No Truce: Translating Andrea Dworkin

In 2012, when I became interested in feminism, I read ” I Want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape”  by Andrea Dworkin. It was a speech delivered in 1983 for “500 men and some women” at an event organized by the “National Organization for Changing Men”. In the introduction, Dworkin explains how complicated it was for her to attend and what made her do it, despite the many difficulties. She says that “in a sense, this was a feminist dream-come-true. What would you say to 500 men if you could?” and that the speech was the way she used her “chance“.

I had never read anything by Andrea Dworkin, or by any other radical feminist, but I was a woman and had been living in this world  for 35 years and that was enough: Andrea Dworkin was the first radical feminist to show me the absolute dimension of what “the personal is political” means, and my first experience of  sisterhood, or communion with women through the desperate pain and revolutionary love we share due to our existence as women, irrespective of nationalities, languages, ideologies, age, ethnicity, class, and in this case, time, was this speech.

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Part of what I do to earn a living is translate and subtitle, i.e., paraphrase and summarize, and at this point I don’t know if cause or consequence, but there are many aspects in my life where I “translate and subtitle”, apart from work. I had never seen a translation as simultaneous and accurate as this one by Andrea, it was as if she was transcribing the contents of my heart and translating it all into my eyes, as I read her words,  while at the same time, I could hear hers, desperate, immense, relentless. Everything I wanted to tell all men in the world was right there. No one could read it and say it was still unclear what we were talking about.

Andrea Dworkin knew perfectly well who she was addressing with the speech she gave for 500 men and some women, in 1983.

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Nowadays, we call them “NIGELs, feminists, allies, unicorns, deconstructed” and whatnot.  Andrea carefully considered what to tell them and chose, above all, to let them know “that we do not have time. We women. We don’t have forever. (…) And we are inside a system of humiliation from which there is no escape for us”. And after presenting the whys and the hows of all this, after describing with surgical precision what men could and should do about it, after so clearly explaining that what we need the most is for them to stop, the only thing she asked for was a 24 hour truce. Nothing else.

When I became interested in radical feminism, I read this text. I wanted to say something to all the men of the world and, of course and above all, to the one I was with. I needed to with anguishing despair, but did not know exactly what or how to say it. This text was specially created for men, so I decided to start there. It was an overwhelming experience. In a good way. Also in a good way. But it was painful, as part of a process that will inevitably have pain, among multiple intimate and profound experiences, as is the development of feminist consciousness.

Andrea Dworkin captivated me, among other things, for the sincere clarity with which she expressed, at that moment of her process and her life, the same anguishing despair and the same painful love that I had only felt, without words, 29 years after the speech was delivered, in another continent, in another language, and seven years after Andrea Dworkin had died. I decided to translate it because reading this text was for me a kind of opening ceremony, in which, instead of cutting a ribbon, one was created, uniting me to Andrea, to all the women who share this consciousness, to those who don’t, and to myself.  I think now that the spinning, weaving and creation of these ribbons is what feminist consciousness is about and for that reason I think that this text made me a radical feminist, because there I found “my first ribbon”. I also decided to translate it because Andrea Dworkin’s work is, unfortunately, not officially translated into Spanish.

In thirteen books of feminist theory, fiction and poetry, Andrea offers an impressive, thorough and exhausting description, an intelligent, acute, rigorous, honest account of this anguish and despair inspired by a painful, evident and moving love for women, but not exclusively. Among the fiercest injustices committed against Andrea Dworkin, and by extension, against the women united by her work/ribbon, was to have vilified her with savage and vampiric cowardice for “hating men”. How much more can someone love men than to persuade them to stop being monsters? How much more than continuing to believe in their humanity, “against all evidence”?

It was excruciatingly painful for me to understand feminism while living among men. It was torture to love them and at the same time feel their rejection, their cruel sarcasm, their defensive postures, their violent reactions, humiliating, satirizing, dismissing, gaslighting. It hurt greatly to want to convince them to stop hating us. It was draining and consuming to continue, “against all evidence”, appealing to their humanity. I do not need to, but I can clearly imagine what it must have been like for her. We are united by the same ribbon and I know she is moved by love – if anything, because I remember real men, real coffee tables, real beds, real and metaphorical nudity – I remember standing in front of them, showing them everything they broke to see if that would make them stop.

