Feminist Icon Andrea Dworkin Dies April 11, 2005Thursday, April 14 2005
Andrea Dworkin, 1946-2005
The American feminist icon, writer and campaigner Andrea Dworkin, who linked pornography to rape and violence, died at the weekend, her agent said today. She was 59 years old. Her radical-feminist critique of pornography began with her first book, Woman Hating, published when she was 27. She campaigned frequently on the subject, helping to draft a law in 1983 that defined pornography as a civil rights violation against women.
The law, later overturned by an appeal court as unconstitutional, was inspired by the case of Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace said she had had been violently coerced into pornography, including the film Deep Throat, but had no recourse to the courts.
The drive of Ms Dworkin's writing and activism was to break the silence around violence against women, but her wider career saw her become a figure of adulation and loathing in equal measure. To opponents she was an archetypal man-hater, killjoy and proponent of censorship, but supporters rallied to her impassioned lectures and books. Gloria Steinem, a fellow feminist, said she was one of a handful of writers each century "who help the human race to evolve".
Ms Dworkin's life as a political activist began early. In 1965, when she was 18, she was arrested at the US mission to the United Nations, protesting against the Vietnam war. She was sent to the New York City Women's House of Detention, where she was given a brutal internal examination.
Her testimony about the experience was reported worldwide and helped to bring public pressure to bear to close the prison. An unmarked community garden now grows where it once stood.
As well as political works, Ms Dworkin was also the author of two novels and a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers, including the Guardian.
Ms Dworkin's agent, Elaine Markson, said the cause of death was not known, but she had become increasingly frail as her knees had weakened and she suffered a series of falls. She died at the home in Washington DC she shared with John Stoltenberg, her partner of 30 years and husband since 1998.