Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Reading Dworkin

I have been meaning to read work by Andrea Dworkin for years. I know that her ideas have influenced some activists that I know and respect greatly, and that they would challenge me and force me to expand my own analysis. Of course there are lots of writers like that for me -- "So many books, so little time," right? -- including Marx and Thich Nhat Han and Starhawk and Franz Fanon and tons of others.

But I think one of the things that has kept me from reading Dworkin is my own internal struggles about sexuality and oppression -- sorting out stuff about how sexist (and other) oppression is expressed through and uses male sexuality as a tool, as well as stuff about how sexuality itself is distorted and attacked by various oppressions, and what the heck practicing a liberatory (and fun!) straight male sexuality might actually mean, all in the context of trying to deal with my own internalization of early-life puritanical and sex-negative messaging. She has a sex-negative reputation, and even though I know enough not to believe what the mainstream says about any feminist (or other progressive/radical), I still figured it would take a great deal of intellectual and emotional energy to adequately process and respond to what she has to say about sexuality, and I have never quite felt that I have that energy to spare. I still think it's true that it will be a lot of work to read; after all, if it was easy would it be worth reading? But this post helps chip away at the unfair stereotypes of Dworkin's ideas on sexuality that have accumulated in my head despite myself. My queue is a little long for me to be adding books of any kind at the moment, but maybe this will help me overcome that particular inertia in the months to come.

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