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Pre-2008 Posts

Ariel Levy Writes Forward to New Release of Dworkin’s Intercourse: Boycott This Edition


Dear goddess on high, it never ends.

Ariel Levy, of all people, wrote the forward to the newest edition of Andrea Dworkin’s classic book, Intercourse.    According to this review, published on Nikki Craft’s No Status Quo site, Levy’s forward takes the public insults, misrepresentations, and damnings-with-faint-praise of Dworkin and her life’s work which occurred over decades to a new level, given that Levy presents as a radical feminist.

Warning:  this is heartbreaking read for those of us who love and miss Andrea.  Why in the name of all that is holy was Levy selected to write this foreward. 

Following is an excerpt which could stand all by itself; it is  excellent and I know many Women’s Space readers will appreciate it.

Below are a half-dozen common antifeminist tactics routinely employed to discredit and demean feminist writers and activists:

1. Physically objectify or unduly focus on the body of the feminist:
Focus on the writer-activist’s appearance. This is utilized against women who are considered “attractive things” by dominant white male supremacist standards, as well as for those women who are not. This tactic exists to take the focus off the author-activist’s work, especially off the intellectual prowess and power of the work, in order to misogynistically retrain the eyes back on the woman as a patriarchally scrutinized body. This may be done through scornful description, objectifying photography, or both. As a test of sexism, ask yourself if a similarly well-known man’s body, relative to his intellectual-political work (ideas, activism, etc)–think Karl Marx–is similarly scrutinized. Jerry Falwell just died recently: amidst the public contempt there was no preponderance of viscious disparaging comments about his weight; yet when Andrea died, “Finally, that fat b*tch is dead” was among the most frequently uttered remarks, online and off.

2. Psychologize and isolate the feminist:
Focus on the writer-activist’s emotional state, internal world, and personal history as other than socially understandable and politically useful. This is what happens to raped women in courtrooms across the U.S. This tactic is used to get us to think more about what’s happening in or has happened to the author-as-individual, than to examine with the author what’s happening to women as a class.

3. Further portray the feminist as “a kind of woman” seen through patriarchy’s distorting lens:
Turn a complex person back into the raced or gendered female Other, whether the mean mother, masochistic whore, wounded martyr, goddess-savior, or man-hating madwoman, by those who, through their writing, infer they have the ethical or political right to assess or reinscribe any woman in these misogynistic ways. She is thus more easily dehumanized, dismissed, or deified–someone who must be permanently pedestaled, knocked or otherwise taken down, or a combination thereof.

4. Undermine the feminist’s work or reputation:
There are many ways to do this, and most of them employ techniques of back-handed compliments, quotations taken out of context, and subtle to blatant mischaracterizations of the work and its author.

5. Promulgate lies and distortions:
Especially recycle misstatements already circulating in the public domain. The repetition of these falsehoods helps keep them alive as “truth,” maintaining an inaccurate or delusional understanding of the feminist under scrutiny.

6. Politically compromise and conceptually contain the feminist:
This tactic exists in many forms. Portray the feminist as ideologically rigid or physiologically frigid. Minimize or ignore real patriarchal forces. Keep the sexist spotlight on what those feminists do amongst themselves, as if not in response to living in and fighting a racist patriarchy. Employ conservative to liberal understandings of reality to text that is written from a radical point of view. Refuse to accept or comprehend the work on its own terms, instead collapsing its meaning back into a conservative to liberal worldview–which the radical feminist’s text often exposes as part of the political problem.

What is sad is that the writer, Julian Real, then goes on to demonstrate the ways Levy engaged in all of the above with respect to Andrea– in a foreward to Andrea’s book!

Link to Over Her Dead Body by Julian Real, and thanks to Nikki Craft for the heads up.




23 thoughts on “Ariel Levy Writes Forward to New Release of Dworkin’s Intercourse: Boycott This Edition

  1. I didn’t like Ariel Levy’s book about Female Chauvinist Pigs, which took women to task for the sexual culture rather than men. She seems happy to blame women for the problems of the world.

    Posted by Miranda | June 2, 2007, 11:31 am
  2. John Stoltenberg, as Andrea’s literary executor, would have had approval or veto power, it is clear.

    Posted by SecondWaver | June 2, 2007, 12:34 pm
  3. While I understand the inclination to be protective of Dworkin, I’m happy this book was reissued and hope the inclusion of Ariel Levy brings to new people to it.

    Posted by Gayle | June 2, 2007, 2:17 pm
  4. Shoot! I inadvertently hit the submit button before proofreading! Lazy wrists and laptops can be a hazardous combo.

    “I’m happy this book was reissued and hope the inclusion of Ariel Levy’s forward brings new people to it.”

    Besides, who stops reading a book just after the forward?

    Posted by Gayle | June 2, 2007, 2:32 pm
  5. Gayle,

    Did you read this review, prior to making your statement appreciating what Ariel Levy added?


    Posted by uppitybiscuit | June 2, 2007, 2:34 pm
  6. Uppitybiscuit,

    I’ll read your link, but please don’t misunderstand me.

    I’m hoping Ariel Levy’s now famous NAME gets more people to buy and read Andrea Dworkin’s work. That is all.

    Posted by Gayle | June 2, 2007, 2:42 pm
  7. Oh, it’s the link Heart put up. Yes, I’ve read it already.

    Posted by Gayle | June 2, 2007, 2:48 pm
  8. Dang, SecondWaver, that’s a thought, isn’t it. I don’t know though– maybe I’ll run that by Nikki, since I know that she appreciates John, knows him, and it would surprise me if she endorsed a boycott of a book John approved.

    I want everybody to read Intercourse. But based on Real’s article, the foreward really troubles me. I want everybody to buy used copies!


