The Other Charlotte’s tart-tongued adieu to radical feminist Andrea Dworkin (‘Andrea Dworkin, Resting in Man-Hating Peace’), who died April 9, has been justly celebrated, including being accorded prominent play in a New York Times round-up of conservatives reactions to Dworkin’s death.
One of the other intriguing assessments of Dworkin came from writer and marriage advocate Maggie Gallagher, who (like TOC) found something to like about Dworkin:
“I was not alone!” Gallagher wrote. “Andrea saw it, too. As I wrote in ’Enemies of Eros’: ’What Dworkin observes is essentially true. Sex is not an act which takes place merely between bodies. Sex is an act which defines, alters, imposes on the personhood of those who engage in it….’
“And as I later learned, to a lesser degree, Andrea Dworkin received the same gift from me. Standing in the local bookstore in Park Slope in Brooklyn (where we both then lived), she thumbed through my first book. ‘At last, someone who understands my writing!’ she shrieked excitedly.”
In her masculine apparel and sporting a tangled mane that looked like it had last been combed when Grover Cleveland was in the White House, Dworking didn’t look much like a party girl. Nevertheless former Bush speechwriter David Frum fondly recalled breaking bread with Dworkin at the table of iconoclastic celebrity scribbler Christopher Hitchens. Frum found Dowrkin to be “a woman of deep and broad reading,’ who was ‘grimly entertained by the opportunism of Bill Clinton’s feminist supporters.”
Writing after the New York selection, Cathy Young, a Reason magazine contributing editor, found Dworkin just plain grim:
“To put it plainly: Dworkin was a preacher of hate. Her books are full of such declarations as, ’Under patriarchy, every woman’s son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.’ (‘Patriarchy,’ of course, covers contemporary Western societies.) ’Male sexuality, drunk on its intrinsic contempt for all life, but especially for women’s lives, can run wild.’ ’Hatred of women is a source of sexual pleasure for men in its own right.’
“In Dworkin’s world view, the Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper seem to be representative of all men (though she made an exemption for some men in her own life). Meanwhile, women who defend their right to enjoy heterosexual sex are branded ’collaborators, more base than other collaborators have ever been: experiencing pleasure in their own inferiority.’”
Oddly enough, the single Dworkin factoid that I can’t seem to get beyond concerns her marriage to John Stoltenberg. As described by TOC, Stoltenberg is openly gay. Dworkin called him a “nongenital man, which was apparently how she liked them.”
But it wasn’t the romantic angle of Dworkin-Stoltenberg m’nage that rivets my thoughts. It’s that Stoltenberg is the managing editor of the AARP magazine. Does this sound as if the AARP, touted by the Mainstream Media as an apolitical outfit selflessly looking out for the interests senior citizens, might not be that apolitical after all?