RETURN TO Dallas Radio Interview with Andrea Dworkin: Part I

DWORKIN: Well, I am sorry that it infuriates you but what I would do, rather than apologize, is to ask you to think about it, from the point of view of a woman, there is no way of identifying somebody who will rape from somebody who won't. There is no test, there is no pathology, no psychologist has been able to locate a profile that shows that one man is different from another, since most women are raped by men that they actually know, that they feel close with, that they feel some friendship for. The experience of women is that we look out to a world of men and we are unable to differentiate between them. I think that what you say about not valuing yourself more than the women that you esteem is wrong, because if it were right, you would understand that as an adult male you're not subjected to either the threat or the reality of rape, and they are. And if you keep that out of your consciousness day in and day out, that's a way of valuing yourself more because it's a way of keeping them unequal by not understanding the reality of their situation . . .

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] But Andrea I think what a lot of us are saying here, and yet you understand why this upsets us, is that, as he said, you lump us together with the people who go out and do these things. By no means am I my brother's keeper on this!

DWORKIN: No, what I am saying is that if you do not go out and do these things, you have to differentiate yourselves in ways that women can see. Women have no way of knowing who does and who does not rape . . .

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] But what am I supposed to do?

DWORKIN: Excuse me, with the battery statistics at fifty per cent of women are beaten at some time or other during their marriages, there is frankly no way for any of us to know who beats his wife and who does not, we do not have a way of knowing. So either we have men who care deeply about violence against women and are organized socially to try to stop it, or we have men who claim that they care deeply but we don't know if they do or they don't.

INTERVIEWER: Well, I guess we just have to wear little signs: "We Don't Rape," I mean.

DWORKIN: Well you not only have to wear little signs, I mean I think that the answer is, frankly, that instead of blaming women who have no way of knowing who you are and what your true and deep meaning is towards women, instead of that, you and other men have to do everything that you possibly can do to lessen sexual violence in the society that you live in.

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] But, but again, it, it keeps coming down to sex and I. . . 

DWORKIN: No, it keeps coming down to sexual violence.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, OK, it comes down to sexual violence but I've said on this program and I think it's true, Men Want the Same Things that Women Want,—sex is, if you take a look at most of these studies, sex comes in sixth, seventh, tenth on the list of important things—men want Companionship, they want Intimacy, they want Friendship, they want someone that is there when they've got the flu just like women do, and to think that most men are going to be participating in rape or violence against women—I think is really sad.

DWORKIN: Well, I am sorry to say it again but this is, what you are now saying to me is as close to a lie as people come, in this sense that it's not a matter of what I think versus what you think, it's a matter of how many rapes there are here in this country. And not only how many rapes there are but how many rapists there are, since 47% of all rapes are committed by two or more men. We're not just talking about a single man who rapes a single woman, we're talking about men who are so cowardly that it takes two or it takes three or it takes four or it takes five, so however many rapes there are in this country, there are a multiple of that number of rapists.

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] OK, Andrea, we're going to take a break, we'll come right back.

MALE CALLER #3: Thanks for taking my call.


CALLER: I may be one of the few guys that will ah, take Andrea's side on this, and the reason I say that is because there is a different mindset in someone who has been abused. There is a special kind of a loss inside of a person who has been raped, who has been attacked, who has been a victim. And women in this world, statistically, are much more likely to be attacked, to be victimized than is a man. Would you agree with that?


CALLER: It has to be a real fear, it's stupid to walk in this world blind and not think about abuse and things that can hurt you and things that can cause you great problems.


CALLER: And women work from the mindset that they have to protect themselves. If they don't, who else will? And there is no doubt in my mind that women are treated differently in the workplace and in the world. I've never walked down the street and had people whistling, hollering and give catcalls at me. Probably you haven't either.

INTERVIEWER: No, we have done shows about it, how stupid it is.

CALLER: Oh sure. But at the same time, you have to understand someone who has it happen to him all the time. A good-looking woman, it's gonna do something to her feelings of herself, makes her think that someone is looking to take advantage of her. True. You see how the mind can think that way?


CALLER: And I, I work at CONTACT, which is the suicide abuse counseling line. What's more frightening to me, yes more rapes are being reported today and it's coming out of the closet but a source of more abuse, we've got all the occult things and all these kinds of ritualistic family abuse-type situations that go generations back and those things, what it does to a persons' life is not something that you or I can understand without going through it. I haven't gone through it, but I've listened to the tales and I've, I've heard people and I've felt the fear with them because I've sat down and I've really listened. And, it's kinda hard for men to understand what women have to go through, and I'd encourage people to do some research, go to some centers, watch some of the things that happen on the negative side, go, go do some work for CONTACT or some of these abuse situations and see what, what kind of danger there is.

IINTERVIEWER: OK Ray, I think you've made the point. Thanks Ray, I appreciate it. Andrea?

DWORKIN: Well, yes, I appreciate it too. The growing exposure of ritual abuse where children are sexually violated by their parents out of some kind of very perverted religious dogma and religious ideals is being exposed now. There is a whole lot of incest involved in that, it's very, very frightening and I think that most of us expect our families will be places of safety and probably the most disorienting and difficult thing is when a child has been abused inside their own family.

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] Let me, let me ask you a question: when did you first feel that, that, that you or women were victims? What, what, what happened in your life that you can tell us?

