Andrea Dworkin Biography
Died At Age: 58
Sun Sign: Libra
Also Known As: Andrea Rita Dworkin
Born in: Camden, New Jersey, U.S.
Famous as: Feminist and Writer
Spouse/Ex-: Cornelius (Iwan) Dirk de Bruin, John Stoltenberg
father: Harry Dworkin
mother: Sylvia Spiegel
place of death: Washington, D.C., U.S.
U.S. State: New Jersey
education: Bennington College
awards: - American Book Awards
Andrea Dworkin was an American feminist writer, best known for her blunt criticism and campaign against pornography. She spent her life fighting for equality and dignity of women in the society and raised her voice against the ill effects of pornography on women. Her molestation by a stranger in childhood, absurd physical behavior with her in prison as a teenager, and incidents of domestic violence after marriage affected her in a traumatic manner and she decided to fight against woman’s exploitation till the end of her life. Her decision led her to campaign against pornography and abolish man’s domination in the society. She stated the fact that adult movies, depicting sex as a game and women as an object to play with, encourage violence among people and should be banned. She wrote many books and published numerous papers defining the rational connection between pornography and exploitation of women in the society. Her activism was appreciated as well as discouraged because of the issue’s boldness and sensitivity. She was an independent and powerful woman who took an oath to help every woman in the world through her earnest of efforts. She envisioned that the world could become a more beautiful place for humanity to exist if everyone treated women with respect and dedicated her life towards accomplishing her dream.
- She was born on September 26, 1946 in Camden, New Jersey, U.S. to Harry Dworkin, a school teacher with socialist beliefs, and his wife, Sylvia Spiegel. She had a younger brother, Mark Spielger.
- Both her parents influenced her in becoming a socialist and activist. Her mother believed in legal birth control and legal abortion, which inspired her thinking in later years.
- At the age of nine, she was sexually molested by a stranger in the movie theatre which left a deep impact on her for the rest of her life.
- She attended the Bennington College to become an artist but she was arrested for her protest in Vietnam War and sent to prison. In prison, she was subjected to humiliating pelvic examination.
- After her release, she shared her experience in prison with the press. Dworkin's testimony led to a huge public outrage but her parents disowned her after her disclosure.
- She left for Greece and pursued her writing. She wrote a collection of poems titled ‘Variations’ and a novel titled ‘Notes on Burning Boyfriend’. She returned after a year to Bennington College and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1968.
- After graduation she moved to Amsterdam and got married there. In 1972, she returned to America after divorcing her husband. She worked as an assistant to Muriel Rukeyser, a poet, who motivated her to pursue writing as her career.
- In 1974, she published her first feminist book titled ‘Woman Hating’ which criticized pornography and discussed the issues of radical feminism and misogyny.
- In 1980, she sought help from an ex-pornographic actress, Linda Boreman, who presented her testimony that she was forced into the pornographic business and constantly abused and raped by her husband.
- With help of feminist lawyer, Catharine MacKinnon, they drafted an ordinance which would allow people to sue the producers of porn, due to pornography being a form of sex discrimination. The ordinance was supported by various factions, including radical feminists and conservatives but was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as it violated first amendment rights.
- In 1981, she released her book titled ‘Pornography: Men Possessing Women’ which took a powerful stance for pornography being a violation of women's civil rights.
- She spoke at a conference in the United Kingdom against pornography and also lent her support to those in the United Kingdom who were able to identify the ills effects of pornography on society and spread awareness about it.
- In 1987, her book ‘Intercourse’’ was published which explored the relationship between sex and violence.
- Her other works emphasizing on social issues included ‘Pornography and Civil Right: A New Day for Women's Equality’ (1988), ‘Letters From a War Zone’ (1989), ‘Life and death’ (1997) and ‘Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel and Women's Liberation’ (2000).
- She also wrote a collection of short stories titled ‘The New Woman's Broken Heart’ in 1980 and two fictional novels, ‘Fire and Ice’ (1986) and ‘Mercy’ (1990). Her fictional works did not receive much of a response from the audience or critics.
- She published her autobiography ‘Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant’ in 2002.
- She was a powerful orator, who with her passionate speeches, inspired her audience to act. Her 1978 speech at the first Take Back the Night march and her 1983 speech at the Midwest Regional Conference are considered some of her most influential speeches of wisdom and motivation.
- One of her most notable and highly appreciated writings was her 1981 book ‘Pornography: Men Possessing Women’ which analyzes contemporary and historical pornography as an industry that hates and dehumanizes women.
- Her analysis and writing influenced and inspired the work of contemporary feminists, such as Catharine MacKinnon, Gloria Steinem, John Stoltenberg, Nikki Craft, Susan Cole and Amy Elman.
- She married a Dutch anarchist, Cornelius (Iwan) Dirk de Bruin in 1969. But the marriage ended in 1971 as a result of her husband’s abusive and violent nature. She was brutally tormented and tortured by him during the two years of her marriage.
- In 1974, she met her future husband, John Stoltenberg, feminist writer and activist, at a poetry reading in Greenvich Village. Although she publicly identified herself as lesbian and John as gay, they lived together and eventually got married in 1998.
- She died in her sleep on the morning of April 9, 2005 at her home in Washington, D.C. Later, the cause of her death was determined to be acute myocarditis.
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