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The Work of Andrea Dworkin

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  • Michael Moorcock
    replied
    I must admit I'm hoping someone will put all Andrea's books back into print, but she was dealing with considerable antipathy up until the time she died and it's possible that antipathy won't disappear for a while.

    Leave a comment:


  • Marie-Bernadette
    replied
    Sorry it has taken me so long to reply but I've been ill for the past week with an upper respiratory infection. I'm better now though.

    Mr. M., what a special tribute. I knew that you knew her and had interviewed her, but I didn't know how close you were. It seems to me she was one of those people whose ideas are ahead of their time. I hope her work receives more recognition in the future. Positive recognition.

    I asked about Andrea Dworkin's books at a store that I frequent and they normally only carry two or three of her titles, all of which were currently out of stock, but they said they could special order for me.

    Leave a comment:


  • Poetgrrl
    replied
    Thank you for posting this, Mike and again, I'm so sorry you lost her.

    I think now I'll have a better grasp of her writings based on all the things you've told us about her. Thank you.

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael Moorcock
    replied
    Isn't this something to do with the current American malady (spreading across other parts of the English speaking world too I fear) where 'feeling good' and 'self-esteem' are considered to be the same thing ? Feeling good can arise from taking a nice big line of coke or cranking up, but it doesn't seem to do self-esteem much good in the long run. In fact quite a few people become suicidal as they come down.
    Here, I hope, is the piece I did for the Andrea Dworkin memorial event the other night, which John Davey very kindly read out for me:

    ANDREA DWORKIN

    Memorial

    By Michael Moorcock



    Even now when I see her picture I can’t emotionally come to terms with her death. In her most despairing, painful moments her vitality informed all she did and thought. She died so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that I had no time to prepare myself for it. I suspect there are many others who feel as I do.
    Quite simply Andrea was the sister I never had. I loved her. We had a huge amount in common. She loved me unconditionally, if never uncritically, and she helped me through some of my hardest times. When I was overly self-pitying (especially if relations with women were involved) she would laugh at me and tell me to live with it, but if things went badly for me she was the first to give me her active support and her sympathy, her hard, honest common sense. Under terrible conditions, in extremely poor health, she came all the way from New York to Austin just to attend my sixtieth birthday party, the day after my mother had died. In spite of her illness, she again was able to offer me comfort.
    I was constantly aware at how lucky I was to have two such strong women as Andrea and Linda, my wife, as friends, as intellectual company, as models of integrity and social behaviour, as observers, as people fired above all with a sense of social justice. With John Stoltenberg, I think we constituted a pretty formidable foursome, but it has to be said that Andrea’s extraordinary original powers of political analysis were an inspiration to the rest of us and can now only be revisited in books which I know will continue to speak to more and more people in future generations. She was an astonishing public presence, and it is that which will remain such a special loss to those of us involved in gender politics.
    For someone who could hold the attention and fire the emotions of a large audience so well from the platform, she was, as many here know I’m sure, both extremely shy and retiring, always terrified of making public appearances and needing as much support as she could get both before and after she spoke. Linda, whom she often described as �a warrior’ was initially astonished at how hard it was for Andrea sometimes just to get from her hotel to her speaking engagement and how so many people seemed to be in awe of her – such awe that it often never occurred to them that she might need a little help, a little reassurance, even a cup of tea or a sandwich. She rarely, of course, asked for anything. She saw her role as the helper, the reassurer, the supporter and, as many strong people discover, did not know easily how to ask for what she sometimes needed, especially in later years, when her knees weakened and she had such a hard time getting from her kitchen to her office, let alone from an airport to a venue.
    Andrea was courteous to those who disagreed with her, who insulted her, who felt threatened by her. She could argue levelly and logically with people who raved at her in their anger, as I discovered the first time we met, at a public meeting where we were both to read and speak from the same platform. She experienced antagonism from the stage, let alone the audience and she took it incredibly well. That night, her speech moved me so much I was almost incapable of speaking my own piece.
    I knew already from her work that she was an extraordinarily conscientious reviewer and debater. Unlike many who spend so much of their time in public with politics she was also the warmest most steadfast friend.
    The world is greatly impoverished by her loss. I am immeasurably impoverished by it. She died far too soon and in the middle of writing a book which would have done still more to light up the world. She was working with enormous difficulty in considerable pain much of the time. Yet she remained that same loving friend to me.
    As far as her work is concerned, I can’t imagine who will continue with her unfinished business. I suppose it is up to all of us to shoulder part of her burden as best we can.
    I will never know a person I loved in quite the same way. We have lost an orator, a policitian, a campaigner, a writer, a genius.
    I have lost my sister.