DWORKIN: Oh well, I think that a lot of things happened. I grew up like most women thinking that, you know, there was no discrimination against women and women who were hurt, it was probably their own fault and that women provoked rape, I mean, as I said I am 43, I grew up in a time where there was no feminist movement and where, basically, when someone was raped, other people said it didn't exist, it didn't really happen and if it did happen, it happened because the woman wanted it to happen. And like many women I didn't think there was anything in the world that could stop me from doing whatever it was I wanted to do. And I encountered all kinds of prejudice and bigotry, when I had certain ambitions—I wanted to be a writer, I wanted to go to law school, things that I wanted to do—that I never thought of as being prejudices because I didn't understand that they happened to a lot of other people besides me. And one of the things that happens to women is that we think that the things that happen to us happen to us as individuals and that they don't happen to anybody else. And, for myself, all of those beliefs were rudely shattered when I was married and I was battered as a wife, and I, frankly, went through a period of being tortured and I watched people—there are two pieces in Letters from a War Zone about battering and about my own situation—and I watched people turn away, and I watched the police say it didn't happen, and I watched the hospital say it didn't happen, and I watched the neighbors pretend they didn't hear the screams. And when I escaped from that situation, most people told me that it had happened to me because I wanted it to happen and I knew I didn't want it to happen, so I sat down to try and figure out what it was in this society that made injuries against women so approved of, so approved of, so sanctioned by this society—I mean if I heard you screaming, I want to tell you, I'd come and help you. Now why is it that when a woman is married and someone hears her screaming, nobody comes to help? So starting out with trying to figure that out, my first book was called Woman Hating and I looked at fairy tales, for instance, how are children taught about men and women in fairy tales. I looked at pornography and what does this teach us about what women are for and what men are for. I looked at all these things, I said . . .  this isn't just my story. This hasn't just happened to me. This is something that is very deep, that is very pervasive in the world, and we have to try to change it.  

INTERVIEWER: OK, let me take this break and we'll come right back . . .

CALLER:  Good afternoon David and Andrea.


ANDREA: Hello.

CALLER: Well, two things. One addressed to Andrea and one to David.  I wondered if you have heard Kevin's show and this question of what people wanted for Christmas.

INTERVIEWER: No, I caught part of it.

CALLER: . . . many men often call David's, or Kevin's show On The Whole. And I began to note while listening that a huge percent of them answered that they'd like a Playboy bunny or a cheerleader—as their gift. And it was chuckle, chuckle, chuckle, snicker, snicker, snicker—this sort of thing. I just made a mental note of that time. It seemed so bizarre. This is the social humor, I suppose.


CALLER: It told me something, though.

INTERVIEWER: Pardon my naivete. What did it tell you? I know women that I watch a basketball game, for instance, who will talk about the guy's rear end.

CALLER: Oh, yeah, but this was the majority of people. I mean you're asked what you want for a Christmas gift. . .  That was the first thing that popped into their minds on the radio, they need a beautiful woman??

INTERVIEWER: You know what else that is? The other man talked about men who hootered and hollered at women down the street—you ever notice that they don't do it one on one. They always do it in groups?

CALLER: That does bring my second thought which was—I come from a family of six girls and about half of them have been raped. I, myself have never been raped. But there's such a difference between me and the sisters who have, especially in the younger years. A fear on their part and just a fear of society, basically, that I don't present that same fear. I see it in their eyes. I see it when we go out. This sort of thing. But speaking of one sister, I was asking, why men focus on women sexually, even if they often do want just simple companionship. I know this from being married. It's not just one big sex show. Even though we do have a good sex life. The point is a lot of times it is just simple . . .  advantage and conversation . . .  And the sister said to me it's to prove they're not gay. In this society, a man must lust after other women to show other men he's 'normal.' Do you find any truth to that?

ANDREA: Well, I think that their is some truth in it. And that men seem always to need to prove that they're more and more and more and more masculine. And because of the bias in society against gay men, the idea is that gay men are less masculine. But a lot of forms of rape and the use of prostitutes by men, basically, I think, have to do with male bonding. In other words, when there's a gang rape, it has to do more with men being close and attracted to each other than anything with the woman. . .  [unclear due to being interrupted]. 

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] Yeah, I agree with that, you know that's why I brought up the point: a lot of what you say is true, I don't know that it's a homophobic reaction although I suspect that some of it probably is but it's a male bonding procedure, that's why men don't hoot and holler at women one on one, it's when other guys are around, they're doing it for other guys, they're not doing it for. . .

DWORKIN: No, but they do also do it one on one and not only that they hoot and holler and that creates a terrible environment for women and a very frightening one, but men also follow women. . .

CALLER: Mm hmm.

DWORKIN: . . . and that seems to be a kind of escalation of the street harassment behavior and that is very terrifying and men do that both singly and in packs.

INTERVIEWER: [interrupting] Yeah, well.

CALLER: Of the six women in my family, the three that I know of that have been raped, it was by more than one, always, and it's the sisters when discussing it with me told me there was a lot of interaction between the men as you were just saying.

INTERVIEWER: OK Julie, I've got to wrap things up.

CALLER: OK, thank you very much.

INTERVIEWER: Andrea, I can't thank you enough. You know, I really thought that after reading the book I was going to yell and scream and get all bent out of shape but you know what, I've learned a lot this hour.

DWORKIN: Well, thank you very much.

INTERVIEWER: And that's real special. The book is called Letters from a War Zone. E.P. Dutton is the publisher. Read it. And Andrea, have a happy holiday season.

DWORKIN: Thank you. You too.

RETURN TO Dallas Radio Interiew with Andrea Dworkin: Part I