Rad Geek People's Daily

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Posts from February 2006

Congratulations on washing! (or: men and feminism)

Here’s two things that are both true at once.

The Soapbox (2006-02-13): The F-word (part the third):

But what, is the role of men in feminism to be? On the level of government and legislation, it means that men have to acknowledge and represent the needs of women. As Mind on Fire points out, male involvement in feminism raises the possibility of male engagement, criticism and leadership in the feminist movement. How do we feel about that? In all honesty, my gut feeling is that men should not be making decisions for women. For example, I have a fundamental problem with men making the decision to restrict abortion rights, for example. Men never become pregnant, and for the most part still take a smaller share in the task of raising a child. It’s roughly comparable to women making decisions (and creating restrictions!) on the permissible medical treatments for prostate problems. Consequenly, I have difficulty seeing how men generally can properly understand the significance an unwanted pregnancy has to a woman. This leads me to draw a distinction between speaking for or making decisions for women, and being a channel for the voices of women.

… So where does this leave us? My own view is that men should not be setting the priorities for the feminist movement, and they need to be careful that their involvement is not the insertion of male authority. That said, I am absolutely for the involvement of men in the advancement of feminism. As a women’s movement, women need to be leading the movement and setting the priorities. But it also needs to be a joint movement, and men do need to be involved. So guys: go on, be activists! Take an equal share of the housework and the childcare, sign petitions for Roe, go on marches, be part of it. So, in answer to Mind on Fire’s original question of Is there a place for feminist men in feminism? my answer is a resounding YES!

BB, Den of the Biting Beaver (2006-02-21): Fair or Unfair, you decide (boldface added):

This is a phenomenon that radicals often see. Hell, Sam has posted about it before on this very board. We see this often in radical circles, men, who are well-meaning, and not trying to troll, stepping forward to claim the feminist label and then telling radicals that they are wrong or not taking any criticism from the actual women.

I suspect that I know where this comes from. Hell, Dim suffered from it and I suspect that many feminist men have dealt with it. They think that they’ve made all of these wonderful changes, that they’ve come so far. They share the household chores with their wives, they do laundry, and they may even speak out against sexist jokes when they hear them. They prance and dance and inside are swelling with pride for being so progressive and adding their voices to the tide of women’s voices. That is, until a woman calls them out on something. Until a woman says, You haven’t learned as much as you think you have and, in fact, I have a feeling that you’ve still got a lot of work to do.

They instantly deflate, confusion purses their brow and you can almost hear the line that is going through their heads, But, I’ve done so MUCH! What the hell? I can’t win with you! Instead of prancing and congratulating them for all the work they’ve done a woman is instead telling them that they’re not even close. This isn’t what they expected at all, what do you mean she’s not happy YET? What is wrong with this woman? How many fucking mountains do I have to climb to get her to congratulate me?

Here’s a tip.

A radical will NEVER congratulate you for treating women as human. We’re not going to go all cute and cuddly and say, OH, you’re such a good boy for actually helping her with the housework and changing the baby! Why should we? Seriously, we ARE human, and we DESERVE to be treated as such. When a man shows up expecting great big loads of praise for actually treating us as human beings what he’s really saying is that he’s done some great Herculean task by treating us as equals.

This is akin to a white person prancing around a group of African Americans and expecting praise for NOT hating them based on their skin color. The right not to be hated, not to be abused, is a RIGHT. Why in the hell do we need to congratulate you on your accomplishment of not being a fuckhead to us? It’s insulting and no radical is going to go out of her way to make you feel better about not abusing half of the population.

Now, here’s the other half of the equation, which Dim touched on yesterday with his post: The men who come to feminist spaces and expect to be able to dictate just what feminism is and what it isn’t. And when those ideals are in line with radical feminism then women are fine and dandy, but when men come into threads telling women that they’re wrong and women get angry, these same guys tend to dance around and say, But, but….I’ve come so far and I’m just learning!.

Women don’t have the time to offer you a learning curve. Your partner may do it because she loves you, your boss may do it because they respect that you’re trying, but feminists on the front lines who have no connection to you aren’t going to give you a learning curve. Now, I’ve never met a feminist who screams at a man for getting it wrong, normally, they’ll simply point out that You’re wrong, you need to read some more. No fuss, no muss, and they sure as hell aren't going to dilute their message by congratulating you for changing diapers. That’s already expected. I suspect it is this lack of congratulation that throws these guys into a tizzy.