    Leave a comment:


  • Marie-Bernadette
    replied
    That's funny, Mr. M. Apparently, according to the New Yorker cartoon, my underwear certainly isn't empowering! Comfortable, though. :D

    The various comments on "girl power" are interesting. That sort of "girl power" certainly doesn't seem truly empowering at all. It does ignore genuine self-esteem. It's what women's magazines thrive on-- shallow, inconsequential ways for women to "improve" themselves. Now there are some men's magazines that are trying the same tactics: "5 ways to bigger better biceps".

    Men's magazines have always tried to use men's insecurities to pull in readers, but it seems to me that the usual method was to use women, sexually exploitive images of women, to make men feel superficially better about themselves; in these publications the male was at the center looking outward (which seems to be the "default" for society in general-- commercials, movies, video games, everything centers around a male point of view.) Now there is a little trend to make men more self-conscious, the position society has thrust women into: You are not in the center looking outward; you are in the center with everyone looking at you. Better flatten those abs, get a facelift, some liposuction. I'm not saying this is a good trend; it's just something I've noticed.

    Yet, men still aren't exploited like women. Male race car drivers aren't expected to be physically attractive and pose in their swimsuits on top of their cars. Even in jobs that aren't "traditionally" male, they aren't paraded around for female consumption. The only men who are put on sexual display are gay men meant to appeal to other gay men. Why isn't Playgirl more popular? Why don't we have a "Peckers" restaurant where business women go to see hunky, scantily clad waiters? Why don't we have video games with plain, middle-aged women and young and handsome men? Where is the equal opportunity exploitation? Should there be equal exploitation?

    Back to "girl power"-- it isn't really empowerment because it isn't about making women more confident about who they really are as individuals, it's about getting them to conform and breaking down their natural modesty, making them easy to exploit, easy to manipulate into situations that will put them on display and keep them there by making them think they want to be there.

    The man who raped me did not jump out at me from an alley. Like the majority of rape cases, I knew the man. He was a "friend" of the family. He spent a lot of time manipulating me psychologically, twisting things around to make me think it was what I wanted. This is a very complicated subject. It would take many more pages to describe what happened and how it happened and we don't have the space for that here, but I mention it because people need to be aware of how these nasty people operate. This is so misunderstood in our blame-the-victim, simple-solution, sound-bite society. It's this hidden thing that no one talks about and no one understands, but it is tied to this idea of "girl power" and other forms of false empowerment.

    That man spent a long time telling me how I could "improve" myself, getting into my head, trying to control my very thoughts. Making me think that I wanted to act a certain way when I didn't, but by that point I was too afraid to go against him and follow my true self. And isn't this what society does? Makes women, and to some extent men, afraid to not conform? Gets in our heads and tells us no one really loves us, we aren't good enough as we are, but if we would just get used to being used, being on display, being "consumed"...

    That scraggly, ugly rapist told me my family didn't love me, only he did. He was constantly telling me how to improve myself when I didn't need improving. He did nothing to improve himself because he thought he was perfect, thought he was God. He was at the center looking outward. He was so controlling. Isn't this how society is? The media? Hollywood? Whatever you want to call it. It thinks it's perfect. It sits in the center, looking out at us, judging, putting us on display for its own gratification.

    Well, I'm sick of it. True empowerment, for men, for women, is not what car you drive, how thin or pretty you are, how rich you are or the size of your biceps, it is the ability to reclaim your modesty and say, "Stop looking at me! I am not here for your gratification!" True empowerment is self-gratifying; it does not depend on others for gratification.

    Men have been pushed into using women for that gratification; a sexist society robs them of the chance to learn how to gratify themselves without exploiting women. Men who don't see women as objects will understand what I'm talking about. Men who see women as equals are able to gratify themselves without exploiting others. They have a higher self-esteem because their self-esteem is not based on being at the center looking outward, but looking within. It has a lot to do with self-control. Men who control themselves don't have a need to control others.

    I think this is the same for women. If they can get off that pedestal where they are at the center and everyone is scrutinizing them and using them for gratification, they can get to the point where they can look within and gain self-control and self-esteem. "Girls gone wild" are not empowered. They are out of control. And when you are out of control, it is easy for someone to control you. Modesty is defense. It makes people look at the individual and not as a body on display for their pleasure.

    Religions have used the concept of modesty as a tool to oppress and control women, and therefore have turned women, and men, off on the concept of modesty and in doing so they have robbed people of a natural defense. But modesty must be on the terms of the individual, not on the terms of an institution or society.

