An Andrea Dworkin-inspired Rant
I was fortunate to attend one of the Seven Sisters Colleges, attendance at which would automatically enroll me in the “Feminist Club” in most minds. But when I was at college, I subscribed to Playboy, which raised a few eyebrows and prompted heated discussions on exploitation of women. I also argued long into the wee hours of the night various sides of issues like affirmative action, historically single-sex and single-race colleges, racism and reverse racism, (under)representation of women in technical fields, reproductive rights, sex education, rape awareness education, defamation of our gender in religions, etc etc.
And when I was a student at my alma mater, I was privileged to meet Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Camille Paglia, and Susie Bright. Four very different women, each of them feminists in my opinion. But perhaps the most radical extremist feminist of them all, Andrea Dworkin, I never had the opportunity to meet or hear speak. Mom was a big fan of hers–she embraced radical lesbian separatism and often quoted Dworkin to me. Their views were so extreme that my sweet young avidly-heterosexual self was appalled and repelled. My own experience of sexual violation by a woman made me dig my heels in–if all men were considered potential rapists because some men committed rape, did not the same ‘logic’ apply to women?
Andrea Dworkin, who died a five years ago, did a lot for women–she dared to look at what polite society denied the existence of: pornography and the sexual degradation of women. She was a lightning rod and her thoughts and opinions attracted and repelled women for decades. She profoundly affected the feminist movement in the 60’s, and even if she disapproved of the tangent that women like Susie Bright pursued under the feminist banner, I firmly believe that if it was not for her and her bellicose in-your-face self-expression, women today would be as out of touch with their sexuality and the politcs of sex as they were in the first half of the 20th century.
But Dworkin’s activism and views chap my ass. In fact, I have issues with feminists, especially older ones, those of Andrea Dworkin’s generation.
Just as I eschewed the label ‘lesbian’ when I was sleeping with women, I do not identify with the label ‘feminist’, even though many would consider me such. I consider myself more of a humanist, in the sense that I feel that every person should be treated with respect and be able to live lives unoppressed by another.
As such, I was considered a bad feminist by some because I questioned the anti-male attitudes of so many of the women I came into contact with. I asked if it was really necessary to emmasculate men in order to achive parity between the sexes. I had to argue my word-choice of parity instead of equality, calmly (and sometimes heatedly) stating that by parity I mean equivalency, rather than equality–a functional equivalence as opposed to the questionably achievable idealized equality (pertinent parity definitions from Wikipedia: In sports, parity refers to engineering an equal playing field in which all teams can compete, regardless of their economic circumstances [and] Potty parity attempts to equalize the waiting times of males and females in restroom queues by designating or building more womens’ restrooms, giving them more facilities to use).
The humanist in me finds many feminists to be hypcritical. I do not like the superior attitudes of women toward men, especially those men who are genuinely trying to attenuate the effects of both socialization and biology on their interactions with, and attitudes toward, women. And I particularly dislike those women who have no problem with grinding a man underfoot, eviscerating and emmasculating him in order to get that equality she desires, to break through that glass ceiling, to blow the top off the sexist box. The problem with such behaviour is that all they are doing is bringing men down the the demoralizing levels they themselves feel they are at. And to what purpose? There is no dignity in such action. There is no respect for the humanity of another in that. Such acts and attitudes do not result in a truely lasting betterment of either gender, and certainly not in humanity as a whole.
No, of course men and women are not equal. They will never be equal. We are complimentary to each other. We are capable of relating in ways that enhance each other’s strengths and nullify or reduce the effects of our weaknesses. We are capable of parity. And the sooner the ball-crushing feminists out there either understand this or die off, the better. Their attitudes are outdated, atavistic, and counterproductive. Its time to get on with our real work, which is improving the lot of men, women, and children, indeed, all of humanity, and not just the lots of those women who feel they have been unjustly denied recognition or power because of their gender.
As a result of my opinions I’ve been called a bad feminist and I’ve been called an enlightened feminist. I suppose both labels are accurate, but they also conveniently marginalize my views. Ah well. Some of us think. Some of us act. The rest of us are entertained.