They WANT to be recognized for not being a complete fuckheads, they think they SHOULD be congratulated on All the work I’ve done. Radicals see that as a given, you are expected not to hurt women, period. These same men will then come back and oftentimes say, I’m sorry…but (or some variation thereof) and this, my friends, will piss off a feminist more than you can possibly imagine. We know what I’m sorry but means. It means that you still think you were right and justified in saying something wrong, it means that you think that we should allow you to get away with saying anti-woman things because of your learning curve. It means that you believe we OWE you time to work things out because, of course, the notion of not being fucktards to women is so damn hard to grasp.

It’s insulting and infuriating and anytime a man comes in with the I’m sorry but shtick we know what we’re facing. Radicals are not in the business of coddling men, we’re not in the business of saying, Good boy! You didn’t insult me this week or say something sexist to me! I’m sooo proud of you!! This is something that ALL feminist men need to understand. We’re not in this to lead you by the hand and show you what’s what. If you have a question, then ask it. I’ve yet to see a woman tear a man limb from limb for simply asking a question that is NOT loaded with presuppositions and defensive language.

… This is another common idea, that somehow I’m stifling dissent. I’ve seen men use this excuse time and time again to try to manipulate a forum to allow them to say whatever the hell they want to say. Sorry, it ain’t working here. If you've read my rules and my Mission Statement then there shouldn't be any questions. When men come in and say, You can't get your message across if you stifle dissent I laugh, then I scream. It sounds like a thinly veiled threat to me, You better let me disagree with you in whatever nasty, mean, spiteful way I want or I won't listen to you! My response to this is fine. I don't need you and I sure as hell are not going to take you by the hand and forgive every stupid remark you make because I fear you're not going to listen to me.

Feminism as a theory, will stand or fall on it's own merit. It doesn't need me, or anyone else, coddling men to make it work. Do I want to convince you? Sure I do. Am I going to jump through hoops and let you be rude, obnoxious and just plain sexist to make that happen? The answer is an across the board No. I don't need your voice that badly, not badly enough to let you run roughshod over the women here.

Here's the deal, in THIS movement you are just another person. Period. And, to push it even further, if you want to be involved in radical feminism you should prepare and be ready for women telling you you're wrong. For once in your life your sex will be scrutinized and looked at suspiciously, get over it. The fact that you are a man will account for nothing unless it is asked when you are saying something antithetical to what the feminist movement is about. Here's the thing, we don't NEED you. We sure as hell aren't going to waste time trying to appease you at the expense of women. This is fact in radical circles.

Read the whole thing.

Humility is hard, and so is ignorance; and it’s especially hard when you’ve been brought up, subtly or overtly, to expect pride and honor and a hearing for your opinions and your theories as your birthright. But when we boys get sniffy over the fact that we’re getting criticized for our behavior and start appealing to our past achievements, or worse, our intentions, we’re expecting rewards for things that ought to be basic expectations, and would be in a humane society in which women were consistently respected and treated as equals. Successful male feminism isn’t an accomplishment like writing a symphony or inventing a new labor-saving device or cooking a particularly delicious meal. All it amounts to is managing to do the stuff that you’re supposed to, in spite of what may be convenient for you. If you expect to be congratulated on showing up for work or washing your hands, or you think that you personally are so vital that you need to be congratulated just for showing up or it’s all going to go to hell, then you need to think harder about why you expect this.

Here’s one that I struggle with; it’s hard for me because I’ve been encouraged to act this way and frankly it’s hard for me because often I like to act this way. I need to get better about it. Not as often with women as with other men, but it’s something that I do, and that I do too often and too easily, both in private life and public forums (each in their own way). The temptation towards a combative style of conversation, and treating the debates that follow as if they were wars of attrition, is something I need to overcome.

Here at The Den we’ve had a good many disagreements. But a startling trend has become abundantly clear to me. When I peruse some of our hottest threads I note that most of the time when a disagreement is between women one of them will ultimately say, Well, I see that I’m not going to change you mind on this. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I appreciate the time you’ve given me with this discussion. Then, they bow out of the thread.

With men I have NEVER seen such a thing. It’s unheard of for a man to simply say, Hmm, I see I’m not going to change your mind, thank you for the discussion you’ve given me a lot to think about. No, instead what I see is thread after thread where these guys continue on and on and on pushing insult after insult in an attempt to shut up the woman they're arguing with. They can’t seem to STOP posting, even when it’s become clear that they’ve come to a total impasse.

