April 11, 2005
Please share your personal tributes here.
Posted by kathyw at April 11, 2005 05:46 PM
Andrea Dworkin matters because what happens to women - the fact that we do not truly own our own bodies and minds, the fact that we are always to some extent public property, commodities, products - she matters because all that shit pissed her off.
She wasn't polite about it, she wasn't quiet or diplomatic. I want someone to be angry about it. I needed that. Being angry, being outraged proves that someone, somewhere does not think that the way women are used and discarded is natural or acceptable.
Yeah, it's great that people get sad over it, theorize about it, write papers. But really, what I need is for someone to get pissed. And the fact that she could write like mad and hit you in the gut, that made it all the more satisfying. Someone was outraged about what happened to me. Thank God for Andrea Dworkin.
September 15, 1963, four little girls were killed in a racially motivated church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama. The whole country got outraged, finally, thankfully. Something turned.
Right now in the world, each year 2 million women and children are trafficked into the sex trade, generating more profit for their traffickers worldwide than the drug trade. In case you think this is a third world problem, 45,000 to 50,000 of those women and children are trafficked into the United States every year. In countries where trafficking is tolerated, or prostitution is allowed, there are more brothels than schools.
And by the way, trafficking is the polite term. What we are talking about here is more accurately called sexual slavery.
Where is the outrage for these women and little girls? Where is their movement?
If that is too abstract and huge to actually hurt you, think about this: In my neighborhood, statistically speaking, there are more than just four little girls who have experienced rape already. Before they can even vote, drive or graduate high school.
In yours, too. Everywhere.
Andrea Dworkin was outraged, I am outraged. She taught me that the only natural emotion for women experiencing violence - whether culture-wide or interpersonal - is rage. Anyone who asks that we feel something more 'civilized' (read quiet, polite, ineffective) hasn't actually confronted the reality of what it means to be born a woman.
Posted by: M. Zorah at April 11, 2005 08:35 PM
I first heard of Andrea Dworkin in the early 1980's. During my child care course, a lecturer distributed 2 opposing articles on fairy tales, one by Dworkin. You could guess which side she was on, but it was electrifying to read a dissenting voice such as hers. I remember it was so sharp, intellectually rigourous and exciting. Her ideas, along with Steinem's and Greer's, still push me to question society's norms and fight for women's rights everywhere.
I guess a fitting tribute for Andrea is how hated she was by conservatives and anti-feminists. She should wear it as a badge of honour.
Posted by: Ron Holmes at April 11, 2005 08:44 PM
Andrea Dworkin, feminist theorist and shit-starter
died this weekend. There has been no media coverage of her death, partially because her family has been mourning and dealing with the specifics of her death.
I know that not evey feminist I know agreed with
Andrea. I know that there are tons of places where I don't agree with her, places in her theory where she is incomplete or just plain wrong.
But she was the first person who taught me to be angry. She was the first theorist that I read who talked about the rage that we feel when we've been hurt, when we've been raped, when we've been because we are wymyn.
She was the first to draw attention to rape as a gendered crime. She was the first person to name "domestic violence" and say that it was something that happened to us because we were wymyn. She was one of the first people to ever say that we had a right to be angry at the hand that we have been dealt.
I will be lighting a candle for Andrea Dworkin tonight because I mourn the end of that validation. I will miss it.
I will miss HER.
Posted by: Krista Benson at April 11, 2005 08:54 PM
I have lost a friend. Women have lost a champion. And the world seems more unsafe.
Posted by: Sally Owen at April 11, 2005 09:03 PM
The death of Andrea Dworkin is devastating. We have lost a sage. Andrea's courage and integrity inspired women to acts of resistance that we didn't know we were capable of. Her generosity and support of women who constantly spoke with her about the brutal sexism in our lives was legendary. In debates, her sardonic humor cut to the bone. Andrea was a humanitarian who always considered the viewpoint of those who were marginalized - most recently, the viewpoint of those marginalized because of disability. I am certain that Andrea Dworkin's life and her work will be appreciated in the years to come in new ways and by new generations of people.
Posted by: Melissa Farley at April 11, 2005 09:24 PM
I'm so saddened to learn of this loss. I cried all afternoon. Somehow, knowing she was always out there speaking "truth to power" with that unflinching, relentless honesty about women's experience under male dominance, was a comfort to me, one that I realize I took for granted in the years since I traded in my activism for raising two strong daughters. For years, I would pull her _Letters from a War Zone_ off the shelf (which she autographed for me at Southern Sisters in 1991, and she was so much warmer than I had expected!), and it would give me so much courage to name and inhabit my own experience, however briefly. Even now, on one my favorite left-wing listservs, a few of us are mourning her and the rest are vilifying her, reminding me of the male dominance on the left that I'd prefer to ignore in the context of America's incipient fascism. If we have a 22nd century (indeed, if the Earth isn't destroyed in the 21st), she will be known as one of the greatest, and most unappreciated, political thinkers of our day. If any of her family and friends are reading this, I thank you for sustaining her through good times and bad, and extend my deepest sympathy for your personal loss. She has given so much more to human race than most of its members, unfortunately, can presently comprehend.
Posted by: Lydia Tolar at April 11, 2005 09:28 PM
Although I don't always agree with Andrea and locate women's oppression in a different place,I am saddened that we have lost such inspiring radical feminist, activist, and thinker. My heart goes out to her family and friends and to all of the feminist communities who have lost a scholar worth arguing with. Please accept my deepest condolences.
Miami University of Ohio
Posted by: Amanda Luke at April 11, 2005 09:32 PM
Andrea Dworkin spoke for me. She spoke for my rage, my pain, and my hope for women. She wrote with beauty, honesty and courage. My eternal thanks to her.
Posted by: Beth at April 11, 2005 09:59 PM
I read _Pornography_ many years ago in researching my thesis, and I was struck by Dworkin's fierce eloquence and strength of conviction on such a polarizing subject. I believe she was, above all, one who held us to be our better selves in defense of others, and not just when we felt like it. The resistance she faced speaks volumes about how precious, how guarded, and how fraught our most private moments are.
I am sad to hear of Andrea's passing, and I send my deepest condolences to those who loved her. I wondered many times if we would have had her voice if she had had more peace in her life. I thank her for her unwavering commitment to women's sexual safety and expression and hope that she has peace now. I will revisit some of her writings now to remember why I sought her out in the first place.
Posted by: ae at April 11, 2005 10:02 PM
While her writings kept me up at night (hard to sleep when you're angry), I appreciate her voice and the way it kept me (and probably many women) from feeling pressured to "go with the flow," especially as regards pornography.
Thank you, Andrea, for helping us think in new ways!
Posted by: Abby at April 11, 2005 10:19 PM
When I was not much older than twenty, as an undergraduate, I took a "student directed seminar" in feminist issues. One of the assigned readings was Andrea Dworkin's book Woman Hating. I remember devouring that book in what seems (in retrospect) one long mesmerised, horrified sitting. To say it hit me hard would be understatement; it demolished my worldview. I was raised by parents who believed that girls could do anything boys can do. I was raised in a middle-class home without pornography; my parents's conflicts may have been at times angry, but they were not resolved by violence. I managed to make it through high school without being assaulted. I was, in other words, completely clueless about my political position as a female, about the ugly realities of "woman's place" and the mechanisms men have devised to keep her -- us! -- in it. Andrea Dworkin's book gave me a clue. It also broke my heart.
It seems odd perhaps to feel, over 25 years later, such gratitude for this devastating (at the time) experience. To an extent I can honestly say, "Andrea Dworkin made me a radical feminist" -- obviously there were other influences, but that first kick in the pants seems, in my memory, where it all started: sitting crosslegged on my rumpled bed, reading Woman Hating, and weeping, and not being able to stop reading because it all made sense. My life might have been more calm and pleasant if I had remained in illusion or denial. It might also have remained "an unexamined life."
Every commitment to social justice I have ever made, every analysis of power and abuse, of corruption and malfeasance, harks back to that first basic understanding of the injustices done to women in a culture still (to this day) pretty much run by and for men. Like the seed crystal that launches a runaway reaction in a saturated solution, Andrea's book dropped into my life and set, irrevocably, the direction of my moral philosophy. I read all her other books as well, over the years, and all were valuable. I disagreed with her here, cheered her there, marvelled at her ability to sustain such passion, such incandescent rage, and yet remain alive. I cancelled my sub to The Nation because of the gratuitous and vile insult offered to Andrea by one of their guest writers. And always her writing -- particularly her writing for public speaking -- set a high standard which I aspired to but never matched; her emotional and physical courage set a standard even harder to emulate. We never met in person, yet she was always a presence -- intellectual, moral, literary -- in my life. So I feel not so much as if a close friend had died, as a teacher, a role model -- a personal hero.
Those of us who have been fortunate enough to enjoy the marginal advantage of safety, of partial immunity, that comes with race and class privilege (not to mention plain old random luck) -- those of us who (so far) have not been prostituted, not battered, not raped -- we owe an unique debt to the mentor who first opened our eyes to the injustice that was right in front of us all along, who set a lifelong challenge before us, who made us look upon the face of suffering and let it break our hearts, who made us know in our guts that the prostituted woman, the battered woman, the raped woman, the murdered woman, is not Other, but us, and our cause is hers. That debt I owe to Andrea Dworkin -- an untamed spirit.
Posted by: DeAnander at April 11, 2005 10:23 PM
I don't know what to say really but I'd not feel right saying nothing. I know a lot of people will post how Andrea got them started, how she helped form their opinions... and I suppose I'm no different... but I don't want to talk about that really. I just want to say that... I know I've never met her, never spoken to her... but I love her, I do. She will be missed. She will really... really be missed.
Posted by: Tahereh at April 11, 2005 10:36 PM
Andrea Dworkin was the first woman I encountered who was angrier than I, but in her reasoned rage, she gave me vent and voice. I am simply and sadly stunned that she is gone.
Posted by: Leigh Ann at April 11, 2005 11:03 PM
Wow, I just realized what she meant to me. She was there, in the background of my life, ready to be called if I needed her. I always felt a sense of security as a woman, knowing she was "on the case". Now I feel more alone. It's amazing that someone I didn't know personally, had never even met, could have been such an integral part of my personal life. That's the thing....I feel like I did know her. I feel like she was a little bit of me. Who can ever fill her shoes? I hope someone...
Posted by: Leslie Thaw at April 11, 2005 11:18 PM
I am so sorry - Andrea was part of my young adulthood and a big part of my political, social and sexual consciousness. A lot of my awareness and lessons came from her writings. She was an example to us all - she was used as a threat to us, held up as a bad example, but was actually our vanguard. Be who you are. Be as much as you can be. Don't let anyone else (male or female) define you. Good grief, we are still arguing about body hair. Still told it is our duty to stay looking young and sexualised. Still ourselves both consumer and a commodity.
Bless you Andrea - for changing the way we looked at the world, for really making a difference. After so much suffering, and so much vilification - now you are home at last.
And my condolences to those close to her and supported her. After the sadness of her passing and her loss, we will always celebrate her life and work.
Posted by: Helen at April 11, 2005 11:36 PM
i don't really have words. but she did.
my god, she did.
her words on violence towards women, raging out against porn, her own painful accounts of rape, her passion and her rage are still relatively new to me. still, struck a chord in me that will continue to hum with what she's given until i'm old and grey.
she reminds me that it's not just "okay"- it's fucking necessary to be angry -to feel rage- for all the atrocities and violations that have happened to my women-friends, to all the women in the world.
she's helped me better understand my girlfriend.
in helping me accept my rage as necessary, as vital and good, she's helped me love myself more.
such a gift. severely missed, never forgotten.
Posted by: jen at April 12, 2005 12:19 AM
It's so interesting to me that Andrea passed somewhere between the pope's funeral and a royal wedding, and that hour after hour of papal coverage and news about Charles and Camilla subsumed the story of the passing of one of our great civil rights leaders.
We expect so much from our women leaders, yet she always chose to carry the burden of that expectation.
Rereading her autobiography, I love how she thought to use her strong, clear voice, her work, as a 'weapon of war' (in response to the war against women). She wanted her work to act as a 'landmine' that would 'explode the status quo'.
The idea of using one's work to literally blow up the status quo, to realize the power that a writer, an artist, can have to transform injustice, is yet another of her brillant ideas: sharp, fierce, and clear.
It's this clarity, and her fierceness, that I most appreciate.
It was a requirement in one of my women's studies courses to read 'Woman Hating.' I could just barely get through the chapter on foot binding---and I had to put the book aside. I wasn't able to finish it for several years.
Reading that book (that documentation) made me feel as if I had been slammed against a brick wall, but that reaction came from the depth of the truth and authenticity in it.
The world still needs this documentation about our shared history as women. It's a history that keeps repeating itself, a history too many women choose to distance themselves from, thinking (wrongly) that it will protect them---or that this story isn't connected to *them*.
She bore witness tirelessly. She was on the receiving end of so much hate----and somehow, she took that hate, turn it into a mirror on paper, and held it up to the haters so they would be forced to see their image reflected back at them. And all of us, in the course of reading her work, would be forced to bear witness, too.
She forced us all to *know*---we couldn't go around pretending we didn't know about this or that injustice---she made sure of that.
I 'm grateful for her blinding courage, intelligence, and commitment. The only way to repay such devotion is to pick up the mantle and contribute our own words, our time, our activism, and continue pushing the species to evolve.
Posted by: Kim McCarten at April 12, 2005 12:19 AM
I'm 25, and Andrea Dworkin saved my life. I was born the year "Pornography:Men Possessing Women" was published, but she still managed to save me. She saved me from the pornography I grew up with, with my father, and gave me a voice, one that said, pornography hurts, and women have a right to say how much.
It's always strange to me whenever I hear somone attack Dworkin as being 'anti-sex.' I can honestly say, before I read 'Intercourse,' I thought sex would be impossible for me. I thought sex was what I'd seen in pornography, inherently humiliating for women, invasive, and then I read what she wrote, with her wit: "his penis is buried inside another human being; and his penis is surrounded by strong muscles that contract like a fist shutting tight and release with a force that pushes hard on the tender thing, always so vulnerable no matter how hard . . . his penis is gone--disappeared inside someone else, enveloped, smothered, in the muscled lining of flesh that he never sees . . . she has engulfed it inside her, and it is small compared with the vagina around it, pulling it in and pushing it out: clenching it, choking it . . . afterward, shrunk into oblivion . . . he finally surrenders, beat, defeated in endurance and strength both."
I remember how I felt when I read that. I cried, and smiled. I laughed. I had my dignity back.
Posted by: stephanie at April 12, 2005 12:23 AM
Andrea spoke at Mills College during the student strike after trustees voted to admit men. She was the only national figure that I recall being there. She was an enormous inspiration and part of what kept the students strong and helped overturn the decision.
Whether you agreed with everything she said, most of what she said or none of it, there can be no denying that a strong, eloquent and vital voice for woman AND men is no longer with us. Her writing, however, is still available for future generations -- and I'm quite sure that the truth of what she wrote will be much more evident in years to come. She was truly ahead of her time.
Posted by: Cheryl Reid-Simons at April 12, 2005 12:52 AM
Andrea Dworkin: She saw reality for what it was. She was brilliant. She fought the good fight.
Posted by: Laurent A. Beauregard at April 12, 2005 01:04 AM
*Right Wing Women* was an amazing, brave piece of work, an indictment of liberal feminism's failure to offer tens of millions of women a vision of freedom that didn't spell danger to them and their daughters. She challenged feminists to build a movement that could win those women's allegiance.
Posted by: john at April 12, 2005 01:27 AM
We lost her far too soon. I was only just now coming to know her thoughts...
Posted by: Trish at April 12, 2005 01:41 AM
I met Andrea after a speech she gave at California State University, Sacramento in the 80s. I brought all my books for her to sign and I ended up gving her a smooth rock I had in my pocket. I found it years ago in a small stream and I just felt it needed to go with her. She was surprised that I was giving her something so beautiful and so natural. Just for a moment, I glimpsed and beheld her beauty and her strong soul. She was fighting for all of us - she gave us her stories and made us look at the reality - not the fables we were taught. Her memory lives on.
Posted by: Janice at April 12, 2005 02:17 AM
Dear Andrea, thank you for giving so much of yourself so that we might have help becoming who we are. Your life was profoundly generous. I was very lucky to meet you for a moment at a reading in a NYC bookstore in 1990 when you stopped and listened to every single woman who wanted to speak to you. You must have been there all night. Far more meaningful was a note you wrote to me. I had written to you a
few years earlier to thank you for your courage and all the work
you did for us. The note you sent back said: "Things are very
hard for me and tonight was one of those nights. Your words
meant so much. Thank you." Imagine HER thanking one of US!
Please be at peace now, Andrea, and know that your work was
done and you will never be forgotten. You changed everything.
Although few have yet realized how profoundly, you really have
changed everything. Rest now, with my love.
Posted by: Leslie B at April 12, 2005 02:18 AM
I remember seeing Andrea at a book signing - she was reading from Heartbreak at an independent bookstore in Santa Cruz, CA. She came in on crutches and she had the careful movements of someone in a lot of pain. She seemed so sad. Someone asked her about happiness, and she replied that happiness wasn't a right, like life or liberty. But with all I had heard about her life, I hoped she was happy. And I am wishing that for her now.
Posted by: Deborah at April 12, 2005 02:28 AM
I knew her - I published her first work of fiction, "The New Womans Broken Heart." Although we had not been in touch for some years and I disagreed with her on many, many points, I considered her a friend. Ironically, it was Friday that I just gave my publishing papers including letters Andrea wrote to me to the University of California at Berkeley's Bancroft Library and I was just in the process of writing to her to inform her of that fact. I will always cherish her memory, her stories and the good times we had together. My heart goes out to John.
A true conversation with Andrea in San Francisco after lunch:
Me - "Ah, what a bright and beautifully afternoon it is, Andrea."
Andrea- "The fog is rolling in."
Me - "Come on..."
Andrea - "I'm Jewish."
Posted by: Susan Hester at April 12, 2005 02:30 AM
Andrea Dworkin's clear-eyed perspectives on sexuality and pornography will be greatly missed in a world that still defines sexual liberation as women making themselves perpetually available for use. I will miss her courage, her articulacy in her pain, her solidarity with the powerless, her enormous wit and vivid perception. Most of all, women, children and decent men all over the world will mourn a great champion of human rights and dignity.
Posted by: Hildegard at April 12, 2005 02:41 AM
She was a brave and beautiful artist and I thank her with all my heart for having the immense courage to keep speaking no matter how many times being told to stop. One of the most inspiring writers and women we will ever be fortunate enough to read and have our minds further opened by.
Posted by: JM at April 12, 2005 02:49 AM
I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of America's brightest, most powerful thinkers and leaders. She's significantly influenced the way I think about sex and gender. I learned so much from her writings -- it was edifying and inspiring and I'm truly grateful. I was first exposed to her theories and structures as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. It was formative. I have only come to admire her courage and respect her intellect even more through the years. She was brave, and she will be profoundly missed.
Posted by: Noah Abrahamson at April 12, 2005 03:09 AM
Thank you Andrea for giving your life, in such a dangerous and uncompromising manner, for the benefit of other women.
You were a brave woman to live your life and speak your mind in a way that most of us never dare to.
Rest now and hope that another soul will follow yours and take on your mantle, inspired by you.
Posted by: Rita Thornton-Gray at April 12, 2005 03:36 AM
The world feels like a colder and more dangerous place now that Andrea has died.
Andrea was not only an extremely intelligent writer but she was also truly gifted. Her writing spoke not just to the head, but to the heart. When you read her work, or heard her speak, it was like she was writing or talking just for you. She had a way of personalising the political in a way that no other feminist writer/activist did. Andrea made women feel as if they mattered - if you were alone, politically isolated, struggling and desperate - she felt your pain and wrote for you. Andrea's writing revealed the truth, the horrifying truth, about the world in which we live, but the truth, in the way she wrote it, did not crush you. Instead she created movement and action, inspired you to see that there was a possibility of a better world, a better life for not just women, but every being and the planet itself. Andrea was someone who loved humanity, despite the atrocities she saw men inflict upon woman after woman, she still felt that humanity was better than this; that the standard for what a human is, and what a human should be, had to be better than what is currently accepted.
She was, and always will be, the embodiment of courage, love and hope.
My heart and support goes out to those who were closest to Andrea, particularly her partner John, who must be feeling such deep shock at such a devastating loss.
Posted by: Delanie Woodlock at April 12, 2005 04:07 AM
"A lifetime of resistance
Against patriarchal oppression
A lifelong unapologetic struggle
To free all womynkind
1946 - 2005
58 YEARS OF REBELLION
1946 - 2005
A radical voice for wimmin
Speaking out against male violence
Inspiration for independent thought
From the courageous radical feminist warrior
1946 - 2005
58 YEARS OF SHEROISM
1946 - 2005
R.I.P MS. DWORKIN"
Posted by: Misandric at April 12, 2005 04:21 AM
What a loss.
Posted by: Debra at April 12, 2005 05:13 AM
I attended one of her readings in Berkeley many years ago. Because of her radical stand and the unpopularity of her analysis, I was apprehensive, not certain how the audience would react. Well,she got a standing ovation. And when I think of her, I return to that moment. Her courage encourages and strengthens me.I agree with Gloria Steinem that she helped to move our cosciousness along. What she gave will live on and many of us will be thankful for her vision for the rest of our lives. I hope to live my life as if in an ongoing standing ovation to this brilliant, courageous woman. She stood for us; now I guess it's our turn to stand for her. Thanks, Andrea.
Posted by: pesha joyce gertler at April 12, 2005 05:49 AM
I am gutted. It is the end of an era; not of our resistance, but of an era. I am a Pakistani woman of 55, a mother, a grandmother. I read Letters from a War Zone when I was 36 and it did save my life, not in any cliched way, but really. Everything I have done, thought and understood since then has evolved from reading that book. It laid bare what I had known and experienced. I went on to read all Andrea's books. I wrote to Andrea to tell her this. Even if my voice was one of thousands, I felt it was important for her to know what she had given me. She replied with great humility.
At first I loved and looked up to Andrea as a child does to its mother, always wanting clarity, the truth, and cherishing the guidance when it came in articles, speeches, interviews and books. I grew from there into an adult and an equal, because this is the power that the truth gave me. It demanded that I grow in stature in the world and stand shoulder to shoulder with brave women, by becoming a brave woman myself. No other words, no other actions in the world had allowed me the full possibility of seeing myself in this way; someone of great worth and endless potential. Always her gendered analysis was the key. The abiding question it left me with in any circumstance was "where are the women in this, and what is happening to them?", the question that followed was "where am I in this, and what is happening to me?" Asking these questions requires brutal honesty, and no place for complicity. I have lost a friend and a sister, and the way that I can honour this very precious relationship is by carrying on the resistance to male supremacy and domination.
Posted by: Shahidah Janjua at April 12, 2005 05:53 AM
I found out this morning that one of the most important feminists has died. From a personal viewpoint, Andrea Dworkin was inspirational. From a feminist perspective, she was vital.
Posted by: Caroline Moor at April 12, 2005 06:22 AM
I always thought that Dworkin's work, although difficult and punishing to read, really cut to the truth about how I felt about love and sex. I hope in the future more people see past the shocking nature of her writing and discover that her words, far from being so radical as to be consigned to the status of quirky, quotable sidenote, were actually a decent assessment of the state of the relationship between men and women. I am genuinely gutted to hear about her death and extend my deepest condolences to her family and friends.
Posted by: william at April 12, 2005 06:28 AM
Andrea Dworkin justified and put words to a rage and pain one feels as a woman, thereby providing a relief to which I am profoundly grateful
Posted by: Caroline at April 12, 2005 07:04 AM
Like you all, I felt immense sadness on hearing of Andrea's death.
Yet, reading the comments posted here and knowing that this sadness is shared gives me hope.
It gives me hope because in paying tribute to Andrea's life and work we are also - publicly, proudly, angrily, loudly - stating our feminism and our commitment to continuing the struggle to end men's violence against women.
Andrea's anger, her passion, commitment, intelligence, bravery and humanity will be much much missed. But her writings will continue to inspire us and her cause will live on.
What an amazing legacy.
Thank you Andrea.
Posted by: Karen Boyle at April 12, 2005 07:25 AM
as a raped woman and mother of a beautiful 8 year old daughter assulted by a paedophile,its good to have you standing at my shoulder
Posted by: harriet at April 12, 2005 07:31 AM
Friend’s, sister’s, women,
Until this morning (BBC Radio 4, UK) I had never heard of Andrea Dworkin - and what a shame only to hear of her at her passing at such a young age.
I have often been accused of being aggressive - not true, I am just a bit defensive having spent almost every day of my life being attacked by society - my age, my weight, the way I look, and yet I am a young, slim and attractive woman, intelligent too; Still, the comments and put downs come in thick and fast usually and most often by ugly, fat, balding middle-aged men! I am paid an average of 18% less that my male counterparts but seem to be working twice as hard for it.
The word ‘Feminist’ in our Oxford English Dictionary means ‘Pro-Women’ and how could I, a woman, be Anti Women?
I have read many of the comments here and on hearing Radio4’s Women’s Hour this morning must say that I miss Andrea too. Not wishing to miss out on her words of wisdom I will find out what she had to say by reading her books etc. and add that we women must keep on where she left off in memory of her and for the future of ourselves, our daughters and our daughter’s daughters.
(REF: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/ )
Posted by: georgia at April 12, 2005 07:37 AM
She was a warrior - yet gentle. Passionate and beautiful. I'm middle-aged and tired but kept on living because of Andrea Dworkin. I owe part of my sanity to her. In my 20s I was radical, confused and half-mad because of what had happened to me. Reading Andrea Dworkin - and seeing her on Channel 4's After Dark (UK) was a revelation. I never met her but will honour her by re-reading her work. Thank you for saving my life.
Posted by: Pauline Rowe at April 12, 2005 08:14 AM
Andrea spoke about me. She spoke about so many of us. And she spoke for us too.
She had a way of getting right to the crux of the matter instantly. No messing around, no apologising for what she was going to say, no fluffing around. She said it, right out, right there. She hit the spot with every word she wrote.
I have never been as angry, inspired, fired up, as when I read 'Life and Death'. Every time I read it, the same happens. For me, that book hits right between the eyes, and you can't hide any more from the things that sometimes I would like to pretend didn't exist.
The fact that Andrea has been so vilified is proof, to me, that she was dangerous to the heteropatriarchal establishment. If she wasn't, then the malestream media would not have felt the need to humiliate, dismiss and hurt this amazing woman. But she was dangerous to them, she spoke the truth so clearly, and the only way to escape that was to slate her.
I remember reading the Observer article in which she talked about having been drugged and raped. I cried, and nodded at so much of what she said. And cried some more. I remember her saying something about how, afterwards, she couldn't get her head round the fact that people were just getting on with their day-to-day lives. How could they still be shopping, talking, laughing, when this had happened?
I felt the significance and meaning of what she said acutely.
And then came the backlash. The criticisms, questionings, and downright accusations directed at her following her discussion of her experience of drug rape stunned me. For *any* woman to be disbelieved, mocked and criticised after discussing their experience of rape, is an appalling indictment of the misogyny in the society we live in. But somehow, for Andrea herself to experience this felt even worse.
It felt like those who had criticised her work for so long, were now criticising her for speaking out about her own experience of it too, as an extension of the criticism of her work.
At first I wanted to say, even if you don't agree with her beliefs, her feminist politics, you must still believe her account of this further annihilation of her as a woman by being drugged and raped.
And then I realised that her work, her politics, her beliefs, are *all* about when women talk about this annihilation of themselves. The two can't be separated.
To dismiss Andrea Dworkin's work, is to dismiss women's experiences of rape and sexual violence against women.
To dismiss women's experiences of rape and sexual violence, is to dismiss Andrea Dworkin's work.
