Wednesday, April 13, 2005

King on Dworkin

When I heard of Andrea Dworkin's death yesterday, I remembered some praise she received from an unlikely source: the hilarious conservative commentator Florence King. In a review included in her collection Lump It or Leave It, King wrote:

I panned Intercourse and Ice and Fire in a dual review in Newsday three years ago and fully intended to do another hatchet job on Letters From a War Zone. But I can't. As they say in the soaps, I tried, God knows I tried, but once I got into this book I kept running up against an indisputable fact: Andrea Dworkin emerges here as a rock 'em, sock 'em Carry Nation who has won my admiration and respect. ...

As for the endless academic research about the effects of pornography, Dworkin, who describes herself as a self-educated writer [Actually, she went to Bennington. L.B.], replies with the horse sense so often found in people who did not go to college: 'I am entirely outraged that someone has to study whether hanging a woman from a meat hook causes harm or not.'

Dworkin's difficulties in getting articles past editors who abhor censorship are legion. ... In her assessment of this run-around Dworkin manifests a refreshingly unfeminist dry wit: 'Why did I have to run this gauntlet to get this essay into print? Misogyny, stupidity, and the arrogance of children aside, this editing business has gotten out of hand; it has become police work for liberals.' ...

The stern purity with which Dworkin views her calling serves as an inspiration to conservative writers in a liberal-dominated industry: 'Writers get underneath the agreed-on amenities, the lies a society depends on to maintain the status quo, by becoming ruthless, pursuing the truth in the face of intimidation, not by being compliant or solicitious.'

... I can't remember when I have been so happy to be wrong about someone. I began reading this book in a spirit of such unabashed prejudice that I was even prepared to blame Andrea Dworkin for the Orioles' loss of the American League East, but now I like her.


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