No, they seem to expect the women to stop posting, and their common response is, Well, SHE didn’t stop! Why do you expect ME to stop? The answer is simple; these women on this site are practicing standing up to men. Many of these women have never had the opportunity to continue speaking after they've been told by a man to shut up. Many of them are, for the first time ever, trying to find the nerve to tell a man that he’s wrong. If you think it’s unfair of me to expect a man to shut up and bow out when there’s an impasse then I don’t know what to tell you.

Many of the women on this blog have been effectively silenced for much of their lives and I’ll be damned if I tell them to shut up as well. As a man it’s rare that you’re asked to shut the hell up, but it WILL happen here and I will expect you to allow these women their voices and back the hell off when it’s clear that nothing more is to be gained.

To you men, if you’re really all about giving voice to women then here’s a trick, Let them have a voice. Let them get the precious last word, back off and bow out. Women do it all the damned time. A quick look through the contentious threads will show you instance after instance of women saying, Thank you for the discussion, I appreciate the input and now I’m going to go and think about it. In the threads where men are involved this is almost unheard of, only a few posters come to mind.

No, it appears that men are all too willing to ‘give women a voice’ unless and until it comes down to THEM shutting the hell up. …

— BB, Den of the Biting Beaver (2006-02-21): Fair or Unfair, you decide

In a similar vein

Ho Ho Ho.

In the news the past couple weeks:

A perfect opportunity for hilarity:

LAFAYETTE — A 21-year-old man was accidentally shot by his 17-year-old girlfriend last night while they were hunting for raccoons near his farmhouse.

Josh Kayser, who lives just north of the Lafayette city limits, was taken to Avista Hospital in Louisville after a bullet grazed his right ear and left forearm, according to a report by Boulder County Sheriff's Commander Phil West. He is in good condition this morning.

The couple was hunting raccoons that had been preying on the family's chickens and as Kayser crouched to peer under a shed for a wounded raccoon, he was shot, West said.

His girlfriend, whose name wasn't released, was holding the .22-caliber rifle for him and it unintentionally discharged.

— Rocky Mountain News (2006-02-14): Lafayette man shot during raccoon hunt

A veritable laugh riot:

A 10-year-old was listed in critical condition Sunday night after being shot with a shotgun. Hampton Police say the boy and his friends were playing with it when it went off.

It happened around 7:30 at the Lincoln Park Apartments off of LaSalle Avenue. Police said the little boy was shot in the head and hand. Neighbors tell us it was a horrifying sight.

He was in a chair and there was blood on his head and stuff,> said Tanya Smallwood.

Police said there was an adult in the apartment when the shotgun fired. It’s unclear if the shooting victim lived there or was visiting. It’s also unknown if the gun belonged to one of the adults who lived in that unit.

Joanne Smith also watched on as the boy was put into the ambulance. She said he was conscious. She has two kids of her own. She wants to know how the gun got into the hands of a child. She said she always reminds her children never to treat guns like toys.

WTKR Norfolk, Virginia (2006-02-20): Ten Year Old Accidentally Shot In Hampton

An investigation revealed that the victim was visiting relatives, when he was accidentally shot by another juvenile inside the home. The victim and two other juveniles were in a bedroom when the suspect retrieved the weapon.

The suspect was showing off the weapon, and the gun discharged striking the victim.

— WAVY Hampton Roads, Virginia (2006-02-20): Child Accidentally Shot in Hampton, Teen Charged

So funny it hurts:

The Modesto teenager, a Johansen High School freshman, was hunting Nov. 12 with his father and friends when he was hit in the chest, arm and head with a shotgun blast. …

Blake had a punctured lung from one of the pellets, but his heart was protected by his shotgun. Blake’s eyes were the most seriously injured. In December, after multiple surgeries, he wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to see clearly again. He could see light from one eye, but not the other.

Since then, said his mother, Robin Searls, his vision has improved, but doctors had to remove the lenses from both eyes because Blake was developing cataracts. At Easter or during summer vacation, she said, doctors will remove the oil they injected to keep the retina in his best eye in place and determine at that time whether to implant new lenses or give Blake contact lenses.

He went back to school last month, she said. We were able to get a bifocal prescription for him, and when he’s holding the book close he can read with his good eye.

We’re not sure at this point (what his prognosis will be). His eyes are still healing. He has bad scarring going on, and they’re keeping a close eye on that.

— Modesto Bee (2006-02-19): Teen knows about being shot

You see, there’s this one dude, and there’s this other dude, and one of the dudes shot the other dude. The injury may not be lethal but the victim’s going to need close medical care, possibly for the next several years. Har har har.

