“She would never be conquered:” Feminist Resistance in Teeth

this is a film review for a class, and could only be 3 pages, so i could only say 70% of what i wanted to say

Teeth: a comedy-horror film about vagina dentata? Certainly, it doesn’t sound feminist. The male myth of vagina dentata, as the film points out, has an illustrious, crosscultural, long, and misogynist history. It is an extreme version of the femme fatale—a devouring, destructive, strong, sexual woman who must be punished for her power and destruction of men. It even has symbolic past cellulite reference, such as Alien and Jaws. Another, the pornographic rape film Deep Throat, switches a toothed vagina for the central conceit of the protagonist’s clitoris being located in her throat. Horror is also notoriously woman-hating; a plethora of films have sexualized the ritualized raping, beating, hunting, kidnapping, eviscerating, and other torturing of women to appeal to their target and main audience—teenaged boys and young men.

The writer/director Mitchell Lichtenstein explicitly wanted to transform this, believing myths about the toothed vagina to be not about women, but men, their fear of women and desire for control over them. Calling the protagonist Dawn’s journey one of a superhero’s, one who discovers a theoretically destructive force, but decides to use it for good, Lichtenstein and Jess Weixler (Dawn) portray a girl coming of age in a patriarchal, dangerous world.

Many viewers, especially female ones, have noticed this feminist text of the film. Not only is this a profeminist horror film, but the girl afflicted with vagina dentata—who would normally at best be a repeatedly beseiged, bloodied girl with perky, heaving breasts who doesnt kill any bad guys—turns it into a gift to mutilate and even kill rapists. The film’s few graphic mutilations of penises and fingers and depiction of men—the only consistently honourable man is Dawn’s father—has garnered criticism from many male viewers for its supposed “misandry” (a privileged, delusional phallacy in itself).

Often recognized is the misogyny of the abstinence cult (sorry, club—although in Dawn’s post-rape daymare, the group is eerily cult-like) and the role Dawn believes she needs to fit into. Although she gives talks to other children, explicitly encouraging abstinence for boys too, the abstinence agenda becomes clear when, after studying the penis in science class, the vulva has a giant sticker covering it to protect girls’ “natural modesty.”

Dawn doesn’t know what her or any women’s vulva looks like, unless they’re on her stepbrother’s bedroom wall. After discovering her teeth, she removes the sticker, and just looks between the diagram and her covered vulva, amazed that all that is there, hair, pink lips, protruding clitoris and all. Despite such ignorance, at the film’s beginning, Dawn develops a sexualized crush on a boy. Picturing them married to sanction it, she quickly shifts to them carressing each other, taking in his nakedness, touching herself, and him beginning to perform oral sex on her while working up the nerve to masturbate, only to be terrified when a movie pincered insect monster invades her consciousness in hilarious forshadowing that also evokes empathy. After making out with him in reality, they try to break off contact, only to agree to go swimming with each other.

Less often recognized is the exposire of the misogyny of pornography, represented by the stepbrother. Brad is emotionally and sexually abusive towards his sympathetically-portrayed girlfriend, at one point forcing her to eat a dog biscuit, many times deriding her intelligence and speech, and insistent on penis-in-anus intercourse with her, to her annoyance, anger, and as the audience learns during an argument between them, pain and clear lack of consent. Pornography is plastered all over his walls, and his objectification of and desire to possess women extends to his stepsister, who he believes is abstinent because she’s saving her “pussy” for him. Lichtenstein works to avoid having his film be pornographic in its use of nudity—male bodies and penises are shown openly but not excessively, and the only scene of female nudity is after learning she can control her vaginal teeth during what she thought was good sex, she examines her nude body in a mirror with slow pride.

After accidentally biting off her crush-turned-rapist’s penis in darkly comedic fashion, a terrified Dawn tries to learn what is wrong with her, doing internet research. (His body is later found by police.) She is only further traumatized when a clear digital rape by a male gynocologist results in him losing fingers. Another teenaged boy loses his penis when she learns that his creepily awkward sedatives, alcohol, and vibrator seduction of her was in fact rape to win a bet with his buddies. That moment marks her transformation from fearful to assurred, and she brings out the teeth, with a sarcastic “some hero,” mocking the male view of the man who conquers the vaginally toothed woman. When her mother is hospitalized because of Brad’s negligence (he’s raping his girlfriend, in spite of her pain), she gets even. Even then, he remains fixated on positioning women the way he wants. To add to the poetic justice, his severed penis is eaten by his dog. Going on the run, she is propositioned by her elderly male driver. Her panic quickly becomes self-possession and pride as she realizes what she will do to the rapist’s tongue.

After debating whether to show her toothed vulva, or even have the teeth be very audible, Lichtenstein decided not to in order to be clearer that whatever violence was involved, it lay not in Dawn, and the teeth weren’t a monstrousity, but an adaptation to protect women and girls. Dawn is a hero, not a monster. Weixler elaborates, arguing the film’s message is also of the importance of knowing one’s body for women, using that knowledge to put herself first in sex and elsewhere, and not allowing pain. Dawn knows she’s sexual, sexy, and never going to be taken advantage of again, and takes pleasure in that knowledge.

