Andrea Dworkin died recently. Here is some
information I received from historian Laura X:
John Stoltenberg has sent these items this morning; they were prepared by
Andrea Dworkin before her death. Please feel free to circulate widely.
September 26, 1946 - April 9, 2005
Andrea Dworkin is internationally renowned as a radical feminist activist
and author who has helped break the silence around violence against women.
In her determination to articulate the experiences of poor, lower-class,
marginal, and prostituted women, Dworkin has deepened public awareness of
rape, battery, pornography, and prostitution. She is co-author of the
pioneering Minneapolis and Indianapolis ordinances that define pornography a
civil-rights violation against women. She has testified before the Attorney
General's Commission on Pornography and a subcommittee of the
Senate Judiciary Committee. She has appeared on national television shows
including Donahue, MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, 60 Minutes, CBS Evening News,
and 48 hours. She has been a focus of articles in The New York Times,
Newsweek, The New Republic, and Time. And an hour-long documentary called
"Against Pornography: The Feminism of Andrea Dworkin," produced by the BBC,
was watched by more viewers in England than any other program in the Omnibus
series and has been syndicated throughout Europe and Australia. Filmed in
New York City and Portland, Oregon, it included excerpts from Dworkin's
impassioned public speaking and intimate conversations between Dworkin and
women who had been used in prostitution and pornography, most since
The author of 13 books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Dworkin is a
political artist of unparalleled achievement.
"In every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to
evolve," said Gloria Steinem; Andrea is one of them." Dworkin's first
novel, Ice and Fire, was published in 1986; Mercy followed in 1990 to wide
acclaim in the U.S. and abroad- "lyrical and passionate," said The New York
Times; "one of the great postwar novels," said London's Sunday Telegraph;
"a fantastically powerful book," said the Glasgow Herald. Her latest
nonfiction book is Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing
War Against Women (The Free
Dworkin's activist political life began early. In 1965, when she was 18 and
a student at Bennington College, she was arrested at the United States
Mission to the United Nations, protesting against the Vietnam War. She was
sent to the Women's House of Detention, where she was given a brutal
internal examination. Her brave testimony about the sadism of that
experience-reported in newspapers around the world-helped bring public
pressure on the New York City government to close the Women's House of
Detention down. An unmarked community garden nw grows in Greenwich Village
where that prison once stood.
Dorkin's radical-feminist critique of pornography and violence against women
began with her first book, Woman Hating, published in 1974 when she was 27.
She went on to speak often about the harms to women of pornography and
addressed the historic rally in 1978 when 3,000 women attending the first
feminist conference on pornography held the first Take Back the Night March
and shut down San Francisco's pornography district for one night.
In 1980 Dworkin asked Yale law professor Catharine A. MacKinnon for help in
bringing a civil-rights suit for Linda Marchiano, who as "Linda Lovelace"
had been coerced into pornography, including Deep Throat. Under
current law, Dworkin and MacKinnon discovered, there was no way to help her.
Later, in 1983, while co-teaching a course on pornography at the University
of Minnesota Law School in 1983, they were commissioned by the Minneapolis
City Council to draft a local ordinance that would embody the legal
principle, first proposed by Dworkin in Linda Marchiano's behalf, that
pornography violates the civil rights of women. Dworkin, MacKinnon, and
others organized public hearings on the ordinance-the first time in history
that victims of pornography testified directly before a governmental body.