It hurts to believe in men’s humanity “against all evidence”. Because we know that they can change, that their misogyny is no biblical or genetic destiny,  it hurts that they will not change or stop. It hurts that “we do not have forever”. On that day, Andrea deviated from her journey with great complications to go talk to 500 men who wanted to change, and tell them that we need them to stop. Some took it well, others badly, one tied to hit her right there, as she left the venue after delivering the speech in 1983.

Andrea Dworkin died in 2005. Since the 1970s, her life and name represent the war of women against sexual violence, through its multiple manifestations, especially rape, pornography, and the sex trade. Until her death, Andrea fought for the liberation of women from male domination, in a world increasingly invaded by misogyny and misrepresentation, and the explosion of the sex industry associated with new technologies. In 2000, she published a story in newspapers The New Statesman and The Guardian, in which she claimed to have been drugged and raped in a hotel in France. Misogynists and feminists doubted their testimony, both privately and publicly, including her husband,  gay writer, now GTBQ + activist, John Stoltenberg, and showed either happiness, or “concern” for Andrea’s mental health, with some even daring to ask “Who could want to rape Andrea?”

Julie Bindel, radical lesbian feminist journalist and author, narrates that, since then, Andrea was never the same again. Despite this, she told her, in an interview in 2004: “I thought I had given up, I felt like I was going to give up, I felt like I had nowhere else to go, but now I feel a new vitality, and I want to help women.” (…) “The libertarians are winning this war, Julie (…) if we give up now younger generations of women will be told porn is good for them and they will believe it.” Andrea Dworkin was motivated by love, despite all the suffering and all the horror: “All women are on a leash, because we are all oppressed. But those who get to adulthood without being raped or beaten have a longer leash than those who were. It should be that the ones with the longest leashes do more to help others. But it doesn’t work that way, so we are the ones that fight the fight“.

I haven’t been a lesbian all my life, and only recently I understood what that had to do with radical feminism. Andrea’s inexhaustible love was enough to appeal to men’s humanity, but it was devoted to women, all women, whether on a longer or shorter leash.  For Andrea,  “love of women is the soil in which my life is rooted. (…)In any other soil, I would die. In whatever ways I am strong, I am strong because of the power and passion of this nurturant love (…) There is a pride in the nurturant love which is our common ground, and in the sensual love, and in the memory of the mother–and that pride shines as bright as the summer sun at noon.”. Andrea believed, and rightfully so, that the future would bring a “terrible storm” that would make it hard to remember what the sun felt like. “As long as we have life and breath, no matter how dark the earth around us, that sun still burns, still shines. There is no today without it. There is no tomorrow without it. There was no yesterday without it. That light is within us–constant, warm, and healing. Remember it, sisters, in the dark times to come”.

Andrea died in 2005, she was 58 years old. I am 40 now and would also like a 24 hour truce without rape, but I no longer try to convince men to make it happen, because we do not have forever. We have explained enough and we have loved enough, much more than enough. And we have waited too long.  In the past few years I have learned more about myself, other women and the world than I had in my entire life. Most of the information I already had, but didn’t know it. It was Andrea who gave me the first translation of myself, other women and the world. In the words of Julie Bindel:  “Without Andrea, generations of feminists would be willfully ignorant about the meaning and effect of pornography, as well as how to overcome a desire for male approval in order to tell the truth about women’s lives.”.

We do not have forever. This is a terrible storm and we do not have forever. We have the love and the pride, and we have the burning sun, still shining, despite the many ongoing wars, with no truce.

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http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIIE.html

http://www.nostatusquo.com/ACLU/dworkin/OurBloodII.html

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2005/apr/12/guardianobituaries.gender

https://feminist-reprise.org/library/resistance-strategy-and-struggle/julie-bindel-speaks-on-myths-about-andrea-dworkin/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/30/andrea-dworkin-the-feminist-knew-teach-young-women

 

 

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Political Lesbian Myth Busting

The idea, therefore, that women are not bound to that servitude forever because of their ‘born this way’ sexuality, has been a freeing revelation for many feminists over decades. The idea that sexuality, just like all other aspects of life, can shift and change alongside political realisations, is revolutionary in a world where sexuality is seen as fixed and innate. If we demand that men change their sexual behaviour, how can we possibly deny that we have the potential to change our sexual desires to ones which are more liberating?

radicallesbianfeminists

Guest Post

Political lesbianism is not an ‘identity’, this is queer BS talk. Political lesbianism is a process. A process of understanding the ways in which we, and our sisters, have been personally damaged by the hetero-patriarchy. It is a recognition that, on a personal and political level, we do not have to be intimately involved with a system which is deeply damaging to us and we can love other women in all ways instead of competing with them or mistrusting them.