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g20 arrest

It’s been too long, eh?

I really want to write a essay thingy on the police state, trying to overcome my nice white girl training, and the private control of women, coming in large part from my experience in the film studio turned jail, and what women have come forth with, such as amy miller, along with other women detainees (and at least one male one), were threatened with rape. i also want to draw comparisons between prisons and brothels.

http://www.vancouversun.com/news/journa … g+arrests/3222383/story.html

http://vimeo.com/12925239

i was only patted down, not strip searched, but still felt violated (it included feeling my vulva and breasts). i was held about 16 hours. women of colour were ziptied and held longer than white folks.

i’m still processing what happened. and many of my comrades are still in jail

p.s. zanzibar (strip club that told g20 leaders to “work out world peace in the vip room”) and american apparel got smashed up during the property modification on saturday. hahahahahaha

What I’m up to right now (aka, why I’m crying)

I’ve got a few things on the go, all of which have contributed to me crying my wee heart out.

I’m watching the subtitled English Italian documentary Women Bodies.

I read a news article on a speech by our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, in which he states: “We also have no history of colonialism.” And shows he doesn’t give a shit about the “apology” for the Canadian government’s role in residential schools for indigenous children that he made a couple years ago. Also, did you know that Canada, Amerika, and New Zealand are the only nations who oppose the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? (Australia changed recently, issuing a statement of support; previously, they had voted against.)

I’m catching up on Julian Real’s blog, reading over September entries mostly, including entries on the late Andrea Dworkin, Robert Jensen calling on us to abandon masculinity as desirable or fixable, incestuous abuse by “Papa John” of his daughter (and Julian’s abuse at the hands of an adult when he was a preteen) and white hetero male privilege.

Julian’s blog is leading me to other blogs, such as A Lady Divine.

I’m also on a Blue October kick, listening to songs such as Razorblade (about a boy sexually abused by a priest and self harm. this live version adds a verse where he kills him when he grows up), Libby, I’m Listening (lovely love song, being there for someone in an abusive situation, fucked up individuals and all), Come In Closer (the lyrics evoke beautiful imagery, and it’s really compelling soundwise), Jump Rope (a song Justin wrote for his daughter when she asked why all his songs were sad),  HRSA (stands for high risk of self abuse, about institutionalization), 2 AM Lovesick (not sure what it’s about, but love it), Chameleon Boy (opening oneself up to help, being vulnerable, dealing with addiction), Angel (wanting to help a rape survivor, not giving up), His Name Is Crazy (awesome musically) and Weight of the World (recovery). Oh, I love them, and could link songs to queendom come, but made myself stop 😛 And for good measure, here is Justin talking about Sexual Power-trip and Razorblade

Apologies for rarely updating lately. Things have been hectic, and my dad recently became seriously ill and passed away. But I have “abnormal” attitudes toward death, so have been handling it ok (in comparison to how people tend to deal with death, anyway).

Lyrics to the songs listed above, found here

Except, His Name is Crazy (aka Crazy Man):

I could talk for hours
About nothing in particular
Ranting uselessly, profusely
Get charmed or charming
This big-eyed evening
Left me numb for the next few days
I can still smell the chemical
Nosing it’s way up to my lap
Like a playground heart attack
Chemi-chemi-chemical reaction
Chemi-chemi-chemical reaction
Chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi

 

Chorus:
Call me a crazy man
Call me a crazy man
Call me a crazy man

Indiscreet, and me a fight
It’s dark oustide
Pulse, veins, blood, trains
Breathing really burns
Life, spleen, drugs, scream
That’s really how it works
I break grounds and I go underground
So dig up all your dirt

Chorus:
Call me a crazy man
Call me a crazy man
Call me a crazy man
Call me a crazy man

Island shutters
Ballet and tap stutters
I’ll sleep to that dream
Ice cream, we all scream
I really need a nice drink
Island shutters
Ballet and tap stutters
I’ll sleep to that dream
Black near colors
We both will leave
Kiss the sunshine, orange sheet
So best my man
Bless it and go to bed
And wake up sober and sweet
Che-chemi-chemi-chemical reaction
Chemi-chemi-chemical reaction
Chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi-chemi

Chorus

 

Callout for the Carnival of Radical Feminists!

Hello, this is your host for the March Carnival of Radical Feminists.

You can submit old, new, newish, etc. writings. Poems, reviews, short stories, essays, free thoughts, rants, songs, drawings, etc are all welcome. Your own or someone else’s. Collaborations are welcome too.

You can send your subs to the carni page or email them to me directly at demonista at gmail dot com with the necessary info included. (I still haven’t figured the carni page doohickey out yet–does the page send subs to me?)

