Feminism, Free Speech, Recommended, Review, Sex

Last Days at Hot Slit—A Review

A review of Last Days at Hot Slit—The Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin edited by Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder. (Semiotext(e), March 2019) 408 pages.

In my 2016 book Porn Panic!, I traced today’s anti-free speech, identity-preoccupied Left back to its roots in the pro-censorship, anti-sex feminism of the 1970s/80s and, in particular, to the writing of Dworkin and her sister-in-arms Catharine Mackinnon. Although I dealt in passing with Dworkin’s writing, as well as works from the contemporaneous liberal feminists who opposed her, I opted to focus more on her successors, especially Gail Dines, a Women’s Studies professor who has established herself as one of today’s preeminent campaigners for the censorship of sexual expression. At a time when feminism seems to be moving in an increasingly censorious direction, a new anthology of Dworkin’s writing, Last Days at Hot Slit, published earlier this year, offers a useful insight into the writing and thinking of one of the movement’s most influential, radical, and controversial writers.

Last Days at Hot Slit was the early working title for Dworkin’s 1974 polemic, Woman Hating, the first of a dozen books Dworkin published (of which three were fiction). This new collection—curated by Johanna Fateman and Amy Scholder—includes extracts from most of these, as well as a selection of other sources including a postcard to Mom and Dad dating from 1973, and a letter to the same recipients in 1978. In trying to understand Dworkin, I’ve discovered, these personal insights are every bit as important as the trenchant political writing that made her notorious.

Dworkin is best known as a fierce campaigner against pornography, which she accused of complicity in the oppression of women. Along with Catharine Mackinnon, a lawyer, she worked tirelessly to discredit and ban pornography—by which they meant any sexual depiction of women, portrayed in any medium. Dworkin, Mackinnon, and their followers (the “Macdworkinites”) ruffled feathers on the Left by forming alliances against pornography with the Christian Right and the Reagan administration, at the very moment feminists were uniting to defend Roe v Wade from these same powers. This political realignment catalysed a damaging internecine split in the feminist movement into its “anti-sex” and “sex-positive” tendencies.

Dworkin and Mackinnon created the language and the methodology of pro-censorship feminism. In their hands, feminism was subtly twisted from a declaration of female agency and power into an insistence on feminine weakness—a view now established as a salient aspect of mainstream feminist thinking. In their formulation, women were so weak and downtrodden that the establishment must step in to defend them from pornography. This development dismayed liberal feminists. In a 1994 brief filed in opposition to an LA fire department directive prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace, the campaigning group Feminists for Free Expression wrote:

It is ironic that just as women are finally making inroads into such male-exclusive venues as handling a skyscraper construction crane, a hostile corporate takeover attempt, and an Air Force fighter plane, we are being told that we cannot handle dirty pictures, and certainly that we would never enjoy them.

The Macdworkinites opposed obscenity laws, which were based on a community standard they considered too permissive. They instead opted for a “civil rights” approach to censorship, arguing that displays of sexual expression were themselves harmful to women. They drafted a pro-forma law, the Antipornography Civil Rights Ordinance, which they encouraged city and state legislatures to adopt. This was far more draconian than obscenity law, because it defined pornography so broadly and subjectively as to include any potentially sexual expression, and because it handed the power of censorship to any “concerned citizen.” Any woman, using the law, could claim to have been harmed, and then take legal action: against a producer of pornography, a television company, or a bookshop. Their law was adopted in parts of the United States, but was later struck down under the First Amendment. However, their initiative enjoyed greater success in Canada, where it was adopted as a part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. As if to demonstrate the unintended hazards to which the slippery-slope of censorship can lead, two of Dworkin’s own books were banned in Canada in 1994, under the very law she had helped to create.

While Mackinnon was usually presented as the hard-headed legal mind of the duo, Dworkin was  the ideologue, the rebel, the brilliant-but-flawed propagandist. The feminist activist Gloria Steinem, interviewed by Democracy Now! in 2005 after Dworkin’s death called her “… our Old Testament prophet raging in the hills, telling the truth.” This backhanded compliment is revealing in a number of ways. Dworkin certainly raged, and her declamatory rhetorical style is very much that of the religious preacher. “It’s hard to imagine,” Steinem continued, “anyone else who was simultaneously more clear and more misunderstood than Andrea, more fierce and more vulnerable.”

Perhaps the word I’ve encountered most frequently in descriptions of Dworkin’s writing is “disturbing,” and on reading Last Days at Hot Slit, I would agree. But to this adjective, I would add “hypnotic,” “dreamlike,” and at times even “psychedelic.” Her writing is frequently reminiscent of the beat generation of writers influential during her youth in the 1960s and ’70s. She could be savage and poetic and highly readable (almost regardless of the content), and her aggressively percussive prose sometimes resembles a tribal drumbeat. I was reminded more than once of Hunter S. Thompson, and even more of Hubert Selby Jr’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, which trampled the conventions of grammar to capture the vernacular of working class Brooklyn. Dworkin makes use of Aldous Huxley in this characteristically brutal passage:

And in the midst of this Brave New World, how comforting and familiar it is to exercise passionless cruelty upon women. The old-fashioned values still obtain. The world may end tomorrow, but tonight there is rape—a kiss, a fuck, a pat on the ass, a fist in the face.

The violence of this kind of writing certainly reveals her ferocity, but it also reveals the paradoxical vulnerability Steinem identified. I began the collection expecting to feel irritated, but I finished it with feelings of sadness.

Dworkin’s best-known works are probably Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981) and Intercourse (1987), both of which feature heavily in this collection. I expected Pornography to resemble Gail Dines’s 2011 work Pornland (Dines clearly tries to model herself on Dworkin), and when I reviewed Dines’s book in Porn Panic, I made a list of its multiple factual errors, misrepresentations, and logical fallacies. Pornography, however, offers no such opportunity. Dworkin doesn’t deal in facts; as the Old Testament prophet of Steinem’s description, she is unapologetically contemptuous of facts. What preacher worth their salt would bother trying to prove the existence of an angry, vengeful God, only to watch their argument be picked apart by sceptics?

In the extract from Pornography, I found only two factual claims worth noting. The first is a familiar myth, that has become a standard talking point among anti-pornography campaigners: that the industry is “larger than the film and record industries combined.” She provided no figures or reference for this, and why would she? This claim is clearly ludicrous: annual box office revenue was in the multiple billions in the 1980s. Accurate porn industry numbers are hard to come by, but even by 1998, Forrester was still estimating the business to be worth less than $1 billion. But this has not prevented its uncritical repetition by her disciples, including Dines, who blithely asserted that pornography is now “bigger than Hollywood.” Dines is not as skilled in the art of propaganda as Dworkin was, and so unwisely attempts to quantify this claim by stating that the industry is worth $100 billion (a suspiciously round number). She even provided a source, which turns out to be an anti-pornography campaigner’s website.

The other claim in Pornography is that the etymology of the word (from ancient Greek) reveals it originally meant “writing about vile whores.” This is broadly correct (although “vile” is her own colourful interpolation). She pointed out that, in ancient Greece, the porneia were the lowest class of prostitutes and, having established this interesting point, Dworkin delighted in it and, in her inimitable style, placed it front and centre in her case against pornography—a repetitive, unhurried chant that consumes pages:

The word pornography does not have any other meaning than the one cited here, the graphic depiction of the lowest whores. Whores exist to serve men sexually. Whores exist only within a framework of male sexual domination. Indeed, outside that framework the notion of whores would be absurd and the usage of women as whores would be impossible. The word whore is incomprehensible unless one is immersed in the lexicon of male domination. Men have created the group, the type, the concept, the epithet, the insult, the industry, the trade, the commodity, the reality of woman as whore. Woman as whore exists within the objective and real system of male sexual domination. The pornography itself is objective and real because women are so regarded and so valued. The force depicted in pornography is objective and real because force is so used against women. The debasing of women depicted in pornography and intrinsic to it is objective and real in that women are so debased. The uses of women depicted in pornography are objective and real because women are so used. The women used in pornography are used in pornography. The definition of women articulated systematically and consistently in pornography is objective and real in that real women exist within and must live with constant reference to the boundaries of this definition. The fact that pornography is widely believed to be “sexual representations” or “depictions of sex” emphasizes only that the valuation of women as low whores is widespread and that the sexuality of women is perceived as low and whorish in and of itself…

In the male system, women are sex; sex is the whore. The whore is porne, the lowest whore, the whore who belongs to all male citizens: the slut, the cunt. Buying her is buying pornography. Seeing her is seeing pornography. Seeing her sex, especially her genitals, is seeing pornography. Seeing her in sex is seeing the whore in sex. Using her is using pornography. Wanting her means wanting pornography. Being her means being pornography.

This passage is representative of Dworkin’s writing. It goes on like this for page after page, poetically, rhythmically repeating, rising and falling. But enlightening? Rarely, if ever. Dworkin’s writing expressed no doubt, and never attempted to justify itself. It was a statement of absolute, irrefutable, undeniable truth, as seen through the eyes of Andrea Dworkin.

