Andrea Dworkin's Right wing women - qoutes and comments

I'll dump qoutes I highlighted in the book here and in the future I'll add either anectodes from personal life or some context.

Women die, mourning not the loss of their own lives, but their own inexcusable inability to achieve perfection as men define it for them. Women desperately try to embody a male defined feminine ideal because survival depends on it.

The problem, simply stated, is that one must believe in the existence of the person in order to recognize the authenticity of her suffering. Neither men nor women believe in the existence of women as significant beings.

Female selflessness expresses itself in the conviction that a fertilized egg surpasses an adult female in the authenticity of its existence.

Cross-culturally, girls and women are the illiterates, with two thirds of the world's illiterates women and the rate rising steadily. Girls need husbands, not books. Girls need houses or shacks to keep clean, or street corners to stand on, not the wide world in which to roam. Refusal to give the tool of literacy is refusal to give access to the world. If she can make her own fire, read a book herself, write a letter or a record of her thoughts or an essay or a story, it will be harder to get her to tolerate the unwanted fuck, to bear the unwanted children, to see him as life and life through him. She might get ideas. But even worse, she might know the value of the ideas she gets. She must not know that ideas have value, only that being fucked and reproducing are her value.

They see that traditional marriage means selling to one man, not hundreds: the better deal. They see that the streets are cold, and that the women on them are tired, sick, and bruised. They see that the money they can earn will not make them independent of men and that they will still have to play the sex games of their kind: at home and at work too. They see no way to make their bodies authentically their own and to survive in the world of men. They know too that the Left has nothing better to offer: leftist men also want wives and whores; leftist men value whores too much and wives too little. Right-wing women are not wrong. They fear that the Left, in stressing impersonal sex and promiscuity as values, will make them more vulnerable to male sexual aggression, and that they will be despised for not liking it.

There is the fear of having murdered because so many men believe so passionately that she has. To many men, each aborted pregnancy is the killing of a son—and he is the son killed. His mother would have killed him if she had had the choice. These men have a peculiarly retroactive and abstract sense of murder: if she had had a choice, I would not have been born—which is murder. The male ego, which refuses to believe in its own death, now pushes backward, before birth. / was once a fertilized egg; therefore to abort a fertilized egg is to kill me

Women are humiliated by the memory of the physical intrusion, the penetration, the pain, the violation; countless women were sexually assaulted by the abortionist before or after the abortion; they hate remembering. Women are humiliated because they hated themselves, their sex, their female bodies, they hated being female.

The propaganda for femininity teaches women over and over, endlessly, that they must like intercourse; and the lesson must be taught over and over, endlessly, because intercourse does not express their own sexuality in general and the male use of women rarely has anything to do with the woman as an individual. The sexuality they are supposed to like does not recognize, let alone honor, their individuality in any meaningful way. The sexuality they must learn to like is not concerned with desire toward them as distinct personalities—at best they are “types”; nor is it concerned with their own desire toward others.

It has been the business of the state to regulate male use of sexual force against women, not to prohibit it. The state may allow a man to force his wife but not his daughter, or his wife but not his neighbor's wife. Rather than prohibiting the use of force against women per se, a male-supremacist state establishes a relationship between sexual force and normalcy: in marriage, a woman has no right to refuse her husband intercourse. Limits to the force men can use have been negotiated by men with one another in their own interests—and are renegotiated in every rape or incest case in which the man is held blameless because force is seen as intrinsically and properly sexual (that is, normal) when used to effect female sexual compliance. The society's opposition to rape is fake because the society's commitment to forced sex is real: marriage defines the normal uses to which women should be put, and marriage institutionalizes forced intercourse.

And the dream for the girls at base was a dream of a sexual and social empathy that negated the strictures of gender, a dream of sexual equality based on what men and women had in common, what the adults tried to kill in you as they made you grow up. It was a desire for a sexual community more like childhood—before girls were crushed under and segregated. It was a dream of sexual transcendence: transcending the absolutely dichotomized male-female world of the adults who made war not love. It was—for the girls—a dream of being less female in a world less male; an eroticization of sibling equality, not the traditional male dominance.