The two are inextricably linked as they lead from one to the other. Andrea talked about women's experiences of rape and sexual violence.
She talked about my experiences of rape and sexual violence, about Linda Marchiano's experiences of rape and sexual violence, about Nicole Brown Simpson's experiences of rape and sexual violence, about prostituted women's experiences of rape and sexual violence, and about her own experiences of rape and sexual violence.
She helped women to frame their own experiences within the context of the misogyny and patriarchal society we live in.
We have lost an outstanding warrior, and the only fitting tribute is to continue what she did. To speak, to challenge, to care, to cry, to shout.
Rest in peace Andrea, my sister.
Posted by: Philippa Willitts at April 12, 2005 08:20 AM
This loss is unbearable. I cannot stand to think of a world without Andrea. She was a moral center of radical feminism and she defined what radical feminism meant for me. I simply cannot imagine who I would have been without her and how I would have navigated this world without her work. Her passion and absolute refusal to cower in the face of patriarchy helped to give me the courage to speak even when I knew I was going to get it from the boys for speaking the unspeakable. How many of us remember the first time we read her and said, yes, this is what I have been waiting for all my life. I was sixteen and comatose and then I read Woman Hating. The world was never the same again. I remember when I first saw an anti-pornography slide show and just couldn’t understand how “feminists” could be pro-porn. At first I was confused and then crushed --- I felt like I had been deserted by the movement. And then Andrea wrote Pornography and thus began my life’s work. I also have to say that for me Andrea being Jewish was so important as I had had no experience of Jewish women being feminists or intellectuals. I was born to European Jews still dealing with the aftermath of the holocaust. Jews were meant to stay silent in the presence of non-Jews because they couldn’t be trusted. It never occurred to me that a Jewish woman could be an activist or a public intellectual. In England, Jews were the disappeared of the feminist movement. Andrea helped shaped my identity on so many levels and helped to give me a life worth living. I want to thank all the wonderful radical feminists I have spoken to in the last few days as you have been such a source of support. To feel devastated is one thing, but to be devastated and alone is beyond tolerance. Andrea helped form this community of radical feminists and now we have to collectively deal with the loss. At the end of her BBC film (the one they won’t distribute here), she says about the women everywhere who are brutalized “we miss her and we want her back.” Need I say more?
Posted by: Gail Dines at April 12, 2005 08:27 AM
The death of Andrea Dworkin is an enormous loss for American feminism and for the world of literature. Dworkin's genius brought us the brilliant RIGHT WING WOMEN and INTERCOURSE, for which I will be forever grateful.
I feel deep sorrow for John Stoltenberg and Dworkin's close friends. A very great, masterful writer and woman of profound compassion has left us far too early.
Posted by: Max Alberts at April 12, 2005 08:47 AM
She is my hero. She made it easier for me to live and speak without apology.
Posted by: Holly Fodge at April 12, 2005 09:01 AM
Andrea Dworkin didn't just get womyn to think-- she got womyn to LIVE. She got womyn to entirely transform, and that's what put her in a different category from even highly distinguished feminist thinkers and activists. Every wommon I know who went through the profound personal transformation known as becoming a radical feminist was initially inspired by Andrea Dworkin-- or inspired by someone else who was.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Andrea Dworkin for the incredible breadth with which she loved womyn, even womyn like me who didn't come from beaten-down backgrounds and who had to be dragged into the feminist movement because it removed them from "comfortable" lives. She has a truly magnetic personality and written persona.
Andrea, the incredible responsibility to live as courageously and as confrontationally as you has been passed on to us, the younger generation, and believe me when I say we shall not fail.
Posted by: Yoshi at April 12, 2005 09:15 AM
I am sure that the life and works of ANDREA DWORKIN will continue to shed light on the dark-side of life,and inspire others to fight injustice,hypocrisy and prejudice wherever it lurks.Now and in the future.
Posted by: jennifer at April 12, 2005 09:25 AM
I am saddened by her passing
Posted by: Fudster at April 12, 2005 09:40 AM
I sit here with tears in my eyes, trying to understand my grief. I feel overwhelmed with loss. Andrea Dworkin was a great writer, thinker, feminist and cultural icon. Her views on women in our patriarchal society should be required reading for all freshmen in all universities--why aren't they?
I will miss her courage and her unwavering dedication to liberation for women. I will always be struck by how strongly people react to her work--which to me, is a testament to how much truth it reveals--truth that makes people uncomfortable.
Andrea, I love you and thank you for your bravery and honesty.
Posted by: Beth Younger at April 12, 2005 09:41 AM
I had the privilege of hearing Andrea speak at Reed College while an undergraduate. It would not be an overstatement to say that she defined my worldview at a profound level. Now, twenty years later, I still remember that evening as a moment in which I was in the presence of genius -- injured, angry, unflinching, and revolutionary.
I have read and absorbed and been changed by many other feminist writers and thinkers since that time. My feminism may not be the same as hers. But there is no denying how essential she was, and is, to the woman I am today.
Andrea Dworkin, I wish you peace and light. May your words continue to be a beacon, or a target of scorn -- anything but forgotten, anything but ignored.
Posted by: Ellen Eades at April 12, 2005 10:02 AM
Travel well, Andrea. You shook the very foundations that I stood on. Taught me that anger is not hatred, that rage can be constructive. More importantly, you taught me to see the women in my life--my mother, my sister, my wife, my friends--with different eyes. And to challenge the men in my life...to not remain silent to the covert actions that I understood all to well because I, too, am a man.
John, I am sorry for the loss of your companion and sister.
Posted by: Peter Stahl at April 12, 2005 10:06 AM
Any time someone who is not afraid to speak out on behalf of the exploited and oppressed dies, it is a loss for us all.
My deepest condolences to those who accompanied the life of this amazing woman of coraje (anger) and corazón (heart).
Posted by: Laura at April 12, 2005 10:09 AM
She will be missed. Her work and her courage on behalf of women have been an inspiration.
We have lost a great woman.
Posted by: Kate at April 12, 2005 10:32 AM
I met Andrea at a writers conference and was delighted with her approachability and saneness. She was angry and justifiably so, I was also very angry and she helped me find the words to express myself. I am forever grateful to her for her voice. The world is much poorer with her passing and women more endangered than ever despite all her hard work. Her work "Pornography" has shaped my life as a librarian and my point of view on the subject. I am also glad for that. My sympathies to her family and the world for this loss.
Posted by: Pauline Klein at April 12, 2005 10:53 AM
Andrea Dworkin was a true visionary and, like other true visionaries, her ideas threatened vested interests. To thwart the nakedness of her truth, she was personally mercilously villified.
Research increasingly supports the common-sense argument that sexually violent pornography encourages sexual violence. But, alas, there will always be people who say that cigarettes don't cause cancer (a view that is especially prevalent among those on the payroll of the cigarette makers).
Today, we see the phenomenon of the explosive growth of the multi-billion dollar porn industry on the Internet.
The earth has lost a great human being.
Patricia G. Barnes
Posted by: Pat Barnes at April 12, 2005 11:00 AM
I will always remember her. Her ideas, her bravery and her story will inspire and inform many people all through the ages. She did an incredible job living her life. Good works live on!
Posted by: Deidri Deane at April 12, 2005 11:05 AM
in some ways, my life would have been easier if i'd never read andrea dworkin's work.
how many hours have i argued with people who didn't read her work, wouldn't read her work, or referenced her work out of context in service to the political aims of a woman-hating world? or, how many times did i sit back silently and pretend i didn't know what pornography meant, what pornography did, does, all the time to women? or, how many times have i risked divulging the "dirty secret" about myself - that i am an anti-pornography activist - only to see looks of shock and betrayal on the faces of people who are supposed to be my friends and comrades?
i wish more people knew andrea dworkin, but to know her, you have to read her work, and that is hard. reading her work, you have to give something up, give up things you think you know about the world, and that is hard.
you can hide all alone with what you know is the truth about pornography, but the knowledge never leaves you. hiding with it feels like a choice, but the truth is, we hide because we feel lonely and alienated. because it's too hard to try to explain, yet again, and to risk, yet again.
we are more alienated now that andrea is gone. what voice we have, we owe in part to her brilliant writing. her life. i would not be me if it hadn't been for her. she modeled the ability and the necessity to look critically and with rage at the world, and this is how i look at the world now, and even at her own work.
i used to see her occasionally walking the streets of park slope. i'd look around at the others on the street and wonder if they realized that there was someone really special in their presence. she looked like an ordinary person, blended in fairly well (not too hard in nyc), but i knew she was different. it made me feel special to walk the same streets, shop in the same bookstores as she did. once, i approached her. "i've read your work" i said simply, keeping a respectful distance, but also keeping my voice low so as not to draw attention. "it's meant a lot to my life."
what else can you say? what i meant was, "i recognize you." in all senses of the word.
i hope she got that. and i hope we all strive to be more recognizable, at least to each other.
Posted by: dena at April 12, 2005 11:08 AM
With Andrea's passing we have lost a great soul. May her words always be read. May they continue to inspire us to think and to question and to rage. Andrea was a true warrior. She did not allow herself to be silenced and she presented the truth of women's reality unflinchingly. As a woman, she mattered, and her words still do.
I will miss her so much.
Caron L Capizzano
Posted by: Caron L Capizzano at April 12, 2005 11:10 AM
Do you remember the first time your read Andrea Dworkin’s work? I do. In the summer of my junior year in high school, I saw the documentary Killing Me Softly about abusive images of women in the media. I had never thought about these ideas and they made a lot of sense. I went to the library to learn more and I found Pornography: Men Possessing Women by Andrea Dworkin. Andrea’s writing was ferocious and brilliant; it leapt off the page and shook me by the lapels. I read the book squatting in the stacks without stopping because the words spoke so directly to me and to what I needed in order to develop critical thinking about gender. I remember thinking as a kid—Is this legal?—because if anyone wants to repress ideas, this book has so many new and earth shattering ones, it would be where a censor would start. That was 22 years ago. Now I teach Andrea’s work in my Feminist Legal Theory class. My students find her the most troubling, enraging, and/or inspiring writer. Her writing infuriates (“When the police refuse to help you, you begin to believe that he can hurt you or kill you and it will not matter because you do not exist”). It scares (“I want you to feel what it feels like when it happens over and over and over and over and over and over and over again: because that is what prostitution is”). It buoys (“There has been—despite the cruelty of exploitation and forced sex—a consistent vision for women of a sexuality based on a harmony that is both sensual and possible”). It emboldens (“I want to see the men’s movement make a commitment to ending rape because that is the only meaningful commitment to equality”). In its courage, it thrills (“‘Are you a bisexual?’ some woman screamed over the pandemonium, the hisses and shouts merging into a raging noise. ‘I’m a Jew,’ I answered; then, a pause, ‘and a lesbian, and a woman.’ And a coward. Jew was enough.”). It shocks (“What I am saying is that every one of us has the responsibility to be the woman Marc Lepine wanted to murder”). My life has been deeply enhanced by being able to read Andrea’s words and hear her speak. I know I’m not alone in that statement. Andrea was a warrior for all of us and her death is an immeasurable loss to the movement she loved, and to every person who yearns for a deeper humanity.
Posted by: Michelle Anderson at April 12, 2005 11:30 AM
December, 1976. On a visit to Boston to meet my new boyfriend's family, I am browsing in a bookstore near Harvard Square. I am 26, recently divorced, and just beginning to sense the bigger picture. Suddenly, I see it: Woman Hating, Andrea Dworkin, just the words green/black/orange against a stark white cover. I am stunned, the title alone instantly rewrinkling my brain. I buy it quickly, hiding it from the boyfriend, and after feigning the need for a nap, I escape to a small bedroom upstairs and read all afternoon. A few days later, the boyfriend proposes marriage, but I have the big picture now and refusing is effortless. Not laughing is more difficult.
Almost 30 years later, I think of all the choices that followed, informed by the truthtelling of Andrea and all the radical feminists of the Second Wave, who not only saw it and wrote it, but found ways to get it on the bookshelves so that late-bloomers like myself could find it. How to adequately express gratitude for showing me that my life is my own, but only if I'm willing to know the truth?
Andrea did far more than her share. There is more truth to be told, in a social climate with propaganda devices that make 1974 seem quaint. The work goes on, and because of Andrea's fierce uncompromising courage we have more clarity about what that work is.
Introduce Andrea's work to a young person today, and help tomorrow be informed by her brilliance.
Posted by: kay hagan at April 12, 2005 11:36 AM
Last night I reread some of Pornography: Men Possessing Women and Right-Wing Women--something I had done many times but not in a few years. Amazing how much of what she said seems even more relevant now: for instance, her remarks about terror as a means of enforcement for male power. More than any other feminist writer of any era, she gave us our dignity by offering us the unvarnished truth--especially those of us who have suffered the most at the hands of men. It's miserable, hollow, deprived, to think that from now on we will have to live in a world without her, and worse to remember how horribly she was treated by so many for being so brilliant and so honest. While I have often heard it said that reading her is painful or frightening or infuriating, I have always found it comforting, simply because she does not lie; she does not prettify or shrink from difficulty in any of its forms. It's the liars and the deluded who scare me; they've already shown they have too much at stake protecting themselves for anyone else to be able to trust them. I agree that someday Andrea Dworkin will be seen as one of the greatest thinkers, and writers, of her time. The tragedy is that that should've happened on a wide scale while she was alive. We'd all be a lot closer to meaningful freedom if it had. Her words were the best antidote to the insipid and the false I've ever encountered. One of the few who could cut through the panic of fanaticism, she was punished, and the threat to fanaticism of her influence limited, by being labeled "fanatic" herself. The only happy thing I can say today is that I am grateful beyond measure that she lived and wrote at all--she saved my intellectual life and probably my physical one as well--and I'm glad to see so many of us here mourning her passing. We have a lot of work left to do, and we owe it to her to embark on it.
Posted by: Lisa Lewis at April 12, 2005 11:44 AM
"I wish that every human life might be pure transparent freedom" - Simone De Beauvoir.
Ms. Dworkin was a champion for women on so many levels. She will always have a place of priviledge in my library and in my heart.
Posted by: Courtney Black at April 12, 2005 12:01 PM
What she wrote about, people generally don't want to be reminded of, although they know it's true - as with slavery, the Holocaust, child sexual abuse.
People who are 'victims' are supposed to be inarticulate in the expression of their pain so that the powerful can pity them, not to use their pen as a flaming sword.
For exposing the brutality and sexual violence that is inherent(so far)in human society, and for making your own deep knowledge of it art...thank you Andrea.
Posted by: Denise Ward at April 12, 2005 12:02 PM
Here is the obituary I wrote in the Guardian. I will miss Andrea terribly. She was a warrior.
Feminist writer and tireless campaigner against pornography and the violent oppression of women
Tuesday April 12, 2005
Andrea Dworkin at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Photo: Murdo Macleod
Andrea Dworkin at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Photo: Murdo Macleod
Andrea Dworkin, who has died aged 58, was a feminist who came to represent the fierce debate on pornography and sexual violence. The author of 13 books of feminist theory, fiction and poetry, she was a formidable campaigner against violence towards women.
To the libertarians and pornographers, who argue that pornography is harmless, she was a man-hating misery. But for her admirers around the world, she was an inspiration and great political thinker.
Since the mid-1970s, Dworkin symbolised women's war against sexual violence. Heroine or hate figure, her name became an adjective, used and misused to describe the type of feminist we are supposed to strive not to be.
Although her previous books, including the notorious Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981), were widely read in feminist circles, both in the US and Britain, Dworkin achieved fame when, in 1983 along with legal academic Catharine MacKinnon, she drafted and promoted the civil rights law recognising pornography as sex discrimination in Minneapolis.
In 1980 Andrea asked MacKinnon to help her bring a civil rights suit for Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace had been coerced into making the film Deep Throat. They discovered that, under current law, there was nothing they could do.
Three years later, Dworkin and MacKinnon were commissioned by the Minneapolis city council to draft a local ordinance that would embody the legal principle that pornography violates the civil rights of women, and is "hate speech". Public hearings on the ordinance were organised across the US, and it was the first time in history that victims of pornography testified directly before a government body.
This sent the pornographers wild. Shouting about "freedom of speech" and the first amendment. Al Goldstein, founder of Screw Magazine, said that he would "rather suck dick than have sex with Andrea Dworkin".
When Larry Flint published cartoons in Hustler magazine depicting Andrea in a sexually explicit way, she sued the publisher, but lost. After receiving anonymous death threats, she hired security whenever she spoke publicly.
Dworkin was born in New Jersey and had what she described as an idyllic childhood in many ways. She attended a progressive school and grew up to lead a bohemian life in the 1960s.
Her political career began when she was 18. While a student at Bennington College, Vermont, she was arrested at the United States Mission to the UN, protesting against the Vietnam war. Dworkin was sent to the Women's House of Detention in Greenwich, New York, where she endured several violent internal examinations.
Her testimony was reported in newspapers around the world and helped bring public pressure on the New York City government to close the detention centre down. It worked.
She graduated in literature from Bennington in 1968, and soon after moved to Amsterdam and married a Dutchman. Among the events that led her to the anti-violence movement was the abuse she endured in that relationship. "I was a battered wife," she said, "and pornography entered into it. Both of us read it, and it helped give me the wrong idea of what a woman was supposed to be for a man."
She left the marriage in 1971 aged 25, and fled the country, describing that time as her "living as a fugitive, sleeping on people's floors and having to prostitute for money to live."
Dworkin then met a feminist named Ricki Abrams, who took her in and proposed they write a book together entitled Woman Hating, but Abrams left it to Dworkin to write.
However, it took a sit-in, supported by feminist authors such as Phyllis Chesler at the office of the publishers to persuade them to bring out a paperback edition of Woman Hating in 1974.
That year she met the writer John Stoltenberg. They lived together for more than 30 years, with Dworkin encouraging John in his work to educate young men about rape and sexual assault.
In 1999 she wrote of being drugged and raped in a hotel room in Europe, the trauma of which led her to take heavy medication to enable her to sleep.
In recent years, she had become increasingly disabled. Operations to replace her knees, worn down by years of obesity, left her in constant pain.
Last year, during a visit to London, she made contact with the Guardian and was given commissions to write on topics such as the trial of Scott Peterson, convicted of killing his pregnant wife, and living with disability. In the past few years Dworkin had been, she believed, cast into the wilderness as a writer because of her stance against pornography.
"It's heartbreaking," she wrote to me, "to know I am censored in my own country."
But Dworkin was no feminist separatist or man-hater. She despised those men who choose to hurt women and children. In Heartbreak (2002) she described the deep sense of betrayal she felt from men in the political left who used pornography.
"I seemed to learn the lesson that pornography trumped political principle and honour," she says.
Although rarely described as such, Dworkin was an intellectual. The book she was working on when she died is Writing America: How Novelists Invented And Gendered A Nation, an exploration of the contribution that writers such as Hemingway and Faulkner have made to American identity.
She also had a brilliant, though wicked, sense of humour. Her kindness and humility surprised those who expected to meet a frothing Rottweiler.
The last time I spoke to her, a few weeks ago, we were talking about what it was that motivated her to carry on fighting for women, when she had suffered enough in her life. "Julie", she said in that famous, gravelly but soft voice, "I see it like this. All women are on a leash, because we are all oppressed. But those who get to adulthood without being raped or beaten have a longer leash than those who were. It should be that the ones with the longest leashes do more to help others. But it doesn't work that way, so we are the ones that fight the fight."
When asked in this newspaper how she would like to be remembered, she replied:
"In a museum, when male supremacy is dead. I'd like my work to be an anthropological artefact from an extinct, primitive society." She meant it.
Her partner, John Stoltenberg, survives her.
· Andrea Dworkin, feminist and writer, born September 26 1946; died April 9 2005
Posted by: Julie Bindel at April 12, 2005 12:04 PM
The loss of Andrea Dworkin while the condition of women is so terrible leaves me feeling mostly frightened.
Posted by: Peggy at April 12, 2005 12:11 PM
That's what I keep thinking - what a loss, what a great loss to all of us. Whenever I read her or heard her I found new ways in which she had managed to put into words, eloquent powerful words, the things I felt or thought or just somehow knew but had never managed to articulate. And when I met her I was quite overwhelmed by the sense of kindness she exuded. For one who could write so fiercely she came across as gentle and funny and wise. And now I feel so sad. As someone else posted above, I always felt better somehow for knowing she was out there fighting the good fight. Perhaps she is still out there. These lines of from Edna St Vincent Millay's Dirge Without Music came to mind ... "Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned" . I am not resigned to her loss but I hope she has gone gently and is at peace now.
Posted by: JD at April 12, 2005 12:24 PM
Last night as I was struggling to write a paper about my reaction to the Holocaust, I thought to myself, how would Andrea Dworkin put this? Feeling newly liberated, I let my fingers fly over the keyboard. I am coming into my power as a writer and as a woman because of her.
It is so difficult to put horror into words, but Andrea Dworkin never held anything back. Like the Beat writers she admired in her youth, Andrea Dworkin bent the world so that no one who read her words would ever look at reality the same way again.
I am very saddened today to hear about her passing. We have lost a great voice, an amazing teacher, thinker, writer, and fighter.
Many blessings today to her, to her husband, and to the people who loved her around the world.
Posted by: Anna at April 12, 2005 12:36 PM
To put it simply, I felt a little safer knowing someone like Andrea was in this world, fighting my fight, having a heart that was constantly breaking and constantly healing over all the terrible and beautiful things that happen to women in this world. It doesn't matter whether I agreed with everything she said, that's not even close to being what it's about - it's about her dedication, her honesty, her lack of shame and fear that made her a beautiful spirit that the world was blessed to have.
Posted by: kristina at April 12, 2005 12:52 PM
Andrea, Je n'arrive pas à croire que tu es partie. Je ne suis pas arrivée à faire traduire même un seul de tes livres en France.Andrea, avec toi disparait une des féministes les plus extraordinaires de ce siècle. Tu étais courageuse, déterminée,et pleine de compassion. Tu étais en colère,et tu prenais le temps et la peine de ciseler tes phrases pour que leur beauté porte leur vérité à l'incandescence. Dire "tu étais", quand je pensais t'écrire bientôt, dans une semaine, dans un mois, sans savoir que le temps pressait. Je n'ai pas pu te dire Adieu. Je n'ai pas pu te dire merci--ou pas assez. Je n'ai pas pu te dire que je t'aime. Mon Andrea, si triste et si forte,si drôle et si désespérée,merci, Adieu, je t'aime.
I can't believe you are gone. I haven't managed to get even one of your
books translated in France. Andrea, with you disappears one of the most
extraordinary feminists of this century. You were courageous, determined and
full of compassion. You were angry and you took the time to polish each
sentence so that its beauty made truth incandescent. To be saying, "you
were" when I thought I would write you soon, in a week, a month, without
ever knowing that time was running short. I haven't been able to say
farewell. I haven't been able to say thank you - or to say it enough. I
haven't been able to say I love you. My Andrea, so sad and so strong, so
funny and so desperate. Farewell, I love you. christine
translation by Martin Dufresne
Posted by: Christine Delphy at April 12, 2005 12:56 PM
Andrea Dworkin is dead. No pomp, no ceremony, no FOX news, no CNN, no People Magazine, no Oprah. She wasn't a vegetable tied to a tube, she wasn't a demigouge with dementia, she wasn't a jucy celebrity getting married/divorced/whatever... The world is not safe for women. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just supporting the system that's killing us. That was Andrea's message, don't forget it.
I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!
Posted by: Claudia at April 12, 2005 01:07 PM
Andrea Dworkin's words and work and just her being in the world have helped me to keep on putting one foot in front of the other, morning after morning, day after day, week after week, year after year, for a long time now, for the sake of the people of women. She may have been taken from us, but she's left thousands of us to carry on with the work she began until women are at last free.
She'll shine on, in her words, in her work, in us. I'll miss knowing she's alongside us, but I'll work even harder, now that she's gone. I bet we all will.
And the haters won't be able to hurt her anymore, or try to, and honestly, that gives me some comfort.
In radical feminist sisterhood and solidarity,
(Cheryl Lindsey Seelhoff)
Posted by: Cheryl LIndsey Seelhoff at April 12, 2005 01:28 PM
I read about her this morning in the Post on the way to work. I had heard about her before. Politically, I was inclined to dismiss her. But something about her quotes in her obituary, and the fact that she lived with a man for thirty years, touched me. I go to this online collection, and find myself moved to tears by her writing on the Simpson case.
Also, conservative David Frum's online comments in National Review Online is affecting:
I behold a life well lived, and a passionate, compassionate, articulate soul.
Posted by: markus rose at April 12, 2005 01:28 PM
A Tribute to Andrea Dworkin, who died on April 9, 2005, at the age of
58 in Washington, DC.
It is with unspeakable sadness that I say goodbye to you. Your writings transformed the lives of so many who fight for human rights and social justice. Like most prophets, your work was dismissed, ridiculed, and worst of all neglected. I was lucky to call you a friend for twenty-four years. I remember rushing the stage after a speech you gave at San Francisco State in 1981, dumbfounded by your electrifying rhetoric. I hugged you. You did not turn me away. Enveloped in your arms, I fell in love. You were for real. I already called myself a radical feminist activist, pouring my blood on entryways of beauty contests and Ms. Nude contests, challenging those who entered that they were "walking on the blood of raped women"--a concept coined by friend and mentor, Nikki Craft. But when I read your book, Our Blood: Prophecies and Discourses on Sexual Politics, I was stunned by your provocative language. In your unmistakably unique, gritty, and ruthless style, you challenged every concept I held. That day I met you, I knew you were a true blood-sister.
I admit your books scared me. They were like viewing photos of senseless war dead; your words ripped blinders that had served to optimistically sanitize the ugly truth of woman hating, white supremacy, and class. I was simultaneously drawn and repelled by your descriptions of these long-neglected realities.
Thank you for your scathing critiques of academia and its capacity to destroy budding female writers. Thank you for your decades long critique of gender as a social fiction, one that cramps human potential, and for pushing our culture toward acknowledging the sheer beauty and wonder of human similarities, rather than obsessing over differences. Thank you for giving a voice to the destitute, sexually abused, homeless women who prostitute and pose in pornography. You dared say that pornographers and pimps should never have more free speech than the women they profit from using. Brilliant.
I especially want to thank you for your unwavering refusal to sell out. Your courage to challenge every aspect of patriarchy, from fashion dictates to pornography, leaves me in awe. In my mind's eye I see you walking away from me after a dinner one night in New York City, wearing your comfortable overalls and untamed hair, making your way home by train to Brooklyn, and I realize there is no human I will ever share time with on this planet who will be your equal. Your contributions to the world through your defiant speeches and impeccable writing remain a gift to last an eternity. I only hope people don't wait that long to experience your work.-- Ann Simonton. April 10th, 2005
To hear a raw two hour tribute to Andrea Dworkin from yesterday April 11th and to access an Internet memorial please go to:
Posted by: Ann Simonton at April 12, 2005 01:36 PM
Andrea Dworkin mattered.
She illustrated that women could use their voices and stand firm without pandering to the commercial, the commodifying. She was true, and true feminists--militant, passive, traditional, of whatever stripe--need to gain fire from her passing. Let this teach us that people are not forever, that times do change, and that we can stand firm in our beliefs to attain that solidarity, that strength of feminist voices that was representative of 60s, 70s, 80s feminism. When we become lazy and complacent with our political and social gains--regardless of their size and/or perceived importance--the feminist spirit will truly suffer. We can't afford to let that happen.
Thanks to Andrea Dworkin for her compassion and for adding fire to that feminist spirit, and here's to hoping we keep it going!
Posted by: Tara McKenzie at April 12, 2005 01:39 PM
Thank you for caring and for your insight.
Thank you for expressing your rage openly and without apology.
