nikki. I was actually adressing Cheryl, however, in that snippet you quoted. Never mind. There seems to be confusion enough about who said what in this thread. Somewhat my fault, I suppose.

    Still, even though I’m flabbergasted at the thought that there could be a feminist interpretation of Moorcock’s Elric (considering what colorless doormats his heroines are), I don’t regard the discussion about him as “gossip.” It was an interesting change from the usual critiques of Dworkin, which are based solely on one ruling and not on her work as a whole. Most of this thread is an interesting change, in fact.

    Oh, and Qgrrl, I could change my online name to Sue, and then we could confuse the living daylights out of everyone, friend AND foe. ;)

  6. 106
    Juliette H. Page says:

    Nikki: “I’ve been making feminist decisions since I was six years old and have been a feminist activist for three and a half decades, since my mid twenties. There wasn’t any “long, circuitous road”? before that. ”

    Bless you Nikki!
    I’m only here because you posted here. Now I’m leaving. Let’s go do something interesting instead.

  7. 107
    alsis38.9 says:

    “Let’s go do something interesting instead.”

    Well, don’t I feel put in MY place !?!? Rah rah, sisterhood. [rolleyes]

  8. 108
    Crys T says:

    Wow, no “more feminist than thou” vibes here at *all*, are there?

  9. 109
    Nikki Craft says:

    “Still, even though I’m flabbergasted at the thought that there could be a feminist interpretation of Moorcock’s … I don’t regard the discussion about him as ‘gossip.'”

    I do agree with you on this particular point.

  10. 110
    Brian Vaughan says:

    In retrospect: yes, the female characters in nearly all of Moorcock’s Elric stories were pretty much doormats. There was one exception — a female protagonist who was smart, capable, independent, and most surprising of all, achieved her goals and survived. But that was written years after the other Elric stories, so perhaps Moorcock’s views had changed in the meantime. I didn’t mean to say that the Elric stories were models of gender role portrayals, just that the Elric stories were about how horrible the phallus can be.

  11. 111
    Brian Vaughan says:

    Also, I know almost no details of Moorcock’s friendship with Dworkin, beyond the bare fact that they were friends, and Moorcock was moved to write a eulogy for her, so I was speculating what they might have had to talk about, which I suppose might be considered “gossip,” especially out of context.