Andrea Dworkin

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I have spent 20 years writing these books. Had I wanted to say men are beasts and scream, that takes 30 seconds.

Andrea Rita Dworkin (September 26, 1946April 9, 2005) was an American radical feminist and writer.

Sourced[edit]

  • I'm a radical feminist, not the fun kind.
    • "Dworkin on Dworkin," an interview originally published in Off Our Backs, reprinted in Radically Speaking: Feminism Reclaimed Ed. by Renate Klein and Diane Bell.
  • The nature of women's oppression is unique: women are oppressed as women, regardless of class or race; some women have access to significant wealth, but that wealth does not signify power; women are to be found everywhere, but own or control no appreciable territory; women live with those who oppress them, sleep with them, have their children — we are tangled, hopelessly it seems, in the gut of the machinery and way of life which is ruinous to us.
    • Woman Hating, ch. 9, p. 23, E.P. Dutton, New York (1974).
  • Under patriarchy, every woman's son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.
    • Our Blood (1976).
  • By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air. It is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of "I am afraid", we say, "I don't want to", or "I don't know how", or "I can't."
    • Speech at Queens College, City University of New York (March 12, 1975). "The Sexual Politics of Fear and Courage", ch. 5, Our Blood (1976).
  • The fact that we are all trained to be mothers from infancy on means that we are all trained to devote our lives to men, whether they are our sons or not; that we are all trained to force other women to exemplify the lack of qualities which characterizes the cultural construct of femininity.
    • Speech at Queens College, City University of New York (March 12, 1975). "The Sexual Politics of Fear and Courage", ch. 5, Our Blood (1976).
  • For a mother the project of raising a boy is the most fulfilling project she can hope for. She can watch him, as a child, play the games she was not allowed to play; she can invest in him her ideas, aspirations, ambitions, and values — or whatever she has left of them; she can watch her son, who came from her flesh and whose life was sustained by her work and devotion, embody her in the world. So while the project of raising a boy is fraught with ambivalence and leads inevitably to bitterness, it is the only project that allows a woman to be — to be through her son, to live through her son.
    • Speech, first delivered at Queens College, City University of New York (March 12, 1975). "The Sexual Politics of Fear and Courage", ch. 5, Our Blood (1976).
  • A man can be a hero if he is a scientist, or a soldier, or a drug addict, or a disc jockey, or a crummy mediocre politician. A man can be a hero because he suffers and despairs; or because he thinks logically and analytically; or because he is "sensitive"; or because he is cruel. Wealth establishes a man as a hero, and so does poverty. Virtually any circumstance in a man's life will make him a hero to some group of people and has a mythic rendering in the culture — in literature, art, theater, or the daily newspapers.
    • Speech at Queen's College, City University of New York (March 12, 1975). "The Sexual Politics of Fear and Courage", ch. 5, published in Our Blood (1976).
  • Romantic love, in pornography as in life, is the mythic celebration of female negation. For a woman, love is defined as her willingness to submit to her own annihilation.... The proof of love is that she is willing to be destroyed by the one whom she loves, for his sake. For the woman, love is always self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of identity, will, and bodily integrity, in order to fulfill and redeem the masculinity of her lover.
    • Speech at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge (September 26, 1975). "The Root Cause", ch. 9, Our Blood (1976).
  • Q: People think you are very hostile to men.
    A: I am.

