Happy Birthday, Andrea Dworkin

I am deeply indebted to the words of Andrea Dworkin. This is from her speech in 1992 – “Prostitution and Male Superiority”.

“…. If you have been in prostitution, you do not have tomorrow in your mind, because tomorrow is a very long time away. You cannot assume that you will live from minute to minute. You cannot and you do not. If you do then you are stupid, and to be stupid in the world of prostitution is to be hurt, is to be dead. No woman who is prostituted can afford to be that stupid, such that she would actually believe that tomorrow will come.

…. I can only say that premises of the prostituted women are my premises. They are the ones that I act from. They are the ones that my work has been based on all of these years….

…. It is the use of the woman’s body for sex by a man, he pays money, he does what he wants …. Prostitution is not an idea. It is the mouth, the rectum, penetrated usually by a penis, sometimes hands, sometimes objects, by one man then another and then another and then another and then another. That’s what it is ….I ask you to think concretely about your own bodies used that way …. I want you to feel the delicate tissues in her body that are being misused. I want you to feel what it feels like when it happens over and over and over and over and over and over and over again, because that is what prostitution is ….

…. And so many of us are saying that prostitution is intrinsically abusive …. Prostitution in and of itself is an abuse of a woman’s body…. But prostitution is very simple …. In prostitution, no woman stays whole. It is impossible to use a human body in the way women’s bodies are used in prostitution and to have a whole human being at the end of it, or in the middle of it, or also at the beginning of it. It’s impossible. And no woman gets whole again later, after …. But nobody gets whole, because too much is taken away when the invasion is inside you, when brutality is inside your skin. We try so hard to communicate, all of us to each other, the pain …. The only analogy I can think of concerning prostitution is that it is more like gang rape than it is like anything else.

…. Every woman is that same innocent woman. Every woman is taken by surprise. In a prostitute’s life, she is taken by surprise over and over and over and over and over again. The gang rape is punctuated by a money exchange. That’s all. That’s the only difference …. You give a woman money and whatever is that you did to her she wanted, she deserved ….

…. The money is real, more real than she is. With the money he can buy a human life and erase it’s importance, from every aspect of civil and social consciousness and conscience and society, from the protections of law, from any right of citizenship, from any concept of human dignity and human sovereignty ….

…. It is the presumption of most prostituted women that one knows nothing worth knowing …. What matters here to try to learn what the prostituted woman knows, because it is of immense value. It is true and it is hidden ….

I think that prostitutes  experience a specific inferiority …. But a prostitute lives the literal reality of being the dirty woman …. She is the woman covered in dirt, which is to say that every man who has ever been on top of her has left a piece of himself behind, and she is also the woman who has a purely sexual function under male dominance so that to the extent people believe that sex is dirty, people believe that prostituted women are dirt.

The prostituted is, however, not static in this dirtiness. She’s contagious. She’s contagious because man after man comes on her and then he goes away …. In general, the prostituted woman is seen as the generative source of everything that is bad and wrong and rotten with sex, with the men, and with women ….

She is, of course, the ultimate anonymous woman. Men love it …. She is perceived as, treated as – and I want you to remember this, this is real – vaginal slime. She is dirty; a lot of men have been there …. Her anus is often torn from anal intercourse, it bleeds.  Her mouth is a receptacle for semen, that is how she is perceived and treated …. She bleeds because she been hurt, and she got bruises on her.

When men use women in prostitution, they are expressing a pure hatred for the woman’s body …. It is a contempt so deep, so deep, that a whole human life is reduced to a few sexual orifices, and he can do anything he wants …. She has nowhere to go. There is no cop to complain to, the cop may well be the guy who is doing it …. When she needs medical help, it turns out he’s just another john …. She is literally nothing ….

…. But the prostituted women are treated like a certain kind of object, which is to say a target …. But a target you go after …. What that should tell you is how much  aggression goes into what a man does when he seeks out, find. and used a prostituted woman ….

What prostitution does in a society of male dominance is that it establishes a societal bottom beneath there is no bottom. It is the bottom. Prostituted women are all on the bottom …. Every man in this society benefits from the fact that women are prostituted whether or not every man uses women in prostitution …. Male dominance needs to ended, not simply reformed, not made a little nicer, and not made a little nicer for some women ….

…. This means taking away power from men …. They have too much of it …. We have to take the power that they have to hurt us away from them …. Any man who has enough money to spend a woman’s life in prostitution has too much money. He does not need what’s he got in his pocket. But there is a woman who does.

…. So when you accept, when you compromise, when you turn a blind eye, you are collaborating. Yes, I know that your life is also at stake, but yes you are collaborating, both things are true, in the destruction of another woman’s life. I am asking you to yourselves enemies of male dominance, because it has to be for the crime of prostitution to end. To end the crime against the women, the human-rights crime of prostitution, and everything else is besides the point, a lie, an excuse, an apology, a justification, and all the abstract words and lies,  justice, liberty, equality, they are lies. As long as women are being prostituted they are lies …. These are choices. I am asking you to make a choice.”

My next post will be on how this has inspires me, and why it must go further.

One response to “Happy Birthday, Andrea Dworkin

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