It was five years ago yesterday that the world's most famous feminist died

(34 Posts)
dittany Sat 10-Apr-10 17:52:51

Andrea Dworkin - who many people have heard of even if they don't know much else about feminism. They don't know much about her either unfortunately, because Dworkin was thoroughly demonised and marginalised in her lifetime. This despite the fact that her life's work was to end male violence, particularly sexual violence, against women.

Reading over at Rebecca Mott's blog reminded me about this sad anniversary. Rebecca posted this piece by Andrea Dworkin about pornography up on her website in tribute to her. If you don't feel like reading it all just read the last paragraph. Andrea Dworkin was a truth teller:

"WHY PORNOGRAPHY MATTERS TO FEMINISTS

Pornography is an essential issue because pornography says that women want to be hurt, forced, and abused; pornography says women want to be raped, battered, kidnapped, maimed; pornography says want to be humiliated, shamed, defamed; pornography says that women say No but mean Yes – Yes to violence, Yes to pain.

Also: pornography says that women are things; pornography says that being used as things fulfills the erotic nature of women; pornography says that women are the things men use.

Also: in pornography women are used as things; in pornography force is used against women; in pornography women are used.

Also: pornography says that women are sluts, cunts; pornography says that pornographers define women; pornography says that women are what men want women to be.

Also: pornography shows women as body parts, as genitals, as vaginal slits, as nipples, as buttocks, as lips, as open wounds, as pieces.

Also: pornography uses real women.

Also: pornography is an industry that buys and sells women.

Also: pornography sets the standard for female sexuality, for female sexual values, for girls growing up, for boys growing up, and increasing for advertising, films, video, visual arts, fine art and literature, music with words.

Also: the acceptance of pornography means the decline of feminist ethics and an abandonment of feminist politics; the acceptance of pornography means feminists abandon women.



Also: pornography turns women into objects and commodities; pornography perpetuates the object status of women; pornography perpetuates the self-defeating divisions among women by perpetuating the object status of women; pornography perpetuates the low self-esteem of women by perpetuating the object status of women; pornography perpetuates the distrust of women for women by perpetuating the object status of women; pornography perpetuates the demeaning and degrading of female intelligence and creativity by perpetuating the object status of women.

Also: pornography is violence against the women used in pornography and pornography encourages and promotes violence against women as a class; pornography dehumanises the women used in pornography and pornography contributes to and promotes the dehumanisation of all women; pornography exploits the women used in pornography and promotes the sexual and economic exploitation of women as a class.

Also: pornography is made by men who sanction, use, celebrate, and promote violence against women.

Also: pornography exploits children of both sexes, especially girls, and encourages violence against children, and does violence to children.



Also: pornography numbs the conscience, makes one increasingly callous to cruelty, to infliction of pain, to violence against persons, to humiliation or degradation of persons, to the abuse of women and children.

Also: pornography gives us no future; pornography robs us of hope as well as dignity; pornography further lessens our human value in the society at large and our human potential in fact; pornography forbids sexual self-determination to women and to children; pornography uses us up and throws us away; pornography annihilates our chance for freedom."

Molesworth Sat 10-Apr-10 18:34:09

I didn't realise it was the anniversary of her death

I just ordered her memoir "Heartbreak" from Amazon today: really looking forward to reading her work.

sarah293 Sat 10-Apr-10 18:38:20

Thanks for postig that Dittany

ElephantsAndMiasmas Tue 13-Apr-10 13:33:02

thanks Dittany, I keep meaning to read her work too, where's a good place to start?

dittany Wed 14-Apr-10 17:46:15

Her on-line library has all sorts of stuff Elephants, so it would probably just be a matter of picking out what looks interesting to you. Well actually I'd recommend the chapters from Pornography - it certainly changed the way I saw the world.

www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OnlineLibrary.html

I'd also recommend the interviews and her memoir Heartbreak as Molesworth mentions, which contextualise her work to a certain extent.

Apparently a minor character in Holby City was shown reading Intercourse the other night and one of the doctors was shown commenting on it. Bit of subversion going on at the BBC.

FioFio Wed 14-Apr-10 17:48:41

I have just started to get interested in feminism (though I imagine my life has been lived in equality since being an adult, so that isn't a problem) I have started reading stuff by susie orbach. I think that is about my intelligence level atm

KinderellaTristabelle Wed 14-Apr-10 18:01:21

Thanks for posting this Dittany.

I hadn't realised. sad

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 18:09:22

thanks for posting this piece by AD; the truths it states seem so blindingly obvious to me (and always have) that i still struggle to understand how society at large denies them. but it does, now more than ever sad

I can't believe it's been five years sad

tiredlady Wed 14-Apr-10 18:19:25

thanks for posting that dittany.

Magaly Wed 14-Apr-10 18:23:03

It's all true. I agree with it all.

I hate the fact that the worst thing you can be labelled nowadays is a 'prude'. Oh you don't approve of pornography? You uptight frigid anal miserable old prude.....

Susie Orbach said something in an interview I happened to catch. It really struck a chord for me in the run up to my 40th birthday. She said "ageing is not shameful".

Simple and not that punchy perhaps. But it just hit me between the two eyes at exactly the right moment. How right she is! AGeing is NOT shameful!! I have no OBLIGATION to be young (or to be fuckable or malleable or anything else) I have been young. So from now on I will not apologise for being the age I am. I won't shave a few years off my age to collude with some notion that younger women are more valuable, or that I would be more valuable if I were younger.