    Q: Doesn't that worry you?
    A: From what you said, it worries them.
  • Feminists are often asked whether pornography causes rape. The fact is that rape and prostitution caused and continue to cause pornography. Politically, culturally, socially, sexually, and economically, rape and prostitution generated pornography; and pornography depends for its continued existence on the rape and prostitution of women.
  • I want to see this men's movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality. It is astonishing that in all our worlds of feminism and antisexism we never talk seriously about ending rape. Ending it. Stopping it. No more. No more rape. In the back of our minds, are we holding on to its inevitability as the last preserve of the biological? Do we think that it is always going to exist no matter what we do? All of our political actions are lies if we don't make a commitment to ending the practice of rape. This commitment has to be political. It has to be serious. It has to be systematic. It has to be public. It can't be self-indulgent.
  • Anti-feminism is also operating whenever any political group is ready to sacrifice one group of women, one faction, some women, some kinds of women, to any element of sex-class oppression: to pornography, to rape, to battery, to economic exploitation, to reproductive exploitation, to prostitution. There are women all along the male-defined political spectrum, including both extreme ends of it, ready to sacrifice some women, usually not themselves, to the brothels or the farms. The sacrifice is profoundly anti-feminist; it is also profoundly immoral...
    • "Anti-feminism," Right Wing Women (1983), pp. 230-231.
  • Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of contempt for women’s bodies.
    • Intercourse (1987) chapter 7, "Occupation/Collaboration".
  • Any man will follow any feminine looking thing down any dark alley; I've always wanted to see a man beaten to a shit bloody pulp with a high-heeled shoe stuffed up his mouth, sort of the pig with the apple; it would be good to put him on a serving plate but you'd need good silver.
    • Mercy: A Novel (1990)
    • Sometimes misleadingly quoted out of context without mentioning that it was narrated by a protagonist in a work of fiction.
  • (On prostitution:) Incest is boot camp. Incest is where you send the girl to learn how to do it. So you don't, obviously, have to send her anywhere, she's already there and she's got nowhere else to go. She's trained. And the training is specific and it is important: not to have any real boundaries to her own body; to know that she's valued only for sex; to learn about men what the offender, the sex offender, is teaching her.
    • "Prostitution and Male Supremacy" (1993), Michigan Journal of Gender and Law 1(1):1–12. Reprinted in Life and Death (1997), p 139–51.
    • Often paraphrased as "Incest is boot camp for prostitution".
  • I'm going to ask you to remember the prostituted, the homeless, the battered, the raped, the tortured, the murdered, the raped-then-murdered, the murdered-then-raped; and I am going to ask you to remember the photographed, the ones that any or all of the above happened to and it was photographed and now the photographs are for sale in our free countries. I want you to think about those who have been hurt for the fun, the entertainment, the so-called speech of others; those who have been hurt for profit, for the financial benefit of pimps and entrepreneurs. I want you to remember the perpetrator and I am going to ask you to remember the victims: not just tonight but tomorrow and the next day. I want you to find a way to include them -- the perpetrators and the victims -- in what you do, how you think, how you act, what you care about, what your life means to you.

    Now, I know, in this room, some of you are the women I have been talking about. I know that. People around you may not. I am going to ask you to use every single thing you can remember about what was done to you -- how it was done, where, by whom, when, and, if you know -- why -- to begin to tear male dominance to pieces, to pull it apart, to vandalize it, to destabilize it, to mess it up, to get in its way, to fuck it up. I have to ask you to resist, not to comply, to destroy the power men have over women, to refuse to accept it, to abhor it and to do whatever is necessary despite its cost to you to change it.
  • Michael Moorcock: Several reviewers accused you of saying that all intercourse was rape. I haven't found a hint of that anywhere in the book. Is that what you are saying?
    Dworkin: No, I wasn't saying that and I didn't say that, then or ever.… My point was that as long as the law allows statutory exemption for a husband from rape charges, no married woman has legal protection from rape. I also argued, based on a reading of our laws, that marriage mandated intercourse — it was compulsory, part of the marriage contract. Under the circumstances, I said, it was impossible to view sexual intercourse in marriage as the free act of a free woman.
    • Interview in New Statesman & Society (21 April 1995), discussing her books Intercourse and Right Wing Women.
  • I have been asked, politely and not so politely, why I am myself. This is an accounting any woman will be called on to give if she asserts her will. In the home the question will be couched in a million cruelties, some subtle, some so egregious they rival the injuries of organized war. … It must be admitted that those who want me to account for myself are intrigued in hostile, voyeuristic ways, and their projections of me are not the usual run-of-the-mill rudeness or arrogance to which writers, especially women writers, become accustomed. The work would be enough, even for the unfortunate sad sacks mentioned above. So here's the deal as I see it: I am ambitious — God knows, not for money; in most respects but not all I am honorable; and I wear overalls: kill the bitch. But the bitch is not yet ready to die. Brava, she says, alone in a small room.
    • "Preface," Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant (2002).
  • Pornography is used in rape - to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act.
    • Testimony before the New York Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in 1986.
  • The pornographers actually use our bodies as their language. We are their speech. . . . Protecting what they 'say' means protecting what they do to us, how they do it. It means protecting their sadism on our bodies, because that is how they write: not like a writer at all; like a torturer.
    • Women Transforming Communications.

Pornography, Men Possessing Women (1979)[edit]

