Announcement

Collapse

Welcome to Moorcock's Miscellany

Dear reader,

Many people have given their valuable time to create a website for the pleasure of posing questions to Michael Moorcock, meeting people from around the world, and mining the site for information. Please follow one of the links above to learn more about the site.

Thank you,
Reinart der Fuchs
See more
See less

The Work of Andrea Dworkin

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Work of Andrea Dworkin

    In a recent library sale I picked up Andrea Dworkin's Intercourse, earning me some very disapproving looks from the old ladies who were taking the money (it's not even a rude word! Leave me alone!). I wasn't familiar with her work until joining this forum, but hopefully my dim bulb brain will make it through the book.

    Oh, and it cost me a single, shiny 50 pence piece! I love sales... :)
    "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

  • #2
    Phew, Dee. Intercourse is a bit of a hard one to start with. It even defeated some keen Dworkinistas. If you can manage that one, you'll LOVE the rest!

    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

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
      Phew, Dee. Intercourse is a bit of a hard one to start with. It even defeated some keen Dworkinistas. If you can manage that one, you'll LOVE the rest!
      :) I'm up to chapter three so far, and certainly don't see any reason to stop yet. It will take me a while because, as usual, I have to keep stopping to quote bits into my journal and witter on for a page or so. Having not read any of the literature she's referring to, I'm having to pay quite close attention, but there's no doubt it's an engaging read. A great deal of it is resonating with me personally, although of course I can't be sure that it isn't the sound of my own opinion filtered through my misunderstanding of what she's actually saying! If you see what I mean. Hopefully I'm "getting" it.

      Edit: I take that "own misunderstanding" comment back. Having polished off Chapter 4, I'm growing more confident that I'm liking this book a lot. I don't think any punches have been pulled, but there is also a lot of humour and... well, for some reason I expected to feel "attacked" in some way, but I don't feel that at all. The reader is forced to look inward, as well as outward, but we're also being offered positive ways forward and encouragement. Self-knowledge, and facing painful truths, can lead to the possibility of love (both giving and accepting)... it's not guaranteed, and love won't necessarily lead to "happiness", but a shot at self-knowledge and love isn't to be sniffed at! :)
      "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

      Comment


      • #4
        Absolutely! I can tell you, though, Dee that you've had a lot more positive and intelligent response to the book than many of the critics who reviewed it at the time -- some of whom launched terrible attacks on it, calling Dworkin a 'Nazi' and much else. I share your views. Defended the book when it came out.

        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

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          I can tell you, though, Dee that you've had a lot more positive and intelligent response to the book than many of the critics who reviewed it at the time...
          Well, without wishing to sound presumptious/arrogant, I would imagine that it depends how much of a vested interest one has in the institutions, or traditions, or assumptions she is arguing against. For one reason or another, the male-dominated world has never really felt like home to me, so a well-argued dissection of that world, and its attitudes, is more likely to appeal to me than threaten me. Whether my response is "intelligent" or simply biased, I wouldn't like to say... but for the moment I'll give myself the benefit of the doubt. :)

          I was once accused of living my life in my head, rather than between my legs. I don't think either extreme is very healthy, and, as far as I can tell, all this book is trying to do is raise the centre of thought above the waist band... perhaps it goes too far up the body for some? I don't know.

          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          some of whom launched terrible attacks on it, calling Dworkin a 'Nazi' and much else.
          Obviously I haven't read the review in question, so I can't judge the "logic" behind it, but so far I have only found evidence to support a contrary opinion. I don't see how someone who argues in favour of empathy, individuality, equality and freedom could ever be considered a Na.zi.

          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          I share your views. Defended the book when it came out.
          Well, I certainly salute you for that.