I haven’t decided on one theme, so here are some suggestions:

-cuntspeak (what a shocker choice for me! for an explication see this and/or that)

-feminist erotic fanfiction and slash: an oxymoron?

-radical feminism and animal rights/veganism/animal liberation

-radical feminism and anarchism: similarities, diffs, failures of anarchism

– radical feminist music

-can a trans woman be a radical feminist?

-radical feminism and womanism/indigenous solidarity/antiracism/analysing white privilege

-first person political: the personal is political, consciousness-raising

-activism tales (eg taking on pornographers, leaving abusive men, anti-Israeli war protest…)

Hmm…maybe there is a theme: intersections?

I look forward to all the amazing submissions!

Peace in! 😀

New posts I plan on

-defending Robert Jensen/reviewing “Getting Off” (eg why all the bullshit people say about his fluid sexuality?)

-article for JHR on the effect the 2010 Olympics will/may have on the women in prostitution in Vancouver and area, esp the Downtown Eastside, idea for the cooperative brothel (I think it has the potential to be good, but I’m jaded–if it happens, it’s just so the john tourists can get legal bought sex)

-reproductive technologies, with a focus on surrogate motherhood, and what it means for women, esp Third World/poor women, address the “what about infertile women?” question always given

The last should be done for Tuesday.

I only gave those three, because I’ll actually do them.  Other ideas are being had, but no promises as to them being done 😉

Book list

andrea dworkin (woman hating, our blood, pornography, ice and fire, intercourse, letters from a warzone, mercy, life and death, scapegoat, right wing women, etc.)

sheila jeffreys (anticlimax, unpacking queer politics, beauty and misogyny, the idea of prostitution)

catharine mackinnon (toward a feminist theory of the state, only words, in harm’s way (with dworkin), women’s lives, men’s laws, are women human?)

john stoltenberg (refusing to be a man, the end of manhood, what makes pornography “sexy”?)

francesca lia block (weetzie bat series, girl goddess #9, echo, i was a teenage fairy, the rose and the beast, violet & claire, etc.)

anne jones (next time she’ll be dead, women who kill)

laura lederer (take back the night: women on pornography (ed.))

diana russell (rape in marriage, the politics of rape, the secret trauma, making violence sexy (ed.), etc.)

melissa farley (prostitution, trafficking, and traumatic stress (ed.))

rebecca whisnant and christine stark (not for sale (eds.)

robin ruth linden, et al. (against sadomasochism (eds.))

robert munsch (paper bag princess, love you forever, etc.)

margaret atwood (alias grace, bodily harm, good bones, good bones and simple murders, murder in the dark, the edible woman, power politics, etc)

joyce carol oates (zombie, foxfire: confessions of a girl gang, blonde, starr bright will be with you soon (as rosalind smith, i think), first love, etc)

alice walker (the color purple, possessing the secret of joy, warrior marks, by the light of my father’s smile, etc)

jean genet (the thief’s journal)

evelyn lau (runaway: diary of a street kid, inside out: reflections on a life so far, you are not who you claim)

patrick roscoe (birthmarks, the truth about love)

anne sexton (the complete poetry of anne sexton)

walt whitman (leaves of grass)

arthur rimbaud (a season in hell)

tori amos (piece by piece with anne powers)

traci lords (underneath it all)

jean kilbourne (deadly persuasion, aka can’t buy my love)

pamela paul (pornified)

ariel levy (female chauvinist pigs)

merilee strong (a bright red scream)

christopher kendall (gay male pornography, gendered outcasts and sexual outlaws)

susan bordo (unbearable weight)

michelle wallace (black macho and the myth of superwoman)

naomi wolf (beauty myth)

janice raymond (women as wombs)

joan smith (misogynies, different for girls)

kate millett (sexual politics, the basement, prostitution papers)

frederick douglass (my bondage and my freedom, narrative in the life of a slave)

diane bell and renate klein (radically speaking: feminism reclaimed)

audre lorde (sister outsider, coal)

rus ervin funk (stopping rape)

jane caputi (goddesses and monsters, the age of sex crime)

germaine greer (whole woman, madwoman’s underclothes)

carol anne douglas (love and politics)

deborah l. tolman (dilemmas of desire)

leora tanenbaum (slut!, catfight)

lal coveney, et al. (sexuality papers)

susan cole (pornography and the sex crisis, power surge)

robert jensen (getting off: pornography and the end of masculinity)

Misconceptions : the social construction of choice and the new reproductive and genetic technologies / editors, Gwynne Basen, Margrit Eichler, Abby Lippman

Enloe, Cynthia (Bananas, beaches & bases : making feminist sense of international politics, The Morning After: Sexual Politics After the Cold War

Macho paradox : why some men hurt women and and how all men can help / Jackson Katz.

Pure lust : elemental feminist philosophy / Mary Daly

Bent / Martin Sherman

Neither man nor beast : feminism and the defense of animals / Carol J. Adams

Published in: on November 26, 2008 at 2:28 pm  Comments (16)  

Playboy: 50 Years of Misogyny

There are already a lot of comments to this post, so I’ll keep this post available on lj.