“But surely, ” wrote Robin Morgan in 1968, “even a male reactionary on this issue can realize that it is really mind-blowing to hear some young male ‘revolutionary'—supposedly dedicated to building a new, free social order to replace this vicious one under which we live—turn around and absent-mindedly order his ‘chick' to shut up and make supper or wash his socks—he's talking now. We're used to such attitudes from the average American clod, but from this brave new radical? ”

They know some terrible things. Right-wing women consistently denounce abortion because they see it as inextricably linked to the sexual degradation of women.

With illegal abortion life or death is up to God: each time, one submits to the divine hand, divine finger on divine revolver pointed at the already bloody flesh of a woman, divine Russian roulette. It is a final, humiliated submission to the will of a superior Male who judges absolutely. Death is a judgment and so is life. Illegal abortion is an individual hell; one suffers, does penance: God decides; life is forgiveness. And no one need face it until it happens to her—until she is the one caught. This is the way in which women are moral idiots in this system: ignoring whatever has to do with other women, all women, until or unless it happens to oneself. Right-wing women also believe that a woman who refuses to bear a child deserves to die. Right-wing women are prepared to accept that judgment against themselves; and when they survive, they are guilty and prepared to pay—to martyr themselves for an act of will to which they had no right as women. There is no better measure of what forced sex does to women—how it destroys self-respect and the will to survive as a self-determining human being—than the opposition of right-wing women to legal abortion: to what they need to save themselves from being butchered.

One perception is particularly chilling: without the children, I am not worth much. The recognition is actually more dramatic than that, much more chilling: without the children, I am not.

But the perception that having children is the only edge women have on survival at the hands of men is right; it is an acute perception, grounded in an accurate reading of what women are for and how women are used by men in this sexual system. Without reproduction, women as a class have nothing.

Pure German women were encouraged to bear the children of S . S. men and were sup- ported by the Nazi state. Himmler established homes for these women. No abortion, no birth control, no careers other than motherhood for the racially pure; imprisonment, rape, sometimes sterilization, and death for the others. The racially privileged woman is not free; the conditions of her survival are predetermined; she may get rewards for meeting them but outside of them she has no chance. While the racially inferior women are being used one way, the racially superior women are being used in what appears to be an opposite way: but it is not. These are two sides of the same coin. The two sides travel together, materially inseparable and yet unalterably divided. Neither side, in this case, has a life outside totalitarian womanhood. In such a society, the racially privileged woman has the best deal; but she is not free. Freedom is something different from the best deal—even for women.

In the brothel model, the woman is acknowledged to be for sex without reference to reproduction. She will still have babies perhaps, but no one owes her anything: not the father, not the state, not the pimp, not the john, no one. Some women on the Left accept the male leftist view that this is a giant step for womankind: that this separation of sex and reproduction is in fact a form of freedom—freedom from domestic constraint and domestic submission, freedom from an intrinsically totalitarian association of sex with reproduction. They do not recognize that in the brothel model sex is dissociated from reproduction so that the sex can be sold, so that sex (not babies) is what is produced, so that an intrinsically totalitarian association is forged between sex and money expressed lucidly in the selling of the woman as a sexual commodity.

Men have few restraints in expressing to prostitutes—during sex or in any sexual scenario— their real attitudes toward women as a class; they have no reason to feel constrained, since the woman is there to be a woman, period—to be inferior, subservient, and used. She is there because the man wants a woman, someone exactly of her class, someone who is her sex function, not human but an it, a cunt: she is there for that reason, not for anything human in her.

In some cities with good reputations for socially advanced ideas, women sit in windows, posing for potential customers. This is widely regarded as a humane and civilized way of conducting the business of prostitution. The brothel, in such cities, is considered a nice place, good for the girls. It is the acceptance of the brothel model as an appropriate way of treating some women, these women, sexed women, prostituted women, used women, degraded women, public women, any women, that has unyielding and unchanging social significance for all women.

