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.
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.
, thank you for posting such an interesting