Thank you for saying what most women are too afraid to say.
Indeed, Thank you for not being afraid.
Thank you for sharing Andrea.
Posted by: Michelle McAleer at April 12, 2005 02:39 PM
Andrea Dworkin changed the way I thought.
I was able to tell her in person how grateful I was for her work when she came to Scotland a few years ago. I recognised her while she was browsing in a bookstore and being a huge fan I had to introduce myself to her and shake her hand. I told her I thought she was the greatest advocate of human and civil rights since Martin Luther King and she thanked me the way people do when have never been thanked for anything.
The next day I went along to her reading and lecture about 'Scapegoat'. It was as moving and stirring as you'd imagine and at the end when everyone had gone I reintroduced myself to her and was touched that she not only remembered me but that she autographed all the books I brought with some really inspiring inscriptions. She made a very sweet joke about the entire Andrea Dworkin library I had with me. 'It's nice to see all of my books in once place,' she said, 'that's NOT my office!'
She was a gauge and a prophet. Hers is one of the few contemporary voices which will still be heard in 150 years time.
Posted by: Graham Watson at April 12, 2005 02:41 PM
Thank you for all that you so selflessly gave over and over again. Many blessings to you, on this, the next part of your lifes journey. Namaste dear warrior...namaste.
Posted by: Ally at April 12, 2005 02:50 PM
o small you
sitting in a tree-
sitting in a treetop
riding on a greenest
riding on a greener
(o little i)
riding on a leaf
o least who
sing small thing
dance little joy
(shine most prayer)
We heard you, Andrea. Even some of us white, het, American, middle-class, middle-aged, Xian guys. That's something.
Thank you - for taking me by the arm and saying, "Look!" - for showing me how it might be - how it could be, better. How I could be. Will be. Thank you.
You do shine, Andrea. Shine on.
Posted by: Ricky at April 12, 2005 03:22 PM
In Loving Memory of Andrea Dworkin
by Paul S.
It was with great sadness and shock that I learned yesterday of
Andrea's death. I can only be thankful it was peaceful. God knows her life wasn't.
Andrea spent over thirty years fighting, with public activism and
published words (the latter an expression of the former, always) one of the most brutal and cruel forms of oppression known to humanity: men's dominance over women; its ideology, male supremacy; and several of its institutions, including the pornography industry.
Brave soul. Braver than any of us will know. The additionally
corrupt power of organized crime and mainstream corporations have had significant ties, over these many decades of her and our feminist struggles, to that one deeply misogynous and incalculably callous industry; and they have worked very hard, the pornographers, along with many other groups, all along the political spectrum, to discredit and demean Andrea. I know this hurt her deeply. And she went on, despite this on-going hurt.
It was not only the misogyny and multiple forms of ethnic hate, that constitutes and defines the bulk of pornography, that Andrea fought against. There were many other battles in her life, a life thoroughly and sincerely dedicated to working on behalf of women to free them from systems of utterly grotesque and utterly commonplace harm: rape, battery, prostitution, poverty, racism, anti-Semitism, and child sexual abuse.
Wondrous soul. How could anyone withstand and absorb all the
violence she knew viscerally, emotionally, and intellectually? How does a spirit co-exist with such knowledge: holding, as she did, in her astoundingly sensitive and sophisticated psyche,
thousands of stories of rape, told to her, face to face, by the
survivors, after her lectures and speeches? How does one find a way to work with that diligently unrepressed, undenied knowledge of so much harm, done every minute of the day, day after day, to a population which, were it not for female infanticide, would even more greatly outnumber the primary population of those who actively oppress women and girls, or passively remain silent on these issues?
Militant soul. Andrea was fierce in battle, always understanding the larger war each battle was designed to end, slowly, always too slowly.
Personally, she was one of the most influential people in my life.
Her books and other work altered, permanently, how I saw the world. She opened my eyes to gendered cruelties so ubiquitous that they go unnoticed, unchallenged, and unpunished most of the time. She has inspired me, for over twenty years, to work towards a world without male supremacy and the many, many atrocities which flow from its premises, promises, and practices.
Andrea worked so much harder than I did; I have some shame about this, but what tempers that shame is the awareness that Andrea worked harder than anyone I have known, to make sure those cruelties were named as such, and WERE noticed, and WERE challenged. What even she could not do, what the last thirty plus years of feminist activism has not been able to do, to date, is make sure the sadists and pornographers and pimps are appropriately held accountable. That has yet to happen. And so there is still no justice (let alone equality), although there is more awareness now than thirty years ago. And if we make sure others read all of Dworkin's fifteen books, younger activists can learn what is increasingly not spoken about in the mainstream media, unless to further exploit women by eroticizing and sensationalizing misogynous crimes.
Andrea Dworkin was a hero. She was my hero.
Her courage exceeded the limits of self-care. Her life was given to the cause of women's freedom from male supremacist cultures.
There is a lot of work yet to be done, and it will be done with one less living example of how not to give up. We need role models, more now than ever.
It is never a good time to lose a strong leader with integrity, which Andrea certainly was. But we all must try and move her work forward, and keep her legacy alive, and realize that distant dream of a world without male dominance.
Posted by: Paul S. at April 12, 2005 03:27 PM
I heard Andrea Dworkin the first time in 1988 in Sweden when she was the main speaker on the subject of Pornograhphy, a Conference hosted by the National Organisation of Battered Women's Shelters in Sweden - ROKS. I still have her voice recorded and I was filled with admiration and awe of how we tackled the issue of pornograhpy in Sweden. She turned my head around. I suddenly understood.
I later heard her talk at a Conference in Brighton, UK in 1996, "Violence, Abuse and Women's Citizenship."
I hope to keep her work going.
Posted by: Eva at April 12, 2005 03:46 PM
Things I learned from Andrea Dworkin:
Sometimes our pain is just that, it is not something we move through, or grow from, it is just pain...
You can be a radical feminist and a kind and loving woman at the same time...
Misogyny is like the air we breathe, it is so present most people don't even notice that it exists...
It is okay to question whether rape and sex is the same thing...
Being brave doesn't always lead to reaping benefits for me, but sometimes it does...
If I challenge myself to make a difference every day, I do...
When I am courageous enough to speak for myself and about myself, I learn more about the world...
The only way to justify being alive, as a woman in this world, is to work for change...
The only point to exploring ideas and theories is to understand experiences...
I'm not sure these are the lessons Andrea Dworkin intended to teach me. Every time I saw Andrea Dworkin after the first time, she remembered who I am and how she knew me. She made me believe that I mattered to her, and I matter in the world. I believe to my core that I am a better person because of Andrea Dworkin. She was an amazing, smart, beautiful, funny, brilliant, articulate and caring woman; her passing is a great loss to the world, her life a great gift.
I am profoundly saddened by her death; my thoughts are with those she loved and those who loved her.
Posted by: Susan at April 12, 2005 04:40 PM
I am so deeply shaken and saddened. My thoughts go out to those who were close to Andrea. For people like me who never met or saw her, even though I still have her amazing, inspiring, beautiful writing to go to, I feel like there's an Andrea Dworkin shaped hole in the fabric of the universe. We have to keep fighting and talking and teaching and doing all we can to speak the truth about how gender works in this world. We have to join with other women, learn from and support each other, and together take some wicked action that would make Andrea smile.
Posted by: Kate at April 12, 2005 05:19 PM
Andrea Dworkin changed my life and was a hero to me, just by writing the truth, uncompromised and regardless of what it cost her. I never thanked her for it, and now I never can. She was on the side of women, to the wall and to the end, with integrity, compassion and spirit. She made huge steps against sexual violence, and we must try in our ways to be the army she spoke of, to carry on our fraction of her work. Rest in peace, sister.
Posted by: Shelley Norman at April 12, 2005 05:30 PM
Andrea came to address a meeting at my University in the UK in the mid eighties. Before the meeting she came to meet and talk to some of us students on the Womens Studies Course. I was scared of meeting her - I thought she would be intimidating and would have little time for someone, like myself, who was really just feeling her way along the path Andrea herself had trodden so well. Well, instead of the fearsome creature I anticipated, there was this warm, funny, softly spoken women who had a beauty and a luminescence all of her own. She was generous with her time and her mind, and when she did address the larger meeting she was formidable in her arguments, cutting in her humour when dealing with ignorant abuse, and truly inspiring. I didn't agree with everything she wrote or said, but then I don't think Andrea would have thought much of a bunch of simpering fans who never disagreed with her. She made me think about things in a new way, and because of that I changed my life's direction, working with women survivors of rape and abuse, finding the courage (sometimes!)to accept ridicule and hostility for my views, and becoming more confident and comfortable with who I am. I am so very deeply saddened to hear of her death, and so angry to think that the media (in my country at least) will by and large ignore it in favour of gossip about vacuous 'celebrities'. Love and deepest sympathy to all those who knew and loved her. She was one hell of a woman.
Posted by: Jane at April 12, 2005 06:02 PM
Remember: Resist do not Comply
Posted by: Αντώνης at April 12, 2005 06:05 PM
I concur with much of what I read here, and I share the deep sadness. I am not so upset, however, that Andrea Dworkin will not receive her due in the popular media. Celebrity was not her ambition, I suspect, and the media are so easily prone to undermining any genuine reflection on her value.
I'm happy to have met her, albeit in what prove now to be doubly grievous circumstances. She appeared at Sisterhood Bookstore in Westwood, California, not long before the store saw its final day after more than 25 years of pioneering work. It's encouraging to know that, in spite of these losses, there are so many folks who remain influenced by her life and her literature.
Posted by: Dean at April 12, 2005 06:19 PM
*Letters From a War Zone* changed my life. *Right Wing Women* changed it again. I heard about Andrea's death this morning in the car on the BBC World News Report and burst into tears. Not only because Andrea is gone so suddenly, but because I heard a ten minute story about her life and death on the BBC, and NOT on NPR, which was carrying the BBC report. If the British recognized how important this American activist was, why didn't her home country? I'm so ashamed.
I didn't realize how important she was to me until I heard she was gone. I am so heartened to see how many people have already written here to pay her tribute. Thank you Andrea and thank you all who loved her and will fight on in her name.
Posted by: Shannon Gorr at April 12, 2005 06:40 PM
After I finished reading Life and Death I felt like I had opened my eyes for the first time (excuse the cliche). Andrea Dworkin had not only challenged my "love the sinner hate the sin" , "girls are just as good as boys" bubblegum feminist ideology, she had blown it to pieces. But more importantly I felt empowered. I felt I had the right to feel angry and passionate about things that had only ever made me feel deeply depressed and deeply,deeply sad. As a young feminist I think the women of the world have alot to thank her for and on a personal level I honestly can't thank her enough.
Posted by: E Molloy at April 12, 2005 06:46 PM
she transformed my life too...
a sweet warrior is gone, the fight goes on
Posted by: spyros marchetos at April 12, 2005 07:06 PM
Andrea made me really uncomfortable. She forced me to look into things I feared and see stuff I would have wanted to pretend didn't even exist. She was a brilliant, brave, articulate woman, and I'm deeply saddened by her passing. I'm so thankful to her for helping me be more courageous, more passionate and more awake. What an inspirational, important feminist warrior she was.
Posted by: Eeva at April 12, 2005 07:49 PM
I remember Andrea Dworkin vividly at 19. I was a freshman at Bennington, it was 1965, and I had come to that place at that time hoping for a refuge from a world where Elvis lived, lesbians were per se criminals, marital rape was an oxymoron, and political rebels were men.
Only a year older, Andrea didn't appear to need refuge. She appeared purposeful, energetic, intense, confident. She hated the war, racism, and the Women's House of Detention on West Tenth Street. She was intimidating and inspiring.
Through the years I followed her development. I sometimes didn't agree with her positions when first articulated. But I always eventually came around because, once I looked at her observations and connections and logic, her conclusions were inevitable for me; although sometimes it took me years to get there, as with pornography vs what passes for free speech.
But I always think of her as 19. Even when I saw pictures of her looking older, the images that stayed with me were of this vibrant, already formed young freedom fighter in 1965 rural Vermont.
I know aging and death are the way of nature. I'm just not sure these days that nature is on the side of us crones. Especially when it takes someone from us who had so much more to say, and whom it cannot replace.
Posted by: Lauren Levey at April 12, 2005 07:50 PM
Andrea Dworkin taught me a lot of things. She taught me what it means to be a woman in this world--what I have to face (head on), what I have to speak out against, who my enemies are, and most importantly, she taught me that rape and domestic violence wasn't my fault. That these weren't shameful secrets I needed to conceal. That I had a right to be angry, not just at my rapists, but at the world that creates these monsters and creates the climate in which crimes against women are enacted and enacted and enacted again. Andrea Dworkin also taught me all about the sex industry and why it is so damaging to the collective sisterhood.
Andrea Dworkin taught me more than any other woman in my life did about ME. I feel indebted to her for this. What an incredible woman.
She will be deeply missed by so many of us. May her warrior spirit and brilliant outspokenness live on forever.
Posted by: Tuesday Lush at April 12, 2005 07:58 PM
This loss is so huge that I can't quite grasp it. I still don't quite believe it. So I can't write about it yet, but I will.
Posted by: Juliette Page at April 12, 2005 08:07 PM
Thank you Andrea Dworkin, for being outspoken and courageous.
Posted by: Sue at April 12, 2005 08:17 PM
Andrea sat front row, stage left in French class. She always came to class late, with an imperious look, daring the teacher to question her whereabouts. With a black poncho covering her body and arms full of books, unlike the rest of us, she never seemed to be fourteen years old.
Andrea was brilliant. Her mind was like a huge container, continually filled from the powers of the universe, revealing an interior wisdom that was always in the process of transformation.
As a seminarian in 1976, I saw a poster at Harvard announcing a lecture by Andrea. Unfortunately, it had already taken place. I was motivated to read her writings and was captivated by their passion and intesity, characteristics that she exhibited even as a teenager.
In 1962, I could never have imagined that I would "grow up" to be an Episcopal bishop, and she would "grow up" to be Andrea Dworkin.
I was very sad to hear of Andrea's death.
Bishop of Rhode Island
Posted by: Geralyn Wolf at April 12, 2005 08:46 PM
It was with great sadness that I learned of Andrea Dworkin's death. Andrea was one of the first feminists I read upon being introduced to feminism, and it was her feminism which eventually lead me to a more global politicization. Though I came to disagree with Andrea on many issues, I learned invaluable lessons from her, lessons which continue to guide my vision and my life. Beyond possessing an unparalleled degree of courage and commitment, Andrea was the most powerful writer and speaker that I have ever known, displaying an unsurpassed talent to convey what was truly horrid about women's oppression, and why women's issues matter. Andrea has deeply moved me and shaped me, and I am incredibly grateful for her numerous gifts. May all those who were closest to Andrea, those who supported her for many years, feel her ongoing presence and be comforted and inspired. With love...
Posted by: Kerwin Kaye at April 12, 2005 10:24 PM
May GOD bless your soul and comfort you. I enjoyed reading yours and Professor McKinnon's work for the first time in 2004. You have left a mark on world history...and that your memory goes on means you fulfilled some greater purpose.
Posted by: Randy S. Ortega at April 12, 2005 11:13 PM
I did not know about this woman until I read about her death a few minutes ago. I believe that the cause against pornography is a worthy one, and that it is a form of oppression against woman, and against men in certain ways also. Though Ms. Dworkin and I may have disagreed about a host of things, I, as a Christian, am saddened that someone who stood against sexual oppression was also not respected by many conservatives and Christians. Pornography is one of capitalism's most insidious expressions, and it grieves me that we justify it's flourishing in the name of free speech, when it is such a clear transgression against the human spirit.
I would have liked to have known this woman. Fortunately, I can begin reading her works. I can say without knowing her, but knowing some of the things she stood for, that I appreciate the guts she had to stand up against the things she did, and the passion with which she did so.
Posted by: Anthony Morano at April 13, 2005 12:55 AM
Women of the world, it is our sad duty to bury our beloved sister Andrea Dworkin. Our consolation is that she died in her sleep – a testimony to her peaceful, loving nature.
If Andrea was anything, she was like a big, purring cat. Because she refused to be crimped and pimped, her beautiful body was tortured and her soul tormented. When this happened, the home loving pussy cat turned into a raging tiger, burning brightly on behalf of womankind.
It is an outrage that Andrea suffered doubly. The genetic inheritance which gave her a body that caused her immense pain, also ensured that she was castigated for this same reason. In a world where animal variety is a source of pride and pleasure, why must we women be categorised and uniformised into the one, standard package: starving, brain-starved, on our knees or on our backs with our legs in the air?
Dworkin is woman. Her big beautiful body may have died but her words live on. Perhaps her reputation went through a hiatus for a while but now she is back. Large as life. The bedrock. The truth.
The time will come, as this capitalist, consumerist, exploitative culture splutters and implodes, when Dworkin's plea for equality for women, for gentleness as opposed to force, for cooperation rather than coercion, will be heard loud and clear.
Her looks were her fortune. The way she insisted on being was her loudest, most vibrant political statement. Her radical call to arms against the threat of received maleness was a way forward for people - male and female.
Her call for women to insist on being treated more gently, with greater respect was a call for the planet to be treated more gently and with greater respect.
Andrea was me. Andrea was you. She was the real we that we dared not be. Throw out the hair dyes and cosmetics and diets and botox. They belong in the ghettoes which lead to the factory farms and gas chambers.
Andrea's vision will live. She focussed on one part of the picture. That part is key. How men treat women shows how they treat themselves - how they treat everyone and everything.
I refuse to say rest in peace Andrea Dworkin. Instead let us call out loud and clear so that she will hear us... Carry on the fight! Shout louder! We need to hear you. God bless you for what you suffered and endured. God bless you for all you gave to women and to all the people on this earth.
Posted by: Enetia Robson at April 13, 2005 04:22 AM
A year ago April-2004-I sat and talked with Andrea for at least an hour. We had our heads together talking about the health concerns we were encountering. Anyone looking on might have thought we were discussing writing--some of that occurred also. We talked about the type of writing each of us did throughout life.
Andrea was graciously interested in the health articles that I wrote. She laughed whe I told her not to fall for the doctor's version of "Hit the Bricks." It's when they stand to let you know the visit is over. I told her to stay seated, and I'd bet they would sit back down out of embarrassment. She laughed at my "mountain-woman" way of dealing with various problems. We discussed just about every type of pain medication offered.
Andrea, I wish that we didn't know so much about pain. I'm thankful that you are no longer suffering. The pain we are feeling, at losing you, is one that time or medicine won't heal. Rest in peace Warrior Woman.
Judith K. Witherow
Posted by: Judith K. Witherow at April 13, 2005 07:45 AM
You were instrumental in shaping my thinking and my passion, and my courage to do the work I do today. I am an anti-rape activist, and a proud feminist. I am sad that you are gone, but please know that you live on in your writing. I am a 35 year old mother of a 22 month old daughter, and she is going to know who Andrea Dworkin is. And because of your courage, power, and strength to tell the truth, I have benefitted and so will my daughter, and so will all women, children, and men. I can "keep on keepin' on", because you have been a role model for fighting the good fight.
Posted by: Corina Klies at April 13, 2005 09:49 AM
She said what the rest of us didn't have the nerve, heart, or intelligence to say. I'm grateful I grew up at a time when her writing was available to me, from her searing accounts on rape and pornography, to her lyrical and beautiful writings on Tennessee Williams. Gloria Steinem said that she helped us evolve; in fact, I believe she was actually more evolved than most of us. It is for this reason that her words will resonate, hopefully creating justice for generations to come. We have a long way to go--as the new "documentary" Inside Deep Throat shows (omitting almost entirely the true story of Linda Marciano in the making of the film)--and Andrea was brave enough to say so. Thank you, thank you, Andrea.
Posted by: Melissa at April 13, 2005 10:15 AM
I am so deeply hit by her loss. I was only recently introduced to Andrea's work last year, my senior year of college. Thinking back on the way that I consumed her work, as if it were food, I am struck by two things that she taught me. One was the power of anger. Having read Audre Lorde's essay "The Uses of Anger" several times it was wonderful to read Dworkin's work and hear what, for me, was a new voice claiming anger, validateding my own inner fears and understandings about walking around as a female bodied person in this society. The other thing I reflect back on is her writing itself. Throughout my years in college I struggled with finding a voice in my writing, how to write academically but still be me! No one has taught me how to do this better than Andrea Dworkin. By reading her work, the beauty of her words, the unique nature of her voice, I found a way to locate myself and be beautiful within angry academic writing. Thank you so much Andrea, you are already deeply missed. I am sitting her at work with tears running down my face.
Posted by: Rachel at April 13, 2005 11:03 AM
I feel like a part of my heart died Saturday. I am working to revive it, to honour the agenda Andrea drew up of demythifying male supremacy, opposing it with a notion of humanity almost lost to male culture, and tearing it down with all the strength of our hearts. But for now, I am just grieving.
Posted by: martin dufresne at April 13, 2005 11:38 AM
Andrea was our voice. Now that she is gone, WE must be her voice.
Posted by: Cynth Monsees at April 13, 2005 12:40 PM
O how I will miss the passion and the outrage of her oracular speech. A true inspiration and heroine for all women. Trust you are with the goddess, Andrea. Thank you so much for your life.
Posted by: Donna-lee Iffla at April 13, 2005 12:43 PM
Just last week, a friend I hadn't seen in several years took note of the fact that I'm "still so angry." You betcha! Years ago, shortly after I was raped on my college's campus, Andrea Dworkin convinced me, through her powerful, passionate, beautiful prose, that anger is, indeed, righteous when it occurs in response to injustice, inequality and the violence that results from those ways of being. I was empowered by her honesty and intellect, and though I never met her, I feel as if I've lost a dear teacher.
Posted by: Linda at April 13, 2005 01:05 PM
Condolences to her family and friends, and to all to whom she deeply spoke. Rage is sometimes a kind of reason in the context of an outrageous subject. One thing that made her so "controversial" was the identification of the outrageous among normally acceptable everyday things. It takes courage as well as perspicacity to see that commonplace outrageousness, and to force us to acknowledge the remarkable but unremarked damage.
Posted by: LCGillies at April 13, 2005 01:19 PM
I was saddened to hear of Andrea Dworkin's passing.
Several years ago I met her in San Francisco. I didn't know who she was at the time, but I felt we had an instant rapport.
We talked about the exploitation of people in society-- and about Erich Fromm.
Andrea was quite rare in the world of thought-- taking broad and courageous humanistic stances-- without illusions about the pressures that impinge on people in our society.
She was also very much ahead of her time-- one whose ideas deserve greater serious study and dissemination.
Posted by: Robert B. Livingston at April 13, 2005 01:25 PM
When I was seventeen and a senior in Highschool I read Intercourse. It changed everything that I thought about my hip leftist politics. I embraced radical feminism with every inch of being and it has done nothing but improve my life.
Now I am a freshman in college and I have just recently read Heartbreak. It has inspired my own personal journey to be a better man. I hope I can live up to Andrea's expectations. God I miss her.
Posted by: Tristan Dufresne at April 13, 2005 01:53 PM
Dear friends and family,
I just read today in my little corpus christi paper a short announcement of Andrea Dworkin's death. She made a lasting impression on my life and so I felt pulled to send my gratitude for her life and work out to everyone I could in honor of her.
Going through law school with a toddler and a teenager was not easy, especially since I was much older than most students at the time and I had an educational background rooted in "poor schools" with little college preparation. On several occasions, after having read Dworkin's work, I sent her a letter explaining my fears and angst.
Having experienced deeply embarassing uses of pornography at my workplace at Dresser Atlas in which my boss placed XX rated pictures in the file cabinets I had to search before ordering needed parts and stood behind me as I found them, rubbing his grotch, I knew the horror Andrea tried to describe. And I deeply appreciated her work. It felt freeing to me.
So when I discovered her and C. MacKinnon while I was in law school I read everything I could of theirs, resenting the fact that I had to do it outside of the 60+ hours I had to spend on my assigned materials. Their work was never part of my official classes. It was particularly galling, in my first amendment class, to have my favorite professor refer to her work on the anti-pornography ordinance in passing, dismissing it as a prudish criminal statute when in fact it contained only civil penalties and was not a criminal statute at all. That was the only official mention I ever heard of her work.
So you can imagine my amazement and joy to receive 2 postcards from Andrea Dworkin, one each in response to my 2 letters to her. She wrote encouraging words and in one instance, her words came to me right before my business organizations exam. I went into it with unusual calm and confidence.
Andrea Dworkin seemed to me, in my limited experience of her, as a woman of deep integrity, a woman who paid attention to the cries of every woman, no matter how small.
Whether I agreed with her analyses completely or not, and most times her work struck me as deeply insightful, I felt some small part of her personal strength and good will toward women and men in my own life and I want to praise her for it now in the hours after her death, being now aware that she is no longer around to continue providing it personally. Just through her work.
In awesome remembrance of Andrea Dworkin upon her death,
Posted by: Monica Vaughan at April 13, 2005 02:44 PM
Andrea and I lived on the same street in Brooklyn. She would slowly walk by on her way to Starbucks for her coffee and the newspaper (she always read the Post for they are the only ones who published the sex crimes in NYC). We started meeting for coffee frequently and discovered we had gone to the same schools in Camden, NJ at about the same time – I’m a little older. This, and my background in liberal politics from the same era was our bond.
When my teenage son was in danger – when the police and the board of ed were trying to prosecute him as a terrorist, Andrea (and John) were there for us. As I slowly and painfully tried to extradite my son from these horrendous accusations, Andrea would sit and listen to my problems with such compassion. She gave me the strength to succeed in this process, as she would always encourage me to not give up and to continue for she firmly believed we could win the fight. When it was over, and we had won, I took her for a gloriously evil caramel frappachino and we celebrated our victory against the forces.
Who would’ve thought the outspoken feminist could have so much compassion for a mother fighting for her son’s innocence? But, Andrea had a fount of wisdom and love of amazing depth. Once, I asked her how she knew so much about women’s mistreatment by men. She replied, that when she had gone on her speaking tours after her speech women would come up to her and talk to her about their sufferings at the hands of the men they had loved. Physical, horrific suffering as most of us never would hear about in our narrow lives. And, Andrea took pen in hand and released this numbing suffering into the world for all to view – it would not be hidden any more.
She was the bearer, and she knew this responsibility was a heavy burden on her emotional resources. She did not shun the burden; she welcomed it and with her incredible brilliance and ability to think “outside the box” wrote so compassionately for women’s equal rights, and against pornography that so enslaves the female.
John, my sincerest condolences. Both of my children and I have been crying on hearing the news. And, the pussy cats she loved and looked after so well …they will miss her so much. And I will never have a friend as caring and faithful as Andrea. I have missed her so much since you all moved to DC. But, I always had the hope of seeing her. Now, that hope is gone and I will always miss her. May her next body be a better body to carry her brilliance.
I love you. Gerry McCleave
Posted by: Gerry McCleave at April 13, 2005 03:52 PM
no freedom without risk, and what you risk reveals what you value.
andrea risked everything every day because of what she valued--us.
now she's free.
my eternal gratitude.
Posted by: camille at April 13, 2005 03:55 PM
I always felt incredibly honored and awed in the presence of Andrea Dworkin. Even in the wake of her death I feel unworthy of a tribute to her.
Andrea Dworkin was a presence, a force to be reckoned with, energy you felt. When she spoke, you heard and listened. I cannot imagine anyone hearing Andrea speak and not being moved, changed, and forever viewing the world differently, more clearly.
Andrea Dworkin had a brilliant mind for analysis. It was her analysis combined with fierce passion and commitment that moved me. She had an unwavering dedication to fighting for equality and justice in women’s lives, and made monumental sacrifices toward that end. She was hugely influential in my radical feminist education and an enormous inspiration. I will forever hold her in absolute awe.
