Andrea Dworkin Died

Andrea Dworkin September 26, 1946 ---- April 9, 2005
(Greenconsciousness: The message below was forwarded to me from my friend as it was forwarded to her, sister to sister, not in the news headlines. This is how it has always been with Andrea Dworkin, Queen of the Feminist Underground. I feel as if the only person in the world that could possibly understand me has died and now I am totally alone. These are passages from Dworkin and my comments below. I wrote her about the battered women's shelters in Afghanistan and was stunned when she didn't reply. I should have known that only death would have kept her from working on this project. The best article about her will be found here )

Dear Friends,

I just received word that Andrea Dworkin died peacefully in her bed this morning at 8, after a long struggle.

I want to honor her passing by sharing with you an excerpt from one of her speeches posted at the Official Andrea Dworkin Website, which is a beautiful site:

Here are the words of Andrea:

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 f--k 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.

Remember; resist; do not comply by Andrea Dworkin From a Speech at the Massey College Fifth Walter Gordon Forum, Toronto, Ontario, in a symposium on "The Future of Feminism," April 2, 1995. First published by Massey College in the University of Toronto, May 2, 1995. Copyright (c)1995, 1996 by Andrea Dworkin. Reprinted from Life and Death.

From A Feminist Looks at Saudi Arabia (1978):

One must talk, after all; share interests with the people one's surrounded by. What kind of humbug, in a city of rapists, holds out for the dignity of womanhood?--John Gardner, Shadows

"It's hard to fight liberals. They slip and slide. Jimmy Carter had a human rights dimension to his foreign policy so that South Africa was held accountable for its racism. Countries that systematically segregate women, like Saudi Arabia, had nothing to fear from this human rights president.

Now that Reagan's support of apartheid is Amerikan foreign policy, people may think the points made in this essay are glib or cheap. I hate apartheid, in South Africa and in Saudi Arabia, on the basis of race or on the basis of sex.

Do women matter or not?

Is there a single standard of human rights that includes women or not?

Sometimes I cannot believe the world I live in.

Usually I go along, believing. As a feminist and a writer, I study rape, pornography, wife-beating. I see the abused bodies of women, in life and in newspapers. I meet, in life and in books, the torn minds, the locked-in victims. I grieve, I rage, but through it all, I believe.

This ability to believe comes, no doubt, from hearing as a child the desperate memories of those, some in my own family, who survived Nazi concentration camps and Russian pogroms. Being a Jew, one learns to believe in the reality of cruelty and one learns to recognize indifference to human suffering as a fact.

Sometimes though, my credulity is strained. The fact that women, after over half a century of struggle, apparently will not have equal rights under the law in this country is difficult to believe, especially on those grotesque days when Mr Carter makes impassioned statements on the importance of human rights elsewhere. (The Women's Equal Rights Amendment Failed)

Disbelief leads me to wonder why the plight of male dissidents in Russia overtakes Mr Carter's not very empathetic imagination when women in this country are in mental institutions or lobotomized or simply beaten to death or nearly to death by men who do not like the way they have done the laundry or prepared dinner.

And on days when this sanctimonious president makes certain that poor women will not have access to life-saving abortion, and tells us without embarrassment that "life is unfair," my disbelief verges on raw anguish.

I ask myself why the pervasive sexual tyranny in this country--the tyranny of men over women, with its symptomatic expression in economic deprivation and legal discrimination--is not, at least, on the list of human rights violations that Mr Carter keeps on the tip of his forked tongue.

But mostly, inability to believe surfaces on days when Mr Carter and his cronies—and yes, I must admit, especially Andrew Young—discuss our good friend, Saudi Arabia. That is, their good friend, Saudi Arabia. I hear on newscasts that Mr Carter was enchanted by Saudi Arabia, that he had a wonderful time. I remember that Mrs Carter used the back door.

I remember that the use of contraceptives in Saudi Arabia is a capital crime. I remember that in Saudi Arabia, women are a despised and imprisoned caste, denied all civil rights, sold into marriage, imprisoned as sexual and domestic servants in harems. I remember that in Saudi Arabia women are forced to breed babies, who had better be boys, until they die.