“Playboy has the political role of developing the misogynist program that is then assimilated, one hand typing, into news journals left and right.” (Dworkin)

Here are some reasons to hate Playboy and its founder, Hugh Hefner:

Bestiality
In cartoons in Playboy, such as this one, men raping animals is presented as humorous: see http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/PETA/xmas.html

Hugh Hefner himself is sexually “fascinated” by women being raped by animals both on and off the camera:

On this, see Linda Lovelace, Ordeal, specifically p. 194: “Then Hefner said that while he liked Deep Throat, he was more interested by the movie I’d made with a dog (forced sex by her batterer husband described on pages 105-113).
“Oh, you saw that one?” Chuck (her batterer husband) said. “Oh that was terrific,” Hefner said, “You know, we’ve tried that several times, tried to get a girl and a dog together, but it has never worked out.” “Yeah, that can be very tricky,” Chuck said, “the chick’s got to know what she’s doing.” “That’s something I’d like to see,” Hefner said, “I think I’ve seen every animal flick (sic) ever made but–” Then Chuck offers Linda as a “willing” participant. (Adams)

Child Sexual Abuse
Playboy, in both text and pictures, promotes the sexual abuse of children. For example, Playboy has run articles written by members of pedophile organizations, such as the North American Man-Boy Love Association and Uncommon Desires, for “man-girl sex enthusiasts.” One article even said that: “[t]he largest child-pornography ring in the United States is run by the Government. It is possible that without Uncle Sam, there would be no child-porn business.” (Lawrence Stanley; cited by Smith) Playboy also lets its readers know that women make up stories of child sexual abuse because they can’t deal with their own aggression. Playboy also advises its readers that “safe sex” with “…virgins or very young lovers…cut down your chances of being exposed to the virus.” (Smith)
Hugh has sex with and has photo-shoots with underage girls:

Dorothy Stratten, a Playboy centerfold…was tricked and intimidated into photo sessions by Snider, who then sold the photos and access to Dorothy herself to Hefner. Ms. Stratten said she was sexually molested by Hefner. After her death, Hefner was made aware that Ms. Stratten had hated the pornography made of her and had hated posing for it. He responded by issuing more videotapes of Ms. Stratten posing…The women used by Hefner personally and in the magazine are rarely much over eighteen. Ms. Stratten was underage when she was initially pimped to Hefner. (Dworkin and MacKinnon)

This exploitation is otherwise known as rape, statutory rape, child molestation, and child pornography.

Rape
Playboy also promotes the rape of women. The magazine characterizes rape victims as hysterical and competitive at best and outright liars and villainous “man haters” at worst. Asa Baber characterized feminists’ activism against rape as this: “The trend in this complicated arena of sexual politics is definitely against us, gentlemen [sic]. A lynch mob could be just outside your door.” (cited by Dworkin) It defines feminists’ definition of rape as giving “women a simple way of thinking about sex that externalizes guilt, remorse or conflict. Bad feeling’s after sex become someone else’s fault.” (cited by Dworkin) The message behind this is that women can’t face up to the fact that they had sex; that they run around screaming “Rape” because of bad sex (but if it was bad, it must be her fault), or just because they feel guilty (Puritanism is the root of all evil).
Hugh Hefner has also raped women. “For instance, Linda Marchiano…was pimped to Hefner by her then-husband, Chuck Traynor. Hefner sodomized her and tried to have her have intercourse with a dog.” (Dworkin and MacKinnon) This is also reported by Linda herself. See Ordeal and Out of Bondage by Linda Lovelace (the publisher lists the author as that. That was the name when her husband/pimp changed her name, to give her a “porn star” name.)

Hugh’s Enemies
Hugh Hefner believes that feminists who challenge his misogyny are the “natural enemy”. A feminist battle call and Hugh’s answering cry are quoted:

We sisters join together to fight you, your Playboy empire and everything you represent, and we shall build instead a society in which women and men are free to relate to each other as human beings of dignity and worth. Until you no longer oppose this, you shall have no peace (the Mountain Moving Day Brigade; cited by Stoltenberg)

These chicks are our natural enemy…It is time we do battle with them…What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart. They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes…Let’s go to it and make it a real winner. (Hefner; cited by Stoltenberg, ellipses his; see also Steinem)

(more…)

Sexual Exploitation Violates Women’s Human Rights

From May 2004. I’ve posted the two comments I got this time.

