This is from a speech given by Andrea Dworkin in 1983 to the Midwest Regional Conference of the National Organization for Changing Men. It was later published in the Magazine of the men's movement M.

I want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There is No Rape

"And I want one day of respite, one day off, one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old, and I am asking you to give it to me. And how could I ask you for less--it is so little. And how could you offer me less: it is so little. Even in wars, there are days of truce. Go and organize a truce. Stop your side for one day. I want a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape.

I dare you to try it. I demand that you try it. I don't mind begging you to try it. What else could you possibly be here to do? What else could this movement possibly mean? What else could matter so much? And on that day, that day of truce, that day when not one woman is raped, we will begin the real practice of equality, because we can't begin it before that day."

This speech is the basis, as I understand it, for A Day without Rape. It's a call to action for the men of any community to get involved and help make the world a safer place for the women they love.


If you would like to put the quotation back in it's original context you can visit Andrea Dworkin's Webpage (http://www.igc.org/womensnet/dworkin/liedector.html.) It's near the bottom. I would have written up the whole thing, but that would have broken copyright laws.

My original writeup here was a rather sarcastic response to what I felt were some unfair implications in the quote, namely that rape was some kind of war between men and women, and that by virtue of having a Y chromosome, I was on the same "side" as all the rapists in the world.

Girlface very courteously provided me with the URL for the whole speech, (http://www.igc.org/Womensnet/dworkin/WarZoneChaptIIIE.html), and suggested I read it to gain some context.

(Note: emphasis in quoted sections was added by me.)

I have done so. However, I still have to disagree with the some of the main points that Ms. Dworkin is attemping to make. Please don't get me wrong. Rape is a terrible, horrible thing. But I am not a rapist.

I am not a rapist, I am not an abusive husband, I am not responsible for thousands of years of gender ineqality, and I will not stand for acusations that I am no better than those who are, merely because I am biologically like them.

    The power exercised by men day to day in life is power that is institutionalized. It is protected by law. It is protected by religion and religious practice. It is protected by universities, which are strongholds of male supremacy. It is protected by a police force. It is protected by those whom Shelley called "the unacknowledged legislators of the world": the poets, the artists. Against that power, we have silence.

Law and religion vary worldwide, of course, but here in the U.S., there is no institutionalized power that men have over women. The law makes little distinction between men and women, and the fact that it makes any at all (i.e., the failure of the ERA) is just as much the fault of women as it is of men. Furthermore, in the U.S., religion has only the power that one gives to it. And I'm sorry, I fail to see any concrete examples of my university, for one, being a stronghold of male supremacy.

It gets worse, though:

    It is an extraordinary thing to try to understand and confront why it is that men believe--and men do believe--that they have the right to rape. Men may not believe it when asked. Everybody raise your hand who believes you have the right to rape. Not too many hands will go up. It's in life that men believe they have the right to force sex, which they don't call rape. And it is an extraordinary thing to try to understand that men really believe that they have the right to hit and to hurt. And it is an equally extraordinary thing to try to understand that men really believe that they have the right to buy a woman's body for the purpose of having sex: that that is a right. And it is very amazing to try to understand that men believe that the seven-billion-dollar-a-year industry that provides men with cunts is something that men have a right to.

This is slander of the worst kind. I've never hit a woman, I've never forced a woman into sex, whatever your definition of "force" is.

As for prostitution, here's a controversial statement for you: I do think I have the right to buy sex from a woman. Who are you to tell two consenting adults what they can and cannot do, regardless of whether money is exchanged in the process.

    What's involved in doing something about all of this? The men's movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you? The second is that men come to me or to other feminists and say: "What you're saying about men isn't true. It isn't true of me. I don't feel that way. I'm opposed to all of this."

    And I say: don't tell me. Tell the pornographers. Tell the pimps. Tell the warmakers. Tell the rape apologists and the rape celebrationists and the pro-rape ideologues. Tell the novelists who think that rape is wonderful. Tell Larry Flynt. Tell Hugh Hefner. There's no point in telling me. I'm only a woman. There's nothing I can do about it. These men presume to speak for you. They are in the public arena saying that they represent you. If they don't, then you had better let them know.

All right. Hey, everyone: Larry Flynt, Ted Bundy, and Jerry Falwell do not speak for me. But now what? Besides denouncing them, and voting with my dollars, there's not a lot I can do, short of repealing the first amendment.

    Then there is the private world of misogyny: what you know about each other; what you say in private life; the exploitation that you see in the private sphere; the relationships called love, based on exploitation. It's not enough to find some traveling feminist on the road and go up to her and say: "Gee, I hate it."

    Say it to your friends who are doing it. And there are streets out there on which you can say these things loud and dear, so as to affect the actual institutions that maintain these abuses. You don't like pornography? I wish I could believe it's true. I will believe it when I see you on the streets. I will believe it when I see an organized political opposition. I will believe it when pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers.

First of all, I reject the implication I can only oppose rape if I oppose prostitution and pornography. Sure, being a prostitute is not a healthy lifestyle for a woman, and lots of porn is degrading to the women in it. But I maintain that neither one is inherently anti-woman.

