blunt essays with sharp points

Andrea Dworkin

by Scrvpvlvs
Mar 30, 2002 2:21 PM–I saw Andrea Dworkin speak today—a CSPAN2 broadcast of a recent talk and Q&A session. During the Q&A, she made several statements that together I considered very interesting and provocative. Though she believes the legal system is imperfect and needs reform to better prosecute crimes against women, she is still in favor of using the existing legal system to the extent that it works. But she thinks individual violence is an even better way to punish men. She said she had a very deep esteem for violence. She meant, in part, being empowered to fight back when physically attacked. But she also meant extrajudicial retaliation: she gave an example of a mother of an abused child who, feeling the pedophile had not been adequately punished, shot and killed the perpetrator. She admired what this woman did.

I’ve heard Andrea Dworkin’s name thrown around for years but have not read her books or heard her speak before. And I have a new respect for her as a true radical.

I have begun to believe that Dworkin is a creative force and a point of view which may appeal to many people and make the struggle against domination of women more difficult, painful, and divisive.

Retaliatory violence will only escalate and perpetuate violence. I look at the violent conflicts between ethnic groups throughout the world which exist, not because of the original disagreement, but because of the long history of retaliation and counter-retaliation which creates a perpetual state of war between them.

My impression from Dworkin’s talk is that she is able to see and clearly articulate the problems women face—to look at American culture from the outside and criticize it, and to deplore maltreatment of women that Americans overlook or marginalize. This, and her rhetoric of counterviolence, are emotionally compelling, and continue to influence generations of women in a way which I think is ultimately tragic. This is why I now think she is worth paying attention to. Too many men hurt and kill women. Too many women are going to think the solution is to do the same to men.

What America needs is to grow up emotionally. The immaturity which is evident in this culture, passed on to children from their childish parents, embraces prejudice (ethnic hatred), and violence as a solution. Whereas what we need is to mature to the point where we can respect people who are different, and embrace tolerance, humility, and love as a solution.

Besides comments on the opinions I’ve just expressed, I’m also interested in any suggestions, from people who have read Dworkin, on the best book to buy to further explore and more deeply understand her position on the value of extrajudicial violence.

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