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Old 04-16-2005, 08:04 PM
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Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Did Andrea Dworkin State That All Sex is Rape?

No. Is that a valid summary of her position? Yes.

Or not. Here are two links. My preferred one is entitled Andrea Dworkin does not believe that all heterosexual sex is rape. It helpfully contains some quotes about her seminal work, Intercourse:
Quote:
Originally penned by Andrea Dworkin [RIP]

Violation is a synonym for intercourse.
Um, not to my way of thinking is it. Now Dworkin's defenders clarify that it's patriarchal intercourse (or rather patriarchal conceptions of intercourse) that supports that equivalence. Well perhaps some partriarchs believe that.

But not all. Or even most, I'd say.

At any rate, I'd say that the concepts of rape and violation are pretty close. So I'm not sure how Ms. Dworkin has been maligned by misquoting.

Fuller context:
Quote:
A human being has a body that is inviolate; and when it is violated, it is abused. A woman has a body that is penetrated in intercourse: permeable, its corporeal solidness a lie. The discourse of male truth --literature, science, philosophy, pornography-- calls that penetration violation. cite?, -ed This it does with some consistency and some confidence. Violation is a synonym for intercourse. At the same time, the penetration is taken to be a use, not an abuse; a normal use; it is appropriate to enter her, to push into ("violate") the boundaries of her body. She is human, of course, but by a standard that does not include physical privacy. She is, in fact, human by a standard that precludes physical privacy, since to keep a man out altogether and for a lifetime is deviant in the extreme, a psychopathology, a repudiation of the way in which she is expected to manifest her humanity.
It appears that Dworkin's methodology involves crank linguistics; I don't see much in the way of empirical evidence, at least in this quote.

The 2nd link is to Snopes. It contains Ms. Dworkin's denial and clarification.
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:26 PM
Vlad/Igor Vlad/Igor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Measure for Measure
Fuller context:It appears that Dworkin's methodology involves crank linguistics; I don't see much in the way of empirical evidence, at least in this quote.
Either that, or it's a fulminant, malignant example of post-modern thinking. She can define it all she wants, but I don't feel particularly compelled to agree with her. I haven't read anything by her, but going on the provided quotes, she appears to ignore completely a woman's choice to be penetrated by a man, and [gasp!] actually enjoy it. Again, she is certainly free to define any penetration as rape, but I think there are a lot of women here who would also feel free to disagree with her.

Vlad/Igor
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Old 04-16-2005, 08:33 PM
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Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vlad/Igor
Again, she is certainly free to define any penetration as rape, but I think there are a lot of women here who would also feel free to disagree with her.
[nitpick clarification]You mean any penetration as violation. [/nitpick clarification]
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Old 04-17-2005, 12:36 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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It seems to me that she (in that snippet) is hanging a lot of baggage on which sex is convex and which one is concave. Her whole concept of "penetration" is more logically viewed as parts that fit together nicely.
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Old 04-17-2005, 12:44 PM
Vlad/Igor Vlad/Igor is offline
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Consider that nit picked and clarified.

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Old 04-17-2005, 04:31 PM
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Measure for Measure Measure for Measure is offline
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Let me add another quote from the first link:

Quote:
In this paragraph alone--let alone through the rest of the book--Dworkin couldn't possibly make it more clear that she is not describing what she thinks the essence of intercourse is, but rather explicating the meaning that male supremacist culture attaches to intercourse. The "synonymy" is not her thought on the matter, but the thought of the male novelists, philosophers, and others that she spends a couple of hundred pages dissecting and analyzing.

I don't want to be mean, but the simple fact is that this is just as silly an error as if you had flipped to a page in Book II of the Republic, pulled out a quote from Thrasymachus, and used it to show how Plato believes that justice is the interest of the stronger. It's a dumb mistake and you ought to be embarassed that you have made it.
Emphasis and abuse in the original. Oh, and you misspelled, "embarrassed". That's ok, to err is human.

I dunno. I think there are a number of possible interpretations of Dworkin's violation/intercourse equivalence. Here are a few, starting with the less plausible.

