[Paleopsych] NYT: Andrea Dworkin, Writer and Crusading Feminist, Dies

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Andrea Dworkin, Writer and Crusading Feminist, Dies
April 12, 2005


    Andrea Dworkin, the feminist writer and antipornography campaigner
    whose work was a lightning rod for the debate on pornography and
    censorship that raged through the United States in the 1980's, died on
    Saturday at her home in Washington. She was 58.

    Ms. Dworkin died in her sleep, said her husband, John Stoltenberg. The
    cause of death had not been determined last night, but Mr. Stoltenberg
    said that Ms. Dworkin had suffered from several chronic illnesses in
    recent years.

    With her unruly dark curls and denim overalls, Ms. Dworkin was for
    decades a visible presence on the lecture circuit, at antipornography
    rallies and "take back the night" marches. In speeches and in her many
    books, she returned vocally, passionately and seldom without
    controversy to the subjects of sex, sexuality and violence against
    women, themes that to her were inextricably and painfully linked.

    Among her best-known books are "Pornography: Men Possessing Women"
    (Putnam/Perigee, 1981), "Intercourse" (Free Press, 1987) and
    "Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant" (Basic
    Books, 2002).

    Reviewing "Heartbreak" in The New York Times Book Review, Laura Miller
    wrote: "Dworkin is one of the few remaining specimens of pure
    countercultural Romanticism: fierce, melodramatic and utterly
    convinced that all truth can be found in her own roiling, untempered

    With her first book, "Woman Hating" (Dutton, 1974), Ms. Dworkin drew
    the lines in what she saw as a pitched battle against men's historical
    domination of women. She opposed all forms of pornography, which she
    believed incited violence against women. She was also critical of
    consensual sex between women and men, which she saw as an act of
    everyday subjugation in which women were accomplices.

    "One of the differences between marriage and prostitution is that in
    marriage you only have to make a deal with one man," Ms. Dworkin wrote
    in "Letters From a War Zone" (Dutton, 1989). Marriage, she added, "is
    a legal license to rape."

    Andrea Rita Dworkin was born on Sept. 26, 1946, in Camden, N.J., and
    earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Bennington College in
    1968. She later moved to Europe, where she married a Dutch political
    radical. The marriage was abusive, Ms. Dworkin said later, and she was
    divorced after three years.

    "I was a battered wife," she told The New York Times in 1985, "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."

    To Ms. Dworkin, it did not matter that some critics condemned her
    sweeping antipornography stance as a form of censorship. With the
    feminist lawyer Catharine A. MacKinnon, she wrote a municipal
    ordinance, briefly adopted by several cities in the 1980's, that
    defined pornography as a form of sex discrimination. (In 1986, the
    United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court's ruling
    overturning the ordinance in Indianapolis.)

    If Ms. Dworkin's work was unabashedly polemical, her life was full of
    nuanced contradictions. She publicly identified herself as a lesbian,
    speaking movingly about "this love of women" as "the soil in which my
    life is rooted," and her work was a touchstone for many gay men and
    women. But in 1998, she married Mr. Stoltenberg, her companion of many
    years. A writer, editor and a founder of Men Against Pornography who
    also identifies himself as gay, Mr. Stoltenberg is her only immediate

    Ms. Dworkin's other books include "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel and
    Women's Liberation" (Free Press, 2000), "Right-Wing Women" (Coward,
    McCann & Geoghegan, 1983) and, with Ms. MacKinnon, "Pornography and
    Civil Rights: A New Day for Women's Equality" (Organizing Against
    Pornography, 1988). Ms. Dworkin also wrote two novels, "Mercy" (Four
    Walls Eight Windows, 1991), about serial rape, and "Ice and Fire"
    (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), about prostitution.

    Though some critics dismissed her work as unreasoned diatribe, Ms.
    Dworkin remained an outspoken champion of the causes in which she

    "I am not afraid of confrontation or risk," she wrote in "Letters From
    a War Zone," "also not of arrogance or error."

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