Andrea Dworkin Quotes

Andrea Dworkin (September 26, 1946 - April 9, 2005)

Fist in female symbol, women's liberation
Women's Liberation. Shutterstock

Andrea Dworkin, a radical feminist whose early activism including working against the Vietnam War, became a strong voice for the position that pornography is a tool by which men control, objectify, and subjugate women. With Catherine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin helped draft a Minnesota ordinance that did not outlaw pornography but allowed victims of rape and other sexual crimes to sue pornographers for damage, under the logic that the culture created by pornography supported sexual violence against women.

Selected Andrea Dworkin Quotations

  1. By the time we are women, fear is as familiar to us as air; it is our element. We live in it, we inhale it, we exhale it, and most of the time we do not even notice it. Instead of "I am afraid," we say, "I don't want to," or "I don't know how," or "I can't."
  2. Feminism is hated because women are hated. Anti-feminism is a direct expression of misogyny; it is the political defense of women hating.
  3. Being a Jew, one learns to believe in the reality of cruelty and one learns to recognize indifference to human suffering as a fact.
  4. Woman is not born: she is made. In the making, her humanity is destroyed. She becomes symbol of this, symbol of that: mother of the earth, slut of the universe; but she never becomes herself because it is forbidden for her to do so.
  5. Feminists are often asked whether pornography causes rape. The fact is that rape and prostitution caused and continue to cause pornography. Politically, culturally, socially, sexually, and economically, rape and prostitution generated pornography; and pornography depends for its continued existence on the rape and prostitution of women.
  1. Pornography is used in rape - to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act. [Andrea testimony before the New York Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in 1986]
  2. Women, for centuries not having access to pornography and now unable to bear looking at the muck on the supermarket shelves, are astonished. Women do not believe that men believe that pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst to the best of them, they do.
  1. Sexism is the foundation on which all tyranny is built. Every social form of hierarchy and abuse is modeled on male-over-female domination.
  2. Men who want to support women in our struggle for freedom and justice should understand that it is not terrifically important to us that they learn to cry; it is important to us that they stop the crimes of violence against us.
  3. The fact that we are all trained to be mothers from infancy on means that we are all trained to devote our lives to men, whether they are our sons or not; that we are all trained to force other women to exemplify the lack of qualities which characterizes the cultural construct of femininity.
  4. Intercourse as an act often expresses the power men have over women.
  5. We have a double standard, which is to say, a man can show how much he cares by being violent -- see, he's jealous, he cares -- a woman shows how much she cares by how much she's willing to be hurt; by how much she will take; how much she will endure.
  6. Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine.
  7. Romantic love, in pornography as in life, is the mythic celebration of female negation. For a woman, love is defined as her willingness to submit to her own annihilation. The proof of love is that she is willing to be destroyed by the one whom she loves, for his sake. For the woman, love is always self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of identity, will, and bodily integrity, in order to fulfill and redeem the masculinity of her lover.
  1. The argument between wives and whores is an old one; each one thinking that whatever she is, at least she is not the other.
  2. Men are rewarded for learning the practice of violence in virtually any sphere of activity by money, admiration, recognition, respect, and the genuflection of others honoring their sacred and proven masculinity. In male culture, police are heroic and so are outlaws; males who enforce standards are heroic and so are those who violate them.
  3. Institutionalised in sports, the military, acculturated sexuality, the history and mythology of heroism, violence is taught to boys until they becomes its advocates.
  4. Men have defined the parameters of every subject. All feminist arguments, however radical in intent or consequence, are with or against assertions or premises implicit in the male system, which is made credible or authentic by the power of men to name.
  1. Men know everything - all of them - all the time - no matter how stupid or inexperienced or arrogant or ignorant they are.
  2. Men especially love murder. In art they celebrate it. In life, they commit it.
  3. We are very close to death. All women are. And we are very close to rape and we are very close to beating. And we are inside a system of humiliation from which there is no escape for us. We use statistics not to try to quantify the injuries, but to convince the world that those injuries even exist. Those statistics are not abstractions. It is easy to say, Ah, the statistics, somebody writes them up one way and somebody writes them up another way. That’s true. But I hear about the rapes one by one by one by one by one, which is also how they happen. Those statistics are not abstract to me. Every three minutes a woman is being raped. Every eighteen seconds a woman is being beaten. There is nothing abstract about it. It is happening right now as I am speaking.
  4. In this society, the norm of masculinity is phallic aggression. Male sexuality is, by definition, intensely and rigidly phallic. A man's identity is located in his conception of himself as the possessor of a phallus; a man's worth is located in his pride in phallic identity. The main characteristic of phallic identity is that worth is entirely contingent on the possession of a phallus. Since men have no other criteria for worth, no other notion of identity, those who do not have phalluses are not recognized as fully human.
  5. The genius of any slave system is found in the dynamics which isolate slaves from each other, obscure the reality of a common condition, and make united rebellion against the oppressor inconceivable.
  1. While gossip among women is universally ridiculed as low and trivial, gossip among men, especially if it is about women, is called theory, or idea, or fact.

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About These Quotes

Quote collection assembled by Jone Johnson Lewis. Each quotation page in this collection and the entire collection © Jone Johnson Lewis. This is an informal collection assembled over many years. I regret that I am not be able to provide the original source if it is not listed with the quote.

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Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Andrea Dworkin Quotes." ThoughtCo, May. 31, 2016, thoughtco.com/andrea-dworkin-quotes-3530027. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2016, May 31). Andrea Dworkin Quotes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/andrea-dworkin-quotes-3530027 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Andrea Dworkin Quotes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/andrea-dworkin-quotes-3530027 (accessed December 13, 2017).