In the 1995 introduction to Intercourse, she stated this explicitly:

And specifically, am I saying that I know more than men about fucking? Yes, I am. Not just different: more and better, deeper and wider, the way anyone used knows the user… the authority behind the book—behind each and every choice—is mine.

There is no need for objectivity or evidence or doubt. The truth was revealed not discovered, and she was determined to announce it. It was not open to question her because she left no space for questions. Like the Old Testament prophet hectoring her society and everyone in it for their moral turpitude, she was supremely confident, for the truth came from within her, and the truth was the word of Dworkin. Over and over again, her arguments relied upon vast, unexamined generalisations. Her viewpoint was her experience, and her experience was the definitive experience of every woman, ever. In Intercourse, she described men as occupiers, and women as the occupied. Her reasoning was nothing more than the fact that penises enter vaginas; that vaginas are holes, and that sex is therefore, ipso facto, an act of violation:

…there is a slit between the legs, and he has to push into it. There is never real privacy of the body that can coexist with intercourse: with being entered.

The thrusting is persistent invasion. She is opened up, split down the center. She is occupied—physically, internally, in her privacy.

Intercourse is both the normal use of a woman… and a violative abuse… And it is recognised that the use and abuse are not distinct phenomena but somehow a synthesized reality… Intercourse in reality is a use and an abuse simultaneously…

She, a human being, is supposed to have a privacy that is absolute; except that she, a woman, has a hole between her legs that men can, must, do enter.

There seems to be no room in this bleak analysis for love, for tenderness, or for intimacy. And while Dworkin did not explicitly state (as widely rumoured) that all sex is rape, she repeatedly described intercourse as merely an instrument or an expression of male power. She saw sex, domination, and the (universal) contempt men have for women as one and the same: “Intercourse,” she bluntly affirmed, “is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.”

One of the awkward facts that Dworkin’s position must accommodate is that many women enjoy being penetrated. Naturally, those who entertain the occupier must be collaborators, and so were treated with a mix of contempt and pity.

What does it mean to be the person who needs to have this done to her: who needs to be needed as an object; who needs to be entered; who needs to be occupied; who needs to be wanted more than she needs integrity or freedom or equality? If objectification is necessary for intercourse to be possible, what does that mean for the person who needs to be fucked so that she can experience herself as female and who needs to be an object so that she can be fucked?

Dworkin stated her points at great length, forcefully and repeatedly, with great rhetorical verve and artistry, and without reference to a shred of substantiating evidence. Her fundamental point—that women have had no social role other than being the victims of a totalitarian male system—was axiomatic in her work, and so it required no justification. All her reasoning (and there is little in the way of reasoning to be found in her writing) stemmed from this. Pornography is bad because men oppress women, as is prostitution, as is intercourse itself. Dworkin appeared to have created the blueprint for later feminist thought, in which to question the central assumption of male dominance is akin to blasphemy. She didn’t acknowledge or attempt to explain why a system designed by men to subjugate women should produce so many outcomes unfavourable to men (for example, men have a significantly lower life expectancy, and are far more likely to be imprisoned, neither of which is normally seen as an indication of privilege). Nor did she consider that the power women have to to sell sex may be seen as a right or a privilege rather than a mode of oppression, because she didn’t recognise a world in which women have any agency whatsoever.

Her disdain for scientific reasoning is made most clear by its absence throughout her work. Occasionally she went further, and explicitly indicated disdain for rationality. At one point, she suggests that “[m]ale power expressed in pornography is autistic,” and points out that most autistic children are male. I have noted in recent years that groups singled out for attack by feminist campaigns, such as gamers and “incels,” typically include a high proportion of autistic members. Increasingly, autism is recognised as “extreme maleness,” and it is perhaps unsurprising that people with an aversion to men in general will have a particular dislike of autistic men.

There is a widely suspected link between autism and science: a physicist friend suggests that most people in Physics (the most abstract of the sciences) fall somewhere on the spectrum. Science requires an attention to detail, a quest for underlying explanations, and an aptitude for obsessive pattern-seeking for which autism may be a benefit rather than a curse. This triple intersection of men, autism, and science is perhaps the concentration of the factors that Dworkin —in common with many of the feminist thinkers who followed her—loathed.

In her book Right-Wing Women, Dworkin sneered at scientific language, writing, “While gossip among women is universally derided as low and trivial, gossip among men… is called theory, or idea, or fact.” She wilfully ignored that “theory” has a far more precise meaning in science than “gossip.” A scientific theory must be underpinned by data, and carefully reasoned. It is notable that in modern social science, the word “theory” has been stretched to allow thinking at the level of guesswork and dogma. In this, and other ways, Dworkin was often unintentionally prescient.

As one reads through Last Days at Hot Slit, Dworkin’s viewpoint, which is obvious, becomes less interesting than the woman herself. Why was she so angry and hateful? Why did she despise sex and men with such a peculiar intensity? Her contradictions provide food for interesting if inconclusive speculation: in a long, posthumously published autobiographical essay entitled “My Suicide,” she wrote of her love for her father, and how she “… stopped loving my mother, one of the great accomplishments of my life. To stop loving your mother creates a cold place in your heart and you write from there.” By her late fifties, shortly before her untimely death at 58, her pain and unhappiness had become obvious. Her vivid description of being drugged and raped in Paris is profoundly upsetting to read, and one’s sadness for her only deepens when we learn that this incident was widely dismissed as fantasy, even by her own supporters.

Ultimately, Dworkin represents a quandary for contemporary feminists. Her excesses can cause embarrassment to those eager to uncouple the movement from accusations of bitterness and misandry, and yet her passionate fury and unquestionable influence made her an unignorable pioneer of radical feminist thought. In the introduction to Last Days at Hot Slit, Johanna Fateman suggests that the “… ascendance of the third wave [of feminism in the 1990s] signalled her definitive defeat,” but this seems to ignore Dworkin’s illiberal stamp on more recent, more conservative waves of feminism. In Porn Panic!, I documented the steep rise of pro-censorship feminism in the current decade; this has targeted far more than pornography, and has attacked sexual (and allegedly misogynistic) expression in any form. Activists like Anita Sarkeesian have suggested that the very existence of online free speech is a fundamental threat to women, and feminists have been some of the most strident campaigners for social media networks to “take more responsibility” for content they deem harmful to women.

I don’t agree with Fateman that Dworkin lost; I think she won. Even “sex-positive” feminism looks unlikely to survive the cultural trauma of the #MeToo movement—most feminists now apparently accept Dworkin’s assertion that all “problematic” sexual behaviour, from a clumsy pass to forcible rape, must be stamped out with the same uncompromising zero tolerance. Meanwhile, the wave of “feminist” and “ethical” pornographers, far from legitimising pornography, instead attack the “corporate, male-owned” pornography mainstream, which mostly caters to that terrible demographic, the straight, cis male. These new pornographers no longer defend pornography on principle (as liberal feminists used to do), but agree with Dworkin that most of it is reprehensible and harmful by its very nature. Rather than embrace the freedom of female sexuality, they try to mandate what women ought to find erotic, and counterpose this healthy pornography against the vast weight of material that they claim (falsely) only appeals to men.

Reading this collection is recommended—because, while feminists still generally keep Dworkin at arm’s length, the modern movement contains far more of her than they care to admit. Her legacy may be illiberal and uncompromisingly pessimistic, but it is more relevant to the furious debates about sex and sexuality than ever.

 

Jerry Barnett is a technologist, author, and campaigner who for some years has written about, and opposed, the rise of censorship. His book Porn Panic! documents recent moral panics against free expression that have arisen on the identitarian Left. He runs the Sex and Censorship page on Facebook and you can follow him on Twitter @PornPanic

121 Comments

  1. KD says

    She didn’t acknowledge or attempt to explain why a system designed by men to subjugate women should produce so many outcomes unfavourable to men (for example, men have a significantly lower life expectancy, and are far more likely to be imprisoned, neither of which is normally seen as an indication of privilege).

    Perhaps she should have qualified it as a system designed by some men to subjugate women and the other men?

    • scribblerg says

      Really? Who “designed” it? Where are those awful people?

    • Ray Andrews says

      @KD

      But culture is passed on by women. Women design the system in which men are disposable, and exist to acquire resources which they then mostly hand over to women. This is called ‘subjugation’ and women are entitled to profit from it and complain about it at the same time. It is one of the triumphs of feminism that, at one and the same time, women are:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsJeu11shJg

      … and Victims. The moment they do not get what they want, they are Victims. What they have done is to extend their proper childhood privilege to cry for what they want, and to demand daddy’s protection, into their biological — tho not mental — adulthood. Thus the perfected feminist can arrange to have sex, and enjoy it thoroughly, one night, and complain the next day that she was raped.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Ray
        That’s the ideal for the feminist hardliners, Ray. It is not the reality. 95% of men and women are quite happy getting on with each other and don’t care to divide the human race into two competing halves.
        Men’s rights talk is just as silly as feminism.

        • Saw file says

          “Men’s rights talk is just as silly as feminism.”

          Since the false feminist equation of ‘equality’ was shotgun blasted out of the equality reality of what it has now become…. then, no.

