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Death of Andrea Dworkin

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  • #32
    What a vivid, powerful, disturbing piece of writing, with so much to say about pain and disability.
    I am walking with a friend who suddenly looks at my crutches and says, you don't want to be this way the rest of your life, do you? Her repulsion is barely masked. I feel unutterably alone.
    How ironic and tragic that somebody who shared so much and obviously touched so many people on a deep level should come to feel this way. Such is life, I suppose, but it does make you realise how much harm ill-chosen words can cause.
    \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

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    • #33
      Ironically, it was Andrea's poor balance which effectively killed her. She fell, went to sleep later and died in a coma. Nobody could have predicted it. It's very hard losing a friend so close, loving and supportive as she was to me.

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      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
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      • #34
        Here is my response to Laura Miller'e piece in Salon:

        Laura Miller's tirade against Andrea Dworkin gave no idea of her subject's cool, well-reasoned eloquence in such books as Rightwing Women. which remains a seminal study of women who choose, apparently against their self-interest, to ally themselves with the right. Nor does it deal with Dworkin's respectful and beautifully reasoned debating technique, her careful research methods and the great courtesy she almost invariably displayed to those, like me on occasions, who disagreed with her. The picture Miller draws is crude at best, though it does reflect the cruelty of the liberal left when confronted with progressive radicalism which is neither rightwing nor relativistic.// ends

        It reminds me yet again that there used to be a left in this country, exemplified by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Dashiell Hammett which was neither relativistic nor milk-and-water liberal but damned angry about the kind of social injustice Dworkin wrote about. I guess there are only a few of us around these days. Fewer all the time. OAFs -- OLD ANGRY FARTS... When I was growing up I knew a lot of Americans who would qualify. Where are they today ? Sometimes I think Andrea was the last of her generation to identify issues and take a radical, principled stand. I'm always surprised at how uncomfortable such stands make liberals who would rather take the moral high ground than muddy their feet in the moral war zone.

        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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        • #35
          I think Andrea Dworkin was resented because she revealed the world to be a deeply uncomfortable if not terrifying place. It's the 'shoot the messenger' mentality. I guess some of us are big enough to look at the horror and call it by its name. Others not. By their works shall ye know them...
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

          Comment


          • #36
            Originally posted by Mikey_C
            I think Andrea Dworkin was resented because she revealed the world to be a deeply uncomfortable if not terrifying place. It's the 'shoot the messenger' mentality. I guess some of us are big enough to look at the horror and call it by its name. Others not. By their works shall ye know them...
            Certainly, when the Media, or political commentators and journalists, start talking about ''the Center Left", nowadays, I always seem to find myself looking quite a long way off to the Right, to find what it is that they seem to be describing.

            :(

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            • #37
              I discovered Dworkin via Moorcock at a time when I was becoming active in the Students Union as what even then would be termed disparagingly by all sides, a 'male feminist'. I was, to my present self-disgust, actually then convinced of the argument, which had made it's way somewhat out of the pages of Valerie Solanas' 'SCUM Manifesto', that women, in charge, would never have fought wars, nor introduced slavery nor any other bad 'men things', an argument which persisted as a kind of polemical rewriting of 'sugar and spice and all things nice' (from the nursery rhyme) throughout the eighties and nineties and fell apart quietly by itself some time since.

              I read Andrea's 'Intercourse' and enthused about the 'violence' of her response to the violence of the oppressing group but, even as an unreconstructed 'male feminist', I began to find the simplicate division into men vs women worthy of severe challenge, losing a lot of friends in the process. I made video-art work which was as yet uninformed by any leftist readings but which from my own reasoning, (as a twenty something male as yet unafflicted by the male 'disease' genetically pre-supposed by my sisterhood), developed the position that to talk of men as a group oppressing women as a group in any context, historical or contemporary, was a kind of sexist 'anti-semitism', a conspiracy theory which I thought lacked the rigour that being thoroughly ridiculed would bring. I was soon to set about this task.

              As I developed further, reading Dworkin and Spender and others, it began to seem that the 'ideal male' of Solanas, the male feminist I'd somewhat become who could be spared when the sisterhood had it's revolution, had become of limited use to militant feminists who tended to see him as the legitimate contemporary of the doormat position claimed as the historical lot of all women.
              Thinking that I would never be entertained when I spoke of 'Woman as the Mother of Man', I left my assigned post in feminism and went across the border to write what would become the first (non-fiction) version of my 'novel' "I Shot Valerie Solanas", a negation of 'The SCUM Manifesto' but also a sequel to Dworkin's 'Intercourse' which I still hold in very high esteem even if I did want to go take her form of 'gender fauvism' into more androgynous territory where 'gender benders' and 'guerilla ontologists' live as if the 'Battle of the Sexes" was but a playground squabble with all the sophistication that implies.

              I sent Dworkin an electronic copy of my original non-fiction short (subsequently reworked as a novel under the same title) and imagined she would laugh heartily upon reading it.
              A vague inkling she would respond was dashed by news of her death (which reached me long after the event)

              I sometimes thought of Andrea as something of a realisation in one person the trio of women in 'The Book of the City of Ladies', by her 15th century ancestor, Christine de Pizan.

