Worse Than You Can Imagine

Monday, October 13, 2014

It's a long read, but if you can stomach contemplating a soul that was obscene to the core, blogger Robert Stacy McCain has written an extensive piece, with numerous quotes, on Andrea Dworkin (via Instapundit). Here's a small sample:

Those are the final words of Andrea Dworkin's most famous book, published in 1987, barely a dozen years after Dworkin's first book had extended carte blanche to child molesters, evidently because in 1974 she viewed pedophiles as feminism's natural allies in "a political action where revolu­tion is the goal," where the destruction of the normal family was an objective requiring the abolition of the incest taboo.

By 1987, the feminist revolution had already done much "to restructure community forms and human consciousness," as promiscuity, divorce, abortion and homosexuality proliferated. But feminists had to exculpate themselves from responsibility for the accompanying plague of other evils -- rape and incest, pornography and prostitution -- that anyone with common sense could have predicted would result from the revolution. Therefore, by the late 1980s, Dworkin needed an elaborate argument to blame all these evils on feminism's scapegoat, the male-dominated society.

Ariel Levy[, in her forward to the twentieth-anniversary edition of Intercourse ,] could not remind readers that what Andrea Dworkin denounced in 1987 as an atrocity of male "tyranny" was, in fact, a predictable consequence of an ideology Dworkin avowed in 1974.
Although I found McCain's analysis somewhat hit-or-miss, he makes several very good points and, overall correctly indicates that there is a seething antipathy (to put it charitably) for humanity in general and Western civilization in particular in Dworkin's work.

As I said, the above is just a sample of the astonishing depths to which someone can sink in the quest for the unearned which, in Dworkin's case, was in the spiritual realm:
Just as Blanche Du Bois was a type, so also was Andrea Dworkin a type -- the fanatical self-righteous loudmouth type, who never once in her life admitted to any error, any fault or failure. Everybody in the world was always wrong, unless they agreed with her. Here we have a woman whose anger at half the human race was her professional raison d'etre, for whom hatred of men was a litmus test of one's moral worth: If you did not hate men as much as she did, you were her inferior. And because nobody could ever hate men more than Andrea Dworkin did, this meant she was the most moral person on Earth. Conveniently, then, her worldview had the effect of making her better than everybody else, in her own mind.
But what mind? Dworkin's cognitive modus operandi appears to me to be almost entirely arbitrary with the exception of gauging what she could get away with to persuade others to follow her moral code. Her contempt for everyone else is no surprise here, as she hadn't a rational, reality-oriented mind to introspect and so, to begin to form a basis for respect.

Dworkin hated men, but I believe she hated herself and everyone else, too. This contempt comes across in her irrational methods of persuasion, which were wholly geared towards supporting her marching orders. (What else could a moral code even be to an altruist/collectivist?) These included: cherry-picking facts that could plausibly support her assertions, context-dropping, unwarranted generalization, fabrication of "evidence", and outright evasion, as seen above.

It should go without saying that when one encounters anything like this, anything coming from the same source should be greeted with suspicion. But it takes life experience and a degree of mental fastidiousness to see through many of these tricks, especially when woven together with any degree of cohesion. That is the danger Dworkin's ideology represents to the young, whom McCain notes are usually ill-prepared to challenge what she says. It is also the basis of my contention that Dworkin hates herself: If you see humanity as dupes and you spend all your time focused on seeking their admiration/becoming their puppet master, what does that say about you?

I suspect that, on some level, even Andrea Dworkin had a sense of the answer.

-- CAV


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, yep, interesting read. While I often disagree with McCain's positive positions, I admire the fact that he is in the middle of systematically reading a number of the feminist authors they teach in women's studies courses, and more than that he reads them with some attention. A couple of decades ago I read many of the main works myself, including Dworkin, pretty intensively, until I got sick of trying to figure out how the radical feminist world view hangs together and how it got that way. Mind you, I didn't make notes or go about it as thoroughly as McCain does, but I'm glad someone's doing so and putting up his thoughts about them without fearing the retaliation of the radical feminists. Goodness knows I'd be sorely loath to go back and do what he's doing, simply because Dworkin, Marilyn Frye, and their ilk are so distasteful.

I also give props to him for being a bit more subtle about things than one might expect. As he points out, more mainstream feminists will say that rad fems and lesbian separatists don't represent feminism per se and should not be taken as representative of feminism. However, those writings are taught with a very heavy hand in women's studies courses without anyone criticizing them nearly as thoroughly as you'd expect if feminism were really devoted to equality between the sexes.

At most, as some of my feminist acquaintances with a much more rational view of things expressed it, it's a point of view they call "rape feminism" that should be taught, you see, to convey a full view of feminism...so it is part of feminism, yet it's not really part of feminism. Any detailed philosophical analysis of that point, which could be done on a number of levels with great value by someone with a good head on her shoulders, never seems to follow, since what they want is a political big-tent movement, fundamental principles be damned.

Similarly, when I asked another of my former acquaintances, a philosophy grad student with a close interest in "feminist ethics" (which in her personal life, alas, seems to be the opposite of pure and simple ethics, hence she's a former acquaintance) her opinion of Dworkin, she responded that she was a twisted woman she felt only pity for. My response was that yes, she was a pitiable woman, but she was also vile: Either she truly hated men, including me, simply because we exist; or else she disparaged men unjustly and offensively in order to make radial changes in society, in which case she was fundamentally dishonest as well as a purveyor of hatred, and I had a hard time deciding which was worse--but in any case I had no interest in trying to truckle to someone who preached that I was evil simply by existing. I refuse to appease people who want me to cease to exist or to strip me of my rights, so to hell with her.

Gus Van Horn said...

Agreed: I, too, am glad that somebody who is reasonable is out there is doing this.