Various forms of sexual exploitation violate human rights. I come to this subject as a radical feminist (radical meaning “to the root,” not “extremist”). Child sexual abuse, prostitution, and pornography are all violations of women’s human rights.
When children are sexually abused, it is not just the sexual acts committed that harm them. The main harm comes from the breach of trust. Most abused girls are victimized by male family members. Diana Russell calculated that 1 in 6 girls are the victims of incest by the time they reach eighteen. An additional 1 in 6 are victims of other sexual abuse. When I was molested, what hurt the most was not what he did to me, but the fact that he betrayed me. He was supposed to be my friend, not my nightmare. I told, which is surprising to me even today because he threatened to kill my dog and me if I did, and was lucky enough to be believed and supported by another. Unfortunately, many are not so lucky.
When girls are abused, their senses of self are shattered. They have no belief in themselves as human beings with the right to not be harmed and used by others. Those girls may grow up believing that.
When girls run away from home to escape being “Daddy’s girl,” they face people who are eager to force them into prostitution. The pimps won’t have to work very hard to break them in; they already believe themselves to be pieces of meat. Contrary to popular opinion, this is a common paradigm in prostitution because approximately three quarters of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children and many prostitutes are “owned” by pimps. The violence in prostitutes’ lives are by no means limited to their “bosses.”
A great deal of the violence against them is caused by customers. Studies on prostitutes have found that as many as 98% of prostitutes have had “bad dates”–abusive johns. Prostitute women are commonly called vile names, beaten, raped, tortured, even killed. I find that people think that for higher-class “call girls” or escorts”, it is somehow different. It’s not. The $200 per hour escort can end up raped and butchered as easily as the $20 street prostitute.
But even without this overt violence, prostitution is violating women’s human rights. It doesn’t matter whether she’s held captive and beaten by pimps or she’s selling herself to support her children–using a prostitute is, ipso facto, wrong. Even if the customer is not overtly, sadistically abusive, renting the body of another human being is violating any reasonable standard of human rights. Renting the videotape or buying the magazine of another’s naked body is just as wrong.
Pornography is much the same as prostitution, except for one crucial difference–there are documents of the women’s abuse being sold as entertainment. I can only imagine the pain and humiliation experienced by women in pornography. I am horrified knowing that in many countries, pornography, even if it depicts rape, is constitutionally protected as “speech.” Even in pornography where the women are presented as willing aren’t truly. What rich woman without a history of sex abuse says “Gee, I’d really like to have humiliating sex with total strangers in front of a camera for men’s sexual pleasure”? I don’t think a single one does. Not that someone would think that by viewing pornography. Do the surgically enhanced 20 year olds ever say “be gentle”? Do they even say “no,” or Heaven forbid, “I am your equal so treat me as such”? No. The women in pornography–from the Playboy centerfold to women viewed as eager to have every orifice filled with a penis to the woman raped–all are portrayed as insatiable for the use and abuse heaped upon them. All are treated as less than men.
In these institutions, a very important, male-supremacist message is communicated. It is that men are more important, more deserving of respect than women. If these institutions do not violate women’s human rights, women are being denied basic human rights.


[info]interjections
2004-05-31 06:07 pm (local) (link) DeleteFreezeScreenTrack This Select
I wish I was as cool as you when I was 16.

(Reply to this)


[info]little_emsy
2004-06-03 06:29 am (local) (link) DeleteFreezeScreenTrack This Select
This is a great essay.

I hope you don’t mind, I added you 🙂

Published in: on November 24, 2008 at 3:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Andrea Dworkin Presentation

Childhood
Andrea Dworkin was born in 1946 and grew up in Camden, New Jersey. Her parents, Sylvia Spiegel and Harry Dworkin, were of Jewish ancestry. Some of her family members had experienced the Holocaust. Her aunt survived it and told her about the rape and forced prostitution. She had a younger brother, Mark. Sylvia had heart disease and was often ill in the hospital, and as a result, Harry had to work two jobs. She didn’t get along with her mother because she was always rebellious, but loved her mother dearly – “[s]he was my first great romance.” She got along really well with her father because of his kindness. He was stigmatized because of his empathy, “called a sissy and a fairy by my buddies on the street who no doubt heard it from their parents.”
At the age of nine, she was raped by a stranger:

This breach of a child’s body does count. It does register. The boundary of the body itself is broken by force and intimidation, a chaotic but choreographed violence. The child is used intentionally and reduced to less than human by the predator’s intelligence as well as his behavior. The commitment of the child molester is absolute, and both his insistence and his victory communicate to the child his experience of her – a breachable, breakable thing any stranger can wipe his dick on. When it is family, of course, the invasion is more terrible, more intimate, escape more unlikely.

In junior high her best friend and she were lovers, but she left Andrea for a man. Andrea also had an “affair” with a teacher in high school. She would also prostitute herself (which was advised to her by her teacher). After graduating, she went to Bennington College.