I had read and admired Andrea Dworkin’s work for several years before first meeting her in October 1987 when she spoke at a rally in Champaign, Illinois. The day of the rally was windy and cool. Onlookers sat huddled close for warmth and protection. Andrea arrived in a tee shirt and bib overalls, more focused on what she had to say than her appearance or the elements. She stepped to the podium and all paused to listen. She raised her fist into the air, “I want to tell you what the rape and battery of women looks like,” she said in a fierce and booming voice. The audience was immediately captivated. She proceeded to describe in great detail the myriad ways in which capitalism and patriarchy join forces to degrade, brutalize and market women’s bodies for power, pleasure and profit. She told us that we knew the truth because we had heard it, seen it, lived it; that we didn’t need any research studies to verify it, psychologists to explain it or politicians to decide if it is harmful. She told us that we were in a war, and that we must fight for our lives. She told us that we must commit ourselves to going the distance in this war, that we must transform our world from a torture chamber and a tomb into our rightful, joyous, and peaceful home.
As she spoke, audience members rose from their places and stood, no longer aware of the cold or wind. They too raised their fists into the air, and screamed back at her, “Yes! Yes!” Somebody was finally telling the truth! She did nothing to sugarcoat the truth, to minimize the damage to our bodies and our souls, to blame us as women or excuse men as rapists, batterers, pimps and pornographers. And she told us we must never let anyone tell us that the truth about our lives is a lie.
When she finished, perspiration dripped from her body, her clothes wet with the effort of her emotion. Steam rose off of her into the cool air. She was like a warrior, hot sweaty and spent, from having given her all in battle. Stunned in the wake of her remarkable energy, the audience paused briefly in silence as she turned to exit the stage, and then erupted into screams of gratitude and newfound determination. Andrea Dworkin had set a match to the fire within us that only minutes before had no flame. The fire of her passion and commitment was contagious, and we had caught it. We saw the world clearly through the power of her words.
Some people dismissed Andrea Dworkin as angry and bitter. They say it sadly, as if it was a condition she suffered. The only condition Andrea Dworkin suffered was not being able to look away from the ugly reality of exploitation and violence against women. She never flinched from the brutal, honest, ugly truth. She said it articulately, passionately, strongly, and loudly. Yes, she was angry, and she didn’t back down from it. For the first time, she made me feel justified in my own anger. She made anger seem as if it was the only sane response to the atrocities being inflicted upon our bodies. By doing so, she took my life and the lives of all women seriously. Men beat us, rape us, steal our souls and sell our bodies while the world silently watches, wondering what we did to deserve it. If our lives are important, everybody should be angry! Her anger, my newfound anger, was liberating, empowering, and justified.
Perhaps Dworkin’s refusal to look away from the truth about male violence against women contributed to her premature death at the age of 58. She paid enormous costs for her commitment to the truth and her fight for justice. Some people, the ones who maintain, perpetuate and benefit from male violence against women, hated Andrea Dworkin. They hated her for the truth she spoke, the anger she asserted, and the exploitation she revealed. They distorted her work and vilified her. They refused to publish her work, emotionally harassed her with name-calling and threats, and finally mugged, drugged and raped her. But they were never able to silence her. She never stopped being angry. She never stopped telling the truth. She never backed down.
The last time I saw Andrea Dworkin, she was frail and had difficulty walking - due at least in part to the residual effects of a physical and sexual assault against her several years earlier (an incident which many said she fabricated to further her political agenda.) She was tired and in pain. Her voice was weak, but her message remained articulate, strong, and passionate. She said that others must pick up the struggle, speak the truth and fight for freedom; she was tired and in pain. She said she felt a sense of urgency for younger women to take up the cause. She feared we were losing the war and she wasn’t going to be able to see it through.
I hope that wherever Andrea Dworkin is today that she is free, safe and at peace. I hope that where she is there is nothing to fear, no longer a need for anger. I hope she sees that we are taking her life seriously by continuing her battle for women’s safety and freedom.
In memory of Andrea Dworkin, we must fight until we win. We must take our lives seriously and claim our own anger. We must tell the ugly truth about violence against women. Like Andrea Dworkin, we must confront others with the system of male violence, the system that supports it and the people that profit from it. We must pick up her loud and booming voice for freedom and justice. We must all raise our fists into the air and demand that the injustice and the brutality stop. In her memory, we must never back down and never let them silence us. In this war we cannot fail. In the name of Andrea Dworkin we must do this for our own sakes and for the sake of every woman who has ever lived.
Thank you, Andrea, for taking our lives seriously, and for dedicating your life to creating a world where we all can live in safety and freedom. I will never forget you, for your thoughts and your words shape and drive me. I will do my part to carry on the battle for you.
Peace be with you, sister.
Posted by: Susan Faupel at April 13, 2005 03:56 PM
This is my blog for April 12, 2005.
I just cannot believe we are left here to carry on without Andrea. Only in her leaving could I truly measure how much I have relied on her being here. I hope she infuses each of us with her fire and fury and what it means to be female.
Goodbye my amazing inspiration, Andrea Dworkin. How could you leave me here without you? And you were only 58 – I will be 58 in 2006. Now I once again want to stand on my soap box and shout, “The Second Wave is dying!!” Somebody please do something – the Second Wave is dying!
The first time I read Andrea’s work I was just a cute fem (LOL) who adored “Woman Hating” – the book, that is. A rather butch friend told me to never tell anyone that I knew how to sew – it would mean I would never be asked out. My long hair, painted nails, ruffled curtains would exclude me from a world I wanted. On the other hand, so to speak, I also remember one of the most erotic dates I ever had – when a woman took me to dinner. She took me to a French restaurant, pulled out my chair, ordered for me and lit my cigarette. I was swept off my feet. Somehow, since it was a woman, I felt no offense, no oppression.
It doesn’t take a genius or even Kinsey to see that gender is as varied as are human beings. The pallet of humans is potentially as colorful as any aviary. Here in the US we are operating on a somewhat limited color wheel, possibly held in confining cages by fear and common sense. But I am so fortunate as I have only to look at my own 56 years to see a complex variance in both gender identification and sexual orientation. And, even then I take up just a tiny sliver of expression in the circle of life.
In the last few months I have been displaced and dismissed on college campuses as I am a feminist. The “F” word does not invoke regard in the LGBT world known as Gender Studies. But I have some big news I cannot resist reporting; no matter how diverse, how muted or sharp, how blended – the US Constitution only includes those citizens who have male genitalia. We can ascend to a level of sophistication as to include a person’s identity, psyche, soul, spirit or incremental conscious evolution, but the fact remains 51% of the citizens of this country are not included in the Constitution.
I imagine that you might be somewhat bored with hearing that. I can assure you I am much more bored with having to think of new ways to say it. Today I am thinking of Andrea Dworkin – one of my principle ice cutters – and miss her terribly. As Laura Nyro would say – let’s hope there is one child born to carry on.
Posted by: Zoe Nicholson at April 13, 2005 04:20 PM
Andrea Dworkin is such an important part of who I am today. I discovered her writing when I graduated from college in 1989. I couldn't get enough. I still refer to that time as my "Andrea Dworkin years." She was so instrumental in helping me find myself and learn who I wanted to be. I will always be grateful for her fierce and defiant words that shook me to my core.
Posted by: Amy Kline at April 13, 2005 04:52 PM
In reading many of the expressions of sorrow above, it is clear that Andrea Dworkin had a huge impact on women all over. First book I read by her was Women Hating and I was so impressed by how she could express in a couple lines the reality of what women endured. A voice like this will live on in our hearts and minds and awaken us to demand our rights as human beings now and generations to come.
Posted by: Sarah Haggard at April 13, 2005 05:50 PM
After reading the title for the article of the recently deceased Andrea Dworkin i sent an Angry letter to BBC News. Since it is not that likely to be published by them so i will post it here instead. The article by BBC can be read here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4435193.stm
I think the choice of title for this memorial is a travesty. This magazine pointed recently out the death of the Pope by saying that the "World mourns Pope at Rome funeral", which was true but you could just as well have written "Pro-life crusader dies or Anti-homosexuality crusader dies". Andrea Dworkin deserves a whole lot more respect that this for bringing up the controversial issues that she has written about and for the excellent studies that she has done. It is also interesting that the whole article is more or less based around the most controversial part of her writing without any attempt to give any insight inside in the theory and studies behind the statement. It reminds me of the way that "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens" by Ward Churchill was treated by the media.
I want to remind everyone that Andrea Dworkin also had a vital role in showing the troubles with heteronormative relationships.
I want to, with this message show my respect for a great thinker who showed us some horrible truths that we would rather hide from but by making us aware of them she helped the world to make it possible to deal with them. Andrea Dworkin is one of the persons that is for Patriarchy what Karl Marx was for Capitalism.
Posted by: Male 25 Sweden at April 13, 2005 06:42 PM
I like to think I had a little bit to do with Andrea moving from her IBM Selectric to a Mac and even eventually (!) getting on email. I only wish she could have lived to know that she now has her own internet weblog.
"Andrea Dworkin is to patriarchy what Karl Marx was to Capitalism" --A 25 yr old Male from Sweden
Posted by: Nikki Craft at April 13, 2005 06:59 PM
Thank you Andrea Dworkin.
Thank you John Stoltenberg.
You have both been a deeply powerful and loved contribution in my life.
In my early twenties i read Andrea's books and it fired me up and powered me to the core to a new strength and being, in relationship and as a woman. John's books inspired me that truth can be seen and spoken by a man. The relationship between John and Andrea always inpired me.
I am touched by this awesome woman's passing.
Posted by: Jarrah Schmah at April 13, 2005 07:25 PM
Nobody could say things the way Andrea said them.
Now that she's gone, who will take her place? Imagine if all her work was for nothing...that would be the final insult.
Each of us has a responsibility to begin where she left off.
Here is what I will do:
I will continue to be loud and proud about my antiporn beliefs.
I will refuse to associate with admitted porn users.
I will refuse to be in a relationship with anyone who uses porn.
I will continue to collect and circulate information detailing the damages of pornography.
Now, imagine if each of us did that?
Posted by: one angry girl at April 13, 2005 07:46 PM
I am a young woman in my twenties and have only heard of Andrea this week. She made an instant impression. I have had a lot of anger lately in my life even though by nature I am a gentle person. I can say I am lucky enough to never have suffered abuse or rape and sadly that is what it comes down to...luck. I have been feeling so alone lately and hearing about Andrea and what she fought for reminded me that there are other women who are as sick of these injustices as I am. For I am sick of reading about in the paper EVERY day about some form of child abuse, rape, sex discrimination case, domestic violence, trafficking etc. I rarely bother to wear a skirt or dress because it is not worth the hassle or the creepy looks of some pathetic men. Last year I went into a pub in london (mainly full of men of course) to watch a few seconds of a match, my back was turned for a second and some middle aged creep said something to my 15 year old sister which had her upset and me outraged for the rest of the day. I know I'm talking small scale stuff but this is the type of daily harrassment we are expected to put up with. I dont want to be better than men or whatever it is some of them are threatened by, I just want to walk down the street sometimes as a human being! I know there are decent men like my brothers and dad out there but the creeps are outnumbering them.
thank you Andrea for doing what I dont think I'd have the courage to do.
Thanks for the chance to vent some anger!
Posted by: maria at April 13, 2005 10:24 PM
Thank you, Andrea, just... thank you.
For living, for writing, for speaking, for shouting, for telling our truths without apology.
Posted by: Melissa at April 13, 2005 10:43 PM
Even though I did not always agree with the writings of Andrea Dworkin and frequently felt extremely depressed and powerless over what she had to say, her contributions to Feminist discourse will never be forgotten.
Her passionate commitment to speaking out against oppression and injustice, while simultaneously offering hope in the ultimate liberation and empowerment of women shall forever be honored.
In the final analysis though, it is her written words which she always expressed so passionately, forcefully, and emphatically that shall be her ever lasting legacy.
Rest in peace dear Andrea.
Posted by: Gary Seiler at April 13, 2005 11:55 PM
The Earth has lost a powerful, interesting, and special person, but she still shines on... Few people truly live by example the way she did. She was amazingly brave, refused to compromise her beliefs, and challenged everyone who read her works. I will always challenge people who think they know what she stands for to read her book Letters From a War Zone. After I read this book, I knew she was beautiful.
Posted by: Yvonne R at April 14, 2005 12:57 AM
The world needs more women like Andrea, who cared more about her mission than about her image. Thanks for this memorial board - it's good to connect in a small way with people who understand.
There is so much more work to do.
Posted by: Jane Van Coney at April 14, 2005 01:42 AM
Andrea Dworkin's death breaks my heart. I posted the note below to the UK professional philosophers' list, because one of the things I feel most strongly is she was unrecognised as a great philosophical thinker - she loved concepts and arguments, and she handled them so well, hitting the bullseye every time. I can't bear that she never got that recognition and respect. I can't bear that her work - and ours - might again be in vain, like the many waves of feminism there have already been.
"Andrea Dworkin's death is a great loss to philosophy, all the greater because the philosophers of our generation have failed to acknowledge her as one of our number, or appreciate her contribution. I am a moral philosopher. To my shame, I allowed myself to be put off reading Dworkin's work for many years by ignorant anti-feminist smears which portrayed her as 'anti-men', 'a victim-feminist', and 'an extremist'. When I finally read her work, I was surprised and humbled to find myself in the presence of a real genius. Dworkin's textual criticism, conceptual analysis and arguments are all brilliant and original. A couple of examples: her exposes of misogyny in 'Intercourse' and elsewhere, and her critique of de Sade in 'Pornography: Women Hating Men' are unprecedented in the history of philosophy, and unmatched for their clarity, rigour and determination in making unpopular, implausible but essential points in the teeth of the scepticism and affected boredom of a complacent patriarchal world badly in need of such critiques.
One brave philosophical colleague, Martha Nussbaum, did us all the favour of bringing discussion of Dworkin's work into the philosophical mainstream a few years ago. The only pity was that Nussbaum seemed to allow a couple of criticisms made by Dworkin's enemies to stand - Dworkin's work was for Nussbaum 'too angry', too 'lacking in mercy'. I have had it on my 'to do list' for over a year, to write a paper arguing on the contrary that Dworkin is not too angry to be philosophically rigorous - rather, the rest of us are not angry, fearless or clever enough. The painful thing for me now, is that I blithely believed I would sometime be able to share those thoughts with Dworkin herself, thank her for her example, and let her know how much her work has lit up my philosophical life and given me hope in dark times. Now I will never have the chance.
Posted by: Soran Reader at April 14, 2005 02:25 AM
My entire political and personal idealogy was shaped by the sensibilities which Andrea Dworkin personified. I swore that one day I would be able to write as articulately as she about rape and sexual assualt against women, and men. My aspirations have changed now, but my politics have not.
In these recent days, I have begun to think that the personal was no longer political as the right wing conservative "bushites" submerge the civil rights of the 70's, 80's into a distant history. It is so wonderful to read these statements from men and women who remember the enormous contribution that feminist thought brought to bear on the movements to rid us of the chains of oppression. We have not "come a long way baby", but I so much wish peace upon Andrea Dworkin. I will miss her. And I will read her works again. They are the books that I did not get rid of when I had to pare down my collection. They sit there, their spines still intact but well used. Thank you all for posting here.
Posted by: Nyla at April 14, 2005 03:20 AM
"Tiger, Tiger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?"
She died peacefully--how ironic is that. But maybe not. A loving, lovely and sweet soul, as one could tell from reading her carefully and as so many others have told us from their personal experience. She died peacefully. After a lifetime of terrible nightmares and insomnia, she was allowed to sleep. After being so many times in danger of a violent death, she died in the way of nature.
It is no consolation, as there is no consolation in the forces of nature, which she was. She saw a hole in the heart of the world. Her passing has left one, but not the terrifying wound of violence and male supremacy that she knew so well. It is terrifying and yet perhaps the greatest testament to her that in death, she is still able to show us the tremendous longing we women have for our flesh to be treated as simple human flesh, that suffers pain, that grows old, and that dies. Andrea has achieved a death that few among us other than the most benighted can sexualize or fetishize. She has returned us to the utter simplicity and goodness of physicality and nature, in the sweet and gentle death with which she was blessed.
She died at the beginning of National Library Week and on the Jewish Sabbath. Her work will continue to inspire fierce debate and fiercer emotions of both recognition and rejection, sometimes in the same people. That is as it should be. She was a great writer and a blessing to all who knew her, as I did not. She was one of the greatest Jewish writers of the generation after the Holocaust. How ironic that her aunt Leah, who survived the camps, has now outlived her.
I shall never be able to tell her what her work meant to me, as the heart cry of a very special soul. Had I written about it during her lifetime, I would for honesty's sake have felt compelled to explain how and where I took issue, as clearly as she put everything, and it may have hurt her; it would have hurt her; it would have hurt me, in her shoes. Her birthday is two days after mine, and I always knew in some ways how she felt and was--with "so many stars in Libra I try to be fair to flies and turn dog shit into an aesthetic experience." A woman of her sensitivity had the guts to express things no one else had before, in her way, and make herself a lifelong hate object. This compels awe. She never made anything easier for herself. If we ask ourselves what was worth so much anguish, her books provide the answer. It may not be our decision; we may find ourselves turning against the model of the artist-activist's life that she inherited and lived by, considering that nothing is worth so much anguish; but we still have our books, and they provide the answer she would have given us.
I always thought her cats must have adored her, and am touched to find out on this page that she was as loving to them as I always envisioned. I wanted to get home and hug mine as soon as possible yesterday. Her relationship with John was a love for the millennia. I pray that he knows what he accomplished for her, in giving her the happiness she deserved, and can overcome not only his grief to whatever extent is possible but any guilt for "not having done enough," especially in her final years. It's not always possible to do enough in the eyes of a person who is depressed and traumatized, as they see it then--nothing may be enough--but it is the long haul that matters, and though she may not have until the end, many always knew he would stay with her until the end. I pray for John, Elaine, Judith, Robin, Kitty, Kathleen, Nikki, Kate, Shulamith, Ann, Karla, Gena, Michael, and all the others I know only through her books, whose love for her shines like so many diamonds through all the rancor of the polis, some of whom I would probably meet only as political enemies, and who were blessed with such a friend.
She will be missed. There is so much more one could say, but others are doing so.
In tears and love,
Posted by: Tanya at April 14, 2005 05:55 AM
No word for such a loss. France , which has not published her works, will be for ever deprived of her rage and courage. As a French radical writer I know what I owe to her. And I cry. Outraged.
Posted by: MICHÈLE CAUSSE at April 14, 2005 06:23 AM
It was such a shock to hear that Andrea had died far too young - same age as me! I met her when she came to Glasgow, Scotland 1990/91 at my very first feminist meeting. She blew me away I've read all her books and admired ever since. We all owe her such a lot. Rest in peace.
Posted by: Jennifer Gilmour at April 14, 2005 07:41 AM
Andrea Dworkin was important to so many women. She gave us a voice with which to talk about pornography and sexual violence. Her writings inspired me and gave me the motivation to work in the area of violence against women. Because of her and women like her I am able to maintain the rage.
Posted by: Sue Leigh at April 14, 2005 08:11 AM
I never wrote her a fanletter, although I meant to.
Consider this the fan-letter I never sent her.
I am one of the younger feminists for whom Andrea Dworkin was a revelation. I did Media and Culture Studies (1998-2002) and feminism (or any id-studies for that matter) was barely present in the curriculum. I was barely given the intellectual and theoretical means to express my reality.
I discovered Dworkin by way of a translation by Dutch writer Karin Spaink, in her Dutch anti-pr0n collection "Bekijk't Maar". The book had essay by Susan Sontag and Rosalind Coward, but Dworkin's text spoke truest to me. Her bluntness and honesty were definitely not off-putting; au contraire, it was this straightforthness that spoke so powerfully to me.
Between the ages of 17 and 22 I tried to be a trendy pro-sex/pr0n feminist (look on the web, the traces of this are still there), but I always felt uneasy about having to take this position; I felt something was fundamentally wrong here. I felt frustrated by the cliche (I'm sure most you know this one) that any anti-pr0n stance was nothing but a Xian residue that I simply had to, at all costs, emancipate myself from by adopting the pro-sex/pro-pr0n "post-feminist" stance that was so dandy and trendy at the time. That someone might have an articulate and reasoned position against pornography from an atheist viewpoint was repeatedly dismissed.
Dismissed until I discovered Dworkin. All my suspicions and uneasy proved right: trendy post-structuralist "post-feminism" WAS anti-feminism.
I immediately understood Andrea Dworkin had a non-dualist stance; she was very vocal in warning feminists not to allow themselves to be co-opted or appropriated by the right... or the pornographers of the left, the latter being the mistake I had made. But Andrea need not resort to post-structuralism and obligatory references to Judith Butler to make that point. She too pointed out that sexuality, gender, male supremacy, etc. were coercively imposed and not essentialist. She never used the frankly insulting euphemism of "performativity" to explain pr0n; it was too real a violence to merit such insulting euphemisms.
Andrea Dworkin, I felt, ascribed primarily to humanist ideals. Yet unlike the Humanists, who seek transcendence through a universalistic self-erasure of ones history, Andrea Dworkin firmly identified herself as a Jew and went on to investigate that aspect of her history/identity, and the pornography of anti-semitism. It would have been against her principles to deny such a loaded history for the sake of humanism. For me, it was this that made her a real contemporary intellectual: her refusal to dismiss her history. But once again, the Israel/Palestine-"experts" just didn't (want to) get her contribution to their discourse at all.
I'm very saddened by her death. Even though I never knew her, I really do feel like I've lost a very important ally, as I really felt that my viewpoints were vindicated by Dworkin's "presence" as a writer and intellectual. However, when I pull out my copies of Right Wing Women, and I notice Dworkin's use of Victoria Woodhull quotes, really I get the sense that Dworkin was very glad at having discovered Woodhull, almost like she had discovered a long lost ally from a by-gone age. The fact that Woodhull was long dead did not stop Dworkin from identifying an ally in Woodhull.
I think that this is the way that I too should refer to Dworkin in the future. And frankly, it is a future that looks very bleak indeed; The Netherlands now has a conservative capitalist Xian government that has, among many other social cruelties, budget-slashed the gender-studies department and has taken both birth-control and sterilization out of the social healthcare package, while tightening up access to abortion. It is in times like this that I really need an intellectual ally to remind me of what's worth fighting for and why I became I feminist in the first place, as a little girl who had no conception whatsoever of feminism or the history of barbarism it was fighting against. I will return to her words for intellectual courage and sustenance. I consider her an important intellectual rolemodel and I hope that I will be able to be as blunt and as honest in my intellectual works as she was.
Posted by: Maria Technosux at April 14, 2005 09:25 AM
Andrea Dworkin's writings changed my life, my way of thinking about the power men have over women in this society and how important it is for women to recognize it, to take action in everyday life to even the score.
I am so sorry to hear that Andrea is no longer with us. Twenty years later her words still echo in my heart.
Posted by: D. Henry at April 14, 2005 12:20 PM
I don't know why I didn't know. It's April 14th, and I have just found out she has died. It is not a poetic pain I feel. It is not lyrical and it does not evoke anything in me but sorrow.
Andrea Dworkin was important. Her ideas remain and that is something.
Posted by: Malvene Collins at April 14, 2005 12:47 PM
I only met Andrea Dworkin once, in passing, at a Brooklyn cafe where I was parsing the Village Voice job listings and half-reading a Don DeLillo book that caught her eye. She was a large woman, powerful in presence even when seated. She had the same wild, Jewish hair and piercing, but gentle eyes as my mother. Two smart women of the generation that broke out with what they used to call Womens Liberation, they had learned not to fear their own intelligence no matter who they scared. All I knew about Dworkin was that she hated men, hated sex, wanted to help the government censor porn and hated my dick, which I so very much loved. In other words, I knew nothing of Andrea Dworkin except what others had said about her. That she was ugly and bitter, the personification of female resentment.
"DeLillo always almost gets it, enough anyway to keep me hoping his next book will finally deliver," she said. I was reading Mao II, and this was before Delillo finally did bring it home with Underworld, and so I learned that whatever 70s time warp she was stuck in, she certainly knew how to read. And then, to my surprise, I learned that she had a male partner, a slight blond-haired man she introduced as John, who finally joined her before I returned to looking at my book, thinking, What a hypocrite! She hates men and then sits down to coffee with some guy. They held hands across the little table, talking easy and light with each other on an average weeknight in Park Slope twelve years ago.
"I am a radical feminist," she said of herself, "not the fun kind." Still a man-child when I met her, I hadnt learned of the real power even ordinary men have when it comes to women. Born in the early 1970s, I was a part of the first generation to come of age after the sexual revolution, used to it, taking it for granted. We were all friends, boys and girls, and without children of our own, or serious jobs and responsibilities, the patriarchy seemed little more than some boogieman that timid, out-of-step feminists used to justify their own existence. And then, one by one through our early 20s, I watched as my lovers and friends sold themselves. They stripped or whored to get through school or just to buy dope. They settled for baby-daddies not worth their time, got beaten and stayed with their abusers because that's just how guys are, its more complicated than it looks, as if a bruise could be anything but what it is. I watched my sisters become what men wanted them to be. Men just like me. Because men can. Because thats what bitches are there for. Because decades after womens liberation, everyday equality is still just a specter. I came to see why Andrea Dworkin is so feared she has to be maligned.
Dworkin never said that all sex was rape, even if she saw how the cock is a weapon. She never, no matter how easily her provocations could be misread, claimed that men and women could not love each other. Care for each other. Dream out loud of a world where we don't know each other by how we hurt each other. She was a philosopher. She didn't smile when she wrote how women are hurt, beaten, raped. By men who love them. By men who hate them. By men. She wrote of sex without the giggle or sly nod women so often use to put men, and each other, at ease. She left no easy out for the decent man to say, yes, all this rape is terrible but not me. She wasn't satisfied with pleasantries. She was intolerant of women's pain. She did not hate the victims of oppression, but the acts so mundane that no one had seen fit to mention them. The breaking of wives, the training of boys to become men, the male right to buy women's bodies and smiles, pornography as men possessing women. When Hannah Arendt generalized the banality of Nazi evil, she was applauded. Dworkin applied the same principle to our intimate lives and was spit on. For hating rape they said she hated sex.
Gloria Steinem said that "every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve. Andrea is one of them." Let that be her epitaph, for from her we can learn the measure of our own progress. She was a giant.
Posted by: Jed Brandt at April 14, 2005 01:09 PM
She was one of a kind, in a world increasingly filled with Nietzsche's 'last men of history'... what kind of world has no Andrea Dworkin in it? Everything pertinent has already been said here, so I'll simply add: I will deeply miss her.
Posted by: Earlene Evans at April 14, 2005 01:25 PM
I've been reading this board every day since it appeared on the web and every day I've agonised about what I want to say here.
Like most other posters, I can barely describe the effect Andrea's writings had on my life. She articulated my perceptions of pornography, rape, and the skewed power dynamics of patriarchal capitalism. She gave me a framework that enabled me to understand what scares me, how it scares me and why. She allowed me to acknowledge my feelings about it all - not just to myself but to anyone who'll listen.
I saw her speak once - in Brighton, 1996, - she reduced me to tears. Having someone name the horrors, describe the terrors of patriarchal oppression the way Andrea did - with passion, conviction and fury - was both liberating and intimidating. Her message was "go out and do what you can to change it".
It's struck me, reading this board, that there are more people than I could possibly ever have imagined who feel the same way I do about the violence and abuse of women by pornography, rape and the patriarchal oppression of Class Woman by Class Man. The energy here is powerful. We should harness it - in memory of Andrea.
I feel so sad that she's died. I feel sad for John Stoltenberg, her family and her friends. I feel sad for all of us who found in Andrea the courage to speak about what we know. She's going to be sorely missed. I wish her peace.