          The 5% is now dictating to the 95% majority of the normal population.

          The fleas that have ingrained themselves into the system, are now wagging the tail,that is wagging the dog…

          • Brill says

            With these new pornographers isn’t it always just my rights vs yours?

        • Andrew Vanbarner says

          Except that the main group of people who truly do suffer from discrimination based on gender, in real and measurable ways, are men.
          The draft registry. Homelessness. Criminal sentencing. Family court, parental rights, reproductive rights, marriage itself. The boys’ education crisis, and plummetting university attendance amoung men. Health care spending, false accusations, Title IX. Life spans.
          These are far more severe and far more pervasive than catcalling or underrepresentation in glamorous, high paying jobs.

          • Peter from Oz says

            Andrew
            MRAs make the same mistake that the identitarians make, i.e. ascribing every poor comparative result for men as a whole to ”misandry.”
            I don’t doubt that there are areas in which men in general get a raw deal. But it is not the manly way to whine about it. We just fix it. The first part of doing that is to stop arguing with feminists and just do what we think is right.
            Never apologise and never explain, as the Iron Duke used to say.

          • D.B. Cooper says

            @Peter from Oz

            The first part of doing that is to stop arguing with feminists and just do what we think is right. Never apologize and never explain, as the Iron Duke used to say.

            For reasons unknown and equally important, after reading your comment, a quote came to mind (see below). To be sure, the quote, in and of itself, is of no great consequence as it’s almost certainly tangential to the theme(s) of this thread (feminist vs. MRAs). In any case, if nothing else, the quote is just the sort to provide tinder to the wider discussion being had; which I would tentatively characterize as follows:

            A dispensation of summary justice, constrained not by a commitment to dispositive facts, not by truth, nor by logical primacy; but by a desperate attempt to solve a non-existent problem, one that flows from a false premise, namely: the artful storytelling of oppression narratives that presume what they need to demonstrate.

            As with most ideologies, the worst advertisements for grievance mongering are its adherents. Invocations of systemic oppression have vandalized our sense of shame, leading to a historical grievance game whereby self-referential narratives of abuse, injustice, maltreatment, and persecution as seen as the apotheosis of our existence.

            To your point, I’m always left unsettled when seeing men co-opt their own jaunt through the absurdities of a dishonest or deluded victimhood narrative. It is a response devoid of any appreciation for the servility of self-prescribed impotence. It is a sign of the poverty of our times that men – or women for that matter – would forfeit their volition, abdicate their agency, to garner the pity of others. An orphaned race to the bottom of society to discover who is more aggrieved at the start, at the outcome, and when relevant, during the intermediate; is not just tragic and absurd, but somehow tasteless.

            Deftly parried ideals, suggesting the maximization of social utility can be found – or can only be found – in accommodating the coercive engagement of deeply flawed characters is an intransigent posture that has no basis in reality.

            And as for the quote, it just occurred to me that the originator was, by all accounts, at least a hair trigger better at giving advice, than he was at taking it.

            Keep your head clear and know how to suffer like a man.

            Earnest Hemingway

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Peter from Oz

          Of course. The radfems seem to control the microphones but they do not speak for but a small minority of women.

          • Peter – “We just fix it.” And yet we don’t. Men have been trying to fix even the easy stuff that works against us for decades without success. The reason is that the male power structure, while jumping to do feminist bidding, ignores men’s problems. There’s an evolutionary psychology explanation for that, but the idea that complaining about extreme differences in sentencing for crime or losing your kids to divorce is just “whining” is very much part of that explanation. Stated another way, you’re part of the problem not part of the solution.

        • Men’s rights talk is not a bit silly, unless of course you’re comfortable with the many frankly anti-male policies, laws, customs and biases that currently beset society.

          • Peter from Oz says

            The problem is that the MRAs use the same sort of arguments that the feminists and all the other “victim” groups use, and think that somehow this will get them somewhere against those who have thrived on making such arguments for decades. Do you really think that the feminists are ever going to concede their victim status? Do you really think that somehow the idea of men being hard done by is really going to be accepted by the mass of people? No, that way is the way of division and not of humanity.
            Don’t talk about rights, just take them. You don’t even have to mention what you are doing. Be the man and get what is your due, not by joining in the feminists’ zero sum rights game, but by being right. We are not here to battle against women in a rights contest, but to bring the sexes together and be masters in the things where nature requires it.
            My wife and I love to do Latin and ballroom dancing. The very nature of that activity, like so much in life, requires the man to lead. He has the physical power and the spatial sense that makes it necessary that he should lead. The woman on the other hand has the grace and ability to look wonderful and to complete the more difficult moves, if she is properly supported by the man. It’s the same in many endeavours in life. The feminists have forgotten this simple lesson. It is up to men to take back the lead in areas where it is needed.
            This is about right not rights.

          • Doug F says

            Things were reasonably balanced when the social contract between the sexes were in place. Men worked and died – women bore and raised children. The contract worked for overall society because it optimized the welfare of the offspring and therefore the society prospered.

            Ultra feminist now claim that all of society is a construct to support male power. And in doing so they claim all the advantages of the social contract favors men. The MRA movement is legitimate in this way – if you want to change that contract then it needs to be renegotiated fairly. Women should die in war just as often to make things “equitable”. The fact that men die younger or commit suicide more often or go to jail more often or are statistically treated unfairly in parental rights issues, (or stay on the sinking ship or…) should be presumed to be defacto proof of discrimination based on their rules.

            It needs to be one way or the other. Either our legal rules are sex blind or they are not. The ultra feminists want all the benefits but none of the consequences. The MRA is a voice to highlight that issue. Our current legal system undoubtedly favors women.

            Because society has trained men to be stoic and not complain, it makes us particularly vulnerable to not protecting ourselves from these types of attacks. But sadly a war has been instigated, and by not fighting an entire generation of males are being raised told they are societal piranhas while they lag further and further behind in education, jobs, etc.

            One way or the other.

        • northernobserver says

          Not so sure anymore. The educational drive the “disappear” masculinity seems to have succeeded all too well in the West. And feminism is taring through corporations, law schools and courts. It’s getting a tad dystopic, just ask Dave Foley.

        • a bee ee? says

          Well, I think it’s a bit less than 95% these days–and much less among younger age cohorts. I read somewhere recently about a poll indicating that 17% of 18-29 year olds think that inviting a woman for a drink constitutes sexual harassment. I’m guessing that figure is higher among the women in that age group polled–let’s say 25%.

          So if you are a young guy and hoping to join the ranks of those getting on with women you have a 25% chance that not only will your efforts be rebuffed, but that you may pay a steep price for them in terms of losing a job, getting expelled from school, etc. For a lot of beta males that’s too great a risk.

    • Jerry Barnett says

      The “system” results from human biology rather than male design: the fact that women choose mates, and that women are more selective than men regarding who they made with. This results in a lucky group of men who have multiple mates, and another group that loses out. Males compete fiercely with each other, which explains both why men have shorter lives, and many end up in prison

    • Doug F says

      gee, I thought sex had to do with reproduction, and that evolution has therefore lead us to like it.

      Silly me.

  2. C Young says

    “While gossip among women is universally derided as low and trivial, gossip among men… is called theory, or idea, or fact.”

    Interesting observations about autism. We are happy to talk about autism as an extreme male brain. What would an extreme female brain look like?

    Baron-Cohen, who’s theory this is, says that the polarity here is that between systems and people. An extreme female mind would be systems-blind. It wouldn’t care about consistency. It wouldn’t link evidence to conclusions in a systematic manner.

    It would simply assert. And those assertions would be driven by attachments to people. There would be positive expressions of this, such as loyalty to friends or caring for family. There would be negative expressions of this, principally blind tribalism.

    Take an extreme female mind, find its most negative tribal expressions, add in uncontrollable anger, and you’ve got Andrea Dworkin.

    (By the way, I find reasoning of the linked Globe and Mail article above quite compelling).

    I would expand this point to cover Postmodernism itself. It is (in vulgar form) an attack on factuality and systematicity from a tribal perspective. Whatever ‘fact’ reflects badly on my tribe can be dismissed as a conspiracy by mysterious powers to do us down. Almost all postmodern positions, in the wild, come down to this.

    • Harbinger says

      …and thus so came about, the Matriarchal Tyranny of Compassion

    • Jerry Barnett says

      Yes, I completely agree. Dworkin exhibits a religious mindset. Female thinking could be stereotyped as superstitious just as male thinking can be stereotyped as autistic. This makes for particularly frustrating debates when feminism and science are both involved

      • C Young says

        Feminism as superstition. Patriarchy as conspiracy theory. Interesting.

      • I understand the temptation of looks theory, but feminists run the gamut on looks, with no pattern on intelligence or rationality that I have observed (as an ex-feminist).

        Dworkin’s partner in crime, MacKinnon, for example, is attractive, especially having aged magnificently well. The Guardian has featured many feminist writers who are conventionally attractive.

        Dworkin (amazingly) managed to get married twice, although her second husband says he is gay [insert joke here].