Early Adulthood
In 1965, at the age of 18, she was arrested at an anti-Vietnam war protest and sent to the Women’s House of Detention in New York City, where she was brutalized by two male doctors with a steel speculum – they tore her vagina and sexually harassed her. She bled for weeks. She was kicked out by the two men she was living with, and turned to Grace Paley, who convinced her to come out with her story. She went to her family doctor. He cried, because he had never seen a vagina so ripped or a cervix so bruised. She was sexually harassed by men over the phone and in letters who found a bruised and bleeding vagina titillating – men who would say how they’d love to rub their penises against the bruises, do with their penises what the speculum had done, and the like. The media had a field day. To escape the publicity, she left for Greece. (The prison, which had a history of abusing women, a disproportionate number of them black, was exonerated. It was torn down in 1972.)
She has also been a battered wife. What she, and other battered women, went through defies our sense of logic, of safety, of sanity.

…I was hit, that I was kicked. I do not remember when or how often. It blurs. I remember him banging my head against the floor until I passed out. I remember being kicked in the stomach. I remember being hit over and over, the blows hitting different parts of my body as I tried to get away from him. I remember a terrible leg injury from a series of kicks. I remember crying and I remember screaming and I remember begging. I remember him punching me in the breasts.

It got to the point where she wanted to die, hoping the next beating would kill her. She left, but didn’t get far – she had no money, no permanent place to stay. He found her. He beat her. Finally, in fear of her life, she left the country toward the end of 1972, with the help of a drug dealer.

Woman Hating
After escaping her abusive husband, she turned to Ricki Abrams. Ricki introduced her to feminism. Andrea especially remembers the books Sexual Politics by Kate Millett, Sisterhood is Powerful edited by Robin Morgan, and The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone. Together, she and Ricki planned to write a book about misogyny. In 1974, that book became Woman Hating, which Andrea Dworkin wrote herself. It was her second published work. (The first was Child, a book of poetry which was published in 1966 in Greece).
Soon before it was published, she met John Stoltenberg, who was to become her life-partner. They were first introduced at the Gay Academic Union, but met again when they both walked out of a benefit for the War Registers League because it became misogynist. He was one of the first to read Woman Hating because she gave him one of her first author’s copies:

…I read it immediately, enthralled and laughing out loud with joy. I especially remember where Andrea writes that “‘man’ and ‘woman’ are fictions, caricatures, cultural constructs” and that “we are…a multisexed species”…[T]hat liberating recognition saved my life…

In August of that same year, they moved in together, and are still together today.
In 1976, she published Our Blood, a collection of speeches. The year after, she made a speech in NYC at a panel on “Lesbianism as a Personal Politic” during Lesbian Pride Week. She received a lot of harassment from “200 sister lesbians, as angry as I have ever been” because she was apparently still sexually involved with men, who were the natural enemy to these women. In a piece inspired by the panel called “Biological Superiority: The World’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea”, she clearly repudiates the theory that men are biologically inferior to women and natural predators.

Pornography: Men Possessing Women
In 1978, she wrote First Love, an unpublished novel. In 1980, Andrea published the new womans broken heart, a collection of short stories. In 1981, Pornography: Men Possessing Women was published. She had already written and spoken out against pornography, but became more convinced that pornography contributed to women’s subordinate status in society as she did research for the book:

In writing my new book, I experienced the most intense isolation I have known as a writer. I lived in a world of pictures–women’s bodies displayed, women hunched and spread and hanged and pulled and tied and cut–and in a world of books–gang rape, pair rape, man on woman rape, lesbian rape, animal on woman rape, evisceration, torture, penetration, excrement, urine, and bad prose….
Under the best of circumstances, I do not have pleasant dreams. I work while I sleep. Life goes on, awake or asleep. I spent eight months studying the Marquis de Sade. I spent eight months dreaming Sadean dreams. Let the men joke: these were not “erotic” dreams; dreams of torture are dreams of hate, in this case the hate being used against female bodies, the instruments of hate (metal or flesh) being used to maim…
The photographs I had to study changed my whole relationship to the physical world in which I live. For me, a telephone became a dildo, the telephone wire an instrument of bondage; a hair dryer became a dildo–those hair dryers euphemistically named “pistols”, scissors were no longer associated with cutting paper but were poised at the vagina’s opening. I saw so many photographs of common household objects being used as sexual weapons against women that I despaired of ever returning to my once simple ideas of function. I developed a new visual vocabulary, one that few women have at all, one that male consumers of pornography carry with them all the time: any mundane object can be turned into an eroticized object–an object that can be used to hurt women in a sexual context with a sexual purpose and a sexual meaning…
…A doorway is a doorway. One walks through it. A doorway takes on a different significance when one sees woman after woman hanging from doorways. A lighting fixture is for light until one sees woman after woman hung from lighting fixtures. The commonplace world does not just become sinister; it becomes disgusting, repellent. Pliers are for loosening bolts until one sees them cutting into women’s breasts. Saran Wrap is for preserving food until one sees a person mummified in it.
Again, the nausea, the isolation, the despair. But also, increasingly, a rage that had nowhere to go…

That rage found somewhere to go.