"Remember; resist; do not comply"
Posted by: Dee at April 14, 2005 02:29 PM
She was a genius and a personal hero of mine. Her book Woman Hating shaped me in important ways and I am deeply saddened by her passing.
Posted by: Nish at April 14, 2005 03:39 PM
Here's a remembrance of Andrea Dworkin that makes me smile. In June 2004 we were talking about writing. I was talking about the loneliness of it, and Andrea with a sardonic little laugh said, "It's called solitude when it's going well, loneliness when it isn't." That quote is up right now over my computer.
Posted by: Melissa Farley at April 14, 2005 06:04 PM
A brilliant mind is no more. (and i'm sure a very LOVING human being.) She changed my way of thinking. I owe her a lot. And so will the rest of humanity. Someday. I wish my love could reach the ones who were fortunate to know her. (too bad it doesn't work that way.. we can feel only our own emotions throughout our life..) Anyways: Love to all of us who feel that the world is a poorer place.
a great personality and brave foregoer is gone.
/Milla (Swedish person living in Finland)
Posted by: Milla Ahola at April 14, 2005 07:03 PM
In the 1980's I worked in a feminist bookstore in San Francisco. My co-workers and I were radical women who wanted to share feminist philosophy, analysis, and strength with our community. When selling books on 'the floor' it was the most fun to sell books by Andrea Dworkin to the suburban and international tourists who had come to find a feminist perspective. When a potential reader would cringe at a first glance of Dworkin's words, I could push them into delving further by describing her as "..the ultimate feminist, at the far end of the spectrum...the least pliant.....the most steadfast......the feminist writer with the keenest eye and a spark of brilliance that couldn't be denied, even when her message hit the reader like crow-bar between the eyes."
What fun to be there, 'on the floor,' when they came back for another Dworkin book. Just serving as a conduit for her books was enough to make me feel like I was making an important contribution to other women.
Andrea Dworkin made me feel sane. Her words were so directly linked to my experience. I was healed at times, enraged at times, motivated and generally forced by my personal understanding and her drumbeat for change, to be a more outspoken advocate for my own beliefs.
I'm a richer person because Andrea Dworkin wrote those books for me, and for you.
Posted by: Sim at April 14, 2005 07:42 PM
While sitting in my feminist theory lecture this morning I was informed of Andrea's death. I have to say it has hit me surprisingly hard. Andrea's work has touched my life and many woman around me. I have learned and come to appreciate, from Andrea's work, that I do not have to accept certain types of sterotypically labelled "male behaviour" such as viewing and buying of pornographic materials is acceptable and the male thing to do. I had the opportunity to present a lecture to my seminar class with a partner, here @ the University about Andrea Dworkin and her radical feminist stance and found myself really beginning to question all the happenings around me such as pornography, and I associate Strip Clubs with this pornographic exposure woman are subjected to daily. I Thank Andrea Dworkin for opening ours eyes and helping us realize that we do not have to stand for these types of treatment woman experience so frequently. Andrea "blew open the status quo"(Dworkin's words here) and for this I will forever be grateful.
Your words, your thoughts and your courage will be sadly missed. But your memory will linger on through the words you left behind...
Thank you Andrea...
Deepest sorrow for your family & life partner
Sarah & Jodi @ TRU
Posted by: Sarah & Jodi @ TRU in British Columbia Canada at April 14, 2005 07:45 PM
A wise woman, filled with righteous rage and tenderness, who said what had to be said and still needs to be said, perhaps more than ever. An enormous loss for us all; who will carry the torch? Rest in peace.
Posted by: Mike Chivers at April 14, 2005 07:52 PM
I hope that whereever you are, you are sitting comfortably with your glass of merlot, or maybe it's a Starbucks. Hope you are savoring John's pasta with salmon, and that a cat, or two, or three, or four is sitting nearby to share your love. Country music is playing--or are you watching Buffy?
Sol and I will miss our double dates at BAM.
Posted by: Joy Makon at April 14, 2005 09:10 PM
to my beloved friend, my soul sister I mourn you so so deeply. I cherished our friendship for all the years you came to me. we shared so many things in common. I have missed you greatly since you left park slope, but now I know you are in eternal rest and I will see you again. We went through so many changes together and now I am following in your footsteps yet again. I so much wanted to call you these last couple of weeks, now I am so sorry that I could not have spoken with you one last time. To John, Peter and I share your grief. your smiling face has been missed.I have been so proud of what you have done for Andrea. I thank you for loving her and supporting her throughout it all.
Posted by: marisa palma-muller at April 14, 2005 10:10 PM
I am deeply, personally saddened by the loss of Andrea Dworkin. I admired her intellectual approach and I admired even more her personal dedication to her convictions. I write about her quite positively in my book "Their Lives: The Women Targeted by the Clinton Machine" and only regret that I was unable to interview her personally before we lost her. Her influence in the women's movement will be felt for generations, and we should both grieve her loss and celebrate her life and legacy.
Posted by: Candice Jackson at April 14, 2005 10:15 PM
I want to say so much, but can't. Thank you, Andrea, from the depths of my being. And thank you to such a good man, John Stoltenberg, for nurturing Andrea. She remains alive in all of us whom she helped create, and in her words for those to come. Only her suffering has died.
Posted by: Julianna Elias at April 14, 2005 10:44 PM
I don't know what to say other than you meant the world to me. I hope that wherever you are you can see this outpouring of love and grief over your passing. Your words and your spirit live on. There is no word for goodbye in Anishinaabemowin, instead, when parting, one says, "I will see you later." I will cherish my memories of you always----Giigawabamin minowah.
With love and gratitude,
Posted by: Chris Stark at April 14, 2005 10:59 PM
Flopped on the couch, halfway through Heartbreak. A friend passing through the room remarks, "I think she died a couple days ago."
An awful notion, quickly dismissed: Andrea's still young and besides, I would have read/heard/seen something on the news. Such desperate, cretinous false hope merely requires erasing everything we know about media, whose funerals are televised, whose work is celebrated...
It is sad to discover, now, that Andrea was weary and in pain, but isn't she fully in character transforming her encroaching disability into something for the rest of us?
Andrea was one of the best listeners of our generation.
I loved her relentlessness and fire. She lived an uncommonly useful life.
Posted by: Janet Stone at April 14, 2005 10:59 PM
For the past week I have read two of Andreas books. Life and Death and just moments ago I finished reading Heartbreak and intended to start Intercourse next. Earlier today i was thinking about how I'd like to write her and tell her how she has influenced me in the anti-sexism work that i do being male identified. I had no idea that she had passed until moments ago when I got onto this website looking for a way to contact her. her writings will forever be in my heart and I think that I could do her no better of an honor than to fight with every inch of me against the systems of oppression and domination of women. Rest in peace and if there is a God, hold "him" accountable for every fucked up thing he does.
Solidarity and love forever,
Daniel cleveland men against sexism
Posted by: Daniel at April 15, 2005 01:56 AM
She encouraged women to fight for what they believed in and despite her personal traumas was always seen as a strong vibrant person that women could look to as a role model. I referred to her work constantly when teaching gender studies especially as some of my students had suffered abuse, and she was an example of overcoming trauma. Rest in Peace.
Posted by: Lindsay at April 15, 2005 06:02 AM
Attempting to describe Andrea or my feelings about her death, I find the English language, that is so rich in words, paltry and inadequate. I need an adjective far more precise and meaningful than "brilliant" to describe her mind, thought, theory and writings. Each superlative I turn over in my mind, just doesn't say or convey the truth about her. How can I make my belief that she will be remembered as one of the greatest prose stylists in the English language ring true? How communicate believably that she was an extraordinary literary craftsone, whose intimacy with and love of the English language made her writing beautiful and sumptuous and dazzling and stunning and lively and soul shaking? Just reread the quotation that begins this memorial site and see if you agree. She was, truly, a feminist leader and warrior for justice right up there with Sojourner, Stanton, Anthony, Wells Barnett and countless others. And she was also a towering intellect and a luminous writer whose literary work will continue to rock readers to the core for generations.
I was fortunate to know Andrea personally as an activist sister and friendly acquaintance. One of the things I remember is her personal generosity and overflowing goodwill to all who worked for women. Although, like most revolutionaries, she seemed never to have enough money to live on and depended on lecture fees and her writing, she donated her time and energy to causes she supported whenever she could. In 1986, she agreed to speak without a fee at "Women Take Liberty," a feminist and pacifist reclaiming of the Statue of Liberty during its centennial year. When we called her from Champaign, Illinois in 1987 to speak at a rally for "Off the Beaten Path," a walk by Susan Faupel from Chicago to Little Rock to raise money for the struggle against domestic violence, she donated her time once more. I remember her emerging from a tiny little 12-seat plane that had been buffeted in high winds on the way down to Champaign from Chicago with a big smile rather than a look of terror. To partially repay her for her selflessness, our Champaign feminist group, Women Rising in Resistance, did manage to raise money to bring her to our community two other times to lecture at the University of Illinois. But, once again, she came for a lower-than-usual fee, because she believed in our work. Each time she spoke she changed lives. I have never heard a more powerful public speaker ever, ever, ever.
Every time I was with her, I was startled by her personal gentleness and kindness, her open-hearted friendliness, the absence of pettiness or mean-spiritedness toward others who disagreed with or persecuted her. And I still glow with pleasure at a compliment that she paid to Midwestern feminists on one of her visits. I wish I had recorded her exact words, but they were something to the effect that Northeastern feminists were unaware of the important and powerful work that we were doing out here in the hinterlands. She went on to say that we had managed to create a deeper sisterhood, despite our divisions and difficulties, than she saw in New York, where many feminists were intellectuals and writers competing with each other for limited opportunities to be published or hired as lecturers.
My heart goes out to all who loved her and feel lost and lonely without her. I include myself in that number. And thank you, Nikki, for creating this important memorial site and all of you who have submitted your thoughts to it.
Posted by: Mary Lee Sargent at April 15, 2005 09:27 AM
Andrea Dworkin has left the world a richer place for the words she wrote, and a lesser place for the loss of her voice. Shortly after I first read a book by her, in my senior year of college, one of my favorite professors described her work in terms I will never forget. She said “Andrea Dworkin articulates the primal scream.”
As Edward Munch had done with his paints, Andrea used words to express what is too often unspoken and unspeakable—the harm and the horror of cruelty inflicted on living beings by their contemporaries.
Andrea, like many of our world’s greatest leaders before her, had four things in great measure: a profound intolerance of inequality and harm; a deep love for people; a powerful drive to communicate truth; and an abiding optimism about the ability of men and women to be better to themselves and each other than they/we often were.
But in a world where Jesus is celebrated for having stood with the harmed and reviled, where Martin Luther King, Jr. is honored for having opposed discrimination and inequality, and where lip service is paid to the work of helping those in need, what Andrea got was mostly mockery and derision.
And why? Because she exposed and opposed the ways in which sex is used to devastate and devour. Because she talked about the battered, the raped, the used, the prostituted, and she never once minimized the harm done to harmed people—even when the circumstances of their lives made them and everyone else believe that they were worth exactly what they were subjected to.
If you have never read the work that Andrea devoted her life to creating, approach it with caution. It is difficult to read unflinching accounts of the ways in which people destroy other humans. It can be devastating to admit that our culture appears to thrive while the bodies and lives of many are treated as disposable commodities. And for many, it is overwhelming to see how inequality on the basis of sex can and does still permeate the institutions, relationships, customs, and mores that we are surrounded by and living out with our own experiences.
And, especially if you have never read her work, approach with caution the ways in which she, and her work, is discussed in the public sphere. Know that she is lied about. Know that her work is distorted, and reviled, and mocked. Know that women, especially, can make easy money by articulating scorn for her, and by positing themselves as “pro-woman” but “anti-Andrea Dworkin.”
If you are critical of the status quo, if you are suspicious of the power of the media, if you doubt that your interests and the interests of billionaires like Rupert Murdoch are one and the same, then you ought to approach discussions about Andrea Dworkin with a healthy skepticism. For more than anything, Andrea Dworkin was known for her critique of pornography, and while consumers experience pornography in ways that are deeply private and deeply personal, pornography is a multi-billion dollar a year business, and pornographers are driven by profit to nurture the myth that human sexual freedom depends on the ability of powerful people to do whatever the hell they want with the lives and bodies of the powerless.
If you keep an open mind, as you think about freedom, and sex, and dignity, you will likely come to the same conclusion that Andrea did: your freedom and your well-being, and the health of your children and your community, does not depend on the ability of sexually abusive people to freely and wantonly profit from the sexual use and harming of other human beings.
We all deserve a world in which sex is not used as a tool for oppression. Our daughters and our sons, no less than us, merit freedom to live life unbound by rigid and punishing obligations dictated by our gender. This is part of what Andrea Dworkin understood, and part of what she articulated. And I will be eternally grateful for the work of her lifetime.
Posted by: Kaethe Morris Hoffer at April 15, 2005 12:31 PM
I never had the priviledge of meeting Andrea except through her some of her writing which spoke to me. Her writing on womyn's sexual slavery and porn was an especially significant piece of my education. I only wish that she had lived long enough to see porn criminalized. I know a lot of feminists disagreed with a lot of work, and loudly. I did not agree with some of the stuff she wrote, she I had the most utter respect for her ability to say what she though, why she though it and her contribution to my and every womyn's liberation. I was deeply moved when I learned she passed away. I was more moved when she passed away than when the Pope passed away, though I had religion hammered into me for many more years than my exposure to the womyn's movement and her writing. If some of us could be half the feminist she was and could love humanity with one bit of the love she had, we might all be complete human being and better people for it.
She will live on forever, that much I am certain about and I will always remember her kindly, despite the rhetoric of those who did not fully grasp some of the things she discussed or twisted it for their own agenda.
Salut & hopefully I will meet her over the rainbow!
M. Louise Marchand, M.A. Legal Studies
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posted by: M. Louise Marchand at April 15, 2005 01:37 PM
I never had the priviledge of meeting Andrea except through her some of her writing which spoke to me. Her writing on womyn's sexual slavery and porn was an especially significant piece of my education. I only wish that she had lived long enough to see porn criminalized, or eradicated. I know a lot of feminists disagreed with a lot of her work, and loudly. I did not agree with some of the stuff she wrote, but I had the most utter respect for her ability to say what she thought, why she thought it and her contribution to my and every womyn's liberation. I was deeply moved when I learned she passed away. I was more moved when she passed away than when the Pope passed away, though I had religion hammered into me for many more years than my few years of exposure to the womyn's movement and to her writing. If some of us could be half the feminist she was and could love humanity with one bit of the love she had, we might all be complete human beings and better people for it.
She will live on forever, that much I am certain about and I will always remember her kindly, despite the rhetoric of those who did not fully grasp some of the things she discussed or twisted it for their own agenda.
Salut & hopefully I will meet her over the rainbow!
M. Louise Marchand, M.A. Legal Studies
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Posted by: M. Louise Marchand at April 15, 2005 01:41 PM
For many years I have felt that feminism saved my life – by speaking out about the realities of women’s and girls’ lives. Andrea Dworkin most definitely played a huge part in that. Her work helped save my life and was inspirational to me in helping me articulate, explain, and have a vocabulary for campaigning on why pornography is violence against women.
She made sense of the gut feelings I had that pornography was wrong, violent, and exploitative of women. I found it hard to comprehend that so many men, including liberal ones I knew and thought I liked, defended it. Andrea Dworkin provided the words, the information, and the arguments to tell these men why they were wrong.
Her incisive skill with words and her absolute commitment to defending the most vulnerable women helped me feel able to try in small ways to make the case she made so brilliantly and uncompromisingly.
My knowledge of her work started when Linda Marchiano’s book Ordeal came out.
The book was in the local library and media and public reaction (including disbelief) to it helped fuel my fury at male violence. Knowing of Andrea's work with Linda, with Catherine MacKinnon and so many others to find ways to demonstrate how pornography breached women’s rights meant that there was cause for hope. Despite the all-pervasiveness of pornography now, I still believe that Andrea’s work has given us hope and clear examples of how to fight against it.
When Andrea wrote in 2000 about being drugged and raped I was appalled at how many people reacted with disbelief. Some feminists did and I feel it was no wonder she said that being disbelieved by her “so-called sisters” was unbearable.
I thank her for being brave enough to speak out, knowing she could face that reaction. Her courage helped me and helped women all over the world.
It feels unbearable that this amazing writer did not have longer to shine her light on
essential feminist human rights truths; longer to write so wisely and courageously - to continue being a powerful passionate feminist warrior. It feels unbearable that she did not have longer to keep speaking out with fierce anger, with compassion and with humour – challenging us all to think harder, campaign harder and, in the middle of all that, to enjoy time with those we love. It feels cruel that she did not have longer to enjoy simple happy times with her friends and family.
We all should remember, resist and not comply, in her honour.
Posted by: Fiona Montgomery at April 15, 2005 01:49 PM
“A woman of valor, who can find, for her price is far above rubies....her lamp goeth not out by night....strength and dignity are her clothing....She openeth her mouth with wisdom...Many daughters have done valiantly, But thou excellest them all.” From Proverbs 31.
Posted by: Batya Bauman at April 15, 2005 01:50 PM
Posted by: lorraine Hendy at April 15, 2005 07:52 PM
I'm so sorry. I am in shock still after hearing the news only today. We've lost a great woman warrior this week. There was no one like Andrea, will never be. I have all of her books. In tribute, tonight I will begin re-reading them all.
Rest in peace, darling Andrea...
Posted by: Sandra Antoinette Jaska at April 15, 2005 08:20 PM
April 15, 2005
FROM HERE TO ETERNITY
For Andrea, With Love
By Jamil Khoury
One week ago today, on April 8, 2005, radical feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin died in her sleep in her Washington, DC home. She was 58 years old. Her death was discovered that following morning, Saturday, April 9, by John Stoltenberg, her life partner of over three decades and husband of the past six years. News of Andrea’s death was made public on Monday, April 11, and as of this writing, the cause of death has not been announced, although it was widely known that Andrea’s health had deteriorated over the past few years.
And it was on Saturday, April 9, two days before the public announcement, that I found myself utterly and inexplicably consumed for hours, thinking intensely about Andrea and the enormous impact she has had on my life, something I hadn’t done in years. Yet a certain anxiety accompanied those thoughts, compelling me to leave a voice mail late that evening for Andrea’s literary manager, Elaine Markson, expressing my appreciation for Andrea’s writing, and pitching a project that had been on my mind for at least ten years, a project involving Andrea’s work. Needless to say, the news on Monday came as an absolute shock, a crushing blow to me and countless others around the world whose lives have been deeply and profoundly transformed by this brave, visionary, and uncompromising champion of women’s freedom.
On Tuesday, April 12, following a performance of my play “Precious Stones” at North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND, I used a portion of the post-show discussion to share with the audience the impact Andrea had on both the writing of the play and the broader context in which the play exists. Then on Wednesday, April 13, Elaine Markson, Andrea’s literary manager, returned my call. I wasn’t home at the time, still en route from Fargo, but Elaine spoke with my life partner Malik and mentioned to him how eerie it was for her to receive my voice mail on the very day she had learned of Andrea’s death. She asked that I call her back.
Perhaps more than any other writer, Andrea Dworkin changed my life. I consider her influence on my political and intellectual development to be immeasurable. It was of course those books of hers, those life-altering, paradigm-busting, status quo-exploding, truth-telling, heart-wrenching, “you’ll never be the same again,” books. They challenged me, informed me, provoked me, cajoled me, shocked me, disturbed me, riveted me, infuriated me, and never once let me shut my eyes. “Our Blood,” “Woman Hating,” “Pornography,” “Right Wing Women,” “Letters from a War Zone,” “Mercy,” “Life and Death,” “Scapegoat,” Heartbreak,” and of course “Intercourse,” a book I rank as a classic, both a touchstone of feminism’s second wave, and a literary masterpiece.
Andrea taught us about gender, about sexuality, patriarchy, male privilege, misogyny. Most importantly, Andrea taught us about rape, about the abject horror and devastation that rape is, and about the hatred, sadism, and genocidal impulses that incite rape. She forced us to confront in rape, in wife beating, in sexual harassment, systems of terror perpetrated by men against women that are deliberately designed to perpetuate women’s second class status of citizenship. She taught us about courage, about integrity, about speaking one’s truth, and about the importance of listening to women, actually hearing women. Andrea taught us to respect women, to take women seriously. She taught us that women matter, that women count, that women don’t exist to elevate male egos, or tend to men’s emotional and physical needs.
Andrea illuminated for us the many lies our culture tells us, lies we internalize, that women enjoy being abused, that women provoke and desire rape, that it is a woman’s nature to be dominated. She was always there to remind us that women in fact don’t “get-off” on being dehumanized, and that women’s inequality is not “sexy” or “cute.” She revealed to us the intimidation and fear women live with on a daily basis, threats imposed by men, on the streets, in the workplace, in the privacy of one’s home, not as isolated incidents, but as universal reality. She convinced us that women will never be free in a society that believes rapists over their victims, and blames women for the harm done to them.
Andrea’s work saved the lives of countless women, and not a few men. She gave voice to the voiceless, the least powerful, the most despised. She brought meaning and hope to those who had been hurt, traumatized, used, and rejected. She modeled a will that would neither break nor succumb. She implored the oppressed to never grant their enemies the power to define them, and to uphold their humanity and dignity, even when the onslaught felt too great.
Andrea Dworkin lived her life without apology. She was fierce. She was militant. Yet she exuded a spirit that was gentle and caring. She spoke truth to power. She was resilient, tenacious, and oh so bold. And it was that tireless ferocity, that righteous anger, that imploding rage, coupled with her incredible love for people, her tremendous compassion, her insatiable desire for justice, that galvanized and uplifted so many of us. Andrea wouldn’t give up. She’d been raped, battered, exploited. Her life had a mission, creating a world in which no other woman would suffer what she had suffered. She showed us how to channel our anger and our outrage, not into self-destructive behavior, or meanness, or resignation, but into meaningful change. Her signature denim overalls, her refusal to be a “nice girl,” her contempt for bourgeois conventions, all became part of a Dworkin mystique, a mystique unlike other mystiques, in that the person it represented was, like her message, real and full of substance. Andrea simply refused. She refused to compromise, to bend, to demur, to appease. She refused to trade in her dignity and self-respect for “likeability.” And she refused to apologize for being a woman, for being a Jew, for being a feminist, for being a lesbian, for being pro-choice, for not wearing make-up, for not being thin. No apologies for breaking ranks with her allies when her conscience dictated she do so, for naming pornography a violation of women’s civil rights, for possessing the sheer audacity to want to end all rape.
Andrea went to battle armed with the power of her convictions and the force of her knowledge. She battled rapists, pornographers, pimps, wife beaters, child molesters, racists, anti-Semites, homophobes. She challenged the right and the left, both oozing with male supremacy and misogyny, and refused to sacrifice women’s lives to some male defined “greater good.” She spoke, she rallied, she wrote. Those of us fortunate enough to have seen Andrea speak in person, to have heard her powerful oratory, as I was on two occasions, know how unforgettable an experience it was. She exposed, in graphic language, the litany of crimes and atrocities committed against women, across the world, throughout the ages, crimes that have not abated to this very day. She confronted the horrors of anti-Semitism, pogroms, the Holocaust, and condemned Israel for its cruel oppression of the Palestinians.
Andrea was also the most misrepresented, misquoted, and defamed writer I have ever known of. Her work was routinely quoted out of context and deliberately distorted by people who either hadn’t read her or had read her and couldn’t respond truthfully. She was labeled a “man-hater,” a “feminazi,” deemed “pro-censorship,” and “anti-sex,” none of which could be further from the truth. Andrea was, at heart, an artist. Even her non-fiction reads as literature. Her work was rooted in free expression, liberty and sensuality. The responses it evoked were as visceral as they were intellectual. And if I may say, the reviled “man-hater” actually made me feel good about being a man, and about loving a man. She helped me imagine a masculinity rooted in equality, a masculinity that is compassionate, nurturing, and capable of expressing love. And for that she was dismissed and ridiculed as “fat,” “ugly,” “angry,” “bitter,” “a liar,” always by those for whom masculinity translated as unchallenged power.
It should be noted that I don’t agree with all of Andrea Dworkin’s theories. I find some of her conclusions to be objectionable, and I part company with aspects of her analysis of pornography. In fact, I have sometimes found myself in the awkward position of agreeing with Andrea’s detractors, and yet siding with Andrea! That said, our disagreements never once lessened my respect for her. Nor caused me to doubt, in any way, shape, or form, her vision of a world in which all women and all men are safe and free all of the time. And as I have said before, other writers made me “think” my feminism, Andrea made me “feel” my feminism. For that I am eternally grateful.
I am also grateful to have once received a correspondence from Andrea. It was in the mid-90’s. I was teaching for a year at a college prep school, and I assigned one of my classes an Andrea Dworkin essay to read. As part of the assignment, the students were each asked to write a letter to Andrea, expressing their reactions to the piece. To no surprise, the reactions were all over the place, everything from gratitude to anger to awe to appreciation to praise to apprehension to disgust to sadness to defensiveness to outright exuberance. I then mailed the letters to Andrea, via Ms. Magazine, and a while later she sent me a most kind and thoughtful card. In it she expressed how moved she had been to receive such intelligent and insightful letters from high school students, letters she shared with her publisher, who was equally impressed. Andrea went on to thank me for believing in her work and for sharing it with others.
When I would read Andrea Dworkin, I couldn’t help but feel as if she and I were engaged in a private conversation, a dialogue, even a debate at times. I felt as if we were close personal friends. So it always made sense to me that Andrea’s best friend, her life partner and eventual husband, John Stoltenberg, was a feminist gay man. Knowing that Andrea Dworkin, the woman-identified radical feminist, the “out” lesbian who had waxed poetic about her great love for women, found her soul mate in a gay man, certainly brought me, and I’m sure other gay men, that much closer to her. I never thought it a coincidence that so much of her work resonated for me not only as feminist, but as a gay man as well. On many levels, I believe Andrea was speaking to us too.
It is nothing less than astounding, really, that in such a short life, a mere 58 years, Andrea Dworkin has left behind such an important and expansive body of work. To dwell upon all the books she still had in her, all the wisdom, brilliance, and passion she had yet to impart to us, will only make our loss all the more unbearable. Thus it is incumbent on us to keep her work in-print and her spirit alive. Andrea Dworkin possessed a great mind. She was one of our era’s most important writers and thinkers. It is a tragedy she didn’t live to receive the sort of recognition and adulation that was her due. We must assure that in the coming decades, Andrea’s work is rightfully situated amongst that of her peers, those who, in Gloria Steinem’s words, “help the human race to evolve.”
In closing, what can I say? I have lost a great teacher and mentor, and I am heartbroken. I never wanted to imagine a world without Andrea Dworkin, and I still can’t fathom what that world will look like. My heart goes out to John Stoltenberg and to all those who had the great honor of knowing Andrea as a friend and a loved one. Let us forever cherish Andrea’s meaningful words and the courage and strength she gave us all.
I love you, my dear Andrea, my beautiful sister!
I will miss you terribly!
May your memory be eternal!
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Posted by: Jamil Khoury at April 15, 2005 09:38 PM
I never knew Andrea Dworkin the person; I only knew her works. Hearing about her death has nevertheless saddened me in ways I didn't think were possible in relation to a stranger. I read Pornography: Men Possessing Women during my last year of college. Reading it was the psychological equivalent of being punched in the stomach. It was also a breath of fresh air after several years of reading postmodern feminist b.s. about "liberating" women's sexuality with S/M, prostitution, porn, etc. etc. Finally someone was telling the truth without any double-talk or mind-games. It enrages me that the news of her death has brought on a new barrage of lies and distortions about her work and mean-spirited commentary on her personal life.