It is not purely about sexuality (who you are attracted to). Nor is it about ‘appropriating’ the word lesbian while maintaining all outward appearances of being heterosexual and enjoying heterosexual benefits, such as they are. Nor will it, by itself, dismantle patriarchy, though it is a step along the way. Many women have found it easier to be radical activists without the burden of dissonance ringing in their…

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I can’t solve the bullying/infighting, but I can rant about it.

Every other week, there is a new debate about how to deal with the conflicts, bullying, etc taking place every other week among (mostly) online radical feminists.

I think that an important thing is to overcome our fear of putting this out in the open. There seems to be this idea that talking about these issues somehow either a) prove the veracity of those myths about how women are competitive and jealous and fight a lot,  or b) expose some weakness in the feminist movement by making our differences public. I think that is a bit load of craP with a capital P.

I do not think that the liberation of women is about good PR. If it were about that, all we need is to summon a few women in advertising and commission them to come up with a good campaign. Now, that will be futile because no campaign will make men give up their power. The few that will become convinced that what they do is wrong and that it is in their best interest to contribute to the feminist struggle are not going to that because some good PR. It will happen after some feminist spends invaluable time and energy educating them (a very dangerous and exhausting activity) on how the world actually works.

Feminism is a movement where all the involved are doing so FROM their situation of oppression; none of us live free of it, unlike say, some bourgeouis or petit bourgeouis who leaves his family and wealth to go fight for the oppressed class. The only humans who do not suffer women’s oppression are males, and those are NOT feminists. That has many implications as to the way we analyze things. We are studying something while we’re IN IT at the same time. I suppose it is obvious that this does not come “naturally” to us. Pretty much like in the Matrix, only no one is coming to get us unplugged and we do all that training/learning/escaping ourselves. Sounds like quite an achievement.

Therefore, every woman in our movement is extremely valuable. Of course, the movement itself is not about each individual woman, but this is quite the thin line, because if only “some” women are included, then that sort of means the defeat of the movement right there. Eyes on the ball, the game is LIBERATION OF ALL WOMEN. What happens is that every time there is one of these waves of bullying/infighting/etc, SOME women, real, actual women who are unplugging themselves from the Patriarchal Matrix and/or helping others do so, get hurt. Some so badly that they go home for good. After a few days, the cycle continues. Some other argument “evolves” (nah, quite the opposite) into one of these fights and lather, rinse, repeat.

What happens is on one hand, that only the strongest/more vocal/less affected stay standing, and on the other hand, that so many less vocal, etc self censor themselves. They want to avoid the aggro. They don’t want to be that woman defending herself from fellow radfems. Now, this is bad because a)feminism is not about the liberation of the strongest/more vocal/more articulate women and b)because one of the epitomes of our oppression is our relationship with thought and speech. Women have NOT controlled speech for 6000 years. It is hard for us to think, analyze and speak because we have been told what to think and when to say it for too long. I suppose we can see that if a movement fighting for the liberation of women somehow causes the silencing of women THAT MAY be a problem.

Also, I am not concerned at all about “outsiders” knowing that we discuss. In fact, if I could, and if it were true, I’d tell everyone that radical feminists are discussing how to deal with conflict/bullying/infighting because we actually give a fuck about our movement and about the women in it. We give a fuck so much that we spend time and VERY limited resources dealing with this and trying to find solutions. A group of women is reading and discussing books about how women treat each other. Another group is trying to spot when a victim is being targeted and contacting her with other women who have been through the same, other women are posting about this on their statuses, on their blogs, etc. I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with that. It will probably take some time, but I find it relieving that we care enough to deal with this. That we love women/ourselves enough to do this.

The main issues still remain:

a) TONE: the fact that a woman does not use sweet lilies semantics and rhetoric does not make her BAD or her arguments flawed. Women should be allowed to use ALL the language and not just the please and thank you words. Having said that, it is important that a movement like feminism takes care of women. Stressing the difference between assertiveness and cruelty might do the trick.

not about tone.

not about tone.

b)PERSONAL vs POLITICAL: One would have thought this is a non issue because we all know how these two are connected, but there is still great misunderstanding about this. Being a radical feminist does not guarantee ethical, decent behaviour but it should at least guarantee a will towards integrity. No woman can be a feminist if her actual interactions with women are shit. The theory is awesome, but if the practice is not feminist, then the theory is worthless. Tip: If you write a book on feminism and bully feminists whom you consider weaker than you, you’re doing it wrong. Your feminism needs to show that you love women. In practice. Like what you say and what you do need to be as similar as possible.

c)SISTERHOOD/FRIENDSHIPS, ETC: We do NOT have to be all BFFs. We don’t even have to agree on everything. (though yes, we have to agree on some basic stuff about what feminism is, because it does actually mean specific things) That is not what this is about.