The Minneapolis City Ordinance
In 1983, Andrea and Catherine MacKinnon, a feminist constitutional law lawyer/professor, created an ordinance that recognized the fact that women’s equality rights were encumbered by pornography. In the Ordinance, pornography is defined as the sexually graphic depiction of women in scenarios of pain, degradation, rape, dismemberment, bondage, and the like. It gives women the right to civilly sue pornographers and stop the sale of a specific piece of pornography because it was used in an assault against her (assault), she was forced into appearing in it (force), or it, as pornography, harms the equality rights of women (trafficking). A child, man, or transsexual can also sue. It was passed, but later struck down by Minneapolis’s mayor. Andrea and Kitty took it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the court agreed that pornography caused the harms they said it did – encouraged the trivialization of women, sexual harassment, rape, lower work wages, etc. – but that only proved it being speech worthy of constitutional protection. The Ordinance has been passed and vetoed in various other cities. This lead to Andrea and Kitty writing a book together, Pornography and Civil Rights.

Israel
In 1983, she published Right-Wing Women, an analysis of women in the right. In 1986, Ice and Fire, a novel, was published. In 1987, she published Intercourse, a book that had her detractors thinking, “A-ha! This proves that the bitch is a man-hater who thinks all intercourse is rape,” disregarding the fact that she was analysing what others said of intercourse and incorporating her own experiences, not at any point saying what many interpret her to be saying. As she explains in the ’95 introduction to Intercourse:

…If one has eroticized a differential in power that allows for force as a natural and inevitable part of intercourse, how could one understand that this book does not say that all men are rapists or that all intercourse is rape? Equality in the realm of sex is an antisexual idea if sex requires dominance to register as sensation.

In 1988, she went to Israel, where she experienced the status of women there. There she met with women who told of having to stay in shelters for battered wives under lock and key to protect them from the husbands and partners that were refusing to let them go, marital rights, abortion rights, what one woman called the Holocaust pornography, etc. (READ QUOTE FROM LIFE AND DEATH)

Mark Dworkin
In 1990, Mercy, a novel, was published. In 1991, her mother died of heart disease, which she had had since childhood. On April 30, 1992, Andrea’s brother, Mark, died of cancer at the age of 42. He was living in Vienna with his wife of ten years, Eva Rastl. He and Eva had worked together as molecular biologists. At the time he became ill, they were doing research on the metabolism of cancer cells.

When my brother died, part of me died. This is not hyperbole or cliché. I could feel some of the light that is life going dead inside me and when he died, it went out. He was a gentle boy, the one life I knew from infancy. I had a utopian memory of loving him, a kind of ecstatic love for him that was nonverbal, inexplicable, untouched by growing older…
He was the kind child, the nurturer of my parents. As they grew older, he took care of them, with his company, his true concern. My mother died a year before Mark and I don’t believe he recovered from her death before his own. Like my father, like John [Stoltenberg], he was a good and giving man.

Andrea’s Rape
In 1993, Letters From a Warzone, a collection of speeches and essays was issued in the U.S. (It was originally published in 1988 in Britain.) In 1997, Life and Death: Unapologetic Writings on the Continuing War Against Women, another collection, was published.
In 1999, Andrea was probably raped. She doesn’t really know because she passed out, probably because her drink was drugged. When she woke up, her vagina ached and she found blood. She had gashes on her legs and was bruised on her breast. She showered (mistake). She couldn’t really remember what happened. She called John (her partner) and told him. He advised her to call her gynaecologist. She did, but her gynaecologist said that an internal exam wouldn’t find anything.

I started hating every day. I hated seeing the sun rise. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other and I wanted to put a butcher’s knife into my heart behind my ribs. I was very lonely. I was consumed by grief and sorrow until I was lucky enough to become numb…My body was a curse and had betrayed me. I couldn’t figure out why they would want to do this and why they would want to do it to me.
I couldn’t be consoled. I couldn’t talk to anyone. How could I say the words to the people I loved, most of whom work precisely to stop violence against women: this is what he, someone or they, did to me. Yeah, I know I represent something to you, but really I’m a piece of crap because I just got raped. No, no, you’re not a piece of crap when you get raped, but I am. John looked for any other explanation than rape. He abandoned me emotionally. Now a year has passed and sometimes he’s with me in his heart and sometimes not.

‘Till Now
On December 4 1999, Andrea’s father died at the age of 84. A couple of weeks later, Andrea was hospitalized for bronchitis, pneumonia, cellulitis (an infection of the soft tissues in the legs – lethal if not treated with antibiotics) and blood clots. She was there for a month, and her leg atrophied, but she walks fine now. She has also had two other books published, Scapegoat, about how women and Jews have been used as scapegoats, and Heartbreak, a memoir.

Some Fave Dworkin Quotes
Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to us that they learn to cry; it is important to us that they stop the crimes of violence against us.