        • a bee ee? says

          MacKinnon never married, although she was once purportedly engaged to Jeffrey Masson. Bottom line is neither one ever had kids, and that seems to be endemic among feminists, for obvious reasons.

          What puzzles me is how their influence has grown so steadily and even become more virulent over the years when they haven’t any daughters to whom to pass it on.

          • KAM says

            Dworkin saw sex as rape. Did she ever experience sex that wasn’t rape? Any evidence?

            Well then.

  3. KD says

    She excelled at one of those human endeavors that is not an empirical science–meaning to our scientism tribe it is not supposed to be a legitimate form of human knowledge–that is. . . rhetoric.

    You can’t refute rhetoric, you either embrace it or reject it. In this respect, rhetoric shares a common feature with religion. Perhaps faith itself is rhetoric after it has gone out of fashion?

    • scribblerg says

      She was a deranged, hateful lying hack. Sure, that’s a form of rhetoric – who cares? Morally she was contemptible. There is no redemption available for her.

    • C Young says

      She excelled at what human endeavour ? Demogaguery? “Excellence” she shares with Mussolini and Hitler?

  4. scribblerg says

    What’s most pathetic about any of these analyses? Feminists always ignore a simple truth of human intersexual relations. In about 90% of sexual couplings, the setup is the man competing for the woman’s VOLUNTARY selection and the woman selecting the man VOLUNTARILY (the other 10% are female initiated sexual encounters for the most part, not via involuntary). Women hold the tremendous power of mating selection in our society. Note that not all sexually reproducing dimorphic species are like this. For example, Bonobo females will have sex with any male who initiates. There is no rejection or competition.

    But in humans? We have what’s called a “tournament mating” sexuality. Essentially women hold a nonstop contest for who is the best mate for them and award sex accordingly. Men compete for that choice. Even more challenging for men? All women, regardless of their “sexual market value”, are interested in the top 20% of men in terms of SMV. Men are more likely to seek their own level. It’s not a stretch to say that men are exploited via this setup as 50% of males never get to reproduce successfully and pass on their genes while 75% or more of women do so.

    Yet feminist dominated “gender studies” simply refuse to deal with the massive power imbalance in favor of women in sexual selection. Hence, I can’t take any feminist seriously. Try and get this. Men have 10-17x the testosterone of women, and testosterone controls sex drive. Men are super-charged sexually compare to women in terms of frequency of arousal and interest and sexual desire, due to our biology. We don’t have a choice in terms of much of this. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to claim men are victims but if we are examining “power”, it would seem crucial to note the one-sided advantage women have in sexual selection.

    Dworkin was a mentally ill, man-hating harridan who’s “success” and notoriety is an affront to all men and common decency. She faked a past as an abused sex worker, pretended to be a lesbian and many sober thinkers doubted the rape in Paris that she reported in her later years. She needed compassion and treatment, yet she gained massive power. Talk about “hate”? Andrea Dworkin defined male hatred and institutionalized the hatred of masculinity.

    She’s a Goebbels-like character, nothing less. Spewing anti-male bigotry and hate nonstop and calling it analyses. Nope, she was a loathsome, hideous human being. Any feminist who doesn’t denounce her utterly and isn’t ashamed of her is my enemy just as much as Dworkin was. As a man, I’m not required to respect or accept someone with such hatred about me. The very fact that articles are written about her at all, I mean she’s the Bull Connor of male-hatred for fuck’s sake.

    • Hammurabi says

      In short… why are we listening to the rantings of crazy people?

      I don’t say that casually either. A great many of these so-called “thinkers” are people with severe personality disorders. They are pathological and readily diagnosable. To be fair, this is probably true of a lot of genuinely great thinkers.

      Still… that people take this stuff seriously is disconcerting. The fact that we regularly give a platform to total friggin loons and then pretend like their ravings are enlightened in any way says something about the excessive level of piety we have for the gods of tolerance. If not for Academia, Dworkin could have been a ranting bag lady pushing a shopping cart. This would have made it much easier to respond to her with…

      Yeah… whatever… crazy lady.

      • Lightning Rose says

        Seconded, Hammurabi. Why ARE we? When I was growing up, girls were encouraged to wait for a committed, safe, loving relationship with an aspiring life partner with whom they would experience intercourse as intended. In the context of family formation, it is anything BUT a violation–it’s a merging of bodies and hopefully, with time, of loving souls who will forge the next generation together. I realize many fall short of this ideal.

        By putting all human behavior in the context of their own maladjusted, neurotic obsessions and declaring war on natural law, these people show themselves to be deeply mentally ill.

        I think a great deal of this sexual “fallout” we’re seeing today is the result of disordered, in many cases, single female parenting from the time of the 60’s, conflated with poor brain development due to a diet of empty, nutritionally deficient calories and a singular lack of self-awareness. The problem isn’t our species’ sexual reproductive norm, honey, it’s the fact that YOU have chosen to stand outside of it and rage against the machine.

        And frankly, I’m really tired of hearing from and about these barking mad harridans.

        • @ Lightning Rose & E. Olson

          As usual you good people beat me to it and write the stuff I’d like to write. I enjoy reading your comments because, I guess, I agree with them. Anyway, it’s not worth writing anything more when it’s already been well written. Many thanks.

          On the point of Dworkin, feminism and gender intersectionality (yeah, the entire world’s gone weird) you can’t help but see the humor of it all too, and whilst on this topic, it gives me the opportunity to gratuitously promote my cartoons. If possible, I was wondering if you folks might find the time to view and review some of my corny cheap Candy Toons. You’ll find them here –

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcionV7FUsg&list=PLJCtijkleepdELQ52Pj_EQXBgyvyNJ58L

          You’ll need a Google account to sign in because I’ve got them age restricted. Any feedback, good or bad is desperately sought. Anybody? Please leave comments on YouTube. I’ve abused the hospitality of Quillette here too much already. Thanks, cheers.

    • E. Olson says

      scribblerg – you raise some good points, but what about gender STEM gap, and the female glass ceiling, and the gender pay gap, and Hillary losing to both Obama and Trump, and the female body image demeaning proportions of Barbie dolls? How could any woman want anything to do with any man when all these inhumane and demoralizing injustices continue to exist?

      • WH says

        I’d say it’s unbelievably reckless to take complex issues, reduce them to one-bit slanderous conclusions, and use that against half the world’s population. Assuming this is actually a serious comment, it’s hard to tell anymore. What about differences in interest? What about the Scandinavian studies? What about all the men at the bottom that don’t even make the census, and the literal handful at the top that throw off the stats? Over 90% of those who suffer workplace injury and death are men. Almost as many homeless. What about WOMEN VOTERS? What about Hillary’s genuine faults and missteps? What about porn categories that satisfy tastes for older/chubbier/unshaved/nerdy/etc. women? Seems that most men don’t share little girls’ affinity for alienized femininity. Again, I’ll be charitable and acknowledge that you might just be trolling.

        • E. Olson says

          WH – it truly is a terrible state we live in when we can’t be sure that even the most looney tunes comment is serious or not. On the other hand, it is even more amazing that so many people have apparently taken the “theories” and “musings” of Dworkin and her ilk as anything but looney tunes.

          • Jay Salhi says

            Dworkin was an incoherent nut job and MacKinnon was here partner in crime. Normally, the sane thing to do would be to ignore them the way you ignore a lunatic ranting in the street but we can’t do that because as ridiculous as their writings were, they had influence. Not just in academia but they affected the way laws were drafted. Accordingly, they cannot be ignored.

      • scribblerg says

        The gender pay gap is a myth. STEM is reliant on very high math aptitude and there are 10 men like that for every one woman out there, and these differences in proclivities show up from birth on so their is a heritable difference. It’s cross-cultural as well.

        As for being attracted to sexy women? Blame your lizard brain and testosterone, not patriarchy. And note, as women became more liberated, they dress more provocatively in public spaces and do so today, voluntarily. Or do you think men use force to get women to wear labia revealing “leggings” and short shorts and show their belly buttons etc? Really? Women have no agency at all, they merely are responding to what men make them do? . In fact, women do this because it’s in their interest as being attractive convokes massive power to a woman in mate selection, and also social status in general. Studies have shown that both men and women enjoy female beauty.

        Hillary lost because she’s an awful politician and a crook. She had no business running for even Senate, but had no competition in NY state, that seat was given to her even though she’d just moved to Chappaqua. Have you read he book on her campaign written by those Dem insiders, Shattered? It makes very clear that Hillary made bad campaign strategy decisions. She also made a mess of her 2008 campaign. That book Game Change, which was so critical of Palin also gave inside accounts of all the campaigns, In fact, there was more info on Hillary’s campaign than McCain’s. Hillary’s campaign nearly collapsed in Jan 2008, as Hillary couldn’t hire, fire, do strategy or manage any day to day responsibilities of it well. They had staff problems, bad strategy and were running out of money. She gave up and brought Bill Clinton in to run the campaign in Jan of 2008 and he saved her from a campaign collapse.