How much funnier can you get? What more perfect opportunity could you have for some chuckles, and making some snide little funny at the shooter’s expense? Maybe you can retread an old song from the 1990s to imply the shooter is dangerous. Maybe you could even write a nasty little shoot-em-up game featuring the the shooter and his other buddies!. Ho ho ho.

There’s nothing like a good laugh. It might all seem a little pointless; it might even seem a little mean. But hey, lighten up; it’s not like anybody got hurt or anything.

Misquotation in Media: Catharine MacKinnon never, ever, ever, ever said “All heterosexual intercourse is rape.” Ever. Ever.

This just in…

Quotations to that effect have been incorrectly attributed to both Dworkin or MacKinnon, who never said those words and denied that they believed it when asked. Interpretations of their extensive and nuanced work on intercourse, rape, patriarchy, consent, coercion, men, women, and sexual ethics (which you can find elaborated in detail in, among other places, Dworkin’s book Intercourse and Chapter 9 of MacKinnon’s Toward a Feminist Theory of the State) that claim to find the view written between the lines have repeatedly been made on the basis of selective quotation, wilful misreading, and downright gossip. These facts have been repeatedly pointed out, not least by the authors themselves, but also by a lot of other people, over and over again. And yet the charade goes on.

Today, Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Professors (2006-02-19) took notice of the New York Times Book Review’s uncritical publication of a fabricated quotation from Catharine MacKinnon, repeated by Kate O’Beirne in her anti-feminist tract, Women Who Make the World Worse, and reported as if the quotation were fact by Ana Marie Cox in her review of O’Beirne’s book. The book review, in spite of having itself published a letter by Dworkin and MacKinnon in 1995 on the topic, and in spite of printed treatments of this in the media in the pages of the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere throughout the print media over Cal Thomas’s misquotation of MacKinnon in March 1999, went ahead and published Cox’s review without so much as noting that it contained a plain error of fact that any idiot with access to Google could have discovered in the few seconds it took to type out the obvious search request. Three days later, Elizabeth Anderson (2006-01-18): Bashing Feminists pointed out the error. The Times just got around to publishing an Editor’s Note correcting the error on February 6, which went into print on February 12, nearly a month after the review was published.

Readers may remember that back in January, Salon also ran an interview with O’Beirne by Rebecca Traister back in January, where Traister casually reported the fabricated “quote” not only as fact, but in fact as old news. As it happens, two different people wrote them back within a day of when the story was published — Anonymous 2006-01-16 and Mike Connell 2006-01-17. I posted about it here at GT 2006-01-31: Memo to Rebecca Traister a couple of weeks later. As of 6:39pm on February 19, 2006, they have not even so much as published a correction. I just sent them a third letter about the topic; we’ll see whether this produces any effect or not.

Update (2006-03-01): Rebecca Traister filed a correction on the interview as of 23 February 2006. See GT 2006-03-01: Do the Right Thing: Salon issues correction on misquotation of Catharine MacKinnon for details.

Why does this continue to happen? I’m not worried so much about Rebecca Traister or Ana Marie Cox — the lie is widespread, the challenges to it are evidently not widely known (in spite of being repeatedly made in public forums), and their primary job was to discuss O’Beirne’s book, not to fact-check every claim and citation made in it. Or even about O’Beirne herself — like most professional antifeminists, she makes her living on dishonest hatchet pieces, and while that needs to be exposed, it’s not much of a surprise. What I do want to know, though, is why professional publications that claim a reputation for accuracy and honesty so easily allow blatant, known falsehoods like these into print. Who fact-checked these articles? Who let them through without even minimal research on the quotations in it, and why has it taken a month to get even one correction?

Anderson puts it this way:

Here’s a measure of how much a group is despised: how much malicious absurdity can one ascribe to its members and still be taken as a credible source on what they say and do? With respect to feminists, the answer is quite a lot. Christina Hoff Sommers, former philosopher and professional feminist basher, has been widely and credulously cited for her critique of the American Association of University Women‘s report, How Schools Shortchange Girls, although my fact-checking finds her critique riddled with errors, inconsistencies, and misleading claims. Many academic critics of feminist philosophers are just as bad, often to the point of ascribing claims to feminists that are exactly the opposite of what they say. Feminists, it seems, are not entitled to a minimally charitable or even literate reading of what they say.