My opinion is that women are not “responsible” for the wellbeing of others, but i cannot imagine any harm if women were aware of the effect of what they may be saying on other women and consciously tried not to hurt them, yes. I am not saying this will guarantee a singing kumbaya by the fire situation, but I truly see no harm and many benefits in treating women with love and respect.

This does not mean that we need to be all sweet and nice. Because we also need to make a point of not being afraid of being strong and assertive and stuff. But character does not necessarily have to equal cruelty.

I would like to add that I don’t have much problem with women getting hurt in the process of opening their eyes to the shit we’re in, or realizing how things really work, as that IS somewhat painful, but I guess I am reticent to “causing” woman to be hurt when -in my opinion- things could be presented differently.

For example, personally, I do not have a problem with anyone saying that I’m stupid or that my ideas are stupid. I am quite aware of my stupidity and in fact I am surprised that more people don’t notice more often that I am stupid. So if you say that what I say is stupid, I’ll be ok. I will ask, probably, why you are saying that, but I will not feel hurt. But if you say for example, that I am crazy, or that I am deliberately causing harm, it would affect me. Because I have been called crazy since school, men have called me crazy as they were abusing me and it would really fuck me up to have fellow radfems calling me that.

I think that women whose emotional wellbeing is more frail would benefit from being treated as well as possible and that this should not mean that they are not criticized, their opinions not challenged, their behaviours not called out. I think that both the looking after each other AND the speaking out are part of our objectives and we need to find a way to balance them.

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d)ACCOUNTABILITY: I have no idea how to do this. In a utopian scenario, I suppose that a woman would engage in one of these bullying behaviours, and others would let her know about that, and then this woman would realize and apologize and learn from that and not only not do it again but also help make sure that other women do not do it either, and this would not imply the stigmatization of that woman. But this sounds too fairy tale-y even for this Rantress, so I’ll just say that we somehow need to find a way for women to take responsibility for their actions. We are not making those involved and feminism itself any favours by sweeping these things under the rugs and moving on, as if nothing had happened. OR WORSE, aggravating the situation by throwing random derails to drive attention away from the facts.

Bottom line is: Women are being thrown under buses a lot over this, and those women who love women need to sort this out. It is suicide not to do it.

Duh disclaimer: I do not need to say that this is what I think and not some scientific study about it. This is a place to rant, and hell, I am ranting.

Memorials of Male Violence

From Utopia Bold.

Here’s my rant: The world is full of tens of thousands of statues and monuments to men who killed other men in their wars (all started by men).

Male violent carnage is sanctified by all the ceremonies on “sacred” battlefields and military graveyards called “hallowed ground”-which are nothing more than areas full of corpses created by MEN. They are deified and sanctified for mass murder.

However, imagine what would happen if women built different types of war monuments (like the Viet Nam Wall in Washington) On it would be the names of all the women men murdered in their War Against Women.

How many seconds would pass before men defiled it or blew it up? This would be a wake up call to all handmaidens who would no longer be able to repress and deny men’s hatred and contempt for women.

Sonnet RANT Number One: Lechery

Submitted by  Isabel Christinachild

Middle aged men who prey on young women
Unable to look yourselves straight in the eyes,
I see your conduct, its almost inhuman
Please give me wide berth, for its you I despise.
The cock of your head, crows proud with conceit
So fucking transparent and fowl!
Strategic advances; all smarm and deceit
I’d laugh, but she throws in the towel.
And then she’ll make do with what little you give
She’ll bend over backward with ease,
She’ll change her whole life for the way that you live
And you’ll come and you’ll go as you please.
A mind of her own, till you became editor,
O breathe your last breath, you sad sexual predator.

touched

Why do we care again?

Ok, there was a discussion at a feminist group and someone mentioned how some of us were too anti-men and even quoted some of my comments as examples of anti-men speech. Within minutes, I participated in another thread at a feminist page where again, the idea that feminism was about both men and women, and that men had to be protected from the misandrists who want to turn the tables and simply take the place that men have had for the past 6000 years as violent, unjust, perverted rulers over everything that lives was brought to the debate. Here’s what I thought about it.

