Saturday, November 6, 2010

Andrea Dworkin and the Phenomenon of Selective Quoting: Another Incident at Yahoo Answers

With click-on highlights from
The Andrea Dworkin Online Library

The image and words above are from here.
I welcome people to go to that site to read the lies 
so often repeated about Andrea Dworkin and her writings.

Here we go again. If it weren't so obnoxious and misogynistic, it'd just be boring: the selective quoting of Andrea Dworkin's work to try and miscast her as a man-hater and to distort the meaning of her literary work--fiction and non-fiction both, using one quote from each! Does anyone read and discuss the content of books any more? Apparently not.

One wonders if the whole world would break open if men and women actually bothered to read and comprehend what Andrea was writing about.

Please click on the title/question just below to link back to Yahoo Answers.

Am i a misogynist?! and women..?

"I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig."
"Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice." -- Andrea Dworkin

andrea dworkin was a renowed feminist..a whole generation of feminist looked up to her as their idol..
I dont agree with that implies i am anti-feminist and a misogynist...(thats what a person in one of the other questions said)

all sane people support equality for everyone..i do..but i dont support andrea dworkin so does that make me a misogynist?

there are other well known social figures like robin morgan,sheila cronin who say they are fems but i dont agree with their man hating views....
am i a misogynist?
  • 1 day ago
  • - 3 days left to answer.

Additional Details

@cassa--you dont represent the entire female population..i dont agree with you.

i agree with a lot of women here on several topics rhonda,dark eyes,jade and several other GS regulars....and i also disagree with a lot of males over virgin...
so dont go defending or offending someone on the basis of their genitals...:)

@professor-Anyone who spreads the idea that "a whole generation of feminist looked up to her as their idol" is a misogynist.

agreed did not respond to the question asked and instead attacked me for a wording of prof says i am a misogynist....your vote has been taken into consideration..:)
1 day ago
HELENA--thats what i wanted to hear..women coming out and condemning feminist rads but sadly no one does that...
not only does this damage equality wanting feminists but it also means that plenty of women agree with her!!

Fortunately, Toto takes this on again. Thank you, Toto, for covering Yahoo Answers with your careful responses and for forwarding to me the link.

Toto's reply:

Is a fictional character who is raped and brutalized not allowed to make a statement such as the one you quote above? Do you understand that quote is a snapshot of a moment, one feeling, one thought, in that *fictional* woman's life and that she has other things to say too that you don't quote here? How fair do you think that is, and how respectful to Andrea Dworkin?

It's a very sad thing to watch how a informational cyberspace that could educate people, such as Yahoo Answers--which I believe was set up to educate and help people--is instead being used to spread propaganda and ignorance.

She gave a speech to anti-sexist men about human dignity for all people but you don't quote from that. Why? Did you know she lived with a man in a loving relationship for thirty years, and respected and adored her father, brother, and nephew who also respected and adored her?

She always loved men in her life and in the world including male writers of fiction and non-fiction, such as James Baldwin. Have you read the "Communion" chapter in Intercourse in which she carefully and thoughtfully discusses his writings--his writings over a lifetime? It is a profoundly thoughtful discussion about what love and hate does to a person. And she is clearly anti-hate.

I think it is misogynistic and unfair of you to mischaracterize some branches of feminism and some feminists as "man-hating," by quoting one line here and there. You do that without noting what the whole of their work most stood for and is most about. One line of fiction and one from non-fiction isn't sufficient to draw any conclusions.

Which books of hers have you read? Can you summarize one chapter of one book? What is she saying about pornography, brutality, rape, love and hate, and truth and ignorance? What is she describing about how racism and sexism work together to harm women and men's humanity? Does her analysis of how sexual power is misused by men against women mean she hates men, or does it mean she finds rape, battery, and sexual exploitation unacceptable?