Andrea Dworkin wrote something similar in the editorial notes of Letters from a War Zone, on her essay Biological Superiority: The World’s Most Dangerous and Deadly Idea (p. 110):

… One problem is that this piece, like others in this book, has no cultural presence: no one hs to know about it or take it into account to appear less than ignorant; no one will be held accountable for ignoring it. Usually critics and political adversaries have to reckon with the published work of male authors whom they wish to malign. No such rules protect girls. One pro-pornography “feminist” published an article in which she claimed I was anti-abortion, this in the face of decades of work for abortion rights and membership in many pro-choice groups. No one even checked her allegation; the periodical would not publish a retraction. One’s published work counts as nothing, and so do years of one’s political life.

Whether or not you agree with Catharine MacKinnon’s or Andrea Dworkin’s views, and whether or not you are even interested in discussing them or finding out precisely what they are, you do have a responsibility to make sure that articles published under your authority and with the imprimatur of your reputation don’t repeat exposed fabrications about them or about what they said. The pages of the Grey Lady or even of Salon shouldn’t read like the Horror File page of a Men’s Rights bully-boy. Professional journalists are paid to do a lot better than that, and it’s long past time that we hold them accountable for it.

You can write a public letter to the editor of Salon in response to Traister’s interview, or write privately, to let them know that they are printing documented falsehoods and that you expect better of them.

Update (2006-03-01): There’s no more need to write letters for a correction. Rebecca Traister filed a correction on the interview as of 23 February 2006. See GT 2006-03-01: Do the Right Thing: Salon issues correction on misquotation of Catharine MacKinnon for details. If you’ve got an itch to write Salon, you can always write them a letter thanking them for doing the right thing and urging them to fact-check specific quotations from named authors more carefully in the future.

Further reading:

The Spitting Image, Only Funny If You Liked the Same Movies as Me in High School Edition

What is it that so unsettles me about Alberto Gonzales? Is it the coziness with torture and indifference to minimal norms of civilization? Or is it the haughty and contemptuous defense of Caesarian executive power? The rapid turns he routinely makes between dissembling, palavering, and baring the sharpened fangs in a grin or a snarl?

Yes, of course that all worries me. But there’s something else, a certain I-cannot-say-what. It’s in the hair, the eyes, the posture, the facial expression, the shape of the headI’ve seen it before. But where? Oh, yeah.

Alberto Gonzales leans his blocky-shaped head forward during testimony Ron Perlman's character leans his blocky-shaped head forward and grins a predatory grin while leaning forward in The Last Supper

I’m just sayin’.

(No personal jabs at Ron Perlman intended, by the way–if you don’t recognize the film and the character from the still, this almost certainly won’t be funny to you, but for the record, it’s from The Last Supper (1995). Just so you know.)

Over My Shoulder #11: Andrea Dworkin, Preface to the 1995 edition of Intercourse

You know the rules. Here’s the quote. After last week’s entry I’m running the risk of seeming as if I intend to use this gimmick as an outlet for all the Andrea Dworkin quotes that I find particularly apropos at the end of the week. I already have a running feature for that, but the fact is that other than fiction and material that I’m already transcribing for the Fair Use Repository, Dworkin’s most of what I’ve been reading for the past two weeks — in part as a result of a sometimes rather combative editing process over at WikiPedia:Andrea Dworkin, and in part because the stuff is nearly impossible to put down for long once you start reading parts of it. So rather than break the rules by picking up some item just to read it at the last minute to pick out another quote in the name of avoiding repetition, here we have some bus reading from earlier this afternoon: a passage from the Preface to the 1995 edition of Intercourse (first edition 1987).

My colleagues, of course, had been right; but their advice offended me. I have never written for a cowardly or passive or stupid reader, the precise characteristics of most reviewers–overeducated but functionally illiterate, members of a gang, a pack, who do their drive-by shootings in print and experience what they call the street at cocktail parties. I heard it onthe street, they say, meaning a penthouse closer to heaven. It is no accident that most of the books published in the last few years about the decline and fall of Anglo-European culture because of the polluting effect of women of all races and some men of color–and there are a slew of such books–have been written by white-boy journalists. Abandoning the J-school ethic of who, what, where, when, how and the discipline of Hemingway’s lean, masculine prose, they now try to answer why. That decline and fall, they say, is because talentless, uppity women infest literature; or because militant feminists are an obstacle to the prorape, prodominance art of talented living or dead men; or because the multicultural reader–likely to be female and/or not white–values Alice Walker and Toni Morrison above Aristotle and the Marquis de Sade. Hallelujah, I say.