        In the 2016 election, she ignored the sage advice of Bill Clinton – arguably one of the best U.S. politicians in the past 50 years – in favor of a new “data driven” manchild, Robbie Mook. Bill was telling her to go to PA, to Wisonsin and elsewhere, he felt and smelled the weakness in the air. But she ignored him, hell, she was dismissive of him and others mocked him as a dinosaur behind her back, guaranteeing Hillary victory. So arrogant was Mook that he didn’t run the last poll he should have run to refresh the rapidly evolving data on voters.

        Where did you get the idea that Hillary was this shoe-in for POTUS? She had the highest “negatives” of any candidate who ever ran for POTUS when she started. She then stole the primary from Bernie and spent 1.6 billion – 10x Trump, and blew it. She’s not impressive, she never has been. She’s just been riding her husbands political power for 50 years. She ran the Clinton political machine, which is a disgusting, corrupt endeavor from the start. She’s been close to power and feels entitled to it. But she’s never managed to build a large, natural following based on her character and personality.

        She and Bill can’t even sell out small auditoriums at any price for their pathetic tour right now. Running Hillary was a huge mistake.

    • StrawberryGirl says

      Indeed, Dworkin was a loon. She gained weight on purpose to make herself less attractive to men, which contributed to her early demise. She thought all sex was rape. Another leading light of radical feminism, Shulamith Firestone, was schizophrenic. To think so many women listened to them and still do.

      • a bee ee? says

        Shulamith Firestone died at age 67 a couple of years ago. They found her body in her small Upper West Side apartment a week later when the smell tipped off one of her neighbors.

        Too bad. She was adorably dorky when she was young. I would have hit it.

    • Doug F says

      Don’t confuse the narrative with science.

  5. Morgan Foster says

    “One of the awkward facts that Dworkin’s position must accommodate is that many women enjoy being penetrated.”

    Anyone who has ever eavesdropped on a lunch group of four women discussing their boyfriends’ penises – length, girth, hardness, lasting power – would have to admit to the fact, awkward or not, that, yes, some women very much enjoy being penetrated. And not just by any old thing.

  6. Rev. Wazoo! says

    An interesting piece, especially the observation that Dworkin’s narrative of sex-negative, women-solely-as-victims has become the dominant strand of feminism today.

    One can’t help but wonder if her decision to stop loving her mother was tied to a hate of her father and a concomitant need to abrogate any sympathy for her mother as a traitor who “slept with the enemy”

    • Rev. W. – Or the opposite, an Electra complex. She loved her father, considered her mother competition and therefore symbolically “killed” her by ceasing to love her.

  7. Craig Willms says

    She [Dworkin] saw sex, domination, and the (universal) contempt men have for women as one and the same: “Intercourse,” she bluntly affirmed, “is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women.”

    Painting with a broad brush there Andrea… From a this man’s perspective I am more often in awe of woman than in contempt. Women make life worth living.

  8. Asenath Waite says

    “…the “corporate, male-owned” pornography mainstream, which mostly caters to that terrible demographic, the straight, cis male.”

    Actually my impression is that trans-women tend to be avid consumers of pornography, although this is admittedly anecdotal and not based on statistical data. But I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the average trans-woman spends more time on pornography than the average cis male, as a way of engaging in autogynephilic sexual fantasy.

    • E. Olson says

      AW – I see a multi-million dollar federal research grant in the making to study this useful and potentially very important topic. Could keep several gender study professors and PhD students busy for years. Your tax dollars at work.

      • Asenath Waite says

        @E Olson

        I doubt it would get funded since my hypothesis is that the majority of trans-women are primarily motivated by indulgence of a sexual fetish.

  9. E. Olson says

    Joyous personality and outlook on life.
    Warm and empathetic to a fault.
    Pathfinder scholar of merit.
    All wrapped up in a beautiful figure.
    Dead at 58, and no doubt missed by all who knew her.

    Only the good die young.

  10. WH says

    It’s hard to ignore the possibility that Dworkin was ultimately repulsed by herself, and I say that sympathetically, it’s regrettable that anybody should suffer like that whether or not she did. And perhaps that was coupled with something like anorgasmia or vaginismus. Maybe that sounds crass and unsophisticated, but it’s just as hard to imagine how a worldview of this magnitude might develop otherwise. She seemed condemned in various ways, not least of all by herself, and it would be understandable to want a certain justification for that.

  11. ms100 says

    The only thing good about Dworkin was that she died earlier than later. Before she could inflict more harm. Much like Venezuela’s Chavez.

    Dworkin was irrational, totally ignored biology and historical precedent. I wouldn’t be surprised if she and her ilk was in favor of humans evolving to a black widow spider system.

    • a bee ee? says

      Yes, and I live for the day when MacKinnon will join her.

  12. Jean Levant says

    Andrea Dworkin makes me think of James Tiptree Jr. She – for James was a woman – wrote in the same time, in a less political and certainly more talentuous fashion but with the same terror/contempt/hate of her male fellow humans by means of strong and poetic SF short stories. I would be interested to know which one of the two influenced the other.

  13. “There seems to be no room in this bleak analysis for love, for tenderness, or for intimacy.”

    Remember–under leftism, “the personal is polticial” (a phrase first coined by a Nazi judge regarding marriages between “Aryans” and Jews). Under leftist regimes, this means that love, tenderness or intimacy are tolerated, but make no mistake–under leftist regimes, your loved ones are hostages to revolutionary terror. They are useful only to enforce your obedience and conformity to the regime’s dictates.

    • Asenath Waite says

      @Hub 312

      That fits with dating and marriage partner preferences now being viewed as political statements (e.g. refusal to date white people because of their fundamentally racist nature, or lesbians’ not being attracted to trans-women equalling transphobia).

  14. Survival of the Loudest says

    Social media has created a race to the bottom, where voices of moderation are shouted down and the stars of the medium compete with each other to stake out the most shocking, extreme positions they can manage just to get heard above the din. It is to be expected in this environment that writers that were once considered the Lunatic Fringe will take their place as prophets of the new gospel.

    • Skorpion says

      Or as I put it, “It seems these days that, from the POTUS down, the entire American populace is engaged in a massive, never-ending game of Can You Top This? mutual-trolling.

  15. KD says

    What is interesting about Dworkin is that her work is prefaced on the understanding that human social hierarchies are based in the first instance on male status hierarchies, and female status hierarchies are parasitic on male status hierarchies. Second, females have status in male status hierarchies only based on their sexual availability to heterosexual men, and their ability to reproduce. Third, female identity in human social hierarchies is inherently negative–a hole, a zero, a vagina. There is no positive identity for women.

    Politically, because female status is based on sexual availability and reproduction, female status can only be enhanced by human females controlling (and restricting) heterosexual female availability and reproduction. Females (especially lesbians) need to control heterosexual females sexuality and reproduction for the good of females in order to raise their status by increasing scarcity, artificially inflating “pricing” by artificially restricting the supply of goods. This strikes directly at the existing social hierarchy.

    In contrast, activities like increasing the share of women in high prestige, male-dominated professions lead to the expected result: a decline in prestige and pay. While infiltrating male-dominated institutions may be useful in order to destroy their prestige, the result can only be leveling–limitations on the potential for males attain prestige and develop positive identities.

    Second, because human societies are inevitably driven by male status hierarchies, the only way women can achieve a positive identity beyond being simply a vagina is to separate and cut themselves off from men. Only then can women have a truly female-centric status hierarchy in which they can have a positive identity as persons, separated from men.

    I point this out because Dworkin’s fundamental assumptions about gender are profoundly reactionary. In fact, perhaps it is her grim insight into human nature that in the end drove her to the desperation that led to her early demise.

    While I have no doubt that her political insight–the key to raising the status of women in male status hierarchies is by putting lesbians in charge of regulating heterosexual activities (thereby creating conditions of artificial scarcity)-is likely to be carried forward by activists, because it works. On the other hand, if we view modern feminism as essentially a rent-seeking lobby for mostly heterosexual professional woman, it is clear that modern feminism will never be capable of handling the truth.

    • a bee ee? says

      “Females (especially lesbians) need to control heterosexual females sexuality and reproduction for the good of females in order to raise their status by increasing scarcity, artificially inflating “pricing” by artificially restricting the supply of goods.’

      Quite right, and additionally explains their hysterical opposition to sexbots. Their goal is to keep as many men as possible frustrated for as long as possible, and sexbots represent a threat to that hegemony.

      George Orwell once characterized a vision of the future as a boot stamping on a human face, forever. I don’t think he envisioned that the boot would be a stiletto heel and that the face would have a beard.

      • KD says

        What is interesting is that the utopian order is similar to a fundamentalist Mormon cult, except instead of all the young women being controlled by the Elder and his cronies at the top of the hierarchy, control would fall to the Priestesses of Gaia or woke Academic Activists or whatever, and the average man would be like the average young man in a fundamentalist Mormon cult, expendable and disposable.