Disbelief increases in intensity as I think about South Africa, where suddenly the United States is on the side of the angels. Like most of my generation of the proud and notorious sixties, a considerable part of my life has been spent organizing against apartheid, there and here. The connections have always been palpable. The ruthless economic and sexual interests of the exploiters have always been clear.

The contemptuous racism of the two vile systems has hurt my heart and given me good reason to think democracy a psychotic lie. Slowly activists have forced our government, stubborn in its support of pure evil, to acknowledge in its foreign policy that racist systems of social organization are abhorrent and intolerable.

The shallowness of this new commitment is evident in the almost comical slogan that supposedly articulates the aspirations of the despised: One Man, One Vote.

Amerikan foreign policy has finally caught up, just barely, with the human rights imperatives of the early nineteenth century, rendered reactionary if not obsolete by the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

Seductive mirages of progress notwithstanding, nowhere in the world is apartheid practiced with more cruelty and finality than in Saudi Arabia. Of course, it is women who are locked in and kept out, exiled to invisibility and abject powerlessness within their own country. It is women who are degraded systematically from birth to early death, utterly and totally and without exception deprived of freedom.

It is women who are sold into marriage or concubinage, often before puberty; killed if their hymens are not intact on the wedding night; kept confined, ignorant, pregnant, poor, without choice or recourse. It is women who are raped and beaten with full sanction of the law. It is women who cannot own property or work for a living or determine in any way the circumstances of their own lives.

It is women who are subject to a despotism that knows no restraint. Women locked out and locked in. Mr Carter, enchanted with his good friends, the Saudis. Mr Carter, a sincere advocate of human rights. Sometimes even a feminist with a realistic knowledge of male hypocrisy and a strong stomach cannot believe the world she lives in.

Andrea Dworkin is one of my favorite writers. She wrote:

Woman Hating
Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics
The new Woman's Broken Heart :short stories
Pornography: Men Possessing Women
Right Wing Women
Ice and Fire
Letters from the War Zone
Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation
Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant

These quotes are from Letters from a War Zone, a collection of essays, articles, and speeches from 1976 - 1989.
From Feminism: An Agenda (1983):
So let me just talk with you briefly about how the women’s movement gets its information, and why we are almost always right. In the last ten years there has been a pattern. Feminists have said that something happens or is true and then ten thousand authorities have said that’s bullshit. And then somebody started doing studies, and then three years later they say, well, well, rape is endemic. Right? They say to us, well your figure was too low, it’s ten times that, right? The FBI discovers rape, right?

The same thing happened with battery. Women love to be beaten: that is what authorities think and say. Battered wives begin speaking. Women begin to emerge from situations in which they have been held captive and terrorized for ten years, twelve years, fifteen years. Oh, what crap, the authorities say.

Five years later we have sociologists telling us that they did a study in California and found out that fifty percent of married women have been beaten. It wasn’t news to us. We have a terrific trick. We listen to the women. It is an unbelievably top secret method that we don’t let anyone else know about.

Note from Greenconsciousness: And this is what will happen in the middle east, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. I know it because I have been a feminist. Almost all the women I worked with have shunned me because I will not be silent about this. I support this war.

However, I believe it is critical that feminists organize around the reconstruction efforts to insure women in the middle east will have the tools they need to escape slavery. The Bush administration is not doing all that is needed although they are doing more than the democrats ever did. They are not building battered woman's shelters and this is a critical error. I am desperate to correct this and it would be so easy if the nationally known feminist would take on this issue.

If feminists abandon the women of the middle east because you hate Bush you will contribute to the destruction of your own liberty, your own freedom will be diminished, never to recover. You can ONLY save yourself by saving your sister. It is the truth, not just some hip current chic slogan. It is the terrible inescapable truth. Andrea Dworkin knew this and said it. We should organize for the shelters in her name.


Blogger kitten said...

Thanks for the powerful Dworkin quotes. A 35-yr-old feminist attorney, I was influenced by her in so many ways. And as to our sisters in the Middle East & the war, you're right on!!! To hell with Bush & partisan politics, our sisters need each other no matter where they are. We mustn't let them get lost in the political shuffle.

2:22 PM  
Blogger greenconsciousness said...

Thank You for the support . You would be surprised to know how much your comments mean to me and how much they help me keep on trying.

10:25 AM  

Links to this post:

Create a Link