              I will miss her 'violence'.



              Originally posted by Michael Moorcock View Post
              Here is my response to Laura Miller'e piece in Salon:

              Laura Miller's tirade against Andrea Dworkin gave no idea of her subject's cool, well-reasoned eloquence in such books as Rightwing Women. which remains a seminal study of women who choose, apparently against their self-interest, to ally themselves with the right. Nor does it deal with Dworkin's respectful and beautifully reasoned debating technique, her careful research methods and the great courtesy she almost invariably displayed to those, like me on occasions, who disagreed with her. The picture Miller draws is crude at best, though it does reflect the cruelty of the liberal left when confronted with progressive radicalism which is neither rightwing nor relativistic.// ends

              It reminds me yet again that there used to be a left in this country, exemplified by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Dashiell Hammett which was neither relativistic nor milk-and-water liberal but damned angry about the kind of social injustice Dworkin wrote about. I guess there are only a few of us around these days. Fewer all the time. OAFs -- OLD ANGRY FARTS... When I was growing up I knew a lot of Americans who would qualify. Where are they today ? Sometimes I think Andrea was the last of her generation to identify issues and take a radical, principled stand. I'm always surprised at how uncomfortable such stands make liberals who would rather take the moral high ground than muddy their feet in the moral war zone.
              Last edited by michaelk; 07-24-2007, 03:10 AM.

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              • #38
                In today's Guardian, article by Julie Bindel, 'What Andrea Dworkin can teach young women':

                Dworkin was her era’s bravest, most galvanising and polarising feminist. Ten years after her death, her sheer courage and her hatred for the men who hate women continue to inspire

                I first became friends with Andrea Dworkin in 1996. 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. She had become famous in the early 1980s for the ordinance that she and the legal scholar Catherine McKinnon had drafted for Minneapolis, recognising pornography as sex discrimination and a violation of women’s civil rights. 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 (1974). The first line reads: “This book is an action, a political action where revolution is the goal.” In Woman Hating, Andrea describes and theorises all manner of men’s abuse and oppression of women and girls.

                When Andrea and I eventually met in Brighton, we connected instantly. I hadn’t necessarily agreed with all that she wrote, and was not particularly enamoured of her slightly evangelical public speaking style, but I nonetheless loved her from the outset. Andrea’s wicked, dry humour, unwavering integrity and shy vulnerability combined to make her utterly compelling. 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. In late 1998, she sent me the manuscript of Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women’s Liberation, a book she had been working on for eight years.

                I devoured it, gasping in wonder at the beautiful prose, and the brilliance of its reasoning. Andrea considered it fate that she had cited my partner Harriet’s cousin Robert Wistrich, an expert on the Holocaust, throughout the book, well before she knew us.

                I did not hear from Andrea for much of 1999 until I received a 10-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.
                “Dear Julie. 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 2004, 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. “The libertarians are winning this war Julie,” Andrea said as we sat in her hotel room, drinking the bitter espresso that enabled her to keep awake through the day (Andrea was notoriously nocturnal). “If we give up now younger generations of women will be told porn is good for them and they will believe it.”

                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.

                Andrea’s writing and speaking has many legacies, but perhaps the key lesson she taught us was how to conduct ourselves during battle.

                There can be no doubt that the feminist fight against men’s sexual, domestic and cultural violence towards women and girls is a bloody and dangerous war. 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.

                Andrea reminded us that men occupy a sex class that is handed power at birth, and that there is nothing “natural” about male dominance or female submission. 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.

                In today’s world of keyboard warrior activism, Andrea’s life should be a reminder to feminists, and other activists, that nothing compares to meeting and talking to people with whom you wish to find common ground.

                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. “There is no point me sitting down with a child rapist or pornographer,” she told me in our 2004 interview, “because in order to achieve their aims they are required to hurt us.” But with feminists from all sides of the debate, Andrea would patiently and respectfully listen, before addressing them in her breathless, quiet voice. No matter how tired she became, Andrea would never leave a discussion until some bottom line had been agreed upon.

                Andrea’s heart had been ripped to shreds during a lifetime of abuse – beginning when she was raped in a cinema aged nine, before being brutally internally examined while in custody years later, and then experiencing domestic violence at the hands of her first husband, which led her into prostitution. But never did she forget her place in the women’s liberation movement. 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. I will never forget a phone conversation with Andrea where she spoke of how some feminists in the US and UK had publicly expressed doubt about whether or not the rape in Paris had actually happened, including one well-known campaigner against child abuse who asked, “Who would want to rape Andrea?”

                “My hatred is precious,” she once said to me. “I don’t want to waste it on those who are colluding in their own oppression. My hatred is geared towards the men that put that crap in their heads, and the ones doing the raping.”

                Without Andrea, generations of feminists would be wilfully ignorant about the meaning and effect of pornography, as well as how to overcome a desire for male approval in order to tell the truth about women’s lives. That is not all that today’s feminists could learn from Andrea. 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.
                _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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