Andrea Dworkin 1945 - 2005
Sexism is the foundation on which all tyranny is built. Every social form of hierarchy and abuse is modeled on male-over-female domination.
Feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin died over the weekend.
I read her book “Woman Hating” in school. I really dug what she was saying, although I admit that I struggled with some key parts of it.
For example, I don’t consider all pornography to be per se exploitation or rape. I do believe that most pornography is exploitative and misogynistic and that it therefore contributes to a larger sexism pandemic that impacts us all (often in ways we can little imagine). I just have the crazy idea that sex is beautiful and that filming it can be done in ways that promote that beauty (it’s all part of a larger pornography vs. erotica theory that I have - Ms Dworkin disagrees by the way she once wrote that "erotica is simply high-class pornography; better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer."). I also wonder what happens to the argument in the digital age where pornography/erotica can be filmed and produced for an audience of two (its participants).
As well, in “Intercourse” (of which I have only read a chapter) Ms. Dworkin had a complex argument that was misinterpreted by too many as equating all heterosexual sex as rape. Many feminist theorists and writers have responded to this misunderstanding by pointing out that her argument relied on nuance and subtlety and required her readers to come to the discussion with an understanding of key works from feminist theory (from “The Second Sex” up thtrough “Woman Hating”). As such a reader, I analogize it to my experience upon reading “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man". With neither a background in Latin, nor a background in Irish history to rely on, I was really only able to appreciate it for the power of its language. Anyway, like many readers I struggled with Dworkin and took less away from it than her more educated readers. Only on reading reaction to her work did I even come close to understanding it (think economic conditions, think violence, think patriarchy). And an informed reading makes it clear that she spoke of long-standing constructs and deeply entrenched hierarchies.
This much is clear, a witty and engaging member has left the discussion circle. We are poorer for her loss, and I hope her absence will inspire at least 1/1,000th of the response that the fallen pontiff inspired (hey, I can dream, can’t I?).