That you pull that quote from a fictional work is an act you ought to be responsible for. What you did here, above, is to invite people to once again mischaracterize and dehumanize Andrea Dworkin. Below are more representative quotes of Dworkin's and of other women who were radical feminist writers and activists, some of whom are routinely misquoted or *very selectively* quoted to make the writers appear to hold views that they did or do not hold. Are these quotes "man-hating" to you?

"No one deserves brutality because of what they are, there condition of birth." -- radical feminist Andrea Dworkin

"Truth is harder to bear than ignorance, and so ignorance is valued more--also because the status quo depends on it; but love depends on self-knowledge and self-knowledge depends on being able to bear the truth." -- radical feminist Andrea Dworkin

"The strongest lesson I can teach my son is the same lesson I teach my daughter: how to be who he wishes to be for himself." -- radical feminist Audre Lorde

"Most men are on our side. They like their lives better than their fathers' lives. They like being involved with their children. They like having a better relationship with their women." -- radical feminist Marilyn French

"People can find eroticism in relations with people whom they respect and whom they see as equals." -- radical feminist Catharine MacKinnon

"I believe that all human beings are equal. I believe that no one has the right to authority over anyone else." -- radical feminist Marilyn French

One thing a fictional character stated while enduring the aftermath of the trauma of rape is not *representative* of the whole of the author's work and real life. Nor is the statement about marriage taken entirely out of context--a statement that is historically accurate, by the way. Andrea did lots of research and careful reading before she wrote anything.

You will note I don't conclude "you are a misogynist." I can't, because I don't know you. And you didn't know Andrea Dworkin. You might find a sentence here or there by any author to be objectionable--as I find what you did above objectionable, but that doesn't mean you or anyone else has the right to mischaracterize another, or you, as a "man-hater" or an "anti-feminist." I hope we all reject two quotes as *representative* or *the sum total* of anyone's writing. We owe it to writers who cared so deeply about humanity to be more respectful than that, in my opinion.



lauren said...

I'm surprise no one has commented on this yet.

I'm a 47 yr old woman who has been a feminist since age three, when I saw how boys got freedom to run and climb trees and girls were told to play with dolls and be quiet. I was accused of wanting to be a boy, even twenty years later by my own sister who is a therapist.

I didn't want to be a boy. I wanted freedom.

Any woman who has seen the ugliness of male supremacy with her own eyes, and sees it over and over every single day, may come to think like that character in Dworkin's book. Why wouldn't she?

Would we expect that enslaved black people in the South liked white people? Why should they trust or even want to talk to anyone with white skin?

I'm extremely fortunate: I have never had to fuck for food or lodging. My college education was paid for. I had all the privelages of the white middle class, and I never had to look at men from the eyes of a prostituted woman, or a homeless woman, or a woman trying to raise children on minimum wage. But I completely support any woman who has had enough, and uses language like the Dworkin quote.

I don't talk like that about men, because I had it much easier. And I was taught that it's not peaceful or 'spiritual'.

I disagree with Marilyn French, that 'most men are on are side', If that were true, most women would not be living in poverty, there would not be an epidemic of male on female violence, the huge number of women raped and at risk for rape in Haiti would be given guns instead of whistles.

Being on 'our side' means a whole lot more than talking about it or writing about it or blogging about it. Men can stop rape and they can stop porn and they can stop prostitution. But they don't want to.

Julian Real said...

Hi lauren,

Men can stop but want to be portrayed as if they can't, by men; should women writers portray them as if they can't, they'll be termed man-haters. What, then, do we call all the men? What do we call all the men who say rape, pornography, prostitution, poverty, war is natural or inevitable to [male] humans? What do we call the men who view those and other atrocities disproportionately effecting women's safety and well-being, not-harmful or only fantasy, or stuff that's always gonna happen because boys will be boys? In what sense aren't they man-haters? In what sense aren't they also woman-haters? In my view, you'd have to hate humanity quite a bit to conclude warfare, trafficking, slavery, and rape are inevitable.

And, as you note, what is the appropriate thing to feel about a distinctly privileged group of people--men--who not only won't stop those atrocities, but who *value* and support warfare, prostitution, and rape?