    Well, as usual, I have a lot more to say, but I'm out of time for now. I've read all the posts in this thread, and will continue to do so. I wish I wasn't such a slow typist. I'll have to post responses to what has already been said another time, but a lot of interesting points have been brought up.

    Marie-Bernadette

    Leave a comment:


  • Michael Moorcock
    replied
    Good discussion. I'll post my short piece on Andrea after the memorial event this week.
    On the subject of what I'd call pseudo-empowerment, I'm reminded of the logic of people into S&M who say they feel empowered by it and yet frequently wind up with problems involving low self-esteem. It's like Scientology and other cults, where the language appears to have more effect than it actually does in real life. Similarly 'feeling good' may feel like empowerment. The book I just reviewed by Louis Theroux has a cult guru admitting 'They don't care if something is true or false. To them, the measure of truth is how important it makes them feel'. There's a good cartoon in a recent New Yorker, a lady looking at some flimsy underwear asking 'Do you have anything a little less empowering ?'

    Leave a comment:


  • Mikey_C
    replied
    Originally posted by Campaign Against Domestic Violence
    *One in four women will experience domestic violence at some time in their lives.

    *Two women are killed by their partner or former partner every week.

    *A woman is raped, stabbed or beaten every six seconds.

    *There are more animal sanctuaries in Britain than refuges for women fleeing domestic violence.
    http://www.cadv.org.uk/domesticViolence.html

    Sadly, it appears that Dee's comments (and the work of Andrea Dworkin) are entirely justified. :(

    Leave a comment:


  • T Guy
    replied
    Being a man, I obviously have no wish to stir up anti-male hatred and so forth...That's just my opinion, and yes, it is "sexist" by definition.
    I think this is all I was ooking for.

    But, as I say, I'd rather feel good about my own gender than bad, so if there are readers out there who can refute what was a fairly crass generalisation on my part, then I'd be happy to read their contributions.
    I'll get back to you on this one when I have more time.

    Honestly, I'm just trying to understand.
    A commendable position. N. T. S. Try to emulate it.

    I didn't mean to offend anyone.
    I don't think I was seriously offended. This sort of thing is easier to take from a man than a woman for some reason, I find (for example, I still laugh at the Simpsons, a programme in which males are only permitted the character traits of stupidity, greed and incompetence).

    And I hope that little rant hasn't offended anyone.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeeCrowSeer
    replied
    Originally posted by T Guy
    I'm not quite sure where to start in reply to this piece of sexism.
    Being a man, I obviously have no wish to stir up anti-male hatred and so forth, I just feel that the weight of crimes committed against Women throughout history, and the sheer absurdity of the ways that Men demean and reduce Women, has done little to earn any respect from the targets of that abuse and reduction. That's just my opinion, and yes, it is "sexist" by definition.

    But, as I say, I'd rather feel good about my own gender than bad, so if there are readers out there who can refute what was a fairly crass generalisation on my part, then I'd be happy to read their contributions.

    Honestly, I'm just trying to understand. I didn't mean to offend anyone.

    Leave a comment:


  • T Guy
    replied
    DeeCrowSeer:
    Men haven't done a great deal to earn Women's respect... in general.
    I'm not quite sure where to start in reply to this piece of sexism.

    Leave a comment:


  • johneffay
    replied
    Originally posted by demos99
    In modern media terms, much of this so-called empowerment stems from things like 'Girl Power' that pseudo-(non-)manifesto espoused by groups like the Spice Girls, although it doubtless pre-dates that in real terms. I'm not sure that people ever really worked out what GP was all about beyond laying the foundations for the ladette culture which allowed women (girls) to go out, get drunk and generally behave leerily like 'unreconstructed' males.
    It's hard to be certain, but there's a case to be made that Girl Power is the music industry's recuperation (i.e. taking something outside of the industry and turning it into a non threatening, marketable, commodity) of Riot Grrl; a subculture which was much more interesting from a feminist perspective. The music was better too.

    Of course in terms of women working against their own interests, the Spice Girls famously claimed that Margaret Thatcher was the founder of girl power

    Leave a comment:


  • DeeCrowSeer
    replied
    Originally posted by demos99
    Would that be L7 as in the group whose guitarist dropped her trousers live on Channel 4's 'The Word' and revealed she wasn't wearing any underwear? :(
    Guitarist and singer, Donita Sparks... er... yes. To put it in some sort of context, the show had already featured a "bum contest" involving people showing off their bottoms, and she claimed that she was feeling left out, so she dropped her jeans and underwear at the end of the song. It wasn't a "strip tease" in any sense, and she did have a guitar to hide behind. Still, I won't deny it had a powerful impact on my adolescent mind. For better or worse.