Dworkin has been a uniquely influential inspiration both to legal thinkers
and to grass-roots feminist organizers. Her original legal theory-that harm
done to women ought not be legally protected just because it is done through
"speech," and that sexual abuse denies women's speech rights-has not only
fomented a rift between advocates
of civil rights and civil liberties but has also generated a Constitutional
crisis, a fundamental conflict between existing interpretations of the First
and Fourteenth Amendments. A tireless fighter against the pornography
industry and those who collaborate with it, Dworkin has herself been
stigmatized professionally for her efforts to help women harmed by
pornography- in part because U.S. media conglomerates side with
pornographers' right to turn women into "speech." Since the American
Booksellers Association and the American Publishers Association became
plaintiffs in a 1984 lawsuit against the Indianapolis ordinance, Dworkin's
options for publishing in the U.S. have dropped off dramatically. Her last
three books have had to be published in England first. Attempts to get the
BBC documentary broadcast in the U.S. have so far been unsuccessful. Yet in
1992 the BBC invited Dworkin to return, to participate in a nationally
televised debate on "political correctness" at the prestigious Cambridge
Called "the eloquent feminist" by syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman,
Dworkin has been a featured speaker at
universities, conferences, and Take Back the Night marches throughout North
America and Europe, speaking out powerfully against crimes of violence
against women, the new right, racism, and anti-Semitism. The New York Times
described one of her lectures on pornography at New York University Law
School as "highly passionate," and reported that the audience responded with
a standing ovation. "She moved this audience to action," said a
Stanford University spokesperson. A University of Washington spokesperson
said, "She empowered the women and men present; in fact a coalition on
violence against women came out of her lecture." Ms. magazine admires "the
relentless courage of Dworkin's revolutionary demands. . . Her gift . . . is
to make radical ideas seem clear and obvious."
The Andrea Dworkin Online Library
Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant, 2002, Basic Books.
Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation, July 2000, The Free
Press (U.S.A.), Virago (June 2000, Great Britain). Nonfiction.
Life and Death, March 1997, The Free Press. Collected articles, lectures,
Mercy, 1991, Four Walls Eight Windows, (U.S.A.); Secker & Warburg (1990,
Letters From a War Zone, 1989, Dutton, and 1993, Lawrence Hill Books
(U.S.A.); Secker & Warburg (1988, England). Collected essays.
Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Women's Equality, 1988,
Organizing Against Pornography (coauthored with Catharine A. MacKinnon).
Intercourse, 1987, 1997 [tenth-anniversary edition] The Free Press (U.S.A.);
Secker & Warburg (1987, England). Nonfiction.
Ice and Fire, 1987, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (U.S.A.); Secker & Warburg (1986,
Right-wing Women, 1983, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan/Perigee. Nonfiction.
Pornography: Men Possessing Women, 1981, Putnam's/Perigee; 1989, E. P.
the new womans broken heart, 1980, Frog In The Well. Short stories.
Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, 1976, Harper & Row.
Woman Hating, 1974, Dutton. Nonfiction.
Morning Hair, 1968, designed, printed, and published by the author, handset
type, handbound. Poems and fiction.
Child, 1966, poems published on Crete.
Contributions to anthologies
Bitches and Sad Ladies, Lavender Culture, Take Back the Night, The Woman Who
Lost Her Names, Feminist Frontiers, A Mensch Among Men, Transforming a Rape
Culture, Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties, The Sexual
Liberals and the Attack on Feminism, Making Violence Sexy: Feminist Views on
Pornography, Feminist Jurisprudence, Violence Against Women: The Bloody
Footprints, The Female Body, Feminism in Our Time, Feminist Frontiers II,
The Gay & Lesbian Literary Companion, Wild Women, Issues in Feminism: An
Introduction to Women's Studies (3rd ed.), Race and Class in Mass Media
Studies, The Price We Pay, several legal casebooks, and others. Introduction
to Sexual Harassment: A Speak-out (1992), Just Sex (2000), Marilyn Monroe.
Books and articles have been translated into French, German, Dutch,
Norwegian, Swedish, Spanish, Russian, Hebrew, Japanese, Korean, Chinese,
Lithuanian, Flemish, Croatian, Galacian, and other languages; books are
sold in English all over the world.