This woman's honesty and courage in the face of such hatred are a true inspiration. May she rest in well-deserved peace.
Posted by: MLC at April 16, 2005 01:15 AM
Im sad that this has hardly been a mention...
Im sad that such an amazing woman has left us...
A woman who had courage and strength and HOENSTY...the first two I can only hope and strive for having half of what she did!
Posted by: Nicole at April 16, 2005 01:31 AM
Andrea pissed me off -- before I knew why I was already pissed. She broke my mosaic heart, her heartbreak raking mine. Every day for almost a week I have woken up thinking: Andrea Dworkin died, and that sucks.
I offer my condolences to her friends, sisters, families. I wish I were among you.
Posted by: Jane Artemis at April 16, 2005 02:15 AM
I can hardly believe Andrea Dworkin is dead. Much too young to die. Too fierce to die, too wild and wooly, brilliant and fabulous to die.
Too be honest; we're lucky she lived so long. But not nearly long enough.
I wonder what she thought of John Berger. I know that he admired her enormously. I know they both inspired me in ways I recognize and ways I don't. What Berger says about art, is about her and her art:
"I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten.
I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour." --John Berger
Someone, I can't remember who, said she is to feminism what Marx is to capitalism. I think she is to feminism what science is to substance, heart to body, sky to wind.
I wanted to say good-bye but I haven't...
Posted by: Melinda Masi at April 16, 2005 03:15 AM
I have very sad and heart-broken about the death of Andrea Dworkin. I like so many women and girls feel that she was our voice. I think now I have to carry her message forward. I still find it hard to believe that Andrea could die at such a young age.
I am a survivor of multiple abuse from aged 6 to 27. When I read Andrea Dworkin, I first discovered that I was not isolated. Also, the anger and passion, and righteous was deeply inspiring. It help me to remember that there was hope, and that there was belief. Andrea Dworkin reminds that sexual violence can be eradicated. It just take a strong will.
She be missed so much, yours with respect, Rebecca, Manchester, England.
Posted by: Rebecca Mott at April 16, 2005 05:19 AM
Several days have passed since the news of Andrea's death, and I continue to be filled with grief. For me her writing and public speaking have always been a source of inspiration and hope. The potency of Andrea's words and challenging nature of her ideas influence the way I think, and impact on my relationships with women. Her work keeps me honest and enables me to focus on what's real, even during times of uncertainty and vacillation. In the aftermath of her death I have taken a great deal of comfort in reading tributes to Andrea from so many people.
Posted by: David A. Orthmann at April 16, 2005 07:10 AM
While she was alive, I knew very little about Andrea Dworkin, and most of what I "knew" was completely wrong. The obituaries and newspaper editorials I have been reading paint a completely different picture from the man-hating monster I had been led to believe Ms. Dworkin was. I was always too intimidated to read her work (something of a prerequisite for getting to know a writer/philosopher), but I plan to change that. When the world needed her, she was there; unfortunately, much of the world didn't realize just how lucky we all were that she was there. Perhaps someday, but until then, I at least intend to get to know this apparently extraordinary human being. I'm just sorry it has taken me so long.
Posted by: Bob Elkin at April 16, 2005 07:33 AM
I have just discovered that Andrea Dworkin has died and I am truly stunned and saddened. I came across her writings several years ago and she awakened within me a real indignation about the way in which women are regarded and represented in our largely male dominated society. I will be forever grateful to her despite coming to her works somewhat late in life(I am 52). Women of the world have lost a true champion and fierce defender of women's rights. RIP Andrea and thank you.
Posted by: Maria Griffin at April 16, 2005 10:55 AM
Frederick Douglass wrote about the pain and revulsion he felt when he first read anti-slavery manuscripts. It hurts to see the bars, the chains. Who wants to admit the truth of their own oppression?
I think that's why so many women can't accept the real meaning of Andrea's work.
But for many, and I never realized how many before coming to this message board, her truth is a vindication of their undefined outrage. She found the words that we couldn't. She made me realize how sane I was. That's why to me her writing flowed with more energy than any other philosophy I had read. Her writing unflinchingly tore away at convention to reveal the truth. Convention which is sold as radical, as freedom. Her books made sense, they described in clear terms what I felt in my gut, so I could be less uptight.
Posted by: Diana S at April 16, 2005 11:20 AM
We males are taught early to value courage, but the minute we understand what is meant by that word in the 'masculine' cosmos, we are confronted with its inadequacy on the one hand and its violence on the other. Some of us are fortunate enough to have been exposed to something closer to its true meaning, courage as transcending every assumption and confronting every lie. It is this transcendence that underlines the meaning of Andrea Dworkin's life, and it is my good fortune to have been exposed to her work and her words. May her ghost be present as the guest of honor some distant day when this courage bears the fruit of all our liberation.
Posted by: Stan Goff at April 16, 2005 03:47 PM
My breathe got caught in my throat and my sinuses stung..as I read the fleetng tape along the bottom of my screen of CNN and I wanted to STOP everything...couldn't be..Andrea dies...no she will forever.... live in that hug of many moons ago at the University where she came to speak in the 80's. The hug that honored a rape that others called a date. She howled my worthiness up from my bowels, my guts and she licked my tears. I didn't have to pretend nothing happened or that my life experience didn't matter, even to other feminists. She would rub my almost bald..cut short hair and I would yank on her long locks. We laughed in fun and shared tea and raged with what we knew to be really our lives.
She visited with me for a few days and brought me to daylight, and at night, I wasn't afraid of my shadow. She read my words and cheered me on. So strong, upright and clear and so full of love most cannot imagine.
What is true is that life has presented me with so many challenges....me as woman approached and sort through each and orchestrated the steps....only if only because of her footprints that have always empowered mine.
Her hug and recognition of me as Worthy will live forever in my heart and THAT aliveness I pass on to my 16yr. old son Daniel.
I love you Andrea, respect you and forever in my life honor you. Thank you.
Posted by: Grace DiDominica at April 16, 2005 11:03 PM
She had such a huge impact on the world and on women's status in our society. We have lost a great friend and true supporter. Andrea had the strength to face a great deal of pain in her own life and the commitment to work towards lessening pain for others in their lives. We will miss her. Thank you Andrea and may you be peaceful.
Posted by: nina krishna at April 16, 2005 11:51 PM
Andrea was a fascinating writer and individual. Regarding her written and spoken assertions, I have often found myself in strong agreement and disagreement with her, almost simultaneously at times. Such was the intensity of thought she could incite.
Irrespective of my conflicted evaluations of her work, she damn sure got my attention. She also provoked - and I use that word in its literal sense - much more critical thought about the issues she raised than I would otherwise have considered.
It's a shame that she didn't live three or four decades longer. That's how long it will probably take (if ever happens at all) to purge our society of its present political sicknesses, particularly those that scapegoat and otherwise disenfranchise women. Andrea never let up on that one - no matter how many times she "took it on the chin" for it. Amazing.
Farewell, Andrea. For me it was (and is) good to have had a political advocate and thinker with whom I could strongly agree and strongly disagree, FREELY. Like the great novelist, Walter Tevis, you were street smart and academic smart which is RARE - and profoundly important.
Dr. Paul Brewer
Aquinas College Music Dept.
Grand Rapids, MI
Posted by: Paul Brewer at April 17, 2005 12:16 AM
I've been sitting with a quietly growing grief at the news of Andrea's death.There was a sense of shock....I thought she be around forever...it was akin to hearing a thousand year redwood fall...its impact still echoing...she had held the line so uncompromisingly for so long....and now she's not here to do that.So I'm going to grieve her loss for awhile, alone, because no one here knows of her and then get off my ass and pay genuine tribute to her by getting active active and stop taking things easy.
Andrea, you are already missed.
Love PJ xxxx
Posted by: Pagan Jane at April 17, 2005 12:47 AM
Just got back from holiday and heard the news.
I am really very sad. She was a true radical; someone who faced things and the consequences and was not afraid to look into the horrible dark heart of human beings. I remember trying to see her once but got lost on the way and gave up! how I regret my sense of direction!!
There are far too few Andreas in this world.
Andrea, your work lives on. All my love, Gabriel xx (UK)
Posted by: Gabriel at April 17, 2005 07:06 AM
We were devastated to hear of your death, you inspired us all, we will keep fighting.
Posted by: Scottish Women Against Pornography at April 17, 2005 09:08 AM
A first memory of Cousin Andrea was her taking us (younger cousins) on a "lion hunt." Her creativity brought us together, in a circle on the floor, with her telling the story -- and left an indelible impression.
Andrea lived her life true to her convictions; for this I so revere her. And these convictions live on, and on.
It comforts me to know that Andrea died peacefully in her sleep. To those who knew and loved her, I extend my deepest sympathy.
April 17, 2005
Posted by: Ellen Stevens-Roseman at April 17, 2005 11:37 AM
I'm overwhelmed with grief in Andrea's untimely death. I still need her; we all still need her. Her wisdom, her fearlessness, her generosity, changed my life.
There have been so many times I've felt alone in my rage at inequality and injustice. I found so much comfort in knowing that Andrea was there, articulating so courageously what I felt inside. I'm comforted now to read this memorial board, to find so many kindred spirits/sisters out there who value Andrea's work as I do.
My sincerest condolences to Andrea's friends and family.
Posted by: Suzanna at April 17, 2005 11:46 AM
The day I picked up Intercourse and read it through was the day I packed up my feminist apologist tendancies and resurfaced with a voice that refused to be silenced.
To a woman who did not get the chance to see the beauty of a world in which women are safe and treated like human beings, your words and actions have inspired masses to quit pontificating or regretting and do something. To a woman who lit the fire of passion below the feet of so many women, including myself, consumed in frustration, pain, and confusion from this world thrusting us into the position of a political power unlike any other, I am eternally thankful.
I'll miss you Andrea, thanks for everything you have done.
Posted by: Zoe at April 17, 2005 12:10 PM
Thank you Andrea, for your love of women, for your dedication and concern for our lives, for making public all the dirty, secretive, lies and atrocities you had to learn about, and then write about, so that women can know the truth. Thank you for being a proud Lesbian. Love always.
Posted by: Sandy Tate at April 17, 2005 12:39 PM
I finally feel it. It took 6 days, many hours, reading, conversations, thinking... to get to feeling. The magnitude of our -- mine, yours, the world's -- loss can't be measured, not even on a Richter scale.
Posted by: Sammi at April 17, 2005 02:58 PM
I am grateful that Andrea Dworkin was a writer. I have her embedded in her writings. I have her ideas, her philosophy, her sense of life made real for me in her books, her articles. That is real, she is real and she lives in me also. Thank you Andrea for you honesty and courage. I carry you with me and will share you with others. You live on in me and future girls/women.
Posted by: Cat Farrar at April 17, 2005 03:20 PM
"In her heart she is a mourner for those who have not survived. In her soul she is a warrior for those who are now as she was then.
In her life she is both celebrant and proof of woman's capacity and will to survive, to become, to act, to change self and society.
And each year she is stronger, and there are more of her."
With Andrea's permission I have often prefaced my own articles on abuse with this quote. I am her aunt-by-marriage and we used to joke that we did the same work only we wore different clothes to do it. She wore her overalls and I wore a black dress and a string of pearls, but ultimately we carried the same message. There is a hole in my life where Andrea used to be.
Posted by: Marcia Cohn Spiegel at April 17, 2005 03:26 PM
I'm so grateful for Andrea Dworkin's existence, ferocity, and stamina. Thank you for challenging each of us do the work we know to be our own.
Posted by: Laura Colbert at April 17, 2005 04:18 PM
It is hard to find the right words to say on the passing of Andrea Dworkin. Until every woman and child are safe in their homes and in the world, we will need passionate and unafraid voices like hers. Without people like Andrea Dworkin to expose the horrors of domestic violence and work to change laws surrounding this crime, I might have one day been a murder statistic. I will always remember Andrea Dworkin's courage in a world (to quote Tillie Olsen) "whose season was, as still it is, a time of winter."
Posted by: Joan at April 18, 2005 01:02 AM
A great, honest soul has departed, leaving us to pick up the flame, inspiring us to preach our gospel, and when necessary be a disciple of hers. She inspires us to be true to ourselves. Though she was much maligned, there is no greater compliment than purity rising, and seeing ignorance rise to the occasion, attempting to greet/defeat it.
"First, they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." -Mahatma Gandhi
Posted by: Alex Wheeler at April 18, 2005 05:05 AM
My heart felt sympathies to all those whose own lives have been touched by this awe inspiring champion of truth.
Posted by: Meg at April 18, 2005 11:03 AM
A friend here has posted a message saying that Andrea's wisdom has resulted in her being strong enough, whatever the situation, to ask 'where are the women in this and what is happening to them'.
Women are here right now to remember Andrea, to celebrate her and to mourn her loss. We have to hold on to this. Women are coming to this site to share remembrances and also to regain their strength in the face of loss. I'm often asked whether feminism is still relevant to women's lives today. If it is Andrea's type of feminism then you bet it is.
Not every feminist held on to their principles with the tenacity that Andrea showed. She never compromised: never sold out. Feminism needs more women like Andrea and I'm convinced that there are plenty of women reading this right now - hey, you! Yes, you! - who share Andrea's principles, her rage, her understanding and her heart.
There isn't a politician running for election today who has women at the heart of their promises. Why is that? And why aren't we taking to the streets to complain about it? I'm proud to be involved in a campaign against male violence and to carry a spark of the torch that Andrea lit with her passion. We have her memory and that makes us powerful. I'm pleased to be part of this. Thank you to everyone for sharing.
Posted by: Helen at April 18, 2005 11:36 AM
After God knows, how many years in the forefront of radical womens politics, inspiring and causing a stir, there is not one single contemporary feminist writer that I can think of that can touch the brutality and bravery of Andrea Dworkins work. There is no one to replace her. That makes me afraid and ashamed.
She truely was a remarkable woman.
Posted by: Catherine at April 19, 2005 05:55 AM
I remember riding on a Greyhound bus home to DC from New York, reading Letters from a War Zone in the back seat. The two guys in front of me demanded to come "hook up" with me in DC, and when I blew them off, their rage scared the crap out of me. I had no idea if I'd make it home safe or not, but I just kept on reading.
In fact, that's pretty much how I made it through the 90s: I just held on and kept on reading.
Thank you, Andrea, for your sacrifices. You were the raft a whole lot of us hung on to. With you and Linda Marchiano gone, I feel like we've lost more than we can count.
I wish you love and peace and free-ness, and ask your continued protection and inspiration as we go forward in this fight.
Posted by: Laura at April 19, 2005 05:58 PM
Andrea Dworkin always told the truth.
Some called her names because truth can be ugly and it feels better to look away.
They blamed the messenger.
As a child who witnessed ugliness that most adults would not speak with me about, Andrea Dworkin spoke on my behalf. She knew about my life and she spoke for me until I had the words and courage to speak for myself.
I never met her and yet feel I've lost a close friend. Thank you Andrea.
Posted by: Susie Long at April 19, 2005 11:54 PM
I am deeply moved by the huge number of wonderful tributes to Andrea Dworkin. I hate that most of the mainstream media has ignored her death, and those few who have commented have maligned her appearance, her writing, her work. I find it reassuring to know there are many women like me who felt she gave us permission to express hatred, and to fight against pornography and rape. I wish now - too late-- that I had written to her to express my support for her when she was alive.
I read MERCY fifteen years ago and it shattered me for weeks. AND THEN I started to work for rape victims. I still maintain the rage.
Posted by: Margot Boetcher at April 20, 2005 12:16 AM
she sits in our bone marrow: we cannot forget. this legacy survives. thank you andrea, and thank you john - you're in there too. you both taught me how to be a man.
Posted by: randall at April 20, 2005 04:55 AM
wow...and wow again. had expected to feel sadder or something, but am so happy - not that she's gone - but that so many care so deeply. two quotes spring to mind.
if you're not angry you haven't been paying attention.
do not go gently into that good night... fight against the dying of the light.
for so many andrea showed there is in fact a light at the end of the tunnel - for if you can conceive a world where rape is no longer a reality (and i am saddened by the fact only two women identified as non-victim/survivors of this crime. i can only imagine that this means there are exceptions to the rule)then such a reality must be possible... when a week spent spent mourning a passing and too many people have looked at me and said andrea who? to visit this site and read every testimonial is as profound as reading her writings.
for there is such love here and such passion - and in a world where the good fight is often sniper or guerilla warfare and so many of us feel so alone this is heartening.
my cockles are warm people - women men thank you for witnessing a truly significant passing and many of you for shoulder the burden of war that was (seemingly) carried on by our favourite front-runner. andrea dworkin has paved the way she has created a debate that so many of us now are willing to take up - or continue...
and the inspiration is exponential - we will win, for in world of patriarchal concept 'winning ' is still sadly relevant. but we cannot lose. we may lose battles - and have such a long way to go - but people the war is won.
no - i am not a friend or a loved one and for their loss i can only grieve. andrea is everywoman and about time too, that everywomen's story is yours and mine and thank goddess she put it in writing.
andrea dwokin set a standard and we are lucky to have shared the planet with her
Posted by: reb at April 20, 2005 05:42 AM
I write from a long way away geographically - the tip of Africa to say that as a life-long, and searching, feminist I have had my intellectual differences with Andrea --- BUT BUT BUT let me say this: I have read her 1983 words on the demand for a 24 Hour truce, a 24 hours without rape to hundreds and hundreds (over the years) of very diverse students - mostly women, mostly black, often young... in African contexts. Overall, they applaud, they RECOGNIZE her voice and her gift, 22 years later and light years away in terms of context, Andrea is heard and loved for saying what she says.... I want to record here my profound thanks to her
Posted by: Jane Bennett at April 20, 2005 12:49 PM
We the editors of TRIVIA:VOICES OF FEMISNIM, wish to express our great sorrow over the loss of one of the most powerful and courageous voices women ever had on our behalf.
We will be devoting a section of our next issue to writings about Andrea's work. Please send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit our website: www.triviavoices.net.
TRIVIA: VOICES OF FEMINISM, is an online relaunch of TRIVIA:A JOURNAL OF IDEAS, which published Andrea's work and was one of the most important voices of radical feminism in the '80s and '90s.
Posted by: trivia eds at April 20, 2005 04:31 PM
I only read some of her latest works and I was proud that my name is the same as hers. No I am not a feminist or anti-femenist but I hate the pornography that is so available. It is so that I have to monitor what my grandchildren aged 15 &10 watch on television or the computer.. God bless Andrea Dworkin for her stand on pornography.- Bernie Dworkin
Posted by: Bernie Dworkin at April 21, 2005 01:12 AM
I am devastated to learn that Andrea Dworkin has died. She has been my hero, the one public figure that I look up to, for the last decade. We never met nor talked but through reading her books alone in my early twenties, she helped me turn my suicidal despair into healthful rage. Before encountering her works, I had never before found the truth of my life as a female treated as a sexual slave reflected so helpfully with such illuminating analysis. When I found Dworkin, I finally found a way to understand the mistreatment and indignities I had endured. When I found her, I had already been in the typically apolitical, antifeminist psychotherapy for six years, which only left me feeling less empowered and more stigmatized, and Dworkin helped me more during the months that I studied her books than all that brutalizing psychotherapy ever did. She gave me a voice. And she showed me that I was not alone, that my privately suffered injustices were part of the everyday injustices suffered by most women everywhere. I mourn deeply for the loss of such a brilliant and courageous person. There is no one else like her. It enrages me that the brainwashed and ethically bankrupt majority either doesn’t know who she is or else vilifies her. At least there are a few of us who realize just how precious and valuable she was.
Posted by: I refuse to shave my legs! at April 21, 2005 03:07 PM
I have been in a fog for almost two weeks, since I heard that Andrea had died. I feel like a soldier who sees her leader go down. I have felt lost, and I have also felt an influx of colonial messages -- mostly about the life I might have lived had I not read Andrea's work. I have been filled with fear and self-doubt, a kind of chrysalis of grief. I am emerging from it now, beginning to see the light again. I realize from that experience just how much I leaned on her, how much her presence in the world contributed to my sense of self and presence and mission.
Andrea changed my life. She was my chief role model, and when she endorsed my work in the tenth year of my career, I felt like someone adript on a raft who has been spotted. I no longer cared whether or not ANYONE else ever discovered my work. I had been seen by the only pair of eyes that counted to me. That was enough. I remember that feeling now.
I feel so much gratitude to Andrea I can't even express it. Greatness. Andrea was greatness to me. I am so blessed to have had such a role model and so blessed to have known her personally.
Posted by: Carolyn Gage at April 21, 2005 04:22 PM
Thank you, Andrea, for giving women the courage to call what we knew was wrong, wrong.
And thanks for giving women the hope to address those wrongs.
Posted by: Diane Farsetta at April 21, 2005 07:41 PM
Back when I got the letter from the curator of manuscripts at the Schlessinger library, where my papers also reside, I had a sense of foreboding. Yes, I was as pleased as they knew I’d be to learn that they had acquired Andrea’s papers, but I also knew that I had only donated my own papers when I was no longer able to keep them. So I worried, and wondered if there would be another book, and worried some more as time passed.
By the time I was in the 6th grade, I had read every book in my school library, and a lot of other books. I’ve continued to read and I’m 65 now. Today my copy of “women’s lives, men’s laws” by MacKinnon arrived in the mail. I can’t really say I’m a writer, but I have had a few things published. I only met Andrea once, and I only have a few of Andrea’s books and a couple of postcards.
But having cried, and having read all the other comments, there is something I want to say:
I have read everything I could find by Andrea and I never disagreed in the slightest with a single word that Andrea wrote.
With all the many thousands of books I’ve read, I cannot say that of any other writer.
Many years ago, the person who introduced me to the writings of Gurdjieff , Ouspensky, Maurice Nicoll, Rumi, and others, told me that we cannot learn things until we are ready to learn them. Understanding is not a simple matter of will--it requires prior experience and preparation. So, when in my late thirties I decided to learn calculus, I first had to study algebra, geometry, and trig. No matter how much I wanted to, I could not go directly to calculus but first had to prepare myself.
For those who find themselves in disagreement with anything Andrea said or wrote, I would suggest that you try again later in life, when you are more prepared. If you are lucky, you will reach the stage where understanding becomes possible. And if you never get there, well, there are lots of people who never learn calculus.
Andrea was my favorite writer, bar none. Andrea’s life reminds me of someone else I admired: Prof. Lise Meitner, who discovered nuclear fission but was denied the Nobel Prize. In later years Meitner sought funding to try to find ways to safely dispose of nuclear waste, a problem that has yet to be solved. While billions of dollars were spent developing nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, Meitner never got that pittance. While we cannot become an ecologically viable species without equality for all “groups,” that doesn’t mean that we are equal as individuals. A thousand computers of equal power can be linked to solve a problem a thousand times as quickly as a single computer, but a thousand ordinary scientists working together will not solve a problem as quickly as a single genius.
Meitner was a genius. Dworkin was a genius. And reading the comments posted by others in this memorial, I am pleased to see so many healthy cells left amid the malignity of patriarchy. But as we are now at one of our cyclical overpopulation peaks, which are always marked by the cheapening of human life and accompanying genocides, it is very likely that we the living will soon envy Andrea for being dead. Andrea was not just a feminist activist. Andrea was a peace activist, because we cannot have peace unless we abolish patriarchy. Otherwise, the only peace we will ever know, or the world will ever know, is the peace of death that I hope has found Andrea.
Dearest people, the common greeting among the Pushtoon of Afghanistan is not “hello,” or “hi,” or “peace,“ but, “may you not be tired.” Andrea was tired, I am tired, but I hope that those of you with energy left will keep learning and teaching. I hope someday there is that post-patriarchal world Andrea dreamed of, where genius will not be required and even ordinary people will be able to understand something as simple as that there can be no exceptions to the Golden Rule. No exceptions. Not based on race, not based on sex, not based on disability--no exceptions whatsoever. Patriarchy lies. It says there are two kinds of people, men and women. Andrea spoke the truth. There is only one kind of person, the human kind, or humankind. And when we can be kind, only then can we be human.
Posted by: Mark E. Smith at April 23, 2005 01:48 AM
Andrea Dworkin lived a really useful life. How many of us can say that? I believe the real goal of being is to live in the truth, to take on the deception of the self that all culture is based on. By that standard Andrea Dworkin was one of the few people I know of who led a truly successful existence.
Particularly, Pornography helped me to understand a great deal of the lies I have told myself. Thank you, Andrea, for being honest and going where we need to go.
Posted by: Tim Osburn at April 23, 2005 12:56 PM
I met Andrea Dworkin during a reading session in Manchester and got mesmerised listening to one of my life-time feminist heros in person.
I was feeling even more confident of my intuitive anti-pornographic stand while she was presenting hers in the most convincing way.
Thanks Ms. Dworkin
Posted by: Ozlem Nudrali at April 23, 2005 01:53 PM
I too was enraged by sexual violence, but in my rage, I became paralyzed and unable to speak... Andrea could speak brilliantly in her rage, and she spoke for me, and millions of others. There is no one like her. The thought that we will have no more new analyses, that there will be no more speeches, is devastating. What more lay in her brain and soul that we will never read or hear? She was a genius, among the greatest of philosophers, and an orator matched only by the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, in my experience. No one else could so engage an audience, and so transform lives in the span of an hour, as those two. I am sorry for all who now will never hear her speak. I was very privileged to meet her, talk with her, and work with her on several occasions. She was, as others have written, gentle, fierce, passionate, kind, humorous, witty, loving, thoughtful, engaged, and the best of listeners. She cared. She was ahead of her time, but of her time. I hope she will get her due in the future, that her genius will be recognized more widely, and the world will change. Let us keep her books in print, and spread the word, keep up the work, end the violence and exploitation.
Posted by: Chris Gaston at April 24, 2005 02:28 AM
A year ago, Andrea called me on my cell phone to ask if she could come to the fundraiser of my Company, Venus Theatre. I was shocked and honored and am so glad that I met her. I am now working on a play where Marilyn Monroe comes back to life. I read Andrea's introduction in the biography and wanted to get back in touch. Carolyn and John made this possible...THANK YOU, my sincere and deepest condolences.
She was kind and we were set to meet in her apartment on Thursday, April 14th. I remain honored that she would be encouraging and take time to talk. And I feel her spirit. So, Carolyn suggested I share my experience here...
And, I felt her spirit (as nuts as that sounds). I felt her spirit in the middle of the night. I thought it was a dream, except I was awake. I didn't HEAR a voice or SEE a ghost, but what happens with me is I get thoughts that belong elsewhere. And the thoughts coming into my head were really strong. Like slow realizations happening at lightening speed. Here's the info as I received it: -all of this energy I feel embarrassed or ashamed of because it makes me look "intense" and it makes lots of people feel "uncomfortable" is NEEDED...do not dull it out or dumb it down EMBRACE it and put it every damn place!; -we are much stronger than we think we are; -I need to stop complaining like a victim and realize that I am standing tall and far along the path of my evolution; -I know what to do next; -there is no one else that will do this work in this way; -it's what I am here to do so all of the stuff clouding my thoughts can be released because it is insignificant bullshit!; -there is no one QUALIFIED to give me approval for the work that I am here to do, so it's best to get to it and keep moving forward.
Then, I thought it was just my active imagination. So, I shoved it down. Next night, at rehearsal, an actor locks himself in the bathroom. 20 minutes go by and we hear this "landshark" voice saying: 'I'm trapped in the bathroom, if anyone can hear me, please help me, I'm trapped in the bathroom' as if it were a coal mine in 1875...So, I proceeded to the door, indeed it was jammed locked. For a moment, I thought I should go get tools and instruments and use the rest of rehearsal to get him out. That thought really pissed me off in an unusual way. And I began to sense this spitfire energy around me again. I have a schedule and my work is not to be thrown away. So, I yelled, "stand back". Apparently, he didn't know whether to take that seriously. Then, I kicked the door, it budged a little, but it did not open. Which again, unusually pissed me off. So, I kicked harder. The door flew open the molding fell across it from right to left and a little guy in a green t-shirt was walking backwards in slow-motion while raising both hands in the air as if he were under arrest. He said he would never do anything to cross me, ever. And I felt Andrea laughing with us and the Andrea-thought popped into my head again, "you are stronger than you think". There was even a subtext to say...'however you need me to show you...'
