A lightning rod for controversy, Andrea Dworkin denounced violence against women, advocated women’s self-defense, and drafted groundbreaking legislation claiming that pornography violated women’s civil rights. Dworkin was arrested at a 1965 antiwar demonstration and sent to the New York Women’s House of Detention, where she was given such brutal internal examinations that she bled for days afterwards. She detailed her experience in several newspapers and at the resulting grand jury investigation, triggering widespread outrage and the closing of the prison. In 1971 Dworkin fled her abusive husband after three years of marriage, seeking refuge with feminist Ricki Abrams. Dworkin and Abrams co-wrote the 1974 book Woman Hating, which charged that pornography incited violence towards women and claimed even consensual sex subjugated women. In 1983 the Minneapolis City Council commissioned Dworkin to draft legislation laying out a legal principle that pornography violated women’s civil rights. While the US Supreme Court overturned the legislation, it highlighted a fundamental conflict between First Amendment rights to free speech and the equal protection guaranteed by the Fourteenth. Dworkin continued to write and lecture widely on rape, domestic violence, and the need for women to fight back, particularly after the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Andrea Dworkin." (Viewed on January 15, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/dworkin-andrea>.