April 11, 2005
Andrea Dworkin Dies
The American feminist icon, writer and campaigner Andrea Dworkin, who linked pornography to rape and violence, died at the weekend, her agent said today. She was 59 years old.
Her radical-feminist critique of pornography began with her first book, Woman Hating, published when she was 27. She campaigned frequently on the subject, helping to draft a law in 1983 that defined pornography as a civil rights violation against women.
The law, later overturned by an appeal court as unconstitutional, was inspired by the case of Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace said she had had been violently coerced into pornography, including the film Deep Throat, but had no recourse to the courts.
The drive of Ms Dworkin's writing and activism was to break the silence around violence against women, but her wider career saw her become a figure of adulation and loathing in equal measure. To opponents she was an archetypal man-hater, killjoy and proponent of censorship, but supporters rallied to her impassioned lectures and books. Gloria Steinem, a fellow feminist, said she was one of a handful of writers each century "who help the human race to evolve".
The Andrew Dworkin Online Library contains excepts from her books along with speeches, essays, interviews and materials concerning the Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance. Here is her autobiography, as featured in Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series (New York: Gale Research Inc., 1995).
There are excellent blog discussions about Dworkin's views. I'll mention Rad Geek, who has already posted a reflection on Dworkin's death and links to previous posts about her work, including "Andrea Dworkin does not believe that all heterosexual sex is rape." Good debates have also raged at Alas, a Blog (which, alas, seems to be down at the moment). Please feel free point to other discussions and remembrances.
Posted by on April 11, 2005 12:58 PM
I never met Andrea, but this is very sad.
I went over to the Yahoo! board to see what people were saying, and the bile is REALLY bad.
They don't like her, but some of those posters validate her theories about the objectification of women.
Posted by Robin on April 11, 2005 08:09 PM
Andrea Dworkin's death at such a young age is very sad. I did not agree with her rhetoric, but I can certainly sympathize with the pain that must have engendered it.
Posted by rengmann on April 12, 2005 12:54 PM
It is really sad that we have lost such an insightful and compassionate writer. She opened my eyes to the millions of ways in which violence against women is minimized, dismissed, swept under the carpet, or dressed up as fun. It is ironic that her obit in AP has another one of these examples. The AP article states about the law that she co-authored - "The law was inspired by the case of Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace appeared in the pornographic film ``Deep Throat,''." No mention of violent coercion. Another later article does mention as an afterthought that Linda "later said that she was coerced", leaving readers to question her credibility.
I find it very difficult to understand what motivates people to try to dismiss and avoid acknowlegding the damage of pornography. How can anyone have a heart and still portray "deep throat" as an innocuous film - questioning instead the credibility of a woman who was brutally victimized in the making of the film.
Posted by Kali on April 12, 2005 02:52 PM
Thank you for writing that. I found the bile first, too, but luckily take The Guardian every day; it had 3 more pieces on Dworkin, who wrote commissioned pieces for it, today, there are probably links at radgeek now, as she knew they'd be there.
Also there was a Washington Post obit.
Posted by JayAnne on April 12, 2005 06:41 PM
The Yahoo! Message Boards are great for a good laugh and to see how stupid some people can be. Nothing there justifies any of Dworkin's rantings.
Posted by Scott on April 12, 2005 11:06 PM
I am totally saddened by the deeth of Ms. Dworkin. Andrea Dworkin along with Mary Daly, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan have had such a positive impact on my life. Andrea's work to stop violence against women is so important to women. Why do people like to totally distort what she really believed? Goddess bless ANDREA DWORKIN~
Posted by Tara Stein on April 13, 2005 09:44 AM
I knew her - I published her first work of fiction, The New Womans Broken Heart. Although we had not been in touch for some years and I disagreed with her on many, many points, I considered her a friend. This comes as a shock but not a surprise - Andrea's health had not been good for a number of years. Ironically, it was Friday that I just gave my publishing papers including letters Andrea wrote to me to the University of California at Berkeley's Bancroft Library and I was just in the process of writing to her to inform her of that fact. I will always cherish her memory, her stories and the good times we had together. My heart goes out to her long-time partner, John Stolenberg.
Posted by Susan Hester on April 14, 2005 02:21 PM