  16. Tyler says

    I had the (mis?)fortune of attending college and law school in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s at the height of MacKinnon-Dworkin mania. they were an interesting odd couple to say the least: Dworkin was an unhinged, angry, disheveled, flamboyantly frumpy, uncredentialed polemicist who could grab you by the collar and scream from the rooftops.

    by contrast, MacKinnon was the smooth-talking, measured, Ivy League law professor who was ALWAYS fashionably-dressed and well-coiffed, not to mention VERY conventionally attractive. after Andrea finished screaming, MacKinnon would slip the legal brief under the door.

    of course they had the exact same goal, just completely different styles and methods in reaching that goal.

    the author is right that despite multiple “waves” of feminism, the youngsters are going full-force with MeToo victimhood and that campus sexual assault “epidemic” hoax.

    quite interesting that of the women who have publicly pushed back on the excesses of SJW women, they are all Boomers who have age 50 well in the rear-view mirror: Heather MacDonald, Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Somers, Cathy Young, Emily Yoffee. not sure if that is just coincidence or a sign of generational perspectives.

  17. Fran says

    How glad I am that feminism passed me by. I was too busy establishing a scientific career, aided by many men along the way, none of whom EVER asked for sexual favours. And I got a supportive and loving husband (of +40 years now). On learning about Dworkin in the above, I feel sorry for such a sad angry person.

    I did know the women who started the first Woman’s Studies at my uni – they were academically totally hopeless. Steered clear. In biological science, blank-slateism seemed daft – still does and cannot imagine how anyone can take it seriously – suppose its like Dworkin’s beliefs: totally divorced from any facts.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Fran
      Your post is a wonderful breath of fresh air.

    • E. Olson says

      Great comment Fran – as a scientist it becomes even more amazing that Dworkin’s writing could be taken seriously at all. After all, if species reproduction requires the immoral and even illegal act of rape (even if between consenting adults according to Dworkin), then the species doesn’t survive, which makes for a biological dead end.

    • the gardner says

      Fran, a similar experience. Men were my best bosses, most supportive and mentoring. Never disrespectful. My women bosses seemed never to want me to succeed too much.

  18. Stephanie says

    Dworkin sounds unhinged, and I don’t approve of the censorious approach. However, this author’s euphemistic characterisation of porn as “sexual expression” is disturbing. Porn actresses suffer from drug addiction and die from suicide at astonishing rates. This is not a “career” that anyone but desperate, unfortunate women fall into.

    It’s creepy that the author is using the rantings of a deranged feminist to make a broader argument whitewashing the porn industry. It seems manipulative to me to point to women who had to make great sacrifices in their dignity at low points in their lives, and have been justifying it while self-medicating ever since, and claim that this is what female empowerment looks like.

    This can only be motivated by self-interest, or by the blank slate idea that women love having lots of sex with random people as much as men do. Or if they don’t, we should condition them to. Either way, this article seems manipulative and I don’t like it.

    • Jean Levant says

      You’re right Stephanie, porn is hardly a triumph for free speech, but I wonder if you are not imputing more motives to the author than he had in this piece.

    • Heike says

      Larry Flynt and his porno magazine Hustler were heroes of the free speech Left for decades.

      That phrase “free speech Left” sounds so strange today, doesn’t it?

    • Jack Roe says

      Really, where is your data about suicide rates of porn actresses?

      • The answer, of course, is Stephanie is not working from data of any kind, but entirely from stereotypes about porn performers. I could just as easily answer with some anecdotes of my own that if you follow a number of them on social media, you’d observe that, generally speaking, porn performers are normal, well-adjusted people who happen to do a job involves an unusual degree of sexual behavior.

  19. Martin Dufresne says

    Any review that starts with “In my book blah-blah-blah, I…” jettisons from the outset any claim at credibility.
    Dworkin’s insights and passion deserved better… but this is Quillette.
    Proof if we needed any that Dworkin was and remains NOT “in bed with the Right”.

    • Oh, I think it’s abundantly clear that Dworkin then and the ‘feminist’ antiporn movement now are quite strongly alinged with the religious/socially conservative right. If anything, the two movements have moved more closely toghether, so that the leadership of many of these anti-porn, anti-sex work orgs (of which there are many and who benefit from lavish US government funding) are increasingly led by a new breed of ‘feminist’ evangelicals.

      The more accurate assessment is that the right is as divided on this issue as the left is (and you can certainly see that in the comments section here), and sexual conservatism vs sexual liberalism is a strong markers of one’s place on the authoritarian/libertarian axis rather than the right/left one. So no surprise that authoritarian feminism has found common ground with the authoritarian right on this issue, and in some cases, the ideologies have effectively merged over the last several decades.

  20. Daniel says

    Jerry Barnett, so fascinating that you describe a public health disaster like the proliferation of pornography as “freedom of speech.” Since when was freedom of speech a cause of public health disasters? Is it possible that this moral standard (the one that condemns pornography as bad) is a protection against not just exploitation of women, but also against enslavement of men, and serious damage to families? Is it possible that you are wrong about porn? What, exactly, would it take for you to change your mind? Apparently a heck of a lot more ruin and chaos than you and your like-minded NPCs have wreaked so far.

    • Peter from Oz says

      How is the proliferation of pornography a public health disaster? Are you confusing morality with health?

      • Daniel says

        Peter from Oz,
        Good question. There are steadily more and more reports of health professionals that are calling the proliferation of porn a public health problem. My use of “disaster” was for dramatic purposes, though I’m not convinced it’s unwarranted.
        You may have noticed such reports, or you may see them in the future, at which point you can make up your own mind.
        Regarding morality, a lot of morals wind up having good practical wisdom at their roots. I’m of the opinion that the sexual morals that condemn porn fall in that category. I’ve seen reports of the physical, emotional and mental consequences of porn addiction, including dissatisfaction with real-life romantic relationships, loss of confidence in interacting with the opposite sex, and erectile dysfunction. The last seems to have the most data, probably because it’s quantitative and more clearly measured.
        I’ve also seen reports of what happens when kids are exposed to porn, and become addicted. Those same things, but they are much less able to recover if they quit. Brain plasticity is a real thing, and their minds grow around the porn, so to speak. There is no cure with quitting, and though they can make strides in recovery, it’s demoralizingly difficult to do so.

        Imagine never being able to calmly interact with the other gender; always having that sense of alienation, or panic even. Imagine always having a critical attitude with the physical appearance or sexual performance of your SO. Imagine the little blue pills as regular a thing as multivitamin.

        So that’s my rationale for using the word “disaster”. Perhaps this particular aspect of sexual morality isn’t so much prudish as prudent.

        • Doug F says

          I would be interested if the increase in porn has driven the higher use of porn, or the increase in desire for porn has driven its proliferation.

          I would hate to be a young man in today’s dating scene. Women are demanding you bow to SJW to have discussions or face the consequences. Harmless flirting might be perceived as rape. The whole boy/girl thing was complicated enough when I was young – it must be past bewildering now.

          The hormones haven’t gone away. Is it that big of surprise that they find physical relief in porn?

        • So in other words, social conservatives like yourself are for some form of censorship when that speech threatens to influence people away from your version of “morality”. You’re even going so far as to say that the tendency of porn to influence who and what one finds attractive should make it the subject of regulation, which if we follow that logic, entails censorhip of a great deal more of the media, starting with the movie and fashion industries.

          And funny thing, this is pretty much the argument that SJWs on the left make for broad censorship of conservative speech – the same use of ‘bad tendency’ arguments to claim that allowing such views to be aired leads to real bigotry against identifiable groups down the road. And one can find a certain amount of data for both of these arguments, although also, quite a bit of data against as well.

          I’ll admit my strongly anti-authoritarian bias here, but I would much rather treat individuals as if they have agency and responsibility for their actions, that they can consume media withouth simply imitating what they see, and that the relationship between media and values goes both ways and is highly complex, and that the government using the big stick of censorship should be reserved for only the most direct forms of incitement to violence, and it is not the place of the state to control the thoughts of the populace.

          • neoteny says

            I’ll admit my strongly anti-authoritarian bias here

            There’s nothing to be ashamed of a strongly anti-authoritarian bias: it is inherently self-defensive. When someone weaponizes strong anti-authoritarian biases, that in itself authoritarian behaviour.

            Once I’ve seen a graffiti in Vienna which said “Kill All Nazis” — a perfect example of how a honourable sentiment (anti-Nazism) can be discredited by advocating for an Endlösung indistinguishable from the one deployed by the Nazis. One could succeed in killing all Nazis only by killing herself last.

            it is not the place of the state to control the thoughts of the populace

            Yet elementary & secondary education is controlled by the state. In North America, education is nominally in the hands of the school boards, i.e. of the involved community. But the school boards are supervised by various state entities like Education Departments and the like. Teachers’ education is supervised by the state through certification. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a state entity: some of its activities qualify as indoctrination. There’s no end to the ways the state attempts to control the thoughts of the populace. The more the state succeeds in it, the more severe are the consequences for the populations involved.

