October 10th, 2008
this is old news on the blogosphere, but wtf is this bullshit analysis of dworkin?
i'm about a quarter through the comments *just finished now*, and am fucking pissed as hell. (aside from joan kelly--she's decent)
like these gems:
See, I've never actually read any of her books. I've only heard about them in the form of buzzwords and the occasional snippets. Now, reading the Wiki and such I'm left with a kind of lingering 'there but for the grace of' feel. Everything from the scars-trauma-hate to the adrift in a foreign country to the death from weight.
Yep. Definitely very grateful for my life right now. Brr. Thank you for the thought provoker, trinity!
I'm sure I'll lose Feminist Points for this, if I'm not already in the red :) but: also, life is what you make of it.
There are people out there who have survived HORROR who come out the other side fiercely loving life and believing the world is good -- or at least that they can fix it.
There are people who have survived very little in the grand scheme of things who believe the world is hell and never stop shouting about how much life hurts.
There's so much misogyny in her work, especially that novel/memoir thing that I've forgot the name of. I think she's speaking on behalf of other women, her mother especially, who didn't fight against the abuse and oppression they felt; I think she's searching for an explanation as to why so many women endured such horrible treatment for so long when she was willing to give up everything to escape that treatment. Unfortunately, I think that her explanation tends to be that those kind of women are contemptible, that they have this image of themselves that invites abuse and contempt.
I know you said somewhere around here that you'd read a few pages of "The Sadeian Women" and couldn't get into it. You should really, really give it another go; it's one of my favorite books of feminist theory ever. Anyway, Angela Carter how Justine is this kind of proto-feminist charicature of the perfect women in patriarchy: a sweet, honest, bourgois virgin who will take any abuse with a smile hoping she can stop the abuse with the power of her own goodness. She's totally contemptible, even the readers want to beat her/rape her/torture her after a while. Men hate Justine because they secretly hate themselves for creating her. I think Dworkin (who is a strong woman who didn't just sit there are take abuse her whole life), does the opposite: in hating the men who rape and abuse women she ends up secretly hating the women who are abused.
I guess the two theories aren't totally incompatible; she could also be expressing self-loathing about that times when she didn't embrace that kind of attitude.
She hated all of us, Joan. Take whatever useful things you can from her theory -- I have as well -- but don't pretend she didn't despise you.
Totally. Dworkin never seemed to really care about women at all to me either. She's so overwhelmingly focused on the men in her life, on how MUCH she LOVED them and how could they OH OH BETRAY HER SO...
...honestly she strikes me as more "male-identified" than just about any other feminist.
The whole thing rankles so much and is just so disgusting. It's like bathing in slime.
I'm so sick and tired of the notion that responding to my sexuality as itself is 'disrespectful', is 'degrading'. That sort of marginalising, oppressive bullshit is all through that mind-controlling all-pervading monoculture that's supposed to be oppressing me, right? Fiction or argument, it's all out there (and I think "it's just fiction" is a cop-out if one's concerned about cultural influences at all). And I odn't think it's liberating or supportive to be told, yet again, that the stuff that I value is corrupt, misogynistic, whatever else.
No, it just tells me that I'm a Bad Woman, the Wrong Kind of Woman, that I need to Conform Or Be Shunned. That I'm Sick, perhaps in need of Rescuing.
I don't see any hatred of patriarchy in that text. I see the thing itself, pretending to be good for me while wanting to wipe me out of existence, because it's wrong for people to be like me.
I'm a Bad Woman. The Whore. A proper Madonna would not have knowledge of BDSM, would be pure, not human dirt.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
Won't get fooled again.
I don't really feel sorry for her, in the same way I don't feel particularly sorry for some of the radfems that are getting a rough deal lately (though I must say, looking up BB's personal information is not on). I think to some extent you reap what you sow.
...I don't think that means there's nothing worthwhile in what she said. Tolkien is worthwhile despite racism. CS Lewis is worthwhile despite being one long evangelizing for Christianity. Nietzsche is worthwhile despite misogyny and racism and all sorts of other things.
But with Dworkin, it's especially notable (and especially "take this with a grain of salt" inducing) because it reveals mistrust and prejudice against the people she's hoping to save.
I resent the threads of feminist theory that wish to afflict me with demons because they consider me a Fallen Woman.
This has nothing to do with Dworkin's personal life and whether or not she deserves compassion -- it has to do with being colonised and invaded by her theories.
You know what else? It doesn't matter what her fucking motives are for writing this stuff -- what matters is what other people do with it. If Dworkin's work is causing other people to oppress ME and tell ME I'm dirtywrongbad or broken or need saved or make me feel like less of a person, WTF does it matter what the original intent behind the writing was.
I mean, and then you have people like Beeb and her erstwhile partner reading Dworkin religiously and coming out with shit like "Please fantasize responsibly." I've no doubt that earlier influences as well as perhaps not being the world's most sophisticate dreader/thinker color that particular interpretation of the Gospel of Andrea; but, it's not a total coincidence that she, and -any number of feminists who cite her, as I've seen it-, are virulently anti-BDSM, anti-this, anti-that, sexually; anti-Wrong Thinking, even.
There you have it, women who are the "wrong" kind of feminist -- and I qualify as all three on that list, thanks -- are people "given an awful character" by patriarchy. Enemies. The same as the patriarchally-invested men. [talking of stoltenberg]
She's creating these characters who don't think like her because they are stand-ins for weak, brainwashed women who are so foolish that they don't fight back against the violence inflected on them because they don't understand that they are being harmed.
For all the Dworkin's idealogical nieces identify as 'patriarchy blamers', there isn't very much blaming of the patriarchy, or even of men, in the works of Dworkin's that I've read.
- Stoltenberg and Jenson are rocking the same dumb-ass radical feminist man con: they get to be giant, frothing-at-the-mouth misogynists and exploiters of women but hide behind the excuse that those kind of women deserve it.
But you can't write a goddamn book that just says: "men hate women" over and over again. So by default she focuses her theory and her psychoanalysis on women, which means she starts asking the Wrong Damn Questions: what is wrong with women that they endure this? what kind of self-deluding fool would you have to be not to see what's happening to you? How can I convince women that everything they think about men is wrong?"
The problem I have with it boils down to -- let me see if I can get this complete and coherent:
- the paternalism of presumption of parental role (not necessarily misogyny; smug my-opinion-is-more-highly-evolved when-you-grow-up-you'll-understand crops up in far more than this)
- the lack of grasp of diversity leading to a false universalisation of personal experience
- the choice to viciously attack not merely the false-due-to-overextension characterisation of the kink world, but particularly those individual people who participate
and "kink-hatred". i'm not sure to be angry or find it absolutely hilarious.
and all the opportunistic comparisions to gayness.
shaddup with the bs already!
I can't believe I read all that.
(ps outside of the italicised begging and end, it's all quoting from others)
I think you're assuming that a lot of us on that thread have read postmodernist theory, and I don't think most of us have. I personally know very little about it. Most of the people in there are talking about why we feel attacked and marginalized by Dworkin, rather than dueling theory vs. theory.
I'm not asking you to agree with us or not be angry with us for those comments. I'm just saying that I think you're misunderstanding what made us so mad a year ago. And that is that, well, most of us think that "theory" is generally of limited use, precisely because we find ourselves banging against the wall of, "okay, I see what this theory says, but then over here is my lived experience, which is wildly different."