Andrea Dworkin is a radical feminist writer and activist concerned with illuminating and clarifying sexual and social values, who seeks to create a world in which men have no dominion over women. Famous for making pointed statements such as "I am a feminist ? not the fun kind," Dworkin is considered an extremist by most people familiar with her work, including many of her fellow feminists. She has zealously advocated the CENSORSHIP of all PORNOGRAPHY, which, she says, degrades women, discriminates against them as a class, and incites men to sexual violence.
With Professor Catherine MacKinnon of the University of Michigan Law School, Dworkin has championed antipornography ordinances for several cities in the United States. The two also
helped author the VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (S. 11, 103d Cong., 1st Sess. ), a federal law signed by President BILL CLINTON as part of a larger crime bill in September 1994, which makes sex-based violence a CIVIL RIGHTS violation and allows victims to sue for compensatory and PUNITIVE DAMAGES and attorney's fees (42 U.S.C.A. § 13981 [Supp. V 1993]). The Canadian Criminal Code adopted the MacKinnon-Dworkin definition of pornography Criminal Code R.S.C., ch. C-34, § 159 (8) (1970) (Can.), and the Canadian Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of that definition, which was transferred to § 163 in 1985. Butler v. The Queen (1 S.C.R. 452) in February 1992, making the shipment and sale of pornographic materials in Canada more difficult for that country's booksellers. MacKinnon and Dworkin define pornography as any material whose "dominant characteristic is the undue exploitation of sex or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely crime, horror, cruelty and violence."
Dworkin was born September 26, 1946, in Camden, New Jersey, the daughter of Harry Spiegel and Sylvia Spiegel. She has devoted much of her adult life to fighting what she sees as the most visible signs of men's need to control and do violence to women: pornography, prostitution, INCEST, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL HARASSMENT, STALKING, and rape.
Although much has been written about Dworkin, little of the coverage has dealt with her early life. However, Dworkin's admittedly autobiographical novel Mercy (1991) may provide insight into some of the events that helped to shape this controversial feminist crusader: the book chronicles the sexual...