But suppose for a second I did oppose them. In the case of porn, we run into the whole first amendment, "I may not agree with what you say..." issue. And in the case of prostititution, I am not responsible for seeing to it that "pimps go out of business because there are no more male consumers". I'm not a customer. I tell all my friends to boycott as well. Heck, since we're being hypothetical here, I've got enough money to buy spots on NBC during the Olympics, telling people to "Just say no to hookers." But apparently, because some people don't listen to my advice, my claims to be against prostitution must be false.

Ms. Dworkin's speech ends on a reiteration of her plea that we end all rape. I think I've covered this already, but my point bears reiteration. Rape is a crime. What else can we do? Increase sentences? Spend more money on police? Eliminate the right of accused rapists to a trial? None of these will eliminate rape. Certainly, any given girl could potentially be raped tomorrow. I could be murdered tomorrow. Heck, I could even be raped. (And, incidentally, given the choice between some pain and humiliation versus death, I'll take rape, thank you very much) Does that make me somehow unable to be an equal member of society?

The answer is no.


Incidentally, Girlface, thank you for posting such an interesting and provocative speech.
Rape is not a game.

I have gone as far as defending Andrea Dworkin from some unfounded accusations, this bit here is plainly insulting. This is not "boys versus girls" and the more it is made as such the less likely that the greater part of the male population of this world will be inclined to help.

I do not run around spouting slanderous trash about how women are "potential whores" or "potential baby killers" nor would I expect that other people would, in the manner of any garden variety sexist, treat me in such a manner. This issue is the people versus the criminal and the upright versus the sexist. Andrea Dworkin would have done well to realize who she is fighting and who allies with her cause, but frequently crossing the line between righteous anger and paranoid, sensationalistic, chauvinistic, sexist slander makes her quite difficult to take seriously.


It should go without saying that this is commentary on the quotation, not a pot-shot at Girlface.
I started a longish set of notes to moJoe and realized that maybe one thing needs to be added here to "expand" Dworkin's language in the quote given.

By my understanding, Dworkin is of the camp that sees gender as something "constructed" and therefore her definitions of "women" and "men" may not be entirely based on genital sex.

After all, biological "men" are sometimes rape victims, as are biological "women." To someone who frames gender in constructed terms, though, the act of being subject to rape either emasculates or feminizes the victim, whatever form of genitalia he/she may have.

For example, there are those who are raised as "women" whose sexual genotype is XY, but whose phenotype corresponds more closely to the generally accepted notions of woman/female/XX; there are likewise those raised as "men" whose genetic sex is XX, who possess a "male" phenotype. And there are variations aplenty beyond that, where the phenotype may be ambiguous in some way. Are these individuals men? Women? Both? Neither?

Socially, someone who is treated consistently as a woman or as a man, based on appearance, manner, and self-presentation, is, for most practical purposes, the sex people generally assume them to be. Or at least this so unless and until questions are raised or bureaucrats become involved.

This definition of human gender as a social construct may cast Dworkin's words in a different light. After all, her domestic partner of many years, John Stoltenberg, has written many books advocating "The End of Manhood," offering biological males, at least in theory, an out from a gender system that does tend to endorse a lot of what Dworkin has pointed out in many of her books, essays and speeches.

If gender is manufactured, not inborn, then you have the option of choosing (at least to some degree) not to be a "man" or a "woman." What is problematic, especially if you are someone who is identified by others as a "woman" — or as someone who in some way is "woman-like" — is that you find that, persistently and almost automatically you have become someone who is considered a "proper" subject of uninvited sexual attentions, and your choice and free will gradually (or suddenly, in some cases) become practically meaningless. At least, it's that context that I use when reading Dworkin.

Without that context, I agree that much of what she writes can come across as offensive, especially to those who feel they have no choice but to be "men" and who are accustomed to using that term rather carelessly in describing themselves and others.

(I typed this fairly impulsively, and plan to return to revise it. Please /msg me if you seek a better, clearer statement of anything I've said in my present sleep-deprived state.)

I found when I (briefly) read one of Andrea Dworkin's speeches all I felt was fear and suspicion. Her words and rhetoric aroused in me a fear in my husband, my father, my uncle, any male that I know. I wonder if she imparts that fear in me because that is the way she is feeling. While I want to be a well informed, safe female, I do not want to feel that my husband is raping me just because I have sex with him. This is my decision, one that I consciously make every time we have sex. By saying that he belongs to the society of rapists is the kind of blanket generalization that makes me want to turn off what she is saying. My husband could rape me or someone else, but that would be one man making a decision, and would not be something I could blame on all men.

I also agree with moJoe that she is alienating a portion of our society that has a right to be included on the “good” side of the fight. By challenging and insulting all men, including my husband, she makes if very hard for him to take a strong stance with women, because he is already the enemy, and can never be anything else, so why should he try to become part of the fight against violence? Men that have been raised by mothers and father that taught them the right way to treat women can only be passive observers in her fight, and can never gain the status of a “good human being” in her eyes. I find that frustrating, because it is hard to get men interested in doing the right thing when they know they are going to be villainized anyway. So, this is too long and rambling for a first post.

Please /msg me if you have anything to say

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