          • Daniel says

            Galway Curiousblue,
            Sure. I have no problem with free speech. But calling porn “speech” was only ever a tenuous connection at best, and I’m just pointing out the real consequences of porn consumption. (The production of porn is another business altogether. Just a wretched industry from beginning to end, and rife with human trafficking. But that’s another topic. Let me confine myself to responding to your comment.)
            Where do we draw the line? Are images of girls wearing swimsuits okay? Tough questions, I’m sure we all agree.
            A few years ago I heard a report of a bill that would have ISPs in Britain ban porn unless the consumers specifically asked to have it enabled. It was struck down. Therefore young kids have even easier access to porn, and have a much higher liklihood of accidentally coming across it.
            Given the serious consequences of youth porn addiction, it seems time to do something about it. Not sure what, and I’m not advocating a particular course of action until I am sure, but I will call out people who disagree with the statement that porn oppresses women, and that porn is a public health problem. Especially because it seems like they are selfishly motivated by wanting to consume as much smut themselves as they can. (Hello Jerry Barnett!)

          • neoteny says

            I will call out people who disagree with the statement that porn oppresses women, and that porn is a public health problem.

            Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

            ― C. S. Lewis

          • Daniel says

            neoteny,

            What a great quote. Not sure Lewis would call even banning porn “tyranny”, let alone criticizing or restricting it more. But he might.

            Let me respond with a question: do you think the current levels of porn in our society is healthy, or at least a net positive?

  21. Alfons Kuchlbacher says

    I wonder why no one mentioned the huge gender pay gap in the porn-business?

  22. Peter says

    In the early days of the Bosnian war, a leftist journalist was shocked as he witnessed the following incident in Sarajevo. The Bosniak (Moslem) side captured a number of young soldiers of the Yugoslav People’s Army. As they were marching them through a Moslem neighbourhood, Moslem women leaned out of the window and shouted: »Kill them!«.

    These young soldiers were recruits. They had no part in the recent decision that the Army would support the Serbian side (since its officers and leaders were mostly Serbs) and indiscriminately bomb the city. Quite a few were probably not even Serbs.

  23. Charles Woolf says

    I’m of two minds about replying to this: on the one hand I wonder why we pay such close attention to the productions of someone who is clearly quite disturbed; and on the other hand her view so clearly illustrates a child’s unconscious fantasies of sex differences that it’s worth pointing out.

    Before children acquire full understanding of the actual anatomical differences between the sexes (and their complementarity), they tend to unconsciously represent those differences as having or not having a penis.

    The penis is unconsciously fantastically endowed with omnipotent desirable powers and a sense of completeness (which it inherits from previous narcissistic experiences) and becomes the object of intense interest –– it is no longer a simple part of an anatomy, it becomes a powerful phallus.

    Boys unconsciously think they have this fantastic object and are terrified that they are going to lose it. Girls unconsciously think they don’t have this fantastic object and are resentful for not having been given it. It is important to stress that NEITHER SEX has an advantage here.

    Dworkin seems firmly installed in the childhood fantasy that men somehow possess a magical power and that women are condemned to weakness. This is a classic phallic worldview: you either have it or you don’t, you’re either strong or weak.

    From the phallic worldview, a man penetrating a woman can only be the manifestation of his (fantastical) humiliating and sadistic dominance over her, made even worse by the fact that by the very act of penetrating her he shows that she doesn’t have a phallus whereas he does (needless to say, in reality nobody has a phallus).

    This fantasy has nothing to do with adult sexuality where the sexes recognize that they are profoundly different and complementary.

    I’m sure Dworkin suffered terribly, and it’s a shame she couldn’t find the help to work all this out instead of twisting herself into progressively tighter and self-defeating knots in order to rationalize her unconscious fantasies.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Cora, aka another silly lefty who can’t make an argument and has to resort to abuse.

      • Andrew Roddy says

        @Peter from Oz
        You do get that your comment uses the same ‘methodology’ as Cora’s, don’t you? But for my money she has nailed it. Most of the comments here evidence a simmering cauldron of hysteria and contempt masquerading as objective observation. The contributors sing mostly from the same pathetic, self-aggrandizing hymn sheet – legends of dispassionate, cutting-edge analysis in their own logically consistent lunch times. The combined effect is nearly comical – but not quite. The conspicuous absence of imaginative empathy renders the effect oppressive and too sinister for wholesome laughter.
        The article itself raises scope for rich discussion but it hardly seems possible in this poisonous atmosphere.

          • Andrew Roddy says

            @northernobserver
            I suspect I am insufficiently woke (to whatever it is you have to be woke to) to find your linked video interesting. It’s a pity because I suspect if I was I would have found it ingeniously clever, riotously funny and gloriously self-gratifying. I found it merely tedious.
            I presume you consider it relevant to the discussion here. I think you are probably right which somehow chimes with why I think the discussion fails to rise above the depressingly predictable quagmire of moribund tropes so favoured by many of the commenters.

            It’s an interesting review and the subject is challenging and difficult.

        • Doug F says

          Andy, not a single response to content, and by my count 7 disparaging word or phrases.

          • Andrew Roddy says

            @Doug F
            It’s all response to content. No, its not point by point – It’s not analytical or academic. It’s from the hip. Sometimes that’s the most appropriate way to shoot.

          • neoteny says

            Sometimes that’s the most appropriate way to shoot.

            If you don’t care about collateral damage.

            the discussion fails to rise above the depressingly predictable quagmire of moribund trope

            The sentiment expressed here itself is a depressingly predictable moribund trope. It contributes exactly zero to the discussion at hand.

  24. the gardner says

    Please read the other story about women voluntarily holding naked yoga classes so middle aged men can ogle their hot slits. Pornography by another name, freely offered by women.

  25. DBruce says

    Last Days at Hot Slit- that’s what I call a good title

  26. Dworkin’s work was nothing more than the expression of an extreme psychopathology, tricked out as social commentary. Essentially everything she wrote was an affirmation of her own illness. That it forms much of the basis for contemporary feminism says a lot.

  27. markbul says

    High in extraversion, very high in neuroticism. Pick your personality disorder. The trick is, don’t be a little crazy – be hardcore disturbed. People will follow anyone who has convinced themselves.

  28. LIAM says

    This reminds of what Walter Kaufmann wrote on his essay on Heidegger:

    “A reviewer once said of another ‘existentialist’ who admired Heidegger: ‘He says a hundred things I have been unconsciously hoping to hear from someone who assert them with authority.’ This is what a great many readers of Being and Time have felt ever since the book appeared in 1927; and the book invited this response. Emphatically, this was not the response Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Freud invited.”

    great review

  29. Respek Wahmen says

    The haters should watch some video of her interacting with her critics. Highly intelligent, consistent, authentic, brave and patient.

    One could dislike her based on her influence, and this pornophobia crap is highly irritating, or question her rhetoric on prior restraint, claiming it wasn’t, since, although it’s technically true that the the legislation she was pushing was merely to provide for a civil action after the fact, the end result would still basically be a prior restraint form of censorship. If your definitions are so vague or nebulous it may as well be prior restraint. There will be both a chilling effect, and then if anyone dares to publish anything, what will happen after the first injunction comes down and damages are awarded? No more porn.

    But even her suppossedly lesser form of censorship was struck down, so what else could she have done? I mean, apart from not being a crazy feminist. She still deserves respek. At least if we give her the benefit of the doubt that she didn’t make up the event in paris. I like her, based on what little I know about her.

    • Andrew Roddy says

      Thank you so much for this post. I have made it my business to do as you suggest. I knew little about Dworkin before reading the above article and the commentary. Good Christ, if I had not explored a little further I would have come away with such a jaundiced and poisoned impression. I commend this link to you. It makes me imagine there may have been a time when people actually talked to one another about interesting and challenging ideas.

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=cVYiJV_1IwM

  30. Anonymous says

    I can understand the concept that intercourse is a “violation” or “invasion”, and why that might disturb some feminists.

    OTOH, if sex generally disturbed women because of the invasive aspect – then the only way species could be continued would be through rape. Clearly, the vast majority of women do not hold to this concept.

    Furthermore, one could also view the fetus as being the ultimate invader – having its ENTIRE BODY inside you for nine months – not just a penis for a few seconds.

    This kind of thinking can only lead to madness.

  31. Pingback: Book Review: Last Days at Hot Slit by Andrea Dworkin - Sex & Censorship

  32. carl m jacobson says

    In my opinion, a lot of the Radical Feminist rhetoric about an all-oppressing ‘Patriarchy’ and the eternally Oppressive (White) Male, sounds like it was conceived and written by Paranoid Schizophrenics. So, it doesn’t surprise me that so many of these Radical Feminist ‘Intellectuals’ have later been diagnosed with crippling mental illnesses and often live out their lives as reclusive ‘Bag Ladies’ who shout at phantom enemies in the streets.

    This is such a flawed, and destructive outlook or ‘Philosophy’

    If there was this actual eternal state of Gender Oppression and Exploitation between the sexes, we would not survive as a species. We survived through cooperation and altruism, not conflict. We need each other, plain and simple.

    • Jack Roe says

      Bingo. Most University types are schizoid, this is the elephant in the room, a University is, itself an invisible, immortal body—Harvard today is the same “thing” even though the people who founded it are dead, and to University schizos, this “makes sense,” but it’s a pack of lies.

