With click-on highlights from
The Andrea Dworkin Online Library

Andrea Dworkin is antisex.

FALSE. Her early fiction is especially rich with narration about both lesbian and heterosexual lovemaking--for example, "a simple story of a lesbian girlhood" and "First Love."

Andrea Dworkin believes "Coitus is punishment."

FALSE. This line is said by a fictional character in her novel Ice and Fire. The character is paraphrasing Franz Kafka.

Andrea Dworkin is antilesbian and lives with a man.

A HALF-TRUTH. She has lived since 1974 with the writer John Stoltenberg, whose essay about living with Andrea appeared in Lambda Book Report in 1994. They have both been out for more than two decades. In a 1975 speech to a Lesbian Pride Week rally, Andrea called her love of women "the soil in which my life is rooted."

Andrea Dworkin believes that battered women have the right to kill their batterer.

TRUE. She said so in a 1991 speech to a conference about women and mental health, and she said so again, right after O.J. Simpson was acquitted on criminal charges, in an opinion piece about Nicole Brown Simpson for the Los Angeles Times.

Andrea Dworkin believes women are superior to men.

FALSE. She not only rejects this view but has publicly confronted other feminists who believe it, as she explains in "Biological Superiority: The World's Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea."

Andrea Dworkin believes that all intercourse is rape.

FALSE. She has never said this. She sets the record straight in a 1995 interview with British novelist Michael Moorcock. And in a new preface to the tenth-anniversary edition of Intercourse (1997), Andrea explains why she believes this book continues to be misread:

[I]f one's sexual experience has always and without exception been based on dominance--not only overt acts but also metaphysical and ontological assumptions--how can one read this book? The end of male dominance would mean--in the understanding of such a man--the end of sex. If one has eroticized a differential in power that allows for force as a natural and inevitable part of intercourse, how could one understand that this book does not say that all men are rapists or that all intercourse is rape? Equality in the realm of sex is an antisexual idea if sex requires domination in order to register as sensation. As sad as I am to say it, the limits of the old Adam--and the material power he still has, especially in publishing and media--have set limits on the public discourse (by both men and women) about this book [pages ix-x].

Earlier in her life, Andrea Dworkin prostituted.

TRUE. In an autobiographical essay written for the Contemporary Authors reference series, Andrea writes of a time in her life, beginning in her late teens, when "I fucked for food and shelter and whatever cash I needed." She cites a letter she wrote in reply to the author John Irving, published in The New York Times Book Review May 3, 1992, and in that letter she describes a time when, "homeless, poor, . . . sexually traumatized, I learned to trade sex for money. I spent a lot of years out on the street, living hand to mouth." That experience, according to this letter, is part of what informs the commitment behind all her writing: "With pornography, a woman can still be sold after the beatings, the rapes, the pain, the humiliation, have killed her. I write for her, in behalf of her, I try to intervene before she dies. I know her. I have come close to being her." In a speech given in October of the same year, she again publicly identifies with prostituted women: "...the premises of the prostituted woman are my premises."

Andrea Dworkin is antiabortion.

FALSE. She is a longtime supporter of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, politics she learned from her mother, as she tells in the interview with Michael Moorcock. But in her book Right-wing Women, Andrea sharply criticizes the male-dominated political left for promoting "abortion on male terms, as part of sexual liberation," rather than as self-determination for women.

Andrea Dworkin is an "essentialist"--she believes, for instance, that men are biologically driven to dominate.

FALSE. From her very first book, Woman Hating (1974), Andrea has said that gender is a social lie, and she has explicitly rejected the notion that "men" and "women" exist in nature. "It is not true that there are two sexes which are discrete and opposite," she says in a speech given in 1975. And in a chapter published in 1981, she mourns the tragedy of the socialization that male children endure ("How does it happen that the male child whose sense of life is so vivid that he imparts humanity to sun and stone changes into the adult male who cannot grant or even imagine the common humanity of women?").

Andrea Dworkin got an antipornography law passed in Canada.

FALSE. While it is true that in 1993 the Supreme Court of Canada changed Canada's criminal statute against pornography in a decision called Butler, Andrea in fact opposed the feminist lobbying efforts that led to this court decision--as a public statement about Canada makes clear--because she does not believe in obscenity law.

Andrea Dworkin's own books have been censored due to feminist anti-pornography efforts in Canada.

FALSE. As the same public statement explains, several of Andrea's books were once detained for inspection by Canadian Customs officials but under procedural guidelines that were in effect for years before 1993 and have been unaffected by the Butler decision. (The books then passed routinely into Canada.)

In a debate with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, Andrea Dworkin flipped him the finger.

FALSE. That is not her debating style. The photograph of the two them in Alan Dershowitz's autobiography, The Best Defense, actually shows Andrea making a characteristic gesture for emphasis. Unfortunately the full record of what really transpired during their 1981 debate at Radcliffe College has been suppressed--by Mr. Dershowitz himself. He has refused to permit The Schlessinger Library for Women, which sponsored the debate, to distribute the tape recording. But Andrea's opening remarks are now available in the Andrea Dworkin Online Library.

American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen, in her book Defending Pornography, tells the following story:

The late John Preston, a gay activist and writer, illustrated Andrea Dworkin's long-standing antipathy toward any expression of male sexuality, including gay male sexuality, by recounting her actions during the early 1970s when he was director of the Gay House, Inc., in Minneapolis:

Dworkin used to run a lesbian discussion group in the center. One of her favorite antics back then was to deface any poster or other material that promoted male homosexuality. "THIS OPPRESSES WOMEN!" she'd write all over the place....

THE STORY IS FALSE. Preston's original newspaper article (published in the Boston Phoenix) claims Andrea Dworkin was in Minneapolis in 1971. But at that time she actually was living in Amsterdam as a battered wife, as she recounts in an autobiographical essay written for the Contemporary Authors reference series. She later escaped and moved to New York City. She went to Minneapolis for the first time in fall 1983 to teach a semester at the University of Minnesota. While there, she was invited to address a conference of 500 men. That speech was later published as "I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape."

Against many lies spread about her by the American Civil Liberties Union over the years, Andrea has long tried to raise "a real debate about the values and tactics of the ACLU," as she writes in "The ACLU: Bait and Switch."

Andrea Dworkin believes that rape, battery, prostitution, and pornography are violations of women's civil rights.

TRUE. Feminist organizing against rape, battery, prostitution, and pornography is the theme of many writings available in the Andrea Dworkin Online Library. A good place to start is the extensive table of contents for Letters From a War Zone, which includes many speeches she gave to Take Back the Night rallies, including "The Night and Danger," about the relation of violence against women to racism.


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