Intercourse is a book that moves through the sexed world of dominance and submission. It moves in descending circles, not in a straight line, and as in a vortex each spiral goes down deeper. Its formal model is Dante’s Inferno; its lyrical debt is to Rimbaud; the equality it envisions is rooted in the dreams of women, silent generations, pioneer voices, lone rebels, and masses who agitated, demanded, cried out, broke laws, and even begged. The begging was a substitute for retaliatory violence: doing bodily harm back to those who use or injure you. I want women to be done with begging.

The public censure of women as if we are rabid because we speak without apology about the world in which we live is a strategy of threat that usually works. Men often react to women’s words–speaking and writing–as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper. Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men–control, violence, insult, contempt–that no threat seems empty.

Intercourse does not say, forgive me and love me. It does not say, I forgive you, I love you. For a woman writer to thrive (or, arguably, to survive) in these current hard times, forgiveness and love must be subtext. No. I say no.

Can a man read Intercourse? Can a man read a book written by a woman in which she uses language without its ever becoming decorative or pretty? Can a man read a book written by a woman in which she, the author, has a direct relationship to experience, ideas, literature, life, including fucking, without mediation–such that what she says and how she says it are not determined by boundaries men have set for her? Can a man read a woman’s work if it does not say what he already knows? Can a man let in a challenge not just to his dominance but to his cognition? 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.

Intercourse does not narrate my experience to measure it against Norman Mailer’s or D. H. Lawrence’s. The first-person is embedded in the way the book is built. I use Tolstoy, Kobo Abe, James Baldwin, Tennessee Williams, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flaubert not as authorities but as examples. I use them; I cut and slie into them in order to exhibit them; but the authority behind the book–behind each and every choice–is mine. In formal terms, then, Intercourse is arrogant, cold, and remorseless. You, the reader, will not be looking at me, the girl; you will be looking at them. In Intercourse I created an intellectual and imaginative environment in which you can see them. The very fact that I usurp their place–make them my characters–lessens the unexamined authority that goes not with their art but with their gender. I love the literature these men created; but I will not live my life as if they are real and I am not. Nor will I tolerate the continuing assumption that they know more about women than we know about ourselves. And I do not believe that they know more about intercourse. Habits of deference can be broken, and it is up to writers to break them. Submission can be refused; and I refuse it.

Of course, men have read and do read Intercourse. Many like it and understand it. Some few have been thrilled by it–it suggests to them a new possibility of freedom, a new sexual ethic: and they do not want to be users. Some men respond to the radicalism of Intercourse: the ideas, the prose, the structure, the questions that both underlie and intentionally subvert meaning. But if one’s sexual experience has always and without exception been based on dominance–not only overt acts but also metaphysical and ontological assumptions–how can one read this book? The end of male dominance would mean–in the understanding of such a man–the end of sex. If one has eroticized a differential in power that allows for force as a natural and inevitable part of intercourse, how could one understand that this book does not say that all men are rapists or that all intercourse is rape? Equality in the realm of sex is an antisexual idea if sex requires dominance in order to register as sensation. As said as I am to say it, the limits of the old Adam–and the material power he still has, especially in publishing and media–have set limits on the public discourse (by both men and women) about this book.

In general women get to say yea or nay to intercourse, which is taken to be a synonym for sex, echt sex. In this reductive brave new world, women like sex or we do not. We are loyal to sex or we are not. The range of emotions and ideas expressed by Tolstoy et al. is literally forbidden to contemporary women. Remorse, sadness, despair, alienation, obsession, fear, greed, hate–all of which men, especially male artists, express–are simple no votes for women. Compliance means yes; a simplistic rah-rah means yes; affirming the implicit right of men to get laid regardless of the consequences to women is a yes. Reacting against force or exploitation means no; affirming pornography and prostitution means yes. I like it is the standard for citizenship, and I want it pretty much exhausts the First Amendment’s meaning for women. Critical thought or deep feeling puts one into the Puritan camp, that hallucinated place of exile where women with complaints are dumped, after which we can be abandoned. Why–socially speaking–feed a woman you can’t fuck? Why fuck a woman who might ask questions let alone have a complex emotional life or a political idea? I refuse to tolerate this loyalty-oath approach to women and intercourse or women and sexuality or, more to the point, women and men. …

–Andrea Dworkin (1995), Preface to the 1995 edition of Intercourse, pp. vii-x.

This may help to shed some light, from a few different directions, on long-standing discussions on this site and elsewhere.

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