No. Fucking. Way. Nope.

No. Fucking. Way. Nope.

I, of course, did not agree with either. In fact, I believe the entire concept of there being such a thing as “anti-men” is wrong.

It is completely irrelevant that some women are, in fact, truly anti-men (and very likely, their belief is justifiable to say the least, as men are responsible of perpetrating the most atrocious crimes and abuses against women, children, other men, animals, and the planet itself and some women may have had more or less direct contact with at least some of those perpetrations) because this system, this Patrix, everything you see, hear, buy, learn, everything feeds on the hatred of women, of being “anti-woman”, anti-life, anti-love. Misogyny is what the entire capitalist, heterosexual patriarchal system feeds on, from the media, the pornstitution industry, academia, literature, education, healthcare, etc. The system promotes and enacts misogyny.

The few allegedly man-hating women are nothing against the immensity of misogyny under a Patriarchy.

Also, the prefix “anti” means very, VERY different things when it precedes “women” and when it precedes “men”. Anti men (misandry) means saying that after running the world for 6000 men should not be trusted with the major decisions about life and society, that they will need to educate themselves and un-learn a lot of beliefs and behaviours, that most men enjoy a massive amount of privilege and privilege is very hard to give up and not many people embrace the loss of privilege easily. And making facebook memes.

OTOH, antiwomen (misogyny) means you get raped, beaten, abused, censored, sold, hurt and killed.

And finally, misandry is a made up word. Some thing you can’t reverse. Black people cannot be racist against white people. Women cannot oppress men as a class. Misandry is a made up word used to describe the very small number of women who acknowledge the oppressive relationship between men and women, by which men as a class oppress women as a class, and speak out about said oppression naming the agent (men) and the victim (women).

So, nope. No more WATM and “feminism is a guy’s thing too”. We need to start talking about our stuff and stop wasting extremely valuable time and resources on eggshell walking and tiptoeing and saying please and thank you, lest someone thinks we are anti-men. Feminists need to stop talking about men. We only need to mention them when we name them as agents or when we learn of more atrocities from them. If we come across some of the mythical “unicorns”, fine, there’s no need to dwell on that either, no special mention or cookies for those who choose to examine and somewhat refuse their privilege is needed.

We need to talk about the women, we need to discuss and share, and analyse who we are, what happens to us, what we can do, what we are not, how we unlearn most of what we have learned and how we break free. We are capable of so much. I meet an amazing new (to me) radical feminist every day, every day I see women making the most perfect comments, having the greatest ideas, showing the most amazing solidarity. We need to focus on that. On women. We need to talk to women, be nice to women, study women, listen to women, help women. Because we are women. We need to appear, we need to be visible, we need to have space, we need to run things. We need to do that yesterday.

 

I don’t think MISANDRY means what you think it means.

Go away

Go away. For good.

Dear Dude:

It’s not random misandry, you lot ARE a plague. You are dangerous, and unhealthy. You rape, impregnate, hurt, censor, sell, mindfuck women and silence them ALL THE TIME. And whine. A LOT. And mansplain. Endless rivers of blablabla, straight from your manhood HQ a.k.a. Bonerz.

Sure, maybe one day you can get your shit together, and I’m sure that will be nice for those women still into you, but until that happens, I am sorry but the healthiest thing for us to do is to stay the fuck away from you as much as possible. (Actually, I am not sorry, I am delighted, but you know, fixed expressions)

And please spare me the mantears, ’cause if you really gave a fuck you would not spend all your time defending your dudebro mateys, pulling the NAMALT card until we vomit out of the boredom of having to painstakingly explain the simplest, most basic things of all to you.

For the very last time. It basically boils down to:

I AM A PERSON.

YOUR BONER IS NOT A DEITY.

YOU ARE NOT ENTITLED TO MY PERSONHOOD IN ANY WAY.

I DO NOT NOR WILL I EVER OWE YOU SHIT.

I BELONG TO A CLASS AS WELL, MY CLASS IS WOMEN, NOT YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS.

We give birth, breastfeed you, wipe your arses, clean your snots, feed you soup. Now you’re all grown up. Go give each other blowjobs and let us be. We can talk AFTER you stop raping. And I cannot promise that we will want to talk after that, because we have been waiting/educating you for thousands of years and we cannot wait forever.

p.s.: Also, misandry is a non word. grow the fuck up.