Contributions to periodicals
Articles have appeared in The American Voice, America Report, Berkeley Barb,
The Body Politic, Broadside, Canadian Women's Studies, City Limits,
Christopher Street, Chrysalis, Emma, Feminist Review, Feminist Studies, Gay
Community News, Harvard Women's Law Journal, Healthsharing, Heresies, Hot
Wire, The (London) Guardian, The (London) Sunday Times, The (London) Times
Educational Supplement, The Los Angeles Times, Maenad, Michigan Journal of
Gender & Law, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mother Jones, Ms., New Political
Science, New York Native, New York Newsday, The New York Times Book Review,
The New Women's Times, off our backs, On the Issues, San Francisco Review
of Books, The Second Wave, Sinister Wisdom, Social Policy, Soho Weekly News,
Sojourner, Trouble and Strife, La Vie En Rose, Village Voice, Win, Woman of
Power, The Women's Review of Books, and others.
Winner: American Book Award 2001 for Scapegoat
Lectures, seminars, and workshops at University of Chicago Law School,
Stanford University, Smith College, Stony Brook University, Queens College,
Fordham University, Yale University Law School, New York University, New
York University Law School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston
College, Boston University, State University of New York at Old Westbury and
at Albany, University of Michigan, Penn State University, Harvard College,
University of Pennsylvania, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Amherst
College, Pratt Institute, Radcliffe College, Stanford University, San
Francisco State College, University of California at Davis, University of
Wisconsin at Madison and at Milwaukee, University of Illinois, Florida State
University, Sullivan County Community College, Douglass College, University
of Washington at Seattle, Washington State College,
Evergreen College, Old Dominion University, Reed College, University of
Minnesota at Minneapolis and at Duluth, University of Minnesota Law School,
University of Tennessee, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA),
Hamilton College, Dartmouth College, and others; Smithsonian Institution;
National Organization for Women (New York; Washington, D.C.; Lincoln,
Nebraska; Seattle; New Orleans), Women's Rights Park
Take Back the Night speeches at rallies in New Haven, Cleveland, Cincinnati,
Denver, Los Angeles, New Brunswick, Norfolk, Portland (Maine), San
Francisco, Calgary (Canada), Edmonton (Canada), New Orleans, and others.
Readings of published and unpublished works at colleges, women's centers,
bookstores, and benefits for feminist groups and theater groups.
Lectures in London, Leeds, Dublin, York, Norwich, East Anglia, Toronto,
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Oslo, Stockholm, Bergen, and others.
Interviews in newspapers, magazines, journals, on radio, in the United
States, Canada, Italy, England, Ireland, Holland, New Zealand, Australia,
Norway, Sweden, Germany, Russia, the former Yugoslavia, Israel.
Television appearances on Donahue, 60 Minutes, Nightwatch, CBS Evening News,
MacNeil-Lehrer Report, BBC Omnibus (hour-long documentary: "Against
Pornography: The Feminism of Andrea Dworkin," fall 1991), 48 Hours, and others.
B.A., Bennington College, 1968; literature major, philosophy minor.
Visiting Professor in Women's Studies and Law, University of Minnesota, fall
1983: taught class with Catharine A. MacKinnon sponsored by the Law School
and the Women's Studies Department on pornography; taught class in
literature sponsored by the Women's Studies Department; was on both the Law
School faculty and the Liberal Arts faculty.
Coauthored (with Catharine A. MacKinnon) the first legislation recognizing
pornography as a violation of women's civil rights; organized hearings on
pornography for the City of Minneapolis to establish the harm of pornography
to women and children; coauthored revised version of the civil-rights bill
for the City of Indianapolis.
The Authors Guild, PEN, Fellow of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the
Press, American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel.
Member of The Southern Poverty Law Center (Klanwatch), National Abortion
Rights Action League (NARAL), Planned Parenthood, National Women's Political
Caucus, founding sponsor of The Abortion Fund (to provide abortions to poor
women, now part of Planned Parenthood), Amnesty International, National
Organization for Women. Former adviser to the National Council on Women and
THE BOOK SHE WAS WRITING AT THE TIME OF HER DEATH
Writing America: How Novelists Invented and Gendered a Nation By Andrea Dworkin
The nationalism that fueled the Iraq war-as well as the anti-nationalism
that opposes it-has a unique and identifiable origin story that has never
been told. It is the dynamic process by which writers at the beginning of
the twentieth century articulated a new American national identity-they
literally made it up.
