Thursday, March 30, 2006

I love Andrea Dworkin, part 1

I've been thinking about Andrea Dworkin a lot lately, and I've put off writing about her. How can I properly write about Andrea? I was a dedicated feminist as a young adult, but drifted away from feminism due to illness and life. I've only recently recommitted to feminism, and have read very little of Ms. Dworkin's work.

But you know what? When I was paying attention, it was easy to realize how important she was. It was easy to see how her rage cut through all the bullshit, getting right to the heart of the matter. Do I agree with everything Andrea Dworkin stood for? Well, I don't know since I've read so little of her work. But I intend to change that situation. The first book of hers I'm going to read is Life and Death.

Here's the thing. I've never met a person (yet) with whom I agree completely. I don't agree with myself on everything. But I'm able to disagree on minor or major points without throwing a woman's entire ideology into the trash.

April 9th will be the first anniversary of Andrea's death. The mainstream media barely reacted when she died. That reaction seems fairly predictable. What really offended me was to see how some feminists reacted to her death. Lindsay Beyerstein posted about Andrea's Death, saying it was unthinkable for the mainstream media to overlook a feminist of Dworkin's stature. However, Beyerstein also wrote this:

Indeed. I have about as much regard for Dworkin's work as I do for the philosophical writings of the late pope.

WHAT? She's equating a woman who fought tooth and nail for women's rights her entire life to one of the men directly responsible for women's oppression? It's disgusting to see a comparison of Andrea with the pope, for the planet's sakes, and it's sad to see her contempt for a critically important woman.

I won't post a selection of comments about her death because I don't think that most of them deserve attention. There's one comment, however, that I can't let go:

Though she died young, she seems to have well outlived her particular brand of feminism.

It's tragic of course that she died an early death, but just about no one would have wished her ideology a longer life.

Au contraire, my little short-sighted one. Andrea did not outlive her particular brand of feminism. There's an entire movement out here keeping the ideology going. We're still fighting, Andrea. I'm grateful you finally have peace.


Kim said...

Looking foward to part two! (I love the pic of her you chose!)

As for the signed in thing, I'm always automatically signed in to blogger, unless Bob does some "cleaning/compressing/new program installing" fuckery that erases stuff.
Now yr prob more confused then ever... too :)

witchy-woo said...

Yours is a blog I look at every day, SE, and today you have just given me the biggest grin. I have a picture of Andrea beside me as I type. She is with me everywhere I go.

She made such an impact through speaking truth to power that the powerful are still trying to dismiss her as no longer influential.

But they're wrong.

As long as we're still reading her, as long as the atrocities she wrote about are still happening, as long as women/girls are reduced to our genitalia and abused because of our sex Andrea Dworkin remains relevant.

I'm not sure where you are but I'm guessing you're not in the UK? Her death was very much reported and she was mourned here. I've been to a memorial service for her at the seat of London Local Government and next week I, along with several other UK bloggers, am going to a memorial conference for Andrea at Oxford Uni.

I love your final paragraph. Being an elderly 'second waver' (whatever that is...) it warms my heart that there are so many young women who aren't getting caught in the current, fashionable, 'sex-positive', media driven, MacDonald's 'feminism' but who are standing firm and making waves.

Andrea Dworkin makes good reading.

Laurelin said...

I only relatively recently discovered Andrea Dworkin, and I'm so glad I did. Her dedication to women was amazing, she's such a wonderful role model for integrity, courage, honesty and compassion.

Part of the reason why people are so dismissive of her legacy is because what she had to say was hard to take, and they prefer the easier way out which is to dishonestly dismiss her arguments.

I am one of the UK bloggers going to the conference Witchy-woo mentioned. I will report back :)

Andrea is truly a heroine.

Biting Beaver said...

Andrea was the first feminist I read and I remember thinking to myself all the way through. "Holy shit, someone GETS it!" She articulated my anger and moreover, she showed me why I was angry.

She was brilliant and amazing and her passion was catching.

tekanji said...

Your final words on Andrea "finally [having] peace," are actually quite chilling. To me, at least. Sort of the "you'll never be truly happy until you're dead" kind of thing really drives home that my fight against the patriarchy will be a lifelong one. Or maybe I'm just in a morbid mood.

And, witchy-woo, do you really need to end what I thought was a good comment on Dworkin with an insult to me? I ID as a sex-positive feminist and for you to put both of those in quotations is highly offensive to me and what I believe in. I don't dismiss you because of your views, or because you ID as a 'second waver' (an ideology that, while I don't subscribe to, I recognize the important contributions it has and continues to make to feminism and society at large), and it's really shitty for you to do so to me.

witchy-woo said...

I'm sorry that my use of punctuation offended you, tekanji.

I would like to explain but I don't want to derail the comments here so I'll email you at your blog.

spotted elephant said...

Kaka, I think I know what you mean. :)

witchy-woo, I'm in the US. So glad to hear that people in the UK acknowledged her death. It would be great to hear how the conference goes. I'm not sure I'm a young woman at almost 37 ;), and I've always been confused about when the second wave stopped.

laurelin-Ah, glad to hear you'll be reporting on the conference. You're right about people avoiding what's difficult. Push it away and it'll go away. Grr.

bb-Andrea was the first feminist you read? That's so cool! What an intro.

tekanji-Once I read your comment, I saw how the sentence would come across that way. I actually meant the opposite. Life is extremely painful and extremely wonderful. When I focus on death, I think about losing the wonderful part of life. My sentence was trying to emphasize giving up all the pain. Expecially for someone like Andrea, who suffered so much in her life, at least she's now free of pain. That's what I meant.

sybil said...

Thanks spotted elephant.
What goes for witchy-woo goes for me too. Tekanji, if it makes a difference, I'd replace *sex-positive* with pornchic. If it doesn't describe you, then ignore it. I have a positive relationship with sexuality. I have contempt for pornchic and the conflation of empowerment and identifying with consumerist (*macdonalds*) values.
Andrea Dworkin, r.i.p.

Andrea said...

Not everybody who has a problem with 'sex positive' feminism has a personal issue with you, Tekanji.

Aishwarya said...

I really need to visit this blog more often. I'm looking forward to part two of this post!

spotted elephant said...

Sybil-I get confused with terminology-does pornchic = sex positive for most feminists? It starts to make my head hurt.

Andrea-excellent point. I try to keep it in mind when I see criticism of rad fem, but I'm not very good at that yet.

Aishwarya-Thank you!