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RIP Andrea Dworkin

I guess I can't let this event pass without saying something about it. I may have been a kid at the time, but I was witness to the inner machinations of the feminist movement of the 80. So I'll just say this:

I always felt that there was a spectrum, with Andrea holding one end and Susie Bright, Carole Queen and other sex-positive feminists holding the other. Whatever disagreement there was (and there certainly was a lot) both camps could agree that women had been victimized, and it was time for us to find ways to stop being victims and learn the sources of our power.

With Andrea gone, I'm afraid there's a new paradigm now. I'm afraid the ends of this new spectrum are represented by Camille Paglia at one end, and the "new modesty" proponents, such as Wendy Shalit on the other (oh gods I hardly stand to think of those little self-hating invertebrates).

I disagreed with Andrea on more than half of what she said, but I think her voice was needed. I'm surprised to find I'll miss her. The husband linked to this spirited discussion on Susie Bright's blog. It is mostly SFW, as there are no pr0ny images. It's worth reading.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 12th, 2005 10:13 pm (UTC)
Much of the issue was not Dworkin-per-se, but Dworkin as she was perceived by the public. She lacked the kind of gross charisma and savvy that would have been necessary to communicate to non-academics, so what the public got was essentially an oversimplified SATIRE of her ideas rather than the ideas themselves. Which isn't to say that her ideas weren't deeply flawed, but to act all she ever said was "EEK! A PENIS!" is a disservice.

The difficulty comes in that this public perception of Dworkin makes a very easy target for those who wish to attack feminism. It is difficult enough to explain complex feminist theory to most people, but even moreso when one must also explain that these ideas are not a necessary part of feminism. People have trouble with anything that isn't black-and-white, making it hard to promote more mainstream feminism without being willing to denounce her outright.

It's always problematic to have people on one's side who make one's position more difficult to defend. It's still important to remember whose side they are on, tho. And I'd rather have to defend a misguided (and troubled) thinker like Andrea Dworkin than a self-aggrandizing blowhard like Michael Moore.
Apr. 13th, 2005 07:24 am (UTC)
I have a sort of essay that I wrote last night when I couldn't sleep about the parts that A.D. might have gotten right, but failed to discuss with any subtlety. Problem is, I'm not sure I have the wherewithal to express what I'm trying to talk about without becoming overly anecdotal and/or maudlin.

At any rate, it cheers me that everyone along the spectrum of my friends from you to heraclitus (who is kind of like a 21-year-old sorta neocon but Canadian and also too bright to be totally neocon version of Jack) are taking this opportunity to think soberly about Andrea Dworkin and the loss (and tragic loss to madness even earlier) of a firebrand and a scholar who helped define key issues of our time.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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