1. Dworkin believes that violation is synonymous with intercourse, because biology is destiny.

Comment: This is unlikely, as 2nd wave feminists consistently weighed in on the "nurture" side of the nature/nurture debate. Still there is evidence for this interpretation. Consider this quote:
Quote:
Originally penned by Dworkin, from the same link

Male-dominant gender hierarchy, however, seems immune to reform by reasoned or visionary argument or by changes in sexual styles, either personal or social. This may be because intercourse itself is immune to reform. In it, female is bottom, stigmatized. Intercourse remains a means or the means of physiologically making a woman inferior: communicating to her cell by cell her own inferior status, impressing it on her, burning it into her by shoving it into her, over and over, pushing and thrusting until she gives up and gives in--which is called surrender in the male lexicon. In the experience of intercourse, she loses the capacity for integrity because her body--the basis of privacy and freedom in the material world for all human beings--is entered and occupied; the boundaries of her physical body are--neutrally speaking-- violated.
Notwithstanding the "male lexicon" assertion in the preceding unpleasantness, the above paragraph does appear to reflect some sort of preoccupation with the physical act of coitus, not to mention a certain conceptual rigidity regarding her topic, intercourse.

But let's move on.

2. Dworkin believes that under the existing patriarchic system, all intercourse must be experienced as a violation (with few exceptions that don't need to be mentioned, presumably).

Comment: Such an hypothesis could be evaluated by comparing female sexual satisfaction under regimes that are patriarchic to a greater or lesser degree. Assuming that one takes this idea seriously enough to test it.

3a. Dworkin believes that most males believe that violation is synonymous with intercourse.

Comment: This hypothesis can be tested with that central reference of male oppression, the dictionary. The second definition from Webster's New World (1980):

"Violate... 2. to commit a sexual assault on; esp., to rape (a woman)."

This suggests that males distinguish between sexual assault and intercourse-with-consent. Furthermore, while violation is not synonymous with intercourse, it can imply rape (but see definitions #1 and 3-6).

3b. Dworkin maintains that male culture believes that "Violation is a synonym for intercourse."
or "
3c. According to "the discourse of male truth", violation is etc. etc.

Comment: If 3a is hogwash, then 3b is nonsense: groups can't be said to believe something when few or none of their members do.

If 3a and 3b are hogwash, then 3c can only be demonstrated with crank linguistics. Analysts gather then weigh conflicting evidence. Polemicists select it and pretend that the body all points in a single direction. Ideologues and fools can't tell the difference.

I suspect that Dworkin was a polemicist. Her goal was provocation, not illumination.

----
This post is already too long. Later, I may or may not address the argument, "You can't just summarize Dworkin's argument, you have to read her whole book."
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Old 04-17-2005, 10:14 PM
Vlad/Igor Vlad/Igor is offline
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I would tend to agree with you that, according to what you've posted here, she was picking a fight of sorts. Her comments about sex for women in a patriarchal society still ignores the choice women make to be in an inferior position, because, physiologically, it feels good. Besides, Dworkin never considered the cowgirl or reverse-cowgirl positions? If a woman chooses to accomodate a man in the way he wants, because she wants to please him with her choice, could that choice be her own? I suspect that Dworkin would say no, but I would say yes, because it is impossible to completely remove any individual from cultural influences, and because I believe that rational people can make such decisions of their own will and within the context of that relationship.

The paragraph describing sex as the man bashing into the woman is to me a description of rape or coerced sex, and in my experience, that is a long way from what consensual sex is. Consensual sex is determined by physiology as much as it is determined by creative choices, curiosities or psychology. If anything, Dworkin appears to be projecting her own attitudes about the female sexual experience rather than showing any interest in what other women actually think and feel about their experiences. If she has such little regard for other womens' experiences, then I would be hard pressed to have any regard for her views on my discourses of my male truth (whatever the hell that is).

Vlad/Igor
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Old 04-18-2005, 12:52 AM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Measure for Measure wrote:

Quote:
The 2nd link is to Snopes. It contains Ms. Dworkin's denial and clarification.
That seems to mainly deal with MacKinnon, debunking a false quote attribution. Her view is somewhat more nuanced, as stated in her essay Rape: On Coercion and Consent:

Quote:
When sex is violent, women may have lost control over what is done to them, but absence of force does not ensure the presence of that control. Nor, under conditions of male dominance, does the presence of force make an interaction nonsexual. If sex is normally something men do to women, the issue is less whether there was force than whether consent is a meaningful concept.
This strikes me as tantamount to the same thing as the quotation falsely attributed to MacKinnon:

Quote:
In a patriarchal society all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.
The one that MacKinnon actually wrote doesn't make as nice a sound bite, but it doesn't strike me as all that different a claim.
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