  33. David M. Gross says

    35 years ago, I encountered this duo, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine Mackinnon, in the City of Minneapolis, where I was assigned the task of legally/constitutionally analyzing the so-called Civil Rights Approach to Pornography Ordinance proposed by then University of Minnesota Law School Adjunct Professor Catharine Mackinnon. I convinced then Mayor Donald Fraser to veto the ordinance passed by the City Council twice, first on the basis that the proposed ordinance violated almost every constitutional concept of liberty and governmental limitation, that it was an almost-perfect example of NAZI-esque thought control/political correctness, the suppression/elimination of freedom of expression, the establishment of a “religion,” and the burning of books. The second time, after some “amendments” by Mackinnon to meet my objections, I simply said to the Mayor, “If someone gave you the same piece of dog shit covered in whipped cream, calling it an eclair, would you eat it?”
    A couple of years later, Judge Easterbrook of the 7th Circuit identified the ordinance as establishing an orthodoxy of thought by redefinition of the language, and the U.S. Supreme Court revoked its grant of Certiorari as “improvidently granted,” calling Mackinnon’s supporting argument “diatribe.” Dworkin and Mackinnon had taken their dog and pony show to Indianapolis, IN where Mayor Hudnut signed it into law. Mackinnon’s image to me, seared into my brain as the product of her artistry, is that of a brown-shirted, jack-booted NAZI thug with her boot on the neck of Lady Liberty, impaling her with a bayoneted rifle, and trying to burn the body and to destroy the evidence with her torch.
    Although I haven’t read this retrospective, my recollection of what I had read, and my experiences surrounding these events (including Mackinnon’s attempts to have me fired for daring to oppose her efforts and “to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution”), lead me to believe that its value will prove to be the truth of the adage: “Nothing is completely worthless, as it can always serve as an excellent bad example.”

  34. Outraged says

    You only achieve true freedom as a man when you, yourself, are the only one who defines what it means for you to be a man. Not conservatives, not liberals, not women, and not other men. And that means you DON’T, actually, have to take part in all the stupid social dominance games and tribalism. Everyone, of course, will try to convince you that you do, and to play for their team, with all sorts of dire consequences to befall you if you don’t. They can go jump in a deep lake.

    Dworkin’s meanderings are a real over-the-top attempt at shaming men (and let’s be clear, that’s what this is, and all that this is), but unfortunately they are a reflection of what many women think, albeit in an attenuated form. So what? Women who derive their entire sense of identity from how well they can control men are to be pitied.

    • Doug F says

      Outraged – I could agree with you if these politics were not able to spawn and enforce unfair legal rules and reckless spending of our tax dollars on harmful programs.

  35. Barney Doran says

    This poor woman must have had nightmares about what animals were doing to each other out there in the forests, fields, and jungles.

  36. Pingback: Last Days at Hot Slit—A Review https://quillette.com/2019/05/15/las… | Dr. Roy Schestowitz (罗伊)

  37. I’m reminded of this exchange from Footloose:

    Ariel: “I used to get such a kick out of watching you work up your sermons….I see the stage. I see costumes. It’s show business, isn’t it.?”

    Rev. Moore: “Well…it’s the only way I know how to reach peoples’ emotions.”

    As a Christian myself (libertarian Christian, not fundamentalist) and a former theology student who grew up in and out of various denominations’ doors, I get this. I see this all too often in pulpits. Done right, it’s theatrical but with either an empirical (yes, we Christians actually do use empirical data from time to time) or experiential one. Dworkin (been years since I heard that name, and as a kid I had no real understanding of any of this in the 1980s) understood the first half of it, the oft-criticized and more-often rightly-maligned emotional half. Because that’s what sways people, not facts. The far left knows this right now better than anyone.

    I first started putting my own opinion out there, then as an actual Fundamentalist, back in 1993 on The Sierra Network, where I used to both write songs and post other peoples’ actual songs (we do love to ape other people’s work, don’t we) on the teen hangout’s poetry board. Since then, I must’ve gotten into a thousand debates online. Even before then, offline, I have friends with whom I loved to debate theology. While people do take things under advisement from time to time, and occasionally real friendships can even be formed, the lion’s share of the time, arguing with people doesn’t win them over. But my own experience tells me that facts, for whatever reason, aren’t persuasive when you can’t see someone face-to-face. Maybe it’s the fact, good or bad, be it teaching, proselytizing, or wherever, that we may not remember exactly what someone said, but we sure as hell remember how they made us feel? Maybe it’s that human beings are, in general, a more emotional people than a thinking one? Maybe, as you alluded here with Dworkin, we just like to think we have a grasp on all of the world based on our own, limited experience and don’t know how to deal when someone enters into our little echo chambers and destroys that illusion by gasp daring to have an opinion that doesn’t mesh with our own.

    But if I’ve learned anything in my small 44 years, it’s that we’re too quick to rely on authority. We HAVE to be in order to live a reasonable existence, I think. I’m no expert on cars, but I will listen when the guy who works at the auto shop tells me I’m too hard on my brakes. We take the advice of this person, of that person, but especially of professors and teachers that we’re told just want to pass on information and guidance, and never question it. We never do the research for ourselves. That’s precisely what my own history professor was trying to get across when he taught our class via his approach of taking whatever the region you’re in tends to believe about things and then challenging all of it with an important eye on teaching students to study up and make up their own minds. He didn’t care if we agreed or disagreed with his takes as long as we could tell him why in an essay. And teaching critical thought is, unfortunately, clearly not not an operation taken with much seriousness in academia today. Just appeal to emotions, and whether your god is God, some form of Truth, empathy, or money, and you WILL find converts. Soldiers, even.

  38. D-Rex says

    “Her reasoning was nothing more than the fact that penises enter vaginas; that vaginas are holes, and that sex is therefore, ipso facto, an act of violation:”
    So I guess in Andrea Dworkin’s mind digital insertion in a lesbian relationship would also be an act of violation? And using a vibrator akin to self-flagellation? Seems rational to me.

    • Jack Roe says

      The problem with this feminist account is that, if it is true, we can generalize it to all talking to someone being rape, because you’re penetrating their ears with vibrations, indeed, even walking into someone’s field of view is rape, because you’re reflecting photons that penetrate their corneas. It’s childish in the extreme, but in Academia it is considered “not cricket” to knock down other departments like this, you’re supposed to let them prattle on, consume grant money, radicalize and render belligerent undergrads, get those students $100k into debt, etc. etc.

      It’s quite easy to deal with if you accept that it is schizoid rambling, like much University production, from people who have lost contact with the customary and naturally evolved categories: male, female, right, wrong, up, down, black, white, good, bad, etc. There is certainly some marginal disagreement over these things in everyone, we’re not all identical cogs, but there is no great disagreement over what, for example, a man is and a woman is, that is a manufactured controversy. Also, nobody thinks that all sex is rape, except someone who has a pathological sexual dysfunction.

      The real issue is that the University, like the Priesthood it grew out of, has always been a place for mentally ill, if brilliant, people to contribute to society—the problem is that now we settle for mentally ill, as long as it is “diverse” mental illness.

  39. Tim says

    I first thought that was a photo of Divine when I scrolled through the stories. Poor Dworkin, she seemed so sad, hurt and lonely for parental love.

  40. Surface Reflection says

    “Why was she so angry and hateful? Why did she despise sex and men with such a peculiar intensity?”

    It seems that is very and painfully clear.
    Personal misfortune, in physical looks and in actual relationships and their failures can twist and turn men and women into grotesque and sometimes monstrous distortions of who they could have been. Almost all cases of mass shooters and mass murderers i know about were men with exceedingly bad record of relationships with the opposite sex. And i most cases – no relationships at all.

    We humans have several fundamental faults, one of which is “tendency to think in binary extremes”, we trip over and fall into even in best of times. But when life serves you some hard hits under the belt and then kicks you and spits at you, majority of us cannot help but react with extremes opposite of those which hurt us. One or the other way.

    That can be seen in cases of extreme feminists like this one, or in many of the opposing reactions from male groups, created as a reactions to feminism and femi nazism.
    The problem with extremes is of course that they wipe out anything else, so no reasonable thinking, logical consistency or empathy can be expected once those thresholds are passed.

    The pornography itself is nothing great and these days it mostly became a wasteland of hollow pretense and dessicated gynecological zombified procedures, (a consequence of extreme overabundance and repetition) as far from eroticism as some manual hard labor. It can and should be criticized or maybe just not talked about and disregarded, but once you get into extremes about it – only further absurdity and extreme negative consequences can be created.
    For which this case is a very representative example.

    Some social and cultural issues are simply not fit to be handled by laws and prohibition, as reality proved to us many times, as any attempt just creates further unintended negative consequences, which then have their own consequences… despite how much some individuals want such a seemingly easy and quick solution.

    Some things we just have to grow out of, however painful or awkward that may be.

  41. Linda says

    So let me get this straight Jerry claims to have read Dworkin and asks presumably earnestly “Why was she so angry and hateful? Why did she despise sex and men with such a peculiar intensity?”

    Well so much for close reading but I don’t come to quillette for its book reviews, I come here for the several anti abortion screeds published on the same day, yawn.

Comments are closed.