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Andrea Dworkin was an American feminist, author and outspoken critic of sexual politics, particularly of the victimizing effects of pornography on women.
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Andrea Dworkin was born on September 26, 1946, in Camden, New Jersey. During college, she became involved in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. Her writing explored the male subjugation of women. She drafted an anti-pornography ordinance with Catharine A. MacKinnon that was passed in several cities, but later ruled unconstitutional. Dworkin died in 2005.
"Pornography is used in rape—to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act."
"I don't hate men. Not that they don't deserve it. It's just not in my nature."
Born in Camden, New Jersey, on September 26, 1946, Andrea Dworkin devoted much of her life to the women's movement. She wrote about and lectured on such subjects as misogyny and pornography. Dworkin campaigned for several causes, including ending violence against women. She showed her strength and determination as an activist early on in her life. As a young student, Dworkin refused to sing Christmas carols at school because her Jewish faith.
Dworkin grew up in what is now Cherry Hill, New Jersey. She later explained that her father, an educator with socialist beliefs, was a great influence on her life. "It would be hard to overstate how much he taught me about human rights and human dignity, how to talk and how to think," Dworkin once said, according to the Telegraph newspaper. Her happy childhood, however, was marred by violence. She was raped when she was only nine years old.
After graduating from Cherry Hill High School in 1964, Dworkin attended Bennington College in Vermont. She was arrested at a Vietnam War protest in New York City the following year. She was taken to the Women's House of Detention and subjected to a brutal exam by the facility's doctors, according to some reports. Dworkin later testified about her experience there, helping to get jail closed.
Dworkin spent some time abroad after finishing her degree in 1969. She married a Dutch activist, and together they helped those seeking to avoid service in the Vietnam War. While they shared a common cause, their union was anything but perfect. Her husband turned out to be abusive. According to the Guardian newspaper, she left him and ended up "living as a fugitive, sleeping on people's floors and having to prostitute for money to live."
After discussing the book with feminist Ricki Abrams, Dworkin wrote her first book of feminist theory Woman Hating in 1974. She analyzed a range of cultural phenomena, including fairy tales. Her next major work, Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981), made a case for pornography being a violation of women's civil rights.
Dworkin worked hard in her campaign against pornography. She and Catharine MacKinnon taught a class on the subject at the University of Minnesota. While living in the area, they wrote a piece of legislation to classify pornography as a form of sex discrimination in Minneapolis. They, unfortunately, were unable to get their bill approved. Dworkin and MacKinnon also worked together on a civil rights suit launched by a former porn star known as Linda Lovelace in the mid-1980s.
In 1987, Dworkin published Intercourse, which explored the relationship between sex and violence.
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