    That was about 13 years ago now, but it's all most people remember about the band... if they remember them at all. It's a shame because before that, she happened to be singing one of my all-time favourite songs ("Pretend We're Dead").

    Originally posted by demos99
    Part of it seemed to lie in a 'anything men can do women can do better' mantra, but it seemed to take only the most base aspects of male nature as things to 'emulate'.
    Well quite. There's always been that joke about women having to lower themselves if they wanted to be equal with men, but then the "ladette" thing sort of took that joke and ran with it. Now binge drinking is a serious health concern among younger women. Equal partners around the toilet bowl! Not the sort of progress some of us might prefer...

    Originally posted by demos99
    To be sure, Men's respect for Women has traditionally been woeful, but the suggestion that 'what goes around comes around' is fair play seems to me like deliberately missing the point of the whole 'equality' argument.
    Exactly. The aim, in theory, is to find a shared humanity, not karmic "revenge", or a common interest in alcopops. But then Men haven't done a great deal to earn Women's respect... in general.

    Leave a comment:


  • David Mosley
    replied
    Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
    Well, as I say, I grew up admiring these strong, grungy women (L7, Lunachicks, etc.) who were engaged with such issues in their work and in their lives (supporting "Pro-Choice" organisations and such) and presumably got it into my head that they were the tip of some sort of iceberg...
    Would that be L7 as in the group whose guitarist dropped her trousers live on Channel 4's 'The Word' and revealed she wasn't wearing any underwear? :(

    Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
    Well, we all generalise of course. I read an interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday, concerning the "differences between me and women". Although it's always hard to really trust these "surveys" that crop up every other week, but it might be worth a read:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...785359,00.html

    (Not sure how long they keep articles up for. If it disappears the article was based on research by Janet Shibley Hyde, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, as published in American Psychologist)
    Seven days generally. Then you need to subscribe to view past editions.

    Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
    In a supplement, there was also an opinion piece about how many young girls are now aspiring to be "glamour models", which was rather depressing. Again, it might need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but currently the number one single in Britain was recorded by a burlesque group called "The Pussycat Dolls", who suggested that cavorting in skimpy clothing "empowered" young women by proving that they could be talented and sexy. I can't wrap my head around how that might be empowering, considering the meager "talent" on display, but perhaps I'm just biased. Ironically the chorus of the songs asks the listener if he wants his girlfriend to be like one of them, to which I instantly replied, "no". I'd worry about her catching a chill. :)
    In modern media terms, much of this so-called empowerment stems from things like 'Girl Power' that pseudo-(non-)manifesto espoused by groups like the Spice Girls, although it doubtless pre-dates that in real terms. I'm not sure that people ever really worked out what GP was all about beyond laying the foundations for the ladette culture which allowed women (girls) to go out, get drunk and generally behave leerily like 'unreconstructed' males. Part of it seemed to lie in a 'anything men can do women can do better' mantra, but it seemed to take only the most base aspects of male nature as things to 'emulate'. Probably the pinnacle (nadir?) of this was the video for The Prodigy's 'Smack My Bitch Up' single. (If anyone hasn't seen it I won't spoil it for them. :))

    There does seem to be a fairly prevalent view that men are primarily driven by their sex urges and that if women (girls?) dress up in skimpy undies and generally cavort like pole-dancers they can get men to do anything. This seems to me basically misandristic (sp?) and lacking in the same sort of respect that women accuse men of showing them. To be sure, Men's respect for Women has traditionally been woeful, but the suggestion that 'what goes around comes around' is fair play seems to me like deliberately missing the point of the whole 'equality' argument.

    Leave a comment:


  • DeeCrowSeer
    replied
    Originally posted by Marie-Bernadette
    There is so much I want to talk about with both of you, but my posts will be in bits and pieces because I just started another semester at school and have a lot of other committments, so my posting time is sporadic.
    Well, I don't have a decent excuse for my delay in replying, other than that I thought I'd hang back to see it I could reply to two posts with one... er... stone...

    Originally posted by Marie-Bernadette
    MB: Well, of course you're entitled to an opinion, Dee! I want to hear men's opinions just as much as I want to hear women's opinions.
    I don't really know many people I could broach such serious subjects with, so there are many things I'd be curious to get other perspectives on, to help me shore up my own feelings against the common consensus.... I should probably join a forum somewhere. It's one of those subjects, much like vegetarianism, where it seems hard to have a discussion without annoying someone.

    But I find the subject of male/female interactions fascinating... I doubt I'll ever "understand", as such, though. Why do we play the roles we do? I don't know.

