Do womn nd a
She considers her new book to
be her life's work, yet mention ANDREA DWORKIN to anyone and they take fright. Is she nutty or just misunderstood? Words: Susanna Beaumont
THE OTHER NIGHT I WAS TALKING ABOUT Andrea Dworkin. I was asking a friend if she had ever read any of her work. ‘Nof she replied. ‘she always seemed too fierce for me.’ Yet the friend in question. not one to side-step the writings of radical thinkers. wanted to know more. ‘She attacked pornography back in the 70s but what is she doing taking on the Jews and Israeli"
And that is the point about vaorkin: people are curious about the life and writings of one of America's most vociferous and uncompromising feminists. 'Bth has she not gone a bit mad‘." asked another friend. while another recounted the story of a colleague who interviewed her a few years back. It was not an easy experience. [)workin delivered her theories in a stampede of sentences and made it clear that she could not understand why the interviewer even considered questioning her point of view.
Her latest book Seapeguat.’ The Jews. Israel And Women's Liberation is a highly passionate account of how and why women and Jews have been stigmatised throughout history. Yet not content to leave it at that. [)workin takes on the state of Israel and its treatment of Jewish women. Palestinians and. in particular. Palestinian women. 'For Jews. including Israeli Jews.‘ writes [)workin. 'Palestinian Arabs are the scapegoat: the source of all danger and terror. the polluting presence. the inferior and the abject.‘
Strong words. but [)workin is no friend to complacency. She wants us to see the horrors of the world most of us would like to ignore.
30 THE lIST 8-22 Jim 2000
'They have not hesitated to betray me through assertions of superiority intended to hurt my human rights and my human dignity.‘
Andrea Dworldn on Jewish men
And Israel's abuse of Palestinian rights is one of the least confronted issues of global politics.
She first visited Israel in IQXX and was shocked. She found Holocaust—themed
pornography. witnessed the subordination of
Israeli women and state-sanctioned brutality meted out to the Palestinians. Why hadn‘t anyone told her what was going on'.’ Jewish and born into a pro-Zionist family. [)workin felt betrayed. ‘Why would I expect it to be different.” she writes. ‘The answer is simple: the Israelis are my guys. a miracle of self— determination and courage.~
The homeland was not all it was cracked up to be and the last frontier of [)workin naiver was demolished. And this is what gives Scapegoat its charge. She has spent nine
years writing .S'eupegout and there is a definite sense that in writing it. she has interrogated her most trusted loyalties. Speaking of Jewish men she writes: ‘They have not hesitated to betray me through assertions of superiority intended to hurt my human rights and my human dignity.‘ [)workin considers .S'eupegnat to be her life’s work.
Her central tenet is a time-honoured one: ‘They to whom evil is done. do evil.‘ She writes at length about the Holocaust and anti- Semitism but believes Israel is a perfect example of how male domination rises tip in a new state: the once victimised make victims of others. take scapegoats.
And her solution‘.’ Women should unite and rise up against men. Women need land and guns. declares [)workin. Women should be given a homeland. a place of sanctuary. Is this outlandish conclusion evidence of [)workin‘s nuttiness‘.’ Which peoples would be displaced to make way for ‘Women’s Land"?
Perhaps she is simply being provocative. In the final line of .S'eapegma she argues that the last 30 years have witnessed the so-called second wave of feminism. This is a prologue. says Dworkin: 'the question is. to what'.’ Answer the question.’ [)workin has thrown down the gauntlet. Does anyone dare pick it up'.’ As to the supposed nuttiness of [)workin. she is as sane as Mary \\'ollstonecraft. Pankhurst and thousands of other women who have improved the rights of women.
Scapegoat: Jews, Israel And Women ’s Liberation is published by Virago on Thu 8 Jun at £22.50.