  • Men characterize pornography as something mental because their minds, their thoughts, their dreams, their fantasies, are more real to them than women's bodies or lives; in fact, men have used their social power to characterize a $10-billion-a-year trade in women as fantasy.
  • Pornography is the essential sexuality of male power: of hate, of ownership, of hierarchy; of sadism, of dominance.
  • Pornography incarnates male supremacy. It is the DNA of male dominance. Every rule of sexual abuse, every nuance of sexual sadism, every highway and byway of sexual exploitation, is encoded in it.
  • ...pornography is the orchestrated destruction of women's bodies and souls; rape, battery, incest, and prostitution animate it; dehumanization and sadism characterize it; it is war on women, serial assaults on dignity, identity, and human worth; it is tyranny. Each woman who has survived knows from the experience of her own life that pornography is captivity–the woman trapped in the picture used on the woman trapped wherever he's got her.
  • [I]n the male sexual lexicon, which is the vocabulary of power, erotica is simply high-class pornography: better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer. As with the call girl and the streetwalker, one is turned out better but both are produced by the same system of sexual values and both perform the same sexual service.
    • p 10.
  • Men are rewarded for learning the practice of violence in virtually any sphere of activity by money, admiration, recognition, respect, and the genuflection of others honoring their sacred and proven masculinity.
    • p 53.
  • Pornography reveals that male pleasure is inextricably tied to victimizing, hurting, exploiting; that sexual fun and sexual passion in the privacy of the male imagination are inseparable from the brutality of male history. The private world of sexual dominance that men demand as their right and their freedom is the mirror image of the public world of sadism and atrocity that men consistently and self-righteously deplore. It is in the male experience of pleasure that one finds the meaning of male history.
    • p 69.
  • Women, for centuries not having access to pornography and now unable to bear looking at the muck on the supermarket shelves, are astonished. Women do not believe that men believe what pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst to the best of them, they do.
    • p 167.
  • The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.

Intercourse (1987)[edit]

  • Truth is harder to bear than ignorance, and so ignorance is valued more— also because the status quo depends on it; but love depends on self-knowledge and self-knowledge depends on being able to bear the truth.
  • No one deserves brutality because of what they are, their condition of birth, including being born female; and the women in this book are not asking for it— instead they are risking as much as any man risks to live, to love.

Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation (2000)[edit]

N.Y.: Free Press, 2000, ISBN 0-684-83612-2

  • Berlin says: "… You cannot combine full liberty with full equality—full liberty for the wolves cannot be combined with full liberty for the sheep...." …. Are women sheep ("led like sheep to the slaughter")? Must women become wolves? Is violence against women a direct result of the fact that there is no inevitable, painful, retaliatory consequence for hurting women?
    • pp. 245–246.
  • Do women need sovereignty—not only over their own bodies as currently understood in the United States ...; but control of a boundary further away from their bodies, a defended boundary? Do women need land and an army ...; or a feminist government in exile ...? Or is it simpler: the bed belongs to the woman; the house belongs to the woman; any land belongs to the woman; if a male intimate is violent he is removed from the place where she has the superior and inviolate claim, arrested, denied parole, and prosecuted. .... Could women "set a high price on our blood"? Could women set any price on our blood? Could women manage self-defense if not retaliation? Would self-defense be enough? Could women execute men who raped or beat or tortured women? .... [¶] .... Could the acts of women in behalf of women … have a code of honor woman-to-woman that weakens the male-dominant demands of nationalism or race-pride or ethnic pride? Could women commit treason to the men of their own group: put women first, even the putative enemy women? Do women have enough militancy and self-respect to see themselves as the central makers of legal codes, ethics, honor codes, and culture?
    • p. 246.
  • Can women make use of men's vulnerability not to marry but instead to destroy male power?
    • p. 248.
  • Could women's liberation ever be a revolutionary movement, not rhetorically but on the ground?
    • p. 248.
  • One needs either equality or political and economic superiority.
    • p. 336.

About[edit]

  • "Andrea presented herself as a street fighter intellectual, a bohemian freedom fighter, and someone who wanted to get to the bottom of things. That quote about Malcolm X is apt. Malcolm pointed out “The problem is WHITE PEOPLE.” Dworkin said, “The problem is MEN.” And for all the holes that can be poked in that cloth, there is something about that grain that is absolutely true, when you are the short end of the bolt."
  • "I’m sorry Andrea Dworkin started a sexual revolution that she ended up repudiating. She never got to see people like me, Carol, and the rest of us little protégées who took her inspiration and flew to a new dimension. She got stuck, and then she got sick, and when you’re famous for one thing, no one wants to see you change unless you reject it all, like a pathetic sinner seeking redemption. She was too stubborn and too old-fashioned for that. Andrea Dworkin never would have admitted that she was a SuperStar. She was the animator of the ultimate porno horror loop, where the Final Girl never gets a chance to slay the monster, she only dies, dies, dies, with the cries of the angry mourners to remember her."
  • So now we come to what Andrea Dworkin wants and it is this: she wants women to have their own country. But that's mad, I said to her. Why bother discussing it? It isn't going to happen. To which she has a reply -- didn't they say that about Israel? And didn't the world think that Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, was a crank? The Jews got a country because they had been persecuted, said that enough was enough, decided what they wanted and went out and fought for it. Women should do the same. And if you don't want to live in Womenland, so what? Not all Jews live in Israel, but it is there, a place of potential refuge if persecution comes to call. Furthermore, Dworkin says, as the Jews fought for Israel so women have the right to execute -- that's right, execute -- rapists and the state should not intervene. I couldn't really believe she was serious, but she is.

External links[edit]

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