          All I can do, for my own part, is to try to absorb what I'm reading, not only in my own life, but also in my "art". I'm not sure how my own work would stand up under scrutiny, but I was very taken with the encouragment (in the section on Emma Bovary) to create work that says "There it is", rather than "I like it". I'm guilty of day-dreaming, so the call to look outside oneself was quite a wake-up call to me. Aside from the main topic, of intercourse, there are many sub-topics like that, which are addressed in the book and make it so more-ish.
          "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

          Comment


          • #6
            I have to agree with you. I always said I didn't have to be persuaded to my pro-feminism or my agreement with Dworkin's analyses. Like the very best political writing, she put into words what I had been feeling regarding common justice (or sexual politics). I found that with Kate Millett when she published Sexual Politics in Evergreen Review. Suddenly, I had someone I could quote! And I see nothing wrong with leading a balanced life, either. When I was younger, my sex drive got me into a lot of situations which ultimately turned out better for me than the ladies involved and when my conscience began to kick in, as I matured, I needed the likes of Millet and Dworkin to help me frame what I hope became a more moral way of behaving. I still sometimes shudder at the unconscious cruelty I was guilty of.

            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

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
              I have to agree with you. I always said I didn't have to be persuaded to my pro-feminism or my agreement with Dworkin's analyses. Like the very best political writing, she put into words what I had been feeling regarding common justice (or sexual politics)..
              Exactly. I've made similar observations to hers in the past, but they were little more than half-formed hunches. It's great to have the same hunches expanded, and expressed so eloquently by someone who's put their brain to the problem, with literary examples to illustrate what might be at stake.

              It's not always comforting, of course, to have some thoughts (fears, even) echoed back at you from the printed page... but it's like being given a compass. It doesn't necessarily help you get where you have to be, but it does give you a better sense of direction.

              Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
              When I was younger, my sex drive got me into a lot of situations which ultimately turned out better for me than the ladies involved and when my conscience began to kick in, as I matured, I needed the likes of Millet and Dworkin to help me frame what I hope became a more moral way of behaving. I still sometimes shudder at the unconscious cruelty I was guilty of.
              I think perhaps I was at the other end of the scale. I'd made the mistake, as Dworkin asserts, of confusing love and sex and intercourse as a holy and inseparable trinity. I was too focussed on the consequences of intercourse, and so ended up rejecting the other elements of the "trinity"... and being very self-righteous about it all. :( I knew there was something wrong with my "logic" though, and it might have been helpful if I'd read this book sooner, and realised that it isn't all as black-and-white as popular culture and opinion tends to suggest. If we'd been given the book during Sex Education, rather than just being lectured about diseases, then who knows?

              Ah well, live and learn...
              "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

              Comment


              • #8
                I still suggest Right Wing Women, if you can find a copy, is a wonderful understanding of the kind of logic which makes people work against their own self-interest. I find it helped explain, for me, why so many people voted for Bush this time against their clear self-interest. There's going to be a memorial service for her, by the way, in September, in London and while I can't get there personally I hope someone will read something out that I've written.

                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                  I still suggest Right Wing Women, if you can find a copy, is a wonderful understanding of the kind of logic which makes people work against their own self-interest.
                  I'll keep an eye out for it. There seem to be plenty of copies on ABE, which is always handy (we're certainly earning the site's commision today!)

                  Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                  There's going to be a memorial service for her, by the way, in September, in London and while I can't get there personally I hope someone will read something out that I've written.
                  Well, as noted at the time, there wasn't a great deal of press coverage after her death, so that's good to know. Obviously the main intention isn't to get people to buy the books, but I'm finding her work work very helpful, so I hope more people can be encouraged to pick up her work.
                  "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I always believed her currency would rise after her death and I suspect that's exactly what will happen. Alive, she was almost too much of a threat to what you might call the Playboy faction...

                    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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Well, I did my usual obsessive web-shop browsing, as I do anytime I pick up something by a "new" band/author (well, "new" to me), and there certainly seems to be a fair amount of stock around. Not sure if re-releases are planned and such, but the material is definitely out there for people to track down, or to chance upon as I did. I'm not sure how reliable a system for the distribution of ideas that is, the sort of literary "trickle down" through libraries, cheaper outlets and s/hand shops, but I would imagine that it all helps.