A child can’t commit suicide. You have to murder a child. I couldn’t watch the children killed; I couldn’t watch the women taken one last time; throats bared; heads thrown back, or pushed back, or pulled back; a man gets on top, who knows what happens next, any time can be the last time, slow murder or fast, slow rape or fast, eventual death, a surprise or you are waiting with a welcome, an open invitation; rape leading, inexorably, to death; on a bare rock, invasion, blood, and death. Massada; hear my heart beat; hear me; the women and children were murdered.

Writing is alchemy. Dross becomes gold. Experience is transformed. Pain is changed. Suffering may become song. The ordinary or horrible is pushed by the will of the writer into grace or redemption, a prophetic wail, a screed for justice, an elegy of sadness or sorrow. It is the lone and lonesome human voice, naked, raw, crying out, but hidden too, muted, twisted and turned, knotted or fractured, by the writer’s love of form, or formal beauty: the aesthetic dimension, which is not necessarily familiar or friendly. Nor does form necessarily tame or simplify experience. There is always a tension between experience and the thing that finally carries it forward, bears its weight, holds it in. Without that tension, one might as well write a shopping list.

On the streets there were women who were both strong and fragile at the same time: immensely strong to bear the continuing sexual invasion, consistent brutality, and just plain bad weather (no joke); immensely strong to accept responsibility as the prostituting persona–I want this, I do this, I am this, ain’t nothin’ hurts me; and much too fragile to face either the cost of prostituting or its etiology. The cost was physical disintegration and mental splitting apart. The cost was getting dirtier and lonelier and anesthetizing pain with more and meaner drugs. The cost was accepting the physical violence of the johns, moving through it as if it didn’t matter or hadn’t happened, never facing that one had been hurt, then hurt again, nor asking why. Some girls were straight-out battered and forced. But even without a violent man in sight, the etiology always had to do with sexual abuse, in the present or in the past; also with homelessness and poverty; with the willingness of men to use any girl for small change; with abandonment–the personal abandonment of family, the social abandonment choreographed by the users. It may be harder to face abandonment than to endure exploitation…

In a system valuing men over women, girls with piss and vinegar carried a heavier burden than girls brimming over with sugar and spice; the stronger were punished more, and still are.

Any man who has enough money to spend degrading a woman’s life in prostitution has too much money. He does not need what he’s got in his pocket. But there is a woman who does.

The heavier the pressure toward conformity–no matter how lofty the proposed final goal– the more one must be suspicious of it and antagonistic to it. History has one consistent lesson in it: one by one, people give up what they know to be right and true for the sake of something loftier that they do not quite understand but should want in order to be good; soon, people are the tools of despots and atrocities are committed on a grand scale. And then it is too late. There is no going back.

We need to end rape. We need to end incest. We need to end battery. We need to end prostitution and we need to end pornography. That means that we need to refuse to accept that these are natural phenomena that just happen because some guy is having a bad day.

The fact of the matter is that if the First Amendment does not work for women, it does not work. With that premise as principle, perhaps the good lawyers might voluntarily put away the dirty pictures and figure out a way to make freedom of speech the reality for women that it already is for the literary and visual pimps. Yes, they might, they could; but they will not. They have their priorities set. They know who counts and who does not. They know, too, what attracts and what really offends.

The homophobe’s citing of actual or potential or projected or feared sexual abuse of boys in particular also functions to sustain male supremacy by obscuring this crucial fact: male sexual aggression is the unifying thematic and behavioral reality of male sexuality; it does not distinguish homosexual men from heterosexual men or heterosexual men from homosexual men. An absence or repudiation of this aggression, which is exceptional and which does exist in an eccentric and minuscule minority composed of both homosexual and heterosexual men, distinguishes some men from most men…

When I was 11, my mother told me that when I played games with boys, I must let them win. But I soon discovered that it’s pretty hard to keep losing at checkers. You really have to apply yourself to lose and I just wasn’t good at losing.

It’s absurd to say that I hate men or that women in general should hate men. After all, we give birth to male babies. We cannot pretend that men don’t exist, but it does seem reasonable to expect that we should not have to live in fear of them.

Statistics
-42% of girls have had sexual rumours spread about them. (US)
-29% of ever-married women have been physically abused by a partner.
-In the U.S., every twelve seconds a woman is beaten. Every hour 78 women are raped.
-In a survey of college-aged men, 91.3% like to dominate women, 86.1% “enjoy the conquest part of sex”, 83.5% think some women look like they want to be raped, and 61.7% say it would be exciting to use force to subdue a woman. (US)
-Approximately 1 in 8 of women will be raped at some time in their lives.
-The false reporting rate of rape is only about 2%, the same for any other crime.
-About 75% of prostitutes have been sexually abused as children.
-In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, 98% of the prostitutes have had a “bad date” (abusive customer).
-16% of men have used a prostitute.
-Between 1991 and 1994, 70% of murdered women were killed by their male partner.
-53.5% of girls and 30.6% of boys under 21 have had a sexual offence committed against them. Almost half of child sexual assaults are committed by relatives.
-Fathers are the perpetrators of 59% of physical abuse of children and 99% of parent-child incest.