We were prepared to let the untimely death of the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin last month at fifty-eight pass without comment. It is not that we subscribe to the admonition that de mortuis nil nisi bonum—we don’t—but rather that we felt that the less said about Ms. Dworkin the better. We still feel that way, but when we saw the op-ed piece in The New York Times by Catharine A. MacKinnon, Ms. Dworkin’s comrade-in-feminist-arms, we decided that a brief caveat lector was in order. Ms. MacKinnon divides her column about equally between praising her friend for her “genius,” originality, eloquence, moral fearlessness, etc., and complaining that she was horribly “misrepresented and demonized” and hence underappreciated (“there was no Nobel Prize nomination”).

Poppycock. Andrea Dworkin did not have many virtues as a thinker or writer, but no one can say she was obscure. “Being female in this world is having been robbed of the potential for human choice by men who love to hate us.” That was her central message: the world, and especially men, are unfair to women. That was her theme, her only theme, which she repeated in various registers of anger, bewilderment, and hysteria for thirty years. One might feel sorry for Andrea Dworkin. In many ways she was a pitiable figure. But only The New York Times could rush such a ridiculously hyperbolic celebration into print.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 23 Number 9, on page 3
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https://newcriterion.com/issues/2005/5/unheralded-genius

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