This could be filed in either Sex Ethics & Politics or Gender Issues, but I think Gender Issues needs some traffic.
So radical feminist Andrea Dworkin passed away last week. Honestly, I don't read much feminist literature, but the things that have been said about this woman have been interesting to say the least. Among other things, Dworkin believed that vaginal penetration was symbolic subjugation and oppression of women. Dworkin had some pretty caustic things to say about pornography and women who were sex positive. Nonetheless, she was a prominent feminist and her books were required reading in many women's studies classes in universities all over.
Anyway, anyone more familiar with Dworkin's writing and politicking, please interject as I'm not familiar with her work. I want to see how people felt about Andrea Dworkin.
I haven't read much of her either but I haven't liked anything I have.
She seems to portray women as victims, primarily victims of pornography, or at least that's what stood out to me.
I guess I don't like her because I disagree with her on everything I can remember. I really, really do not see myself as a victim. I also don't see porn as harmful and certainly not a first step toward rape.
I think she made people think about subjects that deserve attention but ultimately I think she was too extreme and too much into her own dogma.
My professor is (was) a friend of Andrea's, as well as her husband, who was gay.
She was a little over the top, but she was a strong person, from what I'm told. Truth be known, I didn't do the reading, so I've no idea what her literature is like. If it's like the other stuff we've read, than I'd call it boring. But that's just me.
Calling Dworkin boring would be a very serious stretch. Very few people who have read her -- especially the breadth of her work -- find they feel bored or apathetic. Most people have very, VERY strong reactions to her work.
Dworkin was, in all senses of the word, a radical. Radicals ARE very much on the outer fringes of things: they define extremes. I never by any means agreed with everything she had to say, and there has been loads of it over the years I have very strongly DISagreed with. However, I found that other older I got, the more some of it DID resonsate with me, and even that which I disagreed with, I could understand better, and could see where she was coming to the conclusions she made from, even if I didn't agree with them. I know that was a surprise to me over the years, as back in college, I would never have predicted I'd be able to agree with ANY of it, or have any of it resonate with me. And I expect that ten years from now, I may well agree with more of it than I do now, though I don't imagine I'll ever find myself on the same page as she was on nearly anything, by any stretch.
But I do know that I grew into certainly a respect for her, and I do feel that culturally, losing her was a loss, especially to feminism. I think we very much need our radicals.
Victimization was a big part of some of what she did and had to say, but I think it's important to remember that Dworkin was very horribly victimized in her life in quite a number of ways, and in ways most people (thankfully) won't ever have to grapple with. One thing she had to offer per her viewpoint was a perspective that most other very visible feminists do not have and have not had, as the overwhelming amount of feminist lit out there does tend to be from anglo-saxon, middle-class women who have, in many ways, lived lives which in plenty of respects, have been very charmed. A lot of feminist authors talk ABOUT women like Dworkin, women who have been the butt of profound sexual violence, but very few have BEEN those women.
(FYI, like her partner, Stoltenberg, Dworkin was also gay.)
By no means am I trying to downplay the importance of her writings...I actually haven't read any. I have a terrible habit of not doing my readings for class, but those I have done (not Dworkin) I found to be rather boring, when compared with other readings in the class.
I realized after I posted that I forgot to include the fact that Dworkin herself was gay. We discussed her, her work, and her relationship a bit in class. It was an interesting transition from feminsim to homosexuality.
Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998
Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.