    Posted by womensspace | June 2, 2007, 5:09 pm
  9. This is how erasure happens. This is where it begins. With feminists, who are understood to value the work of their colleagues, misunderstanding it, misrepresenting it, mischaracterizing it. Then they get cited and cited and cited as the authorities on the feminist whose work is, in fact, being erased.


    Posted by womensspace | June 2, 2007, 5:10 pm
  10. Heart, I hope John Stoltenberg did not approve it, and I want to believe that he didn’t. But it’s hard to imagine how this could have happened.
    I like what he has said and written. Will you let us know if you find out more? — sw

    Posted by SecondWaver | June 2, 2007, 5:45 pm
  11. I guess they must have thought that Levy’s name would help persuade people to pick up the book. I don’t know if I’d boycott it though, maybe take a pair of scisssors and cut out the introduction and mail it back to the publishers. I want Dworkin to be published and republished. If this book doesn’t sell, they’ll use it as an excuse not to resissue anything else of hers.

    Does nobody teach Dworkin on Womens Studies courses BTW? You’d think that alone could create a market for her work.

    Posted by delphyne | June 2, 2007, 7:02 pm
  12. I will, SW. My immediate thought would be that since this is an older book, published long before Andrea and John married, possibly the contract she signed returned all rights to the publisher once Andrea died?


    Posted by womensspace | June 2, 2007, 7:05 pm
  13. I was very disheartened to read this about Ariel Levy, since having read and liked her book “Female Chauvenist Pigs.” I didn’t feel like it blamed women for the raunch culture, nor did I feel like the subject was the entireity of the problem of the Patriarchy. It felt more to me like someone going “hey, when you’re showing off sexually for a male audience be aware of what you’re doing and what it really is.”

    Of course, reading the article on her forward to the book it crushed me to discover that Levy is pandering to mysoginist tactics as well.
    I’ve only really read one article by Andrea Dworkin and being absolutely amazed by it. I want to read more of her works, but it looks like I will have to search around for a used copy of this edition.

    Posted by Chloe | June 2, 2007, 9:40 pm
  14. “Does nobody teach Dworkin on Womens Studies courses BTW? You’d think that alone could create a market for her work.”

    I honestly don’t know.

    I’ve heard young women say they have taken Gender Studies courses, even majored in that, and never read Dworkin or any radical feminists, Delphyne.

    Amazing, isn’t it? No Dworkin, no Millet, no Daley?

    Is Gender Studies a sub-set of Women’s Studies now or vice versa? Do we have any professors here?

    Posted by Gayle | June 2, 2007, 11:10 pm
  15. Just ordered my own used copy of Intercourse.

    Posted by V. | June 3, 2007, 1:42 am
  16. I haven’t been to college in years, but my guess is that Women’s Studies is the stepchild of Gender Studies these days, if that much.

    Posted by Branjor | June 3, 2007, 2:03 am
  17. I ordered this issue several months before it was available and was sad when I received it and it had Ariel Levy’s name on it (I had read her article ‘the prisoner of sex’). I’ve torn off the front cover and foreword and will be making own at some point.

    Posted by Arantxa | June 3, 2007, 9:26 am
  18. Branjor,

    No kidding.

    “Women’s Studies” was a pushover for the mysogynists.

    Academia is a male institution, FFS. How could they lose?

    “Women’s Studies” has spawned a generation of young “feminists” who have inhaled mysogyny as the definition of PoMo “feminism”.

    Posted by Mary Sunshine | June 3, 2007, 1:04 pm
  19. I’m not a professor but I know that “Gender Studies” has increasingly replaced Women’s Studies in many colleges and universities and that quite often, what counts as “Gender Studies” is not at all feminist or helpful to women.

    Having said that, Tiffany, my just-graduated daughter, had some fine Women’s Studies profs at her college, PLU, and in the course of classes she took, she read Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin, Robin Morgan, Susan Brownmiller, and others. She would call me to find out whether I had the books she needed for some of these classes, and usually I had most of them! So all is not lost yet anyway.

    I’ve been poking around, and it sounds as though the foreward to Intercourse was either exactly the article or a rewrite of an article Levy wrote for the New Yorker in 2005 right after Andrea’s death.


    Posted by womensspace | June 3, 2007, 3:21 pm
  20. I’ve heard young women say they have taken Gender Studies courses, even majored in that, and never read Dworkin or any radical feminists, Delphyne.

    I was a Women’s Studies major. We never read Andrea Dworkin, although we did read Mary Daly, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    I’m appalled by the things Levy has written in the forward to Andrea Dworkin’s book. Another cheerleader for the patriarchy masquerading as a feminist.

    The world has once again propagated feminism in order to destroy it.

    Posted by gingermiss | June 3, 2007, 3:56 pm
  21. I have not read Female Chauvinist Pigs. Nor do I intend to. I read an interview with Ariel Levy and a few extracts from the book: enough to know that it would be a waste of time to read it. Even the title gives away the fact that she is another woman-blaming ‘feminist’.

    I am not at all surprised by the fact that she is critical of radical feminists like Dworkin. But I agree that it is heartbreaking for Dworkin’s work to be published in this manner. I honestly don’t know why women like Levy think they have a right to be critical of women like Dworkin who did so so much for women and for the world.

    Posted by allecto | June 4, 2007, 10:43 am
  22. I e-mailed Nikki also, to ask about John; her silence is deafening! I conclude that he gave to ok because he needed the money.

    Posted by secondwaver | June 13, 2007, 11:29 am
  23. Update,

    Nikki has confirmed that John did approve it, because he wants Adnrea’s work to continue to be published, read, discussed.

    Well, what do you think Andrea would have decided?? -sw

    Posted by secondwaver | June 15, 2007, 1:05 pm

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