May we all learn that lesson from her, stand tall on her spiritual shoulders, and do our specific irreplaceable and significant part to bring about true equality. We each carry that responsibility.
Posted by: Deborah Randall at April 24, 2005 09:11 AM
Taking Back the Night
You went to the end of your voice Andrea
Your clear voice carried by a just rage
Always pushing beyond limits
Stripping away illusions one by one
With your words of fire and freedom
You went to the end of your voice Andrea
Your voice we had learned to rely on
At every turn of our lives
At every denial of our rights
Inviting us to reject fear intimidation
The comfort of silence and submission
You went to the end of your voice Andrea
Rare among us were those
Who had lived what they denounced
Marital violence which hits and humiliates
Prostitution which destroys to the innermost depths
Pornography and its dehumanizing hatred
For a long time you had known the ashes of horror
You went to the end of your brilliant intelligence Andrea
Allied to Catharine MacKinnon the other indomitable one
You denounced the left as you did organized crime
As you did the untouchable devious freedom of expression
You gorged the words with your unflinching passion
For the integrity the dignity of women
Their indestructible right to be free and love each other
Taking back the night will never be the same without you
You gave your voice the fullness of a fight to the finish
Your life the generous power of a turbulent river
That your untimely death cannot ever dry up
Your voice has not left with you Andrea
Beyond our sorrow and the void left by your departure
It is passed from one woman to the other like a torch
Reminding us of the incorruptible beauty of courage
Poet and essayist
April 14, 2005
Translated by the author with the friendly collaboration of Lise Weil and Philippe de Massy.
Have joined their signature to that of the author to express their deep sorrow following the death of Andrea Dworkin :
Micheline Carrier, journalist and editor of Sisyphe website
Louky Bersianik, poet, novelist and essayist
Louise Vandelac, professor of sociology at the University of Quebec in Montreal
Lise Weil, editor of Trivia Voices of Feminism
Richard Poulin, professor of sociology at the University of Ottawa
Posted by: Elaine Audet at April 26, 2005 11:03 AM
L'envers de la nuit
Tu es allée au bout de ta voix Andrea
Ta voix claire portée par une juste colère
Reculant toujours davantage les limites
Démasquant un à un les leurres
Avec tes mots de feu et de liberté
Tu es allée au bout de ta voix Andrea
Ta voix sur laquelle nous avions appris à compter
À chaque tournant de nos vies à chaque recul de nos droits
Nous invitant à refuser la peur l'intimidation
Le confort du silence et de la soumission
Tu es allée au bout de ta voix Andrea
Rares étaient celles d'entre nous
Qui avaient vécu ce qu'elles dénonçaient
La violence maritale qui frappe en humiliant
La prostitution qui dévaste jusqu'aux tréfonds
La pornographie et sa haine déshumanisante
Tu connaissais depuis longtemps les cendres de l'horreur
Tu es allée au bout de ta brillante intelligence Andrea
Alliée à Catharine MacKinnon cette autre indomptable
Tu t'es attaqué à la gauche comme au crime organisé
À l'intouchable et hypocrite liberté d'expression
Tu as nourri les mots de ta passion irréductible
Pour l'intégrité la dignité des femmes
Leur droit infrangible d'être libres et de s'aimer
L'envers de la nuit ne sera jamais plus pareil sans toi
Tu as donné à ta voix l'ampleur d'un combat à finir
À ta vie la force généreuse d'un fleuve tumultueux
Que ta mort trop tôt venue ne pourra jamais tarir
Ta voix n'est pas partie avec toi Andrea
Par-delà notre peine et le vide laissé par ton départ
Elle passe de l'une à l'autre comme un flambeau
Pour nous rappeler l'incorruptible beauté du courage
Poète et essayiste
Montréal, 14 avril 2005
Ont joint leur signature à celle de l'auteure pour exprimer leur profonde tristesse à la suite de la mort d'Andrea Dworkin :
Micheline Carrier, journaliste et éditrice du site Sisyphe
Louky Bersianik, poète, écrivaine et essayiste
Louise Vandelac, professeure de sociologie à l'Université du Québec à Montréal
Lise Weil, éditrice de Trivia Voices of Feminism
Richard Poulin, professeur de sociologie à l'Université d'Ottawa
Posted by: Élaine Audet at April 26, 2005 02:04 PM
I wish Andrea Dworkin something she never enjoyed during her 59 years on earth: peace and serenity.
Posted by: C. D. Chatterley at April 27, 2005 12:38 PM
Am so sorry she's gone. An original thinker, and courageous. If you want to do any good in this world, you can't be polite.
Glad she was outfront. How lucky to have lived during her time and to be influenced by her.
Posted by: suzanne at April 27, 2005 08:53 PM
My heart breaks open. Andrea's honesty, beauty, sincerity always moved me. Her eyes, straightforward, open and clear looked inside the soul. I love you Andrea and thank the Universe that you have lived. Your words always on fire, your heart as large as the Ocean, bless you, bless you, and thank you for walking in Truth. always, Paula
Posted by: Dr Paula Bromberg at April 28, 2005 01:15 AM
Andrea Dworkin was of the generation, born the same year as my own Mother, whose radical feminist thinking was and is a legacy to all wimin of the world today. There is still much to do and with this backlash against feminist thought and intellect we have to be even stronger. Wimin are conditioned to think they are free, we are not , we are not equal in pay to men, rights and opportunities and certainly as the most oppressed group in the world we are still undermined and sexualised thought-out every society. As a Muslim woman who is soon to be mother, I would hope for my child that I can educate them to these realities but inspire them to carry the torch and fight against the porn masters and governments who collude with keeping wimin down and oppressed. WE have to celebrate wimin like Andrea Dworkin and there has to be a space to observe her contribution to us as wimin. Maybe her BIRTH date can be a day to acknowledge and promote her work as well as to celebrate a brilliant womon who didn't appease the abusers or establishment But directly challenged them about their abhorrent ways.
Posted by: Sarah-Bibi Namdarkhan at April 28, 2005 12:50 PM
April 29, I have just now learned of your death, Andrea. In reading of your death, I have just now learned of your rape in 1999. Andrea, I am sorry. So sorry.
I always thought you'd be here. Like the sun. Like God. Andrea is watching out for us - for me.
I'd hoped that one day I'd find my voice - long silenced by pain. On that day I would send you a note and perhaps you'd let me treat you to a coffee out somewhere. I would thank you for your work - your courageous, unflinching, brilliant insight, and committment to ending rape and violence against women in all it's forms. I would ask you questions - oh, the questions I had for you!!
I missed my chance. You are gone. Your suffering is over. Your work continues.
Andrea, your mind attained the mind of God. Now your body is at rest with Her as well.
I shall forever be in your debt for all that your books taught me. For all the comfort your life and strength and courage brought me.
I love you Andrea Dworkin and I will miss your fierce, angry, intellegent and healing presence.
Posted by: kathyg at April 29, 2005 05:16 PM
I can't tell you how heart sick I am about Andrea's death . She was my last TRUE feminist
hero. I am in the front lines every day with my work on violence against women . It's very lonely work, and you are very isolated. I don't have women to talk to, because of my feminist beliefs, but her books always made me feel that I wasn't alone. Violence against women is getting worse. Who now can we turn to for support and validation? Women all over the world have suffered a great lose .
Posted by: Nancy Hulse at May 4, 2005 11:28 AM
It is still hard for me to talk about Andrea in the past tense, and hard to write about her not being here. The thoughts people are writing on this site are music to my ears and soul --particularly because so much of what was been written in the mass media has included negative opinions and inaccurate information.
I will miss Andrea profoundly. I had the privilege of seeing Andrea more often since she moved to Washington, DC. She had a passionate love of justice. And she had such a strong, gentle spirit. While it is painful to have her life cut short when she had so much more she wanted to write, we cannot help but be inspired by all she accomplished.
Whenever I felt desperate about the need to speak out or write about the harm of pornography and violence against women, I realized I didn't need to struggle with words to express what I felt. Andrea already had done and was doing this so eloquently. I just needed to get her words out to more people. And I can still do this now. We can seek to get her books reprinted and circulate her writings so they continue to inspire dialogue and action.
Andrea was an Associate of the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press (wifp.org), an organization working for media democracy and supporting women's voices. We will continue to spread Andrea's words and keep up the struggles against pornography and violence against women.
Andrea is with all of us in our endeavors to make a safer, more just world.
Posted by: Martha Allen at May 4, 2005 01:41 PM
just now i found out about andrea's death. i decided to write my final paper for my ethics class on pornography, and knew i wanted to use her writings as a reference. what a terrible shock to find out that she's gone.
i first heard of andrea dworkin in my high school, in a required course on rape, abuse, pornography, prostitution and incest (an unusually radical school, i know). her feminist ideas were the most revolutionary i had ever heard. although i don't agree with everything she said, i have been and will continue to be utterly inspired by her vision and dedication to freedom and equality. she truly envisioned a different world-- not one tweaked and modified by mere compromise, but one so radically changed from the ground up that it's almost inconceivable.
And that is what i will carry with me from her. that vision of such a changed world may seem unreachable, but the point is that the current system at its core is rotten, and we can never stop fighting it, never be satisfied with small concessions. we must never lose momentum. legislation cannot mandate a paradigm shift in the public. that is up to us.
let andrea rest in peace, she has done her part. let us continue.
Posted by: JulietteMinneapolis at May 5, 2005 01:35 PM
I knew Andrea well in her high school years and a while thereafter. Without Andrea, high school would have been even more unbearable than it was.
I was at first thrilled when I recognized myself in a short story she wrote -- then a little angry at how she changed my story. But now, many years later, perhaps she saw the incident more clearly than I. Andrea had great insight even then.
I have thought of her often through the years. she was a wonderful friend, a true teacher and had a voice that needed hearing.
Posted by: jacklyn robbins at May 5, 2005 04:23 PM
hold hostage feelings
restrain fiery touches.
rescue masked silence
release hidden anguish
stir timid embers.
dress the eyes
deliver the heart
unlace the soul.
...as a survivor of adolescent prostitution, andrea dworkin was the first voice that reached into my spirit and gave me the courage to name my experiences. i am forever grateful to andrea for having helped remember my worth through her words and actions.
lola greene baldwin foundation for recovery
Posted by: tikvah at May 7, 2005 03:10 PM
As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I have waded through swamps of depression and anxiety and an overall disillusionment with society that few could identify with. The day I discovered Andrea's writings was a turning point in my life. I felt like I had been trying to let out a giant scream but nothing would come, until Andrea's voice filled the gap where I stood speechless. Her unflinching confrontation of the crisis of violence against women tells of her courage, strength and giant heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you Andrea. Though we have never met, I consider you a sister in spirit.
Posted by: Sarah, St. Paul, MN at May 12, 2005 08:47 PM
I knew Andrea. I knew her through her words, her writings, and felt that she spoke for me, as a man. I know why there could be feminists who disagree with her, because Andrea was not a feminist, she was a humanist, who spoke for the exploited. And there is no denying that most people trapped in sexual slavery are women, not men. She may be gone, but her person will remain through her work.
Posted by: Roop Sen at May 13, 2005 08:18 AM
I am very, very sad about the news of Andrea's death. I didn't know her personally. I looked upon her as a goddess come to earth to keep reminding all of us about what really matters. Her beautiful passion, eloquence, dedication, and loyalty to the people and things she cared about were so inspiring to me for most of my adult life. I do feel like one of the world's great lights went out. And certainly my world has grown darker...
Posted by: Charlie Jones at May 16, 2005 12:06 AM
I am saddened of course, like every one else. I read Our Blood, oh, years and years ago, it seems now. That book empowered me. It changed me. It made me the person I am today. Andrea, you have blessed us with your presence, still.
You are in my heart.
Posted by: Treanor at May 17, 2005 10:16 PM
Andrea Dworkin gave those of us who could not speak a voice. She brought our realities to the attention of those who simply refused to see the inequalities that make silence and invisibility so pervasive for all persons harmed by misogyny, homophobia and racism. She did so at great personal expense. This will not be forgotten. Because of her, many of us now can and will speak and we will ensure that her voice is heard loud and clear. When the pornographers and pimps and bigots abuse, we will fight back. And we can because Andrea has given us the strength to do so. She will be missed in ways that words alone cannot describe. But her legacy will stand the test of time. Her fight for justice, for a better world in which the hierarchies that harm are tackled head on, will continue -- as all of us find strength from her courage and a life that, despite countless obstacles, made our own lives safer and more secure.
Posted by: Christopher Kendall at May 18, 2005 04:31 AM
When I opened the newspaper at 5:00 in the morning and read about Andrea, I instantly folded it back up. Hoping against hope that when I opened it again, it wouldn't be there. But it was. I went into shock. My body turned cold. I called John Stoltenberg, a man I have never met or talked to before. Trying to speak my heart, and only being able to weep.
John said that Andrea belonged to all of the women whose lives she changed. She also belonged to all of the men whose lives she changed. I am one of those men.
Andrea has left us her words. But when I think of Andrea what I think of most is how she taught us all that this war is not just a war of words. Words are not enough, because words alone cannot stop anyone or anything. As she said in Minneapolis at a rally: "We have to have the conviction that we have to do something." "Do something, do anything."
I want a shirt that asks, on the front of it: WHAT WOULD ANDREA DO? I have never had a bumper-sticker on my car, but I want one now that asks: WHAT WOULD ANDREA DO?
Someone once described Andrea as "A warrior who often stands alone, but who always stands." And, on behalf of everyone who has contributed to this website, I want to say: She's still standing in our hearts.
Posted by: Edward Calph at May 20, 2005 07:37 PM
I first came across Andrea Dworkin ten years ago when i was a women's studies undergraduate. I decided to write my final dissertation on pornography and used many of her texts in my studies. I am amazed that there has been such little coverage of her death (although shouldn't be). Her books have really taught me a great deal about the issues I studied as a student and I went on to volunteer in my local rape crisis centre. I remember having massive arguments with my (now ex) boyfriend about Andrea Dworkin in particular -- with hindsight i realize he was extremely threatened by such a powerful and brave woman such as Andrea. I want to offer my condolences -- the news that Andrea has died is very sad indeed.
Posted by: Lucy Mary Whiting at May 21, 2005 09:10 AM
Well, I guess a few people have got here ahead of me! (Andrea would have laughed at that.) She was a dear personal friend who took time out to visit me and give wise advice when I was going through a bad patch. For that I've always been grateful. We agreed and we disagreed, and all of that was o.k. as it is with friends. She had a great sense of humour, so we laughed together and sometimes, of course, cried together. Sometimes she had time to meet for tea when she came to London, sometimes not, but we didn't see each other as much as I'd have liked after I left NY. I miss her and will go on missing her for a long time.
Posted by: Leah Fritz at May 22, 2005 07:32 PM
I keep returning to this page and hoping that i can write something suitably befitting for Andrea - but i don't think i can - so instead i would just like to say that we are much poorer over the loss of Andrea. It is devastating to lose this woman who had such a contribution to make: who challenged the powerful and never let the lies, violence and abuse of men, pimps and pornographers go unnoticed. We all owe Andrea a debt for having the courage to speak out against this and for having the determination to NEVER give up the struggle. We owe it to Andrea to continue in this work until all women and children can live lives free from violence and abuse.
In order to mark the terrible loss of Andrea we are organising a memorial evening in Bristol, UK and are compiling a book of memories which we would like to offer to John and this website.
Posted by: Melanie at May 23, 2005 09:06 AM
Talking of uncompromising, the American feminist Andrea Dworkin, who died this week, was almost as threatening to women as she was to men with her militant disregard for her appearance. In an age where even an unwealthy woman will spend £34,000 on plastic surgery, Dworkin’s "no hair dyes or conditioner, no time-consuming waxing or plucking or shaving or slimming or fashion" regime seemed perverse. Imagine, no conditioner even!
We live in a world where mothers elect to have their babies delivered early by Caesarean so that they don’t gain too much weight, where women believe "tasteful" pornography is empowering, where girls are given breast implants for their 18th birthdays, and Botox is considered a human right. No wonder Dworkin’s feminism appeared out of touch.
She may not have appealed much to young women, who recoiled at the fat, ugly, hairy-armpit, bra-burning, dungaree-wearing, man-hating stereotype of a radical feminist. But I have found that she grew on you. Reading her obituaries now, 20 years after first encountering her, she comes across as refreshingly rude and relevant, and not at all scary.
As she said: "You always need women who can walk into the room in the right way, talk in the right tone of voice, who have access to power. But you also need a bottom line."
For every Condoleezza Rice or Nicola Horlick, there should be an Andrea Dworkin.
Posted by: Jenny Hjul at May 24, 2005 12:58 AM
I remember Andrea as small,
especially her hands,
this woman of enormous talent,
a titan and a basilisk,
with kindness warm in her eyes.
I remember her bright smile of recognition,
her face haloed with glorious curls.
I can still feel
the complete softness of her embrace
and how immense her burden of sadness.
She spent her life generously,
a writer of substance and beauty,
a life writing with an artist's eye,
a poet's love of words,
a revolutionary's ambition,
ambition for freedom--real freedom--
freedom to commit art and love.
Yours was a luminous sojourn, Andrea.
History shall make it so.
History shall make it so.
Andrea died on a moonless night,
not just any night,
but a night when the earth cast
its overwhelming shadow
across the entire face of the moon,
depriving the world of nighttime
Moon-gazing lunacy denied,
but a longing lived, cradled, honored
an ambition, the impulse to live
in the hearts of poets and lovers.
a small window of freedom from patriarchy
to escape this world.
This window had not been open for 26 years.
Andrea escaped this world
when the 2000 year old church
had no pope. No head patriarch.
The moment was a requiem in progress.
Way to go, girl! Get outta Dodge.
Bet you got there before he did.
(Can you hear Andrea laughing?)
Andrea made good her escape.
She died with no moon to give her away.
Sleepless one, did you sleep that night?
No moonlight that night, did you know?
No hand to touch your face.
Did you know, did you wonder?
No word of goodbye.
Did you think your last thought?
What might it have been?
Beloved by thousands, but alone,
although with comfort nearby, so close.
But, alone. Was it peaceful, Andrea?
Did you finally just fall gently to sleep?
Where are you, magnificent one?
Have you gone back to Crete?
"When I die, though, I'm going back,
as ash, dust to dust--not to the stone walls
or throne of Knosos but to a high hill
I belong to the place even if
the place does not belong to me."
the weeping cherry tree bloomed
on the morning you did not rise
with the shining, burning sun overhead.
How I miss you.
This time, this period of hot tears and gnashing teeth,
this unimaginable howling grief will end,
but I will mourn your death
until my own.
Copyright--Annie McCombs--April 2005
See complete article:
Posted by: Annie McCombs at May 24, 2005 03:01 AM
We feminist activists in Kvinnofronten – The Women’s Front – in Sweden were deeply sad to hear about Andrea Dworkin’s death in April. We have no words to express what her work and her person has meant for us. Those of us who met her in the struggle against pornography will always remember her for her great devotion to all women. And for all of us her words have made an unforgettable imprint on our lives. She encouraged us, affirmed our grief, our anger and our zest for life, she made us trust in ourselves and believe in our own experiences, gave us lust to analyse the world around us, and, most of all, she inspired us to fight back against patriarchy. We are proud and grateful that she let Kvinnofronten publish her pamphlet "Letters from a War Zone" in Swedish in the 1980’s. It meant so much for the feminist struggle here. And the only consolation in our grief is that her words will keep on living and thereby inspire women and girls all over the world, as they have till this day.
We all wish we could be with you all in New York May 25th, to participate in the celebration of Andrea Dworkin and her work. Unfortunately it is not possible. But in our hearts we are there.
Kvinnofronten, May 24th, 2005
Posted by: Kvinnofronten at May 24, 2005 12:26 PM
Andrea Dworkin made me feel less alone.
I was deeply saddened by her passing, and for the great loss feminism has suffered due to it.
Posted by: Huma at May 26, 2005 01:14 AM
I first met Andrea Dworkin and John Stoltenberg, in 1979, in Cummington Community of the Arts. I stayed up all night reading her book, Women Hating … which was in the library.
How exciting to meet with them over the Cummington Community dining table in the morning to talk excitedly about it and her illuminating ideas for hours (still without sleep, for me).
Andrea had done something only Andrea could have done, she went into the Cummington library and separated the books by women from the books by men. That was her system for organization of libraries. I don't remember anyone resisting the new organisation, although I may have been euphoric (I was euphoric) and in denial about resistance.
Posted by: Helen Duberstein at May 26, 2005 06:03 PM
(DEDICATED TO ANDREA DWORKIN)
ONLY THE COURAGEOUS SHALL BE REMEMBERED
MARCHING TO THE BEAT
OF A DIFFERENT DRUM
DARING TO SHED LIGHT
DARING TO ILLUMINATE
DARING TO HOLD
THE TORCH OF TRUTH/
WITHIN PLACES OF DARKNESS/
ONLY THE COURAGEOUS SHALL BE REMEMBERED
DRINKING THEIR POISON
WITH GRACE AND POISE
CUTTING THE CLITTER CLATTER
OF OUTSIDE AND INSIDE NOISE
DARING TO DEFY
DARING AND WILLING TO DIE
THE TORCH OF TRUTH SHINES
WITHIN PLACES OF DARKNESS
ONLY THE COURAGEOUS SHALL BE REMEMBERED
PARTING THE WAVES
DARING TO STAND
DARING TO RISE WITH A STAFF IN HAND
THE TORCH OF TRUTH BRIGHTLY BURNS
WITHIN PLACES OF DARKNESS
ONLY THE COURAGEOUS SHALL BE REMEMBERED
IN EULOGIES, EPITAPHS, AND SONGS
BALLADS FOR THE TRAVELERS
STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND
ACTIONS AND WORDS MAKE THEIR IMPRESSIONS
LIKE FOOTPRINTS IN THE SHATTERING SAND AS WE MOVE ALONG...
THE TORCH OF TRUTH IS BURNING
IT IS BURNING STILL AND STEADY
LIGHTING THE WAY
FOR THOSE STILL LOST WITHIN THE DARKNESS
ONLY THE COURAGEOUS SHALL BE REMEMBERED
I DO BELIEVE THEIR COURAGE LIVES FOR ETERNITY
THE TORCH OF TRUTH RISES FOR HUMANITY...
( DEDICATED TO ANDREA DWORKIN--MAY 25, 2005)
Posted by: lorraine gibney at May 26, 2005 11:26 PM
I loved Andrea in a very special way, as all you love her do. Even before we met we wrote each other letters when we were, each of us, in different years, in the Women’s House of Detention for war resistance. Later she was instrumental in getting that dreadful prison torn down and replaced with a garden. Her words, her books are like signals from a lighthouse in a stormy sea, cutting through the mists of myth. They are Artaudian signals through our pain. Those of us who learned her lessons and earned her uncompromising love will never let her brave voice be drowned out by the forces that fear love and love fear.
We will stand by Andrea, now that her rage is calmed. We will keep our pledge to her. We have come together today to do that.
Posted by: Judith Malina at May 27, 2005 11:37 AM
Andrea was a tree of life whose thorns had the power to heal those they surprised. She inhabited an Eden from which she would not be expelled, no matter how much it cost to stay.
She suffered from what is done to women all over the world all the time. She suffered from the betrayals of her own body. She suffered from the hysterical denunciations that convinced people she advocated things that she never advocated, like censorship. And she suffered from her horror at her own anger.
She thought she lived in a violent world, but I think she lived in the garden, still. “We could be happy here,” I seem to have heard her say. “We could learn to behave.”
Her prose is organized like a flower, the petals opening in undreamed of directions, enlarging our notion of what nature contains and challenging us to decide what it means. She loved literature and the great writers were celestial lights by which she guided her art.
When we first became friends, thirty-odd years ago, I asked her if she thought there was any significant difference between women and men and she said, “You mean like apples and oranges? No.”
For as long as most can remember John was there for Andrea, teaching the lessons of her work and buying the groceries, too. The intimate connection they shared gainsaid the world’s timorous notions about what kind of relationships were possible between people who thought such things as they did.
She’s gone far too soon. Her novel, Ice and Fire, was as agonizingly powerful as Dostoevsky and it’s awful that she didn’t get to write more. And it’s terribly sad that there will be no more long nights around the table, laughing and gasping at what we have to say to each other and to the world.
But what I remember most is her astonishing beauty.
Posted by: Hanon Reznikov at May 27, 2005 11:42 AM
With love for Andrea, we'll miss your spirit, feistiness, intelligence, and eloquence. Your gorgeous voice, which is the first thing I knew about you. When I was 14, and you were on the other side of the door and I thought it was the most beautiful voice I ever heard.
Posted by: Judy, Randi, and Aunt Marty Spiegel at May 27, 2005 05:29 PM
I saw your spirit in some of the most challenging times, as your yoga teacher, cook and friend. We had dinner just before you left for Washington and i'm so glad I had that chance. i will always admire you and miss you. love, Sheri DiPelesi
Posted by: Sheri DiPelesi at May 27, 2005 07:00 PM
It is amazing to see and connect with the women and men who have come together to remember, reminisce and honor Andrea. I hope that we can carry thoughts of her as we continue our human path of creating, learning and connecting with each other.
Posted by: MayPing Szeto at May 27, 2005 07:14 PM
Andrea Dworkin wrote the truth about male power and its brutalizing effects on women. In many respects, she paid for writing that truth. The media, the pornography industry, even those calling themselves feminists, brutally attacked her for asserting the simple notion that women are fully human and should not suffer sexual violations at the hands of men. She wrote unflinchingly, poignantly, angrily and directly about unjust practices that are too often reconceptualized as sexually pleasurable and liberatory. Her courage, intelligence, commitment, integrity, and profound love of women is humbling and inspiring. While her absence is so keenly felt, her legacy lives every time a young woman picks up her writing and is transformed by the prose.
Posted by: Lynn Eckert at May 28, 2005 12:34 AM
I attended Andrea's memorial on Wed. and was moved by the caring and outpouring of love in that room. I remember when I first met Andrea at the Women's House of Detention demonstration; I remember Andrea as a guest on the Lesbian Radio Show (several times) speaking of her beliefs about pornography; I remember Andrea the last time I saw her at The Women's CoffeeHouse talking about her being drugged and raped at the hands of unscrupulous monsters; I remember her friendship towards me and her quick response when I needed her; but most of all I remember the "woman" that she is (was) and cannot believe she has been silenced; but, no, she hasn't been totally silenced because her writings and memories her friends have of her make her a alive. I miss her so much - I can't call her to talk anymore. I also remember how her words made me
understand that my own philosophy about male dominance was so real and correct and I thank her for that...I miss you Andrea but I know you are around somewhere smiling at us and thanking all of us for believing in her and being her friends.
May 28, 2005
Posted by: Rose Jordan at May 28, 2005 01:05 AM
I was very fortunate to hear Andrea Dworkin speak at a special meeting held in London in 2004. Ms. Dworkin was making a personal visit to London and she very kindly accepted an invitation to speak at this meeting. I remember even though she was obviously ill, still her passion and commitment shone through.
I am Chair of Object a voluntary organisation which opposes the sexual objectifcation of women in the media and although I do not agree with everything Ms. Dworkin wrote or said, more importantly she courageously took on the porn industry and powerful institutions whose sole aim is to profit by the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of women's bodies and labour.
