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Monday, April 11, 2005

Ambivalence about Andrea

I didn't know until just now that Andrea Dworkin died. This is funny, because this is a weekend I actually had time to be quite leisurely about the news, and read a couple papers thoroughly. And I had no idea.

It's a weird feeling, to find this out third hand--sort of like learning from a friend that a girl you hated in high school died, and you didn't even know.

That would be a bad analogy except that Andrea Dworkin was a girl--a woman--I hated in high school, and in college...and still, I guess. In fact, my undergraduate honors thesis was for the most part a sixty-page anti-Andrea rant (it was less anti-Andrea than it was pro-Susie Bright, but the two sort of go together). Dworkin, to my mind, was so wrong that she was dangerous. Not only was she in bed with all the wrong people, but she had the nerve to criticize everyone else for being in bed, and talking about it, at all.

I can't say that, now that she has died, I feel more warmly towards her, or more ready to say positive things about her.

But I will say that I am always glad to share my world with people who want women--and the complicated, risky world of women's sexuality--to be at the cultural center stage. Although she and I would never have agreed about the status of the obscene, we did have some similar ideas of what should be on scene.

And also--every time I get angry, get crazy angry, about the dangerous ways men appropriate women's sexuality for their own ends, I think of her. And it is always good to remember that someone with whom you disagree so virulently can feel passionate, feel angry, about the same things as you.

So although I didn't agree with her on anything, she was important enough to me (as an adversary if as nothing else) that I'm quite surprised I didn't know about her death until two days later. It's sad to think that the loss of one of America's most publicly, importantly angry women doesn't count as significant news.

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