The brothel model keeps these women locked in for sex, and both the devout and the sexually liberated think that is the way it should be. Both think this is a sexy way for women to live. The women are disposed of, used for what they are seen to be, used as their sex, their class-defined essence and function, the sex work to which some percentage of the sex class must be dedicated.

The arguments as to the social and moral appropriateness of this new kind of sale simply reiterate the view of female will found in discussions of prostitution: does the state have a right to interfere with this exercise of individual female will (in selling use of the womb)? if a woman wants to sell the use of her womb in an explicit commercial transaction, what right has the state to deny her this proper exercise of femininity in the marketplace? Again, the state has constructed the social, economic, and political situation in which the sale of some sexual or reproductive capacity is necessary to the survival of women; and yet the selling is seen to be an act of individual will—the only kind of assertion of individual will in women that is vigorously defended as a matter of course by most of those who pontificate on female freedom. The state denies women a host of other possibilities, from education to jobs to equal rights before the law to sexual self-determination in marriage; but it is state intrusion into her selling of sex or a sex-class-specific capacity that provokes a defense of her will, her right, her individual self— defined strictly in terms of the will to sell what is appropriate for females to sell.

The cultural and sexual intersection of women and earth is potent for men when they bomb “her, ” strip-mine “her, ” scorch “her, ” torch “her, ” denude “her, ” defoliate “her, ” pollute “her, ” despoil “her, ” rape “her, ” plunder “her, ” overcome, manipulate, dominate, conquer, or destroy “her. ” The significance of the farming model is both wide and deep. It has been the major way of using women—as mothers to produce children; metaphorically speaking, men have used the earth as if it were female, a huge fertile female that—one way or another— they will fuck to death.

The second solution is offered by feminists. It proposes, in the words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “the individuality of each human soul. . . In discussing the rights of woman, we are to consider, first, what belongs to her as an individual, in a world of her own, the arbiter of her own destiny. . . ” 13 This is simply a recognition of the human condition, in which women are included. It is also the precondition for the realization of Marx's greatest ethical idea: from each according to her ability, to each according to her need.

Frankly, no one much knows what feminists mean; the idea of women not defined by sex and reproduction is anathema or baffling. It is the simplest revolutionary idea ever conceived, and the most despised.

Women will argue like the true believers they are for that old-time religion, but male theocrats will discover that God intended men to be the sole creators of life all along: did not God himself create Adam without female help and is not baptism the religious equivalent of being born of a male God? This is not farfetched for those who justify the subordination of women to men on the ground that God is a boy.

The power the Right to Life women are fighting so hard to put into the hands of the state will eventually and inevitably be used (1) to redefine when life begins and what life is so that the male becomes its sole creator and (2) to determine and enforce which women reproduce, when, and how.

“The two days in a woman's life a man can best enjoy are when he marries her and when he carries her dead body to the grave. ”

Behind the words is the man who uses them and the power of his whole class over the woman against whom they are used. Each time contempt is expressed for the dyke, the prude, the slut, hatred is being expressed toward all women. Whether the insults are accepted in society, tolerated, encouraged, the main stuff of humor, or merely passively acquiesced in, the devaluing of women is perpetuated, the intimidation of women is furthered. Each time the insults are paraded or whispered—used against a woman as insult—the insults gain in potency from use, acceptance, and repetition; and any woman, however much she is or is not what the insult conveys, is more liable to manipulation, distortion, extortion, slander, and harassment; and antifeminism and woman hating are that much more entrenched.

Sex segregation in practice is necessarily different from race segregation: women are everywhere, in almost every home, in most beds, as intimate as it is possible to be with those who want to keep them separate.

The worship of women, devotion to that in woman which raises man, respect for some moral sensibility allegedly inborn only in women, is the seductive antifeminism, the one that entrances women who have seen through the other kinds. Being worshiped (for most women) is preferable to being defiled, and being looked up to is better than being walked on. It is hard for women to refuse the worship of what otherwise is despised: being female.

