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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pornography. Men Possessing Women. Andrea Dworkin. The Women's Press (1981)


This brilliantly written, fiercely argued book is both invigorating and deeply dispiriting to read. Andrea Dworkin develops a powerful argument that pornography is central to men controlling women. It reduces women to being sexual slaves, publicly reinforcing their subservient position. This is placed within a wider context of sexual relations betwen men and women and how that relates to the larger society. Andrea Dworkin's close examination of a variety of pornographic books and images is dispiriting and very difficult to read, it is a catalouge of contempt, cruelty and lust for dominance. At the end of the book Andrea Dworkin writes on the toll taken on her personally by the investigations she undertook.
What makes this book invigorating is the passionate argument that Andrea Dworkin develops. There is a very strong sense of having someone place a hand on your chest and have a lucid and commited argument directly with you as the reader. It is an argument in that there is a very clear intent to persuade, not by force of detail rather by thoughtful and carefully copnstructed arguments supporting a conclusion. I disagree very strongly with a great deal of the arguments in the book and the pleasure of engaging with the arguments head on and attempting to match the passion and rigor of the arguments was exhilirating.
Andra Dworkin has written a brilliant, passionate, infuriating, depressing and amazing book, hard to read and deeply engaging, superb.

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