- Category : Writers-Fiction
- Type : MS
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Healing 2
American feminist, a prominent radical theorist, speaker and author of both fiction and non-fiction books, best known for the campaign she waged against pornography in the 1970s and 1980s. Born to Jewish immigrant survivors of the Holocaust, Dworkin and her younger brother (1949-92) were raised in suburban New Jersey. Her mother was a secretary while her father worked by day as a schoolteacher and by night packing parcels in a post office before becoming a guidance counselor. Dworkin was molested at age 9 and at 16, left home and began prostituting herself to cover her living costs. At 19, she was sexually assaulted by two male doctors in a Manhattan jail who forced her to endure an internal examination after she was arrested for protesting against the Vietnam War. In 1965, soon after this ordeal, she traveled to Greece and had an affair with an army officer. Returning to the U.S., she married, completed her BA in 1968 and moved with her husband to Amsterdam for five years, 1968-72. She suffered beatings and torture in her marriage, finally leaving her husband in 1971. It was a feminist friend who helped her escape the brutality of her marriage and she made a vow that she would devote her life to the cause of Women's Liberation. As the years went by and her anger increased, her size kept pace as she grew to a woman of massive girth.
Returning to the USA and now identifying as lesbian, Dworkin began living with John Stoltenberg, a "gay feminist" author, in 1974. Two years later they moved to Sugarloaf Key in Florida to live on shared land with a lesbian couple but Dworkin found the subtropical climate intolerable and within five months, they moved north to the Berkshires. They married in 1998. The unconventional domestic and emotional relationship between the celibate Dworkin and Stoltenberg continued until her death, and they shared a middle-class home in Brooklyn, NY with their two cats until a 2004 move to Washington, D.C. occasioned by his job.
Dworkin revealed the full measure of her experiences of sexual victimization in her passionate and influential writings. An extremist with a compelling voice, she advocated and called for the "assassination" of male pedophiles along with women and men who opposed her views. She began writing in elementary school and chose a career as a writer rather than a lawyer.
Her first books were "Woman Hating: A Radical Look at Sexuality," 1974 and "Our Blood," 1976. In "Intercourse," 1987, she examines the social, legal, and political meanings of sexual intercourse to argue that every act of penetrative sex -- even when consensual -- is not just a paradigm of oppression but potentially rape. In "Pornography and Civil Rights: A New Day for Women's Equality," 1988, which she co-wrote with lawyer Catharine Mackinnon, pornography was cast as central to the creation and maintenance of civil inequality between the sexes. The book proposed an ordinance in which pornography is defined as sex discrimination and therefore a violation of civil rights. Anyone "injured" by pornography could thus file a civil lawsuit against pornographers. In "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation," 2000, Dworkin identified Diaspora Jews and women as scapegoats, concluding that "women need land and guns" in order to reject pacifism and literally create their own militant, separatist territory. In an article published in "New Statesman" and "The Guardian" in June 2000, Dworkin told a harrowing story of being drugged and brutally raped by male staff in a Parisian hotel on 5/19/1999. Due in part to the strange circumstances of the alleged attack and the publication of the article in time with the release of "Scapegoat," media commentators, including several feminists, challenged the veracity of Dworkin's account. One columnist even claimed that the rape probably occurred in her dreams due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
The feminist and writer died in her sleep at her Washington, D.C. home on April 9, 2005. She had suffered a variety of health problems but the cause of death was unknown and further investigation is underway. She was 58.