    Originally posted by Marie-Bernadette
    In some ways, it means more to me to hear from men who aren't misogynists, who are pro-Andrea Dworkin, because I've met so many who aren't. I expect women to be understanding (although many aren't, like those nasty, cowardly self-hating conservatives), but it's so nice to hear from men who are understanding and who are not hostile.
    Well, as I say, I grew up admiring these strong, grungy women (L7, Lunachicks, etc.) who were engaged with such issues in their work and in their lives (supporting "Pro-Choice" organisations and such) and presumably got it into my head that they were the tip of some sort of iceberg... but, that doesn't seem to be the case. And, while I hate to generalise about anyone, it is often hard to find men who can stop saying "phwoooaarrr!" (and making Benny Hill faces) for long enough to have a serious discussion. That's not to say they're misogynists, as such, but there's just this over-whelming (at times) duvet of encouragment for me to behave and think a certain way.

    I'm not immune... certainly not, but I suppose the only thing that saves me from being smothered completely is my aversion to what Dworkin described as the "banality" of the way sex is addressed. Being naturally predisposed towards boredom with the mainstream, I'm interested in any ideas which might suggest a more interesting path. As it were. The "problem" with (what little I understand of) Dworkin's argument concerning intercourse, is that there's nothing "in it" for men in the short term... I mean, beyond self-awareness, but that's always a hard sell. There's no sexy way to sell a reappraisal of sex... especially if it might lead to a period of celibacy while people get their heads together.

    Originally posted by Marie-Bernadette
    It lessens my fear and prevents me from generalizing about men.
    Well, we all generalise of course. I read an interesting article in the Sunday Times yesterday, concerning the "differences between me and women". Although it's always hard to really trust these "surveys" that crop up every other week, but it might be worth a read:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...785359,00.html

    (Not sure how long they keep articles up for. If it disappears the article was based on research by Janet Shibley Hyde, professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, as published in American Psychologist)

    In a supplement, there was also an opinion piece about how many young girls are now aspiring to be "glamour models", which was rather depressing. Again, it might need to be taken with a pinch of salt, but currently the number one single in Britain was recorded by a burlesque group called "The Pussycat Dolls", who suggested that cavorting in skimpy clothing "empowered" young women by proving that they could be talented and sexy. I can't wrap my head around how that might be empowering, considering the meager "talent" on display, but perhaps I'm just biased. Ironically the chorus of the songs asks the listener if he wants his girlfriend to be like one of them, to which I instantly replied, "no". I'd worry about her catching a chill. :)

    Sorry, I'm rambling again.

    Leave a comment:


  • Marie-Bernadette
    replied
    Dee and Mr. M. --

    What you have both written in the above posts is of great interest to me. There is so much I want to talk about with both of you, but my posts will be in bits and pieces because I just started another semester at school and have a lot of other committments, so my posting time is sporadic.

    Dee: "...in so far as I'm entitled to have an opinion on the subject."

    MB: Well, of course you're entitled to an opinion, Dee! I want to hear men's opinions just as much as I want to hear women's opinions. Obviously I prefer to hear from men who agree with AD rather than from those whose disagree. I'm all to familiar with the opinions and hostilities of those who hated her. But I understand what you both meant when you said you "didn't want to preach to women." But having a personal opinion is different than trying to speak on behalf of women. There are groups of people that I don't feel comfortable speaking for or preaching to, as it were, even if I empathize with them.

    In some ways, it means more to me to hear from men who aren't misogynists, who are pro-Andrea Dworkin, because I've met so many who aren't. I expect women to be understanding (although many aren't, like those nasty, cowardly self-hating conservatives), but it's so nice to hear from men who are understanding and who are not hostile. It lessens my fear and prevents me from generalizing about men.

    Mr. M., when you first told me about AD I did an internet search on her and the first link I found was to some jerk who was saying she was a man-hater and blah, blah, blah. It gave such a sinking feeling. At least there was a woman on that site who put up a post in AD's defense and said that, no, she wasn't a man-hater. I looked at other links in the search results and found many articles about her and by her and they were much more positive, so that was encouraging.

    Although so much of what she wrote is timeless, some of it is characteristic of her time. I was born in 1968, and while some of the issues I've faced are the same as what she faced, I am a different generation. I wish my generation had their own Andrea.

    One thing I really like about her is that she criticizes the Left as well as the Right. I consider myself a moderate Liberal. I don't like the far Left because they all too often are in favor of the porn industry and its ridiculous "freedom of the press/freedom of speech" defense. The Right is often anti-porn, but not for the same reasons that women like me are anti-porn. Neither the Left or the Right "get it."

    Well, more later-- I have to go to class. I'm taking Macromedia Flash.

    Cheers,
    M-B

    Leave a comment:

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