I won't simper and say ooooh thank you when a man tells me I don't look forty, as though there were no bigger compliment.

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 18:29:51

The only response to the prude accusation, Magaly, is that I'd rather be a prude than a mug. Which I'm afraid is exactly what you are, if you collude with these notions that men "need" pornography, or that the objectification of women it represents is somehow sexually liberating.

msrisotto Wed 14-Apr-10 18:35:22

I know that a lot of porn treats/portrays women badly but not all porn, do we have to write it all off as awful?

It portrays men in a pretty unrealistic way too.

Magaly Wed 14-Apr-10 18:36:34

Good one small whitecat. That's up my sleeve now (ready for the next on line argument I have with twits and eejits who buy into the notions such as happy hooker and so on)

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 18:40:22

As Dworkins says, porn makes women into objects. This is true from page 3 to the most violent hardcore film. that affecs the way men think about women, and the way they think about themselevs (and each other), and not in a good way.

Magaly Wed 14-Apr-10 18:46:53

Yes smallWC, and the fact that some men (who seem otherwise intelligent) can with a straight face defend prostitution on the 'grounds' that some prostitutes are happy/enjoy it are empowered etc (blah blah blah) shows the insidious damage that porn has on society, to the detriment of women.

Belle du jour is a very palatable tale for men. Much more palatable than the reality; ie that most prostitutes arrive in a crate from poverty in Belarus (eg). Because of porn, some men find it easy to delude themselves that a 17 year old 600 miles from home would prefer to be a hooker than an ordinary administrator/caterer/hairdresser. Porn feeds this (imo) ludicrous and offensive delusion which I've come right up against on an other forum.

dittany Wed 14-Apr-10 18:53:40

Andrea Dworkin did say that arguing with some men about porn was like arguing with an erection. You wont' get any rationality or empathy in a conversation like that.

I agree though that the way that porn can dehumanise women and make it OK to treat some women (although it's getting to be more than some given the way porn has invaded people's bedrooms) in the most horrendous ways possible is one of its worst effects. Who'd ever have thought even ten years ago that choking, anal sex and slapping would be expected to be part of so many women's sexual repetoires.

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 19:00:38

I think perhaps in its own way porn puts pressure on men too, to an extent; i.e. if you haven't tried anal sex and the rest of porny repertoire you're not a real man etc, so young men at least pretend that they have, which perpetuates the general idea that these things are now the norm. Is the idea of pushing yourb up a hole poo comes out of really that intrinsically appealing? Or has it become so because it's being portrayed by porn and the wider culture as sexy, liberated, transgressive, and young men wnat to think of themselves as being those things?

sungirltan Wed 14-Apr-10 19:03:26

great post. i find porn offensive for many complicated reasons but i find the above v aff
irming.

thanks for that

dittany Wed 14-Apr-10 19:07:57

Porn is definitely an instruction manual for men about what to do to women in bed. Which is scary when you see the contents of pornography. It also teaches men that women are gagging for it all the time. They take normal situations and then portray the women in them as sexually insatiable and basically desperate to be penetrated by any man in the vicinity.

It often surprises me that quite a few men, although by no means all, don't seem to understand that most women exercise discrimination about sexual partners and actually have preferences about who they do and don't want to have sex with. If those men were to accept that idea it would make it very hard for them to support porn or prostitution where the woman is expected to take on all-comers, no matter what her preference might actually be.

scottishmummy Wed 14-Apr-10 19:11:54

of course i know dworkin.hugely influential.didnt know she was dead

sungirltan Wed 14-Apr-10 19:17:31

its the 'oh but lots of women out there love (insert sex acts which no women i know are in any way gagging for) - you're just a prude' that makes me blame porn for everything about sex/men that i have issues with.

smallwhitecat Wed 14-Apr-10 19:21:55

I think porn contributes hugely to the idea amongst men that sex and women who like sex are dirty, degraded, and in fact slightly less than human; therefore it doesn't matter what you do to them, because they don't count. They're not actually people with thoughts, desires, and feelings, in the way that you are; it's OK to use them as you would any object dedicated to your use. Some men, infact, end up incapable of relating sexually to women they actually like and respect; liking and respect for a woman precludes having sexual feelings for her. the 2 sets of feelings become mutually exclusive. That's bad for women, clearly, but it ain't great for men either.

KinderellaTristabelle Thu 15-Apr-10 15:21:49

I am loving this thread. Its great be reminded I'm not the only one thinks like this. Its liberating.

smallwhite cat, Magaly and dittany, I couldn't agree more.

Up until about a couple of years ago I actually did think I was wierd for being uncomfortable with porn. It has made a massive difference to realise that my discomfort was in fact logical. (I didn't understand it as I had no objection to nudity or anything explicit at all but did not like porn.confused)

I couldn't articulate why until I happened across some feminist literature by Catherine MacKinnon (who, of course, worked with Andrea Dworkin) and was in shock for weeks while everything fell into place. It truly allowed me to see the patriarchy in a totally different way.

I had been a feminist before in the sense that I wanted equal opportunities for women, no discrimination etc. but never really saw how the whole structure and background created and maintained the problems women face. Until those stereotypical portrayals of women cease, we will never be equal. Its like racist portrayals of a particular group being accaptable in everyday life. You can make discrimination against that group illegal, but they will never experience equality while you allow their stereotype to go unchallenged. Especially when its as pervasive, as the sexual objectification of women is in our culture.

dignified Fri 16-Apr-10 00:56:41

I feel quite distressed and pissed off reading that.

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