In this book I will tell that story--how the notion of "American" came to
mean what it does today--through a completely fresh reading of writers who
came of age around World War I, especially Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner,
Wright, Cather, O'Connor, Welty, and Hurston. I will analyze the ways in
which each claims to be an
American, or claims qualities that are American, or frames what America is
and who Americans are. For better or for worse, American national identity
is like a self-generated, closed system of values and self-referential beliefs
about itself-an ecology to which each of these writers has been a major
This will also be a reading of American national identity that takes account
of gender in a way that has never been done before. I will show how these
writers use writing to create and maintain gender and then how gender
is used to formulate the self-concept American.
Gender in American national identity is not, and never has been, like the
popular conception of gender as something that is formed in childhood and
then remains constant. In fact writers write gender, constantly creating and
recreating it, constantly giving it new content. This is as true for Zora
Neale Hurston as it is for Ernest Hemingway. Then the gender that writers
write becomes the crucible in which writers concoct the meaning of being
I am proposing that there is direct causal relation between gender-the
internal sense of self-identity with social
expression-and national identity, which is the communal expression of
dominance and submission. The desire in the twentieth- and twenty-first
centuries has been for dominance. The character of American national
identity has become a desire for greater and greater influence on foreign
cultures. Hemingway's contribution to a normative masculinity suffuses pop
culture and American military policy post nine/eleven, as surely as Richard
Wright's sociopath Bigger Thomas foreshadows the pathology of the urban
ghetto as well as the basic ethos of hip-hop. Zora Neale Hurston is the real
exile, inside the boundaries of the United States. Her work has been ignored
because of her race and its power: de white man throw down de load and tell
de nigger man tuh pick it up. He
pick it up because he have to, but he don't tote it. He hand it to his
women-folks. De nigger woman is de mule uh de world so fur as I can see.
Hurston's national identity challenged Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Faulkner:
But one thing is definite. The iron has entered my soul. Since my god of
tolerance has forsaken me, I am ready for anything to overthrow Anglo-Saxon
supremacy, however desperate. I have become what I never wished to be, a
good hater. I no longer even value my life if by losing it, I can do
something to destroy this Anglo-Saxon monstrosity.
Each writer I have selected has a political dimension or a sexual theme not
often remarked on. For instance, Hemingway, even in For Whom the Bell Tolls,
returns to the sexual theme of androgyny or sameness in sex
ultimately to repudiate it; but it haunts his work. Given that he forbade
his sons to see his mother because she was "androgynous," this emerges as
part of the internal masculinity he creates through his writing. Like
Hemingway, the writers I will deal with are more complicated when it comes
to gender than they seem. The same is true with respect to national
identity. Hemingway, part of an exile community in Paris as a young writer,
lived most of his adult life outside of the United States, spoke fluent
Italian, French, and Spanish; and worked over the
facts of his life in book after book.
Writing is essential because writers are conscious of choices made through
language and have a set of ethics based on their aspirations as writers. The
source of being for each writer is that they identify the purpose of their
lives as writers; all experience goes through that metaphysical praxis. Not
to take on writing as such as the first element of building a self and a
country or nationalism would be a form of willful blindness. In the same
way, the deep impulses of gender have been invisible, the connection, that
is, between writing and gender. I am saying that each of these writers
defined or redefined gender and the American soul in ways that continue to
move and motivate us as Americans. Nine/eleven might have pushed us too
close to Hemingway and too far from Eudora Welty.
