Friday, April 15, 2005

Another Thought On Dworkin

From Nina Hartley, feminist porn legend, who graciously allowed me to repost her take from Susie Bright's site (whose fine obit can be read in my Dworkin post from yesterday). Thanks Nina!

"Well written, as always, Susie, and far more charitable than Dworkin would have been to you had, god forbid, the situation been reversed. If she had made any note of your passing at all, it would surely have been derisive.

"I like your observation that Dworkin rejected the notion of the
unconscious. I knew there had to be other areas where she and I disagreed as profoundly as we did about sex and porn. I suppose the rejection of all our unrecognized individual motivations made it easier for her to deny her own.

"I didn't know Ms. Dworkin had been ill, as I followed her career no more closely than she followed mine. I strive for compassion in the face of suffering wherever I encounter it, but there's no getting past the fact that she despised you, me and everyone like us. I, too, found that some of her observations had resonance, including those regarding porn. However, I got fed up with her one-note approach to the complicated subject of gender relations long, long before the symphony ended.

"Her ranting hatred of all things male and masculine was the source of more misery and confusion for heterosexual men and women over the past twenty years than all the sins she attributed to porn during that time, by and large wrongly. Her thinking turned the bedroom, which should be a place where people go to be loving and kind to each other and to share pleasure, into a politicized battleground.

"I knew right away that she didn't speak for me. My sexuality that didn't fit in her box and she had no use for any story that didn't conform to her vision of woman-as-eternal-victim. Indeed, among the many insults she hurled at women like myself, none was more hurtful than her loud insistence that we were incapable of asserting our individual sexual identities because they had been stolen from us by the vast, evil conspiracy of patriarchal domination and that we were just too dumb and brainwashed to know it.

"And then there was the matter of her undisguised contempt for my friends, yourself included (though she always claimed it wasn't personal, of course). In her skewed universe, we were either cynical pimps who had thrown in with The Enemy or defeated rape victims in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome. She berated us all from the safety of lecture halls packed with supporters and dismissed every challenge to openly debate women who disagreed with her.

"She hated me and what I stand for as surely as any fundamentalist hates me for what I do and who I am. She hated me and my kind so much that she willingly jumped into bed with those whose number one priority is the eradication of reproductive choice for women, simply because dirty pictures made her that angry.

"I acknowledge Dworkin's intellect, and the fact that she broke a spade or two of new ground, even as I reject her analysis, root and branch. This is far more validation than any of us would ever have received from her. I take no satisfaction in her passing, but it would be hypocritical to say the least for me to mourn it.

"Dworkin didn't need therapy, She inflicted her pain and suffering on the rest of us. It was a decades-long tantrum, and I was over it fifteen years ago. Now, at last, so is she. The haunting question that remains: when will the rest of this culture be able to say the same?"

Nina Hartley