Ms. Dworkin dared the impossible, she challenged the embedded belief men as a group have the right and entitlement to view and treat women as sexual slaves, whose sole purpose is to provide sexual gratification for men. For that reason alone, Ms. Dworkin was subjected to immense vitriolic attack and her words were distorted and used against her.
But Andrea Dworkin's work will live on after her death, she will not be silenced. Her influence was worldwide and is evidenced in these memorial postings. The fight for women's human rights is not over, it is just the beginning of the end of sexual slavery for women and girls.
Andrea Dworkin was not perfect, she was an individual human being like all women but that is something conveniently forgotten when misogynists attack her work. Andrea Dworkin your inspiration will live on and despite overwhelming pressure, somewhere a woman will still stand up and refuse to accept being depicted as a sexual slave and an inferior being.
Posted by: Jennifer Drew at May 30, 2005 05:27 AM
Ms. Dworkin made the world a better place for men and women. She will continue to live through her work which will be read and studied my many for generations.
Posted by: Harland Stanley at June 2, 2005 08:10 PM
In Loving Memory of the life, dedication, sacrifice, wisdom, courage, struggles and suffering of radical feminist, scholar, writer/author, researcher, literary genius, orator, activist, humanitarian Andrea Dworkin
Andrea, to me (and to the radical feminist grassroots movement) you will forever remain:
The torn, turbulent and timeless ocean (magnitude, passion, waves);
A concrete cornerstone, keystone…bedrock (groundwork/foundation, comprehensive concrete concepts rooted in the experiences of women & girls and uncovered through consciousness raising);
The fire of my being and the collective grassroots radical feminist movement;
The spark which continues to animate ongoing consciousness raising…
The radical feminist movement and the world owe much to you.
Posted by: Rebecca Diegelman at June 4, 2005 04:48 PM
I first heard you at the Women's Conference in Brighton UK. I will never forget it. The world is a different place without you. You made a difference.
Posted by: Pat McAllister at June 7, 2005 04:06 PM
As many who've posted here before me have written, I thought, "It can't be true, or everyone would be talking about it"
Thank you all for being here at this site so that I don't have to be isolated with my thoughts and feelings.
I feel a little overwhelmed re-reading her words, her life -- how terrible so many of us must spend our creative energy fighting this fight. I wish it were over & we were free to create more love, art, beauty, joy...But it is not, so: no we will not rest--not in peace or otherwise.
My memorial is that I will Continue...though every day I struggle with the enculturated thoughts that I am not good enough, nor smart enough, nor strong enough to change the world, still, I will Continue, inspired by Andrea, and I will NOT apologize.
Posted by: Mitru at June 11, 2005 11:34 AM
Just found out be sheer accident, surfing the net. Dworkin is dead, two bloody months and I had no idea. Hell. Another rebel goes, one of the makers of my faith. Great woman, great writer, great soul. One of my few idols, one of my makers. Im just 28 but i feel very old right now. Feels strange, I kind of thought she would live to be at least ninety. Maybe its just sad state of world today that got to her. To dream so much and come so close and then see all you fought for crumble away. And for what? To make bigger profits. So anyways, here it goes, for true revolutionary, for brave spirit, for mad and bad and sad lady you were, for being strong and fragile and beautiful, thank you, for so very much. I met you in pages of woman hating ten years ago, and you were so right then. Of all things that came after im not so sure about. Still, I am always in your debt. Be at peace, dear comrade, you will be remembered.
Posted by: mikko at June 14, 2005 07:27 AM
In 1984, when I took up the good fight to stop the harm of women used in prostitution, I set sail without a map or compass. I stumbled across the work of world renowned feminist Andrea Dworkin’s book Pornography Men Possessing Women. In her writing, I found the tools I needed to help me frame a radical feminist understanding of how systems of prostitution are maintained, protected and perpetuated. For more than a decade, Andrea’s novels and speeches hugely influenced and supported my work in helping thousands of women escape prostitution at the Council for Prostitution Alternatives, CPA, in Portland, Oregon. Andrea came to CPA in 1991 bringing the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) to film a documentary on the harms done to women used in the sex industry. Survivors of prostitution gave her their testimonies. Having Andrea’s presence as a witness to hear the horrific and extreme abuse the survivors of prostitution had endured was deeply, deeply affirming. We believed that if we could expose the harms then prostitution and sexual exploitation of women and girls might stop.
Andrea’s work and presence in our lives gave us courage to continue. Her kindness to me and hundreds of women used in prostitution, helped us heal. Much of the rest of the world treated survivors with apathy or indifference. Andrea took the moral high ground. She believed survivors and let them tell their stories of abuse, exposing the twisted and despairing ways in which they had been sexually exploited. Andrea responded with anguish to their cries. In so doing, she gave back dignity and freedom to be whole in the world.
Andrea’s presence in our lives was her greatest gift. She brought us hope that the abuses would end in our lifetimes and not be repeated on the next generation of women and girls. In return, we honor her timelessly and passionately. We deeply cherish her memory and the gift of her life to us. We salute her for taking up the righteous fight to break the silence that ensconces prostitution. We love her with all of our hearts and souls. And we believe that the greatest tribute to her work is to continue to tear down the ancient misogyny of ignorance, hate and greed that causes prostitution. The most fitting tribute to Andrea is to carry on the struggle to end domestic and sexual violence. Tear down the walls that keep us from this promised land. As was said on the death of the labor organizer Mother Jones, so we must say it now. Don’t Mourn! Organize!
Susan Kay Hunter
Founder and Director of Council for Prostitution Alternatives (CPA)
Posted by: Susan Kay Hunter at June 17, 2005 03:49 PM
"For men, control of women's bodies is the one comfort in a world rigged to blow up but they don't know when." -from "Pornography: Men Hating Women".
I grew up in a household in which my stepfather was a pornography distributor in Detroit. My biological father, meanwhile, strongly encouraged the presence of pornography to satisfy the requisites of "manhood". I was indeed most fortunate to have a family composed of strong women to dispell these inhumane and cruel fallacies of "being a man".
Whew, was I fortunate, indeed! Well, truth told there was a helluva lot of stuggle about this in my formative years. Later on, continuing to feel so "different" from the self-hating droves of consumerism, I picked up my first book by Andrea, which was "Pornography".
Suddenly, my apprehensions and outright, soul-deep disgust was turned from self-loathing to intellectual and, frankly, spiritual liberation. Andrea did this.
How petty and wholly unneccesary was a lifetime of self-hatred and confusion. Andrea made all of this clear to me. Through her other books, and augmented by the works of her partner John Stoltenberg, I came to a profound sense of self-realization and my deepest connection to all of humanity; that, to paraphrase Emerson, "We are symbols, and inhabit symbols."
Surrounded and besieged by droves of millions that require self-hatred as the foundation of interpersonal relations, the clarion-call for action in every moment of existence rings true and brilliant. Andrea, thank you. My everlasting respect and human love for you. When the road was at its most dark and twisted, you showed me the way out, that is to be human. Respect and love everlasting, sister...
Posted by: Branden O'Grady at June 23, 2005 11:54 PM
I am busy doing an assignment. and I chose to do it on prostitution. As I was doing my research, the name Andrea kept appearing. I am sad and embarassed to say that I had not heard the name before, but I will continue. I wanted to know more about this woman whose name kept appearing. The writings went on and on and I read on and on. And then, I realized that she had died. I cried and cried and I am still crying for someone who has touched my life so greatly in the last few hours and of whom I had no knowledge of when I awoke this morning. I feel so blessed to have found her and such a great loss to have lost her in a matter of hours.
Posted by: Lynette Tobin at June 24, 2005 10:48 AM
Speech given at Andrea’s Memorial Service in NYC, May 25, 2005
My Cousin Andrea
I have known Andrea longer than most of the people in this room. I knew Andrea before she was famous. As a matter of fact, I have known her for all of 54 years. There was a reason for the longevity of our relationship: we were cousins. Aside from our familial heritage, we also had an enduring friendship.
Growing up in Camden, N.J., our families lived two blocks apart. I feel that it was her father Harry who was responsible for her and her brother Mark’s brilliant intellect. And I am also sure that it was her mother Silvia that helped instill Andrea’s fighting spirit. (Although Andrea would probably disagree with me on that.)
Sometimes she knew the odds were not in her favor, but it didn’t stop her from advocating for the underdog. She cared deeply about people, especially those who suffered.
When other kids were out playing in the yard, my cousin Andrea was reading Malcolm X or D.H. Lawrence. Often times I would see her carrying books with titles and authors that were totally unfamiliar to me. That’s because Andrea had a curiosity and inquisitiveness that belied her years. She was interested in the events of the Holocaust when no one else was. She asked my parents tirelessly about their concentration camp experiences, and often times wrote about my mother Leah in her books.
When I was 19-years-old, our relationship changed. I knew that because she no longer allowed me to call her Andy as I always had. When I visited her in Amsterdam, she looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Shirley, stop calling me Andy – I am Andrea.’ It was at that moment I knew in my heart that my older cousin from Camden, New Jersey was going to lead a very special life. I think it was the defiant tone in her voice that gave me a hint that Andrea was destined for great things.
You see, my cousin always danced to her own beat. While my sister Barb and I were examining Mark’s incredible bottle cap collection or playing marbles with him, Andrea would be reading in her room or playing the piano. To some Andrea was outrageous, but to me she was just my cousin with a kind heart and warmth, who I could talk to about anything. Andrea was not only loving and loyal, she was also funny.
Had we not have been cousins, I am sure that our paths would never have crossed. So I feel very lucky that they did. Andrea, I love you. I miss you. You’ll always be in my heart.
Posted by: Shirley Press (Andrea's Cousin) at July 4, 2005 03:42 PM
As a young student just coming into my own, I have started to read Andrea Dworkin's work and to realize how much she has done to advance the cause of women by shedding light on women's suffering through prostitution, sex trafficking and other means.
Few others have done as much and this is an important work that needs to be continued.
It is sad that just as I am discovering her writings she has passed away, but her work will be with the world forever.
Posted by: Miriam Y at July 6, 2005 12:02 AM
After reading Andrea Dworkin's obituary, I thought about college and "fringe" social writers I was introduced to during those years. Occasionally, I hear their names. Unfortunately, they are usually still treated like some wacko, you are supposed to treat like a joke instead of really listening to what they have to say. Presenting an alternate point of view from the mainstream or speaking for segments of society that are usually ignored DOES NOT mean that you hate men. I never got that reasoning.
On the Feral Scholar blog of Stan Goff, I found a copy of Catharine MacKinnon's New York Times article, Who Was Afraid of Andrea Dworkin? She gives a fond farewell to her friend and does a nice job summarizing the conflicted relationship Ms. Dworkin had with the media. I’ve long admired both Andrea Dworkin’s and Catherine MacKinnon’s writing. After being introduced to them in college, I learned what happens to people who don’t toe the line. I learned not to believe everything told to you, just because it comes from a “reputable” source. I guess that's why I'm such a fan of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. They get such a kick out of poking the sacred cows and saying stuff you aren't supposed to say.
Posted by: Devans at July 6, 2005 05:51 PM
sounds too genteel
i prefer its stronger
my Heroine my
died this week
her name was Andrea
she was a Lioness
having clawed her way
through 58 years
none were given to her
she had to take them all
coerced raped used
and lied about
she told the truth anyway
in every way she could
they killed this messenger
but her words shine on
in thirty years' of sacred
on the bodies
of women everywhere
for Andrea Dworkin
Posted by: trina porte at July 9, 2005 01:13 AM
I just want to apologize to Andrea. I believed the lies about her and even perpetuated them until I better educated myself. I had never even read one of her books all the way through, I wonder how many of her other critics are as full of shit as I was. I know now I fell right in to the trap I was supposed to. It won't happen again, thanks Andrea.
Posted by: Lucy at July 9, 2005 08:58 PM
I am devastated I only discovered Andrea Dworkin posthumously, stumbling across a magnificent essay online by someone I had never heard of, before being lent Heartbreak by a friend. I will now make it my duty to read as many of her books as it is possible for me to do.
Andrea Dworkin was clearly a formidably brave and determined individual, possessing a courage I can only marvel at and a deeply moving and 'thundering' voice. I can sense a great loss in her passing on despite the short length of time I have been acquainted with her work. I have no doubt she will be deeply missed by those who knew her and those who didn't, and I imagine it would have been a privelage to cross paths with such a woman. I only hope her voice is not lost in time.
Posted by: Sarah at July 13, 2005 02:14 AM
Andrea was someone to whom our humanity as women was actually real and actually mattered. She called a spade and spade and made no apologies about it. Her tireless work on behalf of abuse victims changed lives and changed the world.
Andrea, thank you so much for caring and fighting for us.
Andrea was also one of the best damn writers of our time. Not only in her activist work, but as a novelist, she was bold, eloquent, engaging, and cut throught all the bullshit and moved you with her incredible gift as a writer. ("Mercy" is the only book I've read in my entire life that actually LITERALLY took my breath away! I would hyperventilate while reading it.)
Andrea, may Goddess bless you and show you the freedom and happiness you sought in this world, for yourself and for all women.
Bless you and continue to inspire us to stand up against inequality and violence.
Posted by: Penny G at July 15, 2005 05:57 AM
Only today, more than three months after her passing, I learned that Andrea Dworkin had died.
Andrea who calmly set forth her brilliant views in person and in print, and yet was perceived as shouting abrasively, because she dared to tell the truth to those both urgently in need of it and invested in its opposite, in patriarchy's lies.
Andrea who desperately drew strength from supporters in her audiences even before listeners on the right and left, alike, began to disparage her via lies of their creation, and who offered far more than she had to every woman, willing taker or not.
Andrea who gave of herself, soul and heart and decency, risking too much and overextending constantly, so that women like me could stand strong, when she could only work from a core of something less than comfort within her physical skin.
Andrea who never fully understood her own beauty still radiates with full-moon face and artist's hands and a wild child's boundless mane in the photograph above my desk, placed to the left, so that all who enter my most sacred public space can know that I adored this woman completely.
I am devastated, but I am not entirely surprised. I think I always suspected that Andrea's heart might be broken by the battering she received so publicly. My fondest hope is that she and Audre Lorde are together now, and conspiring to counsel the incredible young women who will take their places.
Posted by: diana at July 24, 2005 07:18 PM
Thank you, Andrea. There is nothing more I can say.
Posted by: Jennifer at August 2, 2005 07:06 PM
I first came across Andrea Dworkin when I was in Germany to study. I'm not sure if it was in the German feminist magazine Emma (an old issue from 87 I bought in a second hand bookstore which included 'Letter from a war zone') or if I have first read Andrea's writings here, in the Online library "webcrafted" by Nikki (it was 1995, I just was discovering the internet).
When i've read Pornography: Men Possessing Women and Linda Marciano's autobiography Ordeal, I was moved. Linda's life was the evidence that porn is violence. When I have read 'Letter from a War Zone', I have thought it would be so great to have it translated in French, that's what we need in France since we have not a radfem feminism.
In fact, I was already a feminist before coming in Germany, but I never have heard about Andrea in my own country. Although her work is certainly central to the international women's movement, it never has been translated in French (MacKinnon has just been translated this year). It's a shame!
In France, feminist academics obviously are more likely to promote liberal feminism than radical feminism: the national association of feminist studies have translated (minor) liberal feminist writings defending prostitution instead of Andrea's work, although her work is seen as central to feminist theory.
Although her message was broader, Andrea Dworkin has put words to the rage women feel about women being used in pornography. Pornography is a dangerous industry that exploits men and women, first those used in the industry, because they are not merely "pictures" or "free speach" but are real.
Andrea Dworkin's death is a great loss to the international women's movement and to everyone in the world who is working against men's sexual violence against women including prostitution and pornography. We will keep fighting.
Posted by: Stephanie Cordellier at August 16, 2005 01:45 AM
Thank you Andrea. Your words gave me strength and courage in the darkest times of my life, so that I was able to survive and eventually find a way to live without fear. I will never forget you and all that you did for every single one of us.
I have now passed on your writings to my daughter. She, and others of her age, WILL know your words, ideas, and love, and bravely carry them through to the next generation and beyond.
You are my hero Andrea. Thank you for existing.
Posted by: Denise at August 18, 2005 12:23 PM
This is going to be hard to believe, but I just found out today, (8/26/05) that Andrea Dworkin had died. Words can't express my shock and sadness. Andrea Dworkin means so much to me. I've read her books, and I've learned so many things from her. She was a REAL FEMINIST in a world full of FAKE feminist. She would never sugar coat the truth. She called a mother fucker a mother fucker!! We need more feminist like her. We need more women to stand up and put an end to men's shit! We need to stop sleeping with the enemy and take back our bodies and lives. Andrea, you will be missed. I thank you for all of your words of TRUTH. I'll be a strong feminist forever, and I'll love you until MY dying day.
Posted by: Edee D. at August 26, 2005 08:42 PM
Andrea, sister, you had the courage to keep on using your voice to call for justice for women despite - indeed perhaps because of - the continual misogynistic crap that was thrown. Your loss is an acute one; thank the Goddess your voice will live on.
Posted by: Louise McOrmond-Plummer at August 31, 2005 04:49 AM
you are so often on my mind, and thank you, always in my soul- we'd be no where without you-
thank you for being truly doesn't express what's in my heart
Posted by: jodi glass at September 3, 2005 07:55 AM
Thank you for your courage, strength and wisdom.
Saddened by an immeasurable loss of a unique voice for the suffering.
Posted by: Lisa Walsh at September 3, 2005 10:12 AM
Andrea was the kind of person everyone should aspire to be. One with integrity and true humanity.
To the mother I never had, the mentor I so desperately needed, the lone line of truth in the world's endless essay of lies: you are heard, you are loved, you have saved many from themselves and others. Including me. I shudder to think of what waste my life would've been without discovering your work.
I will make damn sure the child growing in my belly will know and appreciate the tremendous gift of your writing and your life. I will send copies of your essays to my friends. I will share your philosophy with all who will hear and all who will not.
How I wish I could've known you. What I wouldn't give to have heard you speak. To give you a hug and shed tears of happiness at having done so. How sad and ashamed I am at having come to your revolution only after hearing of your passing.
The definition of compassion and beauty should be two words, one name. Andrea Dworkin.
Sleep now, sweet one. Strong one. Brave one. Rest easy in the knowledge that many will endeavor to finish the absolute labor of love you began.
All my love and wishes to you and your family. John, my thoughts are with you. Thank you so much for being open to the rare glory and splendor that was your wife.
Posted by: Claire Lee at September 4, 2005 02:33 AM
Many comments here speak of how angry Andrea was for women and how much you needed that. I am not a woman and I needed it!! I needed it deeply. For I have been angry over the way women are treated all of my life and she gave me a voice.
Andrea did more than be angry: she gave speech to women. Writing and speaking what she did and as she did, many women came to her with ther stories. These women were afraid to speak before they discovered her. She talked and wrote of how terrifying it is to speak when being battered. She wrote of how difficult and life threatening is speech for women. And it pulled people out and they Spoke. In the hearings with Catharine A. MacKinnon, many many women Spoke. (the hearings about making porn be a civil rights violation)
In "Intercourse", Andrea Dworkin, gave us all an insight into what supremacist violent sex is all about. She gave us a vocabulary that was perhaps deep inside us all but like a great song, it had to be verbalized in just the way Andrea Spoke. In "Heartbreak" Andrea spoke of how many women came to her and how she carried the weight of each and every woman's pain with her.
I am a man, but Andrea Dworkin, along with many many Feminists, gave me the right to Speech. My government did not give it to me and my society did not give it to me. Feminism and Andrea Dworkin did.
Posted by: Tom Vitale at September 8, 2005 11:25 PM
If Andrea were alive now, had I not discovered her writing posthumously, I would have travelled the sea to shake her hand and look her in the eye. I have no doubt it would have changed my life. I am a cynical person. It shocks me profoundly to have felt this way about a public figure, or indeed about anyone. I will miss her deeply although I never met her. I look forward to reading through these comments in hard times and taking solace in the fact that there is some glimmer of life out there somewhere.
Posted by: Sarah at October 25, 2005 05:54 PM
Andrea's rage fuels me.
I first read her work when I was doing my undergrad studies and beginning to define myself as a feminist. I remember having to write a paper about her 'Pornography:' book--I was overwhelmed: where should one begin with such a task? The world looked completely different to me after reading that book; and I was angry and devastated and just completely outraged. Reading that book changed my life. It made me a better person.
Now I see my role as a college professor; I have recently had this epiphany, and I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to realize this: I’m going to include Andrea’s work as part of the course readings. (Why has it taken me so long to figure this out?) I want the younger generation to be angry, too, because it’s not getting any better—although they would argue that it is.
I want to put Andrea’s words ‘in their face’—make them deal with it, just like I had to deal with it. And it will make them uncomfortable and it will mess with their ‘Truth’. It will make them better people. We need them on our side.
Maybe I can show appreciation to Andrea by repeating what she said, by talking about what she wrote. Thank goodness for Academic Freedom—although…Andrea would do it anyway, with or without that protection. I think I will, too.
Thank you, Andrea.
Posted by: Kathleen French at November 25, 2005 05:37 PM
I'm a 20 years old girl living in a Latin, male chauvinist country. This comment may be a bit egocentric -I want to apologize for that- but I feel that Andrea is the God I never could be able to find before. If there is a heaven, and the souls of people watch us and look after us, I hope she is there looking after my life. If it's true that the ghosts of dead people are around us, I hope her ghost can be very close to me every night when I go to sleep with all the weight of my sadness produced by the patriarchy and its unpunished damage.
Women also have the right to hate, not to hate men just for being men, but the right to identify the oppression and to hate those who mistreat us.
Good-bye Andrea. Hello Andrea, and welcome, you’re in my heart now. Forever.
Posted by: Victoria at November 30, 2005 12:34 PM
You may not remember me, but I met you once when I still had dreams.
You came to speak at my college, but I was too scared to introduce
you. I knew that I would cry, and this would make me look weak and
my weakness may have diminished you. I stood back and listened, and
wept. I cried for the truth, and how most of us never speak it. I
cried for you, and Linda, and me. I cried because you were so lovely,
standing their in your truth. An angel. A strong angel. Not scared
to speak the truth.
Over the years I tried to write you, but I never sent the letters. I
wanted to understand why the women's movement died at the hands of
women. I wanted to tell you what happened at my college, with my
group of friends, what our "leader" did, but I never got the courage.
I wanted answers, but I thought that I would bother you, and look
For ten years I have hidden away, trying to forget. But the curse of
the truth is that once it finds you it is you. How I wish that I had
sent you even one letter, because I always wanted to tell you that I
loved you. I loved you because you were so strong and so brave and
you spoke the truth.
I hope that after life we get to go to a place where our dreams come
true. I hope that your dreams have come true, my angel. I am sorry
that this letter is ten years coming, but I hope it gets to you.
In sisterhood forever,
jennifer lyn beegle
Posted by: jennifer lyn beegle at November 30, 2005 10:50 PM
"I'm a radical feminist, not the fun kind."
Andrea was like this great anchor that steadied all boats. She took on as her own the deepest sufferings and humiliations of our collective female social education. She lived it everday. She was crucified for that commitment. I heard once that she never slept, I don't know if that's true, but if it is, I hope she's getting some rest now. Who will be our Andrea? Who will challenge the woman-haters of the culture AND THE MOVEMENT, and anchor us all again? She will be missed. lori kolavic.
Posted by: lori kolavic at December 5, 2005 06:29 PM
I'm nine months late and goddess knows how many pennies short (I never seem to have enough money as it is).
I have just read tributes to andrea's work on this site, and the tears won't stop coming. This wouldn't be so surprising, except that I haven't read anything by her, not any full-length books, not yet. I'm a huge Mackinnon fan, and I feel so badly for those who must deal with the real loss of the goddess andrea. People say the most horrible things about andrea. why are people so spiteful and ill-hearted to someone as talented and passonate as andrea? it never ceases to baffle me.
Posted by: Laurel M. Long at January 4, 2006 12:03 PM
Hi. My name is Beth. I first heard of Andrea Dworkin when I was 11, having read an interview/debate between her and Erica Jong. At that young an age, I was already aware, in some way, that she was right, more right, far more right, than Erica Jong's posture that violence against girls and women wasn't systemic and concrete and pivotally dimensional, pervasive, and permeating our whole society, that it was intrinsic to the weave of every personal relationship. She only said something I knew that my upper middle class white mother tried to nay-say, claiming "she's been abused by men." I hadn't been, yet I knew. Andrea, you lived under and next to a dark cloud of projection, of lies, myths, ignorance and I only hope that some light, enough light shone on your face, that you knew enough of us knew your beauty, your uncommon and unbending, your beautiful truth. Your face. I saw your face, Andrea, and I knew you saw mine, enough to live, enough to dispel the darkness and celebrate life, enough to outshine the smog and bog which polluted your atmosphere, our air and lives, all of us who saw something of the whole, something of your brilliant poet, your soldierly spirit. That's all I have to say, that when I heard you died, I cried mourning and wondering whether you knew enough of us had seen your face. I never knew you, or your life or friends personally, although I have read and heard, and that's all I can say, that I did see. My life that you saw me, my face. Andrea Dworkin Andrea Dworkin Andrea Dworkin
Posted by: Beth Post at April 1, 2006 07:24 PM
I keep her picture on the wall anear my bed. Her image is the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning. Andrea is my saint. I think she was for the condemned, anathematized, suffering and aggrieved women what used to be Mother Theresa for the outcasts in India. She was a great humanist and a great writer.
Posted by: Ilinca at April 4, 2006 12:22 PM
I was shocked when I read of Andrea's passing. We lost her far, far to soon.
I first discovered Andrea's writing in high school. I read "Letters From A War Zone" on a road trip and damn near cried. That day I vowed to never give up my dreams of writing. The way she wrote about literature and the writing life just astounded me. You could palpably feel her passion for the written word.
Andrea's book "Mercy" gave validation to experiences I had spent my life running from and denying. Her writing has played a major part in my healing process.
Thank you, Andrea. Your writing, anger, and passion have saved me so many times over.
Posted by: C.S. at April 11, 2006 12:56 PM
i am a man who was brought up in a pretty sexist enviroment (who wasnt) and im havng quite a hard time to deconstruct this, but visiting this site and readin a lot of andreas work has eally inspired me to keep trying.
Posted by: tom at April 16, 2006 08:06 PM
I am writing because it is just over a year that Andrea Dworkin died. It is still such a great loss.
I find her voice and spirit has for many years has given me strength when I thought I was destroyed. I had lived through many years of abuse. I was abused by my stepdad, and also was involved in sadistic prostitution. Through these experiences, I felt that I became a nothing and had lost my voice.
When I read some of Andrea Dworkin's writings, I gradually regained a voice. It was a voice that contains anger and slowly was able to lose my sense of guilt. Finally, I found I was able to grieve.
I never can thank Andrea Dworkin's spirit enough for helping to regain myself again. Thank so much for continuing her work, yours with respect, Rebecca.
Posted by: Rebecca Mott at April 17, 2006 05:42 AM
If I had been told a year ago I would be writing this I would have said "Andrea who?". A measure of the blackout of this great writer and thinker in the general culture.
Though I don't always agree with Andrea, I can't recall anyone else I have ever read that has changed my mind or challenged me so much. You don't lightly take exception to one of her arguments.
Andrea Dworkin remains one of the greatest writers this country, this last century, this age has produced. A master stylist, her thoughtsburn right through the page. Her clarity, precision. logic, rhetoric, passion and compassion were of the highest order.
Andrea Dworkin was a thinker of the highest order. Her original and valid insights into basic issues were exceptional.
It would be nice to see the Andrea Dworkin volume in Great Books of the Western World. It would be far better if a tenth of her passion could one person in a thousand. That would make a difference.
Posted by: Andrew Albers at April 25, 2006 06:08 PM