Whatever he does to her, she is still more powerful than he is because he wants her, he needs her, he is being driven by a desire for her. In the sexual woman-superior model, power is articulated as being intrinsically female because power is redefined beyond reason, beyond coherence: as if power is in the corpse that draws the vultures. This pornographic conception of female power is fundamental to the antifeminism of sexual-liberation movements in which unlimited sexual use of women by men is defined as freedom for both: she wants it; he responds; voili! the revolution. It is also fundamental to the antifeminism of the legal system with respect to sexual crimes like rape, battery, and sexual abuse of children, especially girls. The female is still seen as the provocation for what might be a legitimate sex act, depending on just how provocative she was. Her will is regarded as probably implicit in the use the male made of her. The female is seen to have power over the man—and responsibility for what he has done to her— because he wanted her so bad: she has provoked whatever desire motivated him to act. His desire is what gives her power.

Confining a group, restricting them, depriving them of rights because they were born into one class and not another are hostile acts, unless women are being confined, restricted, and deprived of rights by the men who love them so that they will be what men can love. There is hostility in the world, which one recognizes as historical and social cruelty; and then there is the love of man for woman.

The woman who is not a token is mostly condescended to by the token, a condescension that she feels not only acutely but often, since the token is always pointed out to her as proof that her own situation does not result from an exclusionary social system.

In analyzing the sex-class system, feminists are accused of inventing or perpetuating it. Calling attention to it, we are told, insults women by suggesting that they are victims (stupid enough to allow themselves to be victimized). Feminists are accused of being the agents of degradation by postulating that such degradation exists.

The refusal to recognize the intrinsic despotism of the sex-class system means that that despotism is inevitably incorporated into reform models of that same system: in this, antifeminism triumphs over the will to liberation.

Supporting the use of some women in any area of sex exploitation is the willful sacrifice of women on an altar of sex abuse and it is a political repudiation of the sex-class consciousness basic to feminism: it is—whoever does it—antifeminism. And then there is the psychological use of the same reactionary strategy: some women, of course, like being. . . (beaten, raped, exploited, bought and sold, forced to have sex, forced to have children). Antifeminism is also a form of psychological warfare, and of course some women do like. . . Women intend to save themselves when sacrificing some women, but only the freedom of all women protects any woman.

If sex oppression is real, absolute, unchanging, inevitable, then the views of right-wing women are more logical than not. Marriage is supposed to protect them from rape; being kept at home is supposed to protect them from the castelike economic exploitation of the marketplace; reproduction gives them what value and respect they have and so they must increase the value of reproduction even if it means increasing their own vulnerability to reproductive exploitation (especially forced pregnancy); religious marriage—traditional, correct, law-abiding marriage—is supposed to protect against battery, since the wife is supposed to be cherished and respected. The flaws in the logic are simple: the home is the most dangerous place for a woman to be, the place she is most likely to be murdered, raped, beaten, certainly the place where she is robbed of the value of her labor. What right-wing women do to survive the sex-class system does not mean that they will survive it: if they get killed, it will most likely be at the hands of their husbands; if they get raped, the rapists will most likely be their husbands or men who are friends or acquaintances; if they get beaten, the batterer will most likely be their husbands—perhaps 25 percent of those who are beaten will be beaten during pregnancy; if they do not have any money of their own, they are more vulnerable to abuse from their husbands, less able to escape, less able to protect their children from incestuous assault; if abortion becomes illegal, they will still have abortions and they are likely to die or be maimed in great numbers; * if they get addicted to drugs, it will most likely be to prescription drugs prescribed by the family doctor to keep the family intact; if they get poor—through being abandoned by their husbands or through old age—they are likely to be discarded, their usefulness being over. And right-wing women are still pornography (as Marabel Morgan recognized in The Total Woman) just like other women whom they despise; and what they do— just like other women—is barter. They too live inside the wall of prostitution no matter how they see themselves.

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