The chapters will be interrelated, not separate essays. The model is my book
Intercourse, in which I use literature to explicate the paradigm of
dominance and submission involved in sexual intercourse. I want to know what
one can learn about the masculine from Hemingway, who after all created a
castrated hero; or the feminine from Fitzgerald, who was arguably parasitic
in relation to real women and whose gorgeous writing style affirms a
dimension of the feminine; or the meaning of a modern consciousness in
Faulkner, who in As I Lay Dying conflates the living and the dead; or the
brutal and subversive rage of the oppressed in Wright, who himself set the
benchmark for Ellison and Baldwin; or the love in O'Connor's dark Catholic
faith; or the imagination in the immigrant novels of Cather, with their
wide, rural landscapes; or the ethical choices made as a writer by Welty; or
Zora Neale Hurston's long exile from the world of white-controlled
literature and the making of an American culture.
I intend to focus on the creative work, the books or a book of each author
to locate the gender strategies that account for the creation of an American
identity. While the biographical information on each author will inform my
vision, my plan is not to write mini-biographies or to mine familiar clichés
about their work. Instead what I will
bring to this is my deep commitment to literature and my love of writing. I
also value the political in writing; I value it too much to fall back on
stereotypes about these writers. Rather, using their books more than their
lives will allow me to bring a new eye to the work. From The Sun Also Rises
to Native Son to Their Eyes Were Watching God, my analysis of gender and
national identity will provide new readings as well as a new theory of
the founding of the contemporary American consciousness and conscience.
I want to articulate the meaning of national identity. Conceptually this
approach follows on the political explication of the nation of Israel that I
did in Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation, which won
the American Book Award. The ways in which gender suffuses national
identity, or, following Virginia Woolf, two separate national identities,
one for men, another for women, will be the central focus of Writing America.
The writing style of each writer will be integrated into the analysis by
showing how the formal use of language
exposes or hides the purposes of each writer.
For instance, with Hemingway his early work suggests a flexible, even
gender-bending, view of male-female sex and sex roles. In two books
published posthumously, he posits a sameness in men and women and explicates
role reversal in sex. Perhaps the through-a-Freudian-glass analyses of The
Sun Also Rises are wrong and the castrated hero and female heroine are
gender inverted? Perhaps one is not reading a story about the submerged male
fear of women's sexuality but instead the woman lives a male life and the
male a female life. Perhaps she's the boy and he's the girl, which suggests
that women are castrated and live limited lives because of it. The more I
read (or reread in most cases) Hemingway, the more I believe that at least
his early work has a feminist subtext. One begins to see in The Sun Also
Rises the beginnings of Hemingway's nationalist chauvinism, expressed
paradoxically in the exile of these two characters. The question of how
Hemingway changed into someone who wrote about men as an advocate of
hypermasculinity while at the same time his American chauvinism grew is what
I propose to follow.
The influence U.S. writing has had on world literature is no less explosive
than the influence of pop culture. I intend to explore in each writer the
American identity with its dynamism and, in some cases, the appearance of an
optimism, the dark side of which is not extinguished. This American identity
as these writers forged it is the
beginning of what is called "the American Century." Some of it runs counter
to the nationalist rhetoric surrounding both Normandy and the
post-nine/eleven war. The regionalism of Welty and Faulkner, for instance,
constitutes a deep critique of the American nation as such, a kind of
literary federalism. Hemingway and
Fitzgerald, with their differing pro-American stances, lived much of their
adult lives outside the U.S. With all the writing on Hemingway and
Fitzgerald, there is nothing that expresses a complex view of how gender
actually creates their nationalism. I have also been thinking a great deal
about writing and would like to explore what it is and what it means using
the writers I have identified. Finally, then, this is an homage to writers
who articulated the early modern principles of a late twentieth-century
Writing America will be both original and accessible. I intend to use simple
prose without a surfeit of quotes from
secondary sources. I can write Writing America in three years.
Laura X, founder/director of the former National Clearinghouse on Marital
and Date Rape Women's History Library (510) 524-1582 Berkeley, Ca.
WEB SITE: http://ncmdr.org