                      Somehow I doubt Debenhams will be replacing their Playboy T-shirts with ones promoting empathy and equality anytime soon though, sadly (it's alliterative and everything!)
                      "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Some writers have a big but relatively short success, some have longevity, with a steady readership for decades, even centuries. My guess has always been that Andrea is one of those.

                        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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Let's hope so. Not only is she an engaging writer, but she's also tackling a seriously fundamental topic. I mean, the way men and women interact will always be of interest, as long as there are men and women to interact. I also think the section on Joan d'Arc showed that there are examples from the past to draw on which show other possibilities for the future... although obviously Joan was quite a unique case. There will always be a need for such thinking, until the day when such things as true equality are taken for granted.
                          "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Long Post

                            I was surprised to hear that Andrea Dworkin died recently.

                            Thanks for sharing your thoughts about the AD book you're currently reading, Dee. I haven't read it. I've only read essays and excerpts of her writings. Mr. M, what would be a good one to start with?

                            Right Wing Women sounds interesting. I've always been completely baffled as to why any women would ever be Right Wing. I can't stand that damned Ann Coulter. I saw her on TV once and my husband laughed at how agitated I was getting, swearing at the TV and everything. He teased me and said he'd take me to one of her book signings next time she was in the area. I said I'd wait until she had a bathroom break and give her a swirly-- something I've never done to anyone, but would be more than happy to start with her. The sight of Ann Coulter incites the most heated anger in me.

                            I've always seen conservative, right wing women to be insecure suck-ups to men and I've never understood their hostility to other women. They are not supportive of other women and will gladly back-stab other females in order to gain approval from men. They go along with misogynistic religions and societal conventions-- it's so self-defeating. They're weird.

                            As a child, I was teased and bullied in school, so my parents decided to try a private school. They ended up choosing a parochial school, even though they weren't very religious. It was a fundamentalist Baptist school, as controlling and misogynistic as can be imagined. The ironic thing is that the time I went to this school (6th and 7th grades) was the time my mother was getting into feminism. So she would take me to E.R.A. rallies on the weekends and I'd go to the damned church school on Monday and they would ask "how many times did you go to church this weekend?" and I would say "none-- my mother took me to a feminist rally" and the teachers and kids would be really nasty to me. At the public school, at least it was only the kids who were mean. At the Baptist school, it was both the kids and the teachers who were cruel to me. So after that experience, I didn't want anything to do with Christianity or any male-dominated religion and ended up studying nature spirituality with an emphasis on the Divine Feminine and that helped to give me a sense of empowerment as a woman.

                            Now I tend to see the Divine, if there really is one, as embodying the qualities of both the masculine and the feminine. But I don't see why a deity would need a gender. If there is a being, a divine intelligence that sets life and evolution in motion, then why would it need to have a gender? So now, if I feel the need to believe in anything at all, it is a divine force, a creative force.

                            I can't stand conservative, right wing women, as I mentioned, but I don't necessarily always connect with far-left feminists, either. Both groups have their limitations.

                            I'm more your generic feminist-- I want to have the same rights as men have, I don't want to be discriminated against just because I'm female, I want to have choices in life and about my own body, I don't want to be harassed, I don't want to be viewed as inferior in anyway. I want women's traditional arts to be valued-- cooking, sewing, nurturing, creating (I'm really good at these things)-- but I don't want to be limited solely to them and I don't want to be excluded from men's traditional arts if I choose to participate. I don't mind teaching men to sew and don't see them as a threat so why should men feel threatened if I want to learn to fish or hunt or go to war or play a sport? I think everyone should be given an equal opportunity (and equal pay). Women's sports should be given the same attention as men's sports-- and if female cheerleaders encourage male athletes, why aren't there male cheerleaders supporting female athletes? And so on.

                            Many far-left feminists are lesbians, which is fine-- they should have a voice and speak out-- but they can't speak for all women because the majority of women aren't lesbians. I think this is where the feminist movement went wrong. Too many of the loudest feminist voices weren't speaking on behalf of the majority of women, so the majority figured that feminism wasn't for them. I've met women who hold to all the basic feminist principles I list above-- equality, desire for respect, and so on-- but they don't call themselves feminists because they have this image that all feminists are man-hating lesbians and they don't relate to and don't want to be associated with that. No doubt this stereotype about feminists is deliberately perpetuated by right-wingers, but it is unfortunately very real, at least in the U.S.

                            I know Andrea Dworkin was sexually abused, and as I've mentioned, so was I. I was sexually abused by men, not by women, but many women in my life were abusive to me in other ways. So I can hate both men and women in general and not trust anyone again or I can just blame the specific individuals for their crimes and mistreatment. I'm leaning more toward the latter as I get older. In some of the things I've read by AD, I can see how she could come across as "anti-male" to some people. I don't think she necessarily was or intended to be, but I do think the fear and anger brought about by her traumatic experiences came through subconciously in her writing.

                            I know the "man-hating" label has been falsly applied to many women. I think in most cases it is deliberately applied to AD for malicious reasons. From what I've read of her works so far, which admittedly isn't a lot, I'd say I agree with much of what she says. But I think that the case with a lot of leading feminists is that although a lot of women agree with what they say, they don't always like how they say it. And again, there's that issue of the majority of women looking for someone they can relate to. I might agree, for example, with much of what a lesbian woman says, but I won't relate to her and she, not having a husband, won't relate to or identify with me on many aspects of life.

                            I suppose my main point is that a lot of feminists put forth ideas, promote an ideaology, a philosophy, which is important and necessary, but what I haven't seen enough of is...what would I call it? How about Practical Feminism. I think NOW and other groups need to promote a more practical feminism. Your average American women --and I'm using Americans as an example because I am one and don't feel comfortable speaking on behalf of women of other nationalities, that's up to them-- your average American woman, whether she is interested in philosophical or political feminism or not, will be interested in a feminism that can relate to her life in a practical way.

                            What does your wife think, Mr M? I always hoped she'd post on this board, too. I'm always interested to know your opinion, but I'm curious about hers as well.

                            Cheers,
                            Marie-Bernadette
                            WWED -- What Would Elric Do?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Welcome back, MB!

                              I've still only read the one book, but I certainly didn't feel "hated on" while I was reading it. Of course, having two older sisters who could beat the crap out of me (and have much better degrees than me) I've never really been much of a chauvinist, as such. So, as I say, I was probably sympathetic to what Dworkin had to say before I even opened the cover. If anything, she attacks the choices that people make (in the way they think and behave), rather than Men as a target in and of themselves. The vast majority of the criticism is aimed at the choices men make, but since men hold the power, and their choices carry the most weight in our current society, that seems perfectly fair to me.

                              In an interview on this site, AW comments: "Optimism is what you do, how you live. I write, which is a quintessential act of optimism." And that's what I took from the book. Like opening Pandora's Box, you have to face quite a few ghosts and demons, but at the bottom there is hope. Or at least the hope of hope.

                              [broken link]

                              Ann Coulter is very scary. She shares her surname with a villain from Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy, who kidnaps children on behalf of the Church. I'd love to know how coincidental that was...

                              And I certainly agree with your comments on Pratical Feminism, in so far as I'm entitled to have an opinion on the subject. In the thread announcing her death on this forum Mike noted: "I do not see it as my business to preach to women". And I'd echo that, but hopefully I can be a better man by taking on board what I've read, and try to address some of those issues in my own work, such as it is.

                              Still, my favourite band (of about 12 years standing) is all female. I wouldn't say were my favourite because they're female, but because I love their songs and enjoy their interviews. Perhaps the humour and passion (anger?) that they put into their music is related to their experiences as women, but ultimately they just rock my clock, end of story. :)

                              Thanks for posting your school experiences, btw. I know there are a few other people here who will identify with your experiences of growing up around the more rigid Religious types.
                              Last edited by Rothgo; 04-13-2010, 11:52 AM.
                              "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X