Thursday, August 16, 2007

Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, one day late

Left: Coptic Icon, Feast of the Assumption St Menas Church, Old Cairo. (artists and dates unknown)

Well, I meant to go to Mass on my Holy Day of Obligation, I really did. But I got home from work, kicked back, diddled around, smoked a bit, watched old movies, fumed over the new HARPERS article attacking Andrea Dworkin, looked in on the blog and talked about the Mormons on other planets... and...well... I am a BAD CATHOLIC.

Aside: Of course, there is a blog titled Bad Catholic. :)

So, I wanted to apologize to Our Lady, who has done so much for me. I owe her bigtime. You know what they say: you have to sit in waiting rooms for God, but Our Lady will see you now!

I hope she doesn't mind that I missed her Feast day. I love her so much, I think she will give me a pass, but you know how that goes. You shouldn't take your mother for granted! I figured I would post on her, to make up for it! HI MOM, WE LOVE YOU!


I am now debating whether to take on the Harpers' piece, but there is no link for it yet. If anybody can find one (I know yall have magic powers!), post it here! I'd definitely call it a hit-piece.

Meanwhile, watching the Phil Spector murder trial like a damn junkie, and later today, going to a product training from a company called Lumina Health. I'm not sure what this company is about, so I will let you know!


antiprincess said...

is that article in this month's Harpers?

Daisy said...
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Daisy said...

September 2007 issue of Harpers, fresh in your mailbox. It's a so-called "review" of the recent reissue of INTERCOURSE.

It's "reviewed" with books by Laura Sessions Stepp and Wendy Shalit. But it's mostly about Dworkin.

antiprincess said...

sept '07 is not online yet. damn.

gotta go find one IRL, I guess.

Daisy said...

Hey AntiP, what does Andrea Dworkin mean to you?

I know, we all have different answers. :)

One thing the review makes clear, there was no one like her, and she forced a response by her confrontational nature.

belledame222 said...

jeez, I don't love Dworkin, but--*Wendy Shalit?* Or am I thinking of someone else?

Daisy said...

No, you are totally correct. Wendy Shalit, the pro-modesty-gal.

I mean, what would Andrea say? Yeesh.

antiprincess said...

Hey AntiP, what does Andrea Dworkin mean to you?

I get in trouble when I try to talk about her.

she was clearly a force of nature. a formidable intellect. I admire that unyielding quality of hers.

yet I wonder if/how mental illness affected her work.

see, now here I am in trouble.

Daisy said...

No, you aren't. I am the sheriff in these parts, ma'am!

FTR, I never believed a word of the whole Paris drug-rape thing. I know--heresy--anathema!--but it goes with my bad Catholic theme of the day.

We don't have to believe everything from someone to love them, admire them or learn from them. Steve, whom I mentioned in my Elvis post, believed all manner of bizarre Yippie conspiracy theories, but I loved him passionately. :) He was just a wonderful person. And yes, he was once actually institutionalized against his will, claiming he was Pancho Villa (really), and we all just sort of kept that in mind. It did not interfere with his genius, and in fact, clearly added to it. (News Flash: artists are weird!)

If the subject of her delusion had been something besides RAPE, perhaps it would not have been so incendiary to disbelieve her.

But it was Andrea, so of course it would be about rape. You know?

Now, I am in trouble.

I have never stated this opinion before, on any other blog, and probably wouldn't.

antiprincess said...

well, that's the thing. I just don't know.

but I like to know these things. it makes a difference to me when people I admire struggle with mental illness - it makes them more real, more deeply admired and more human.

but you know, I say this about AD, and people think I'm full of it because I've stated rather publicly that I disagree on some key points here and there, and that I'm very curious about the relationship (if any) to mental illness that may exist.

but, as far as I am aware, the world just ain't ready for The Critical Biography.

Daisy said...

I agree with you.

Thankfully, they kept the Paris drug- rape incident out of the review, but found it necessary to talk about her relationship with Stoltenberg.

alphabitch said...

pretty icon. I don't have any Coptic icons -- I guess I didn't even know there were such things.

alphabitch said...

OK, at the risk of getting myself in trouble, here I go: I read the Harper's review last night, and I've gotta say I was highly entertained, and I liked a lot of what she had to say. Unfortunately I left it at home and can't quote from it.

The reviewer, Laura Kipnis, is a writer I like a lot, but (because?) she's a bit of a wild card. I read the review in the context of some of her other writing, so maybe that's why I really didn't read her remarks about Dworkin as a 'hit piece' so much as you did, Daisy; she even says up front that she's pleased it was re-released because she liked it much better -- and better appreciated its import and depth -- this time around. But make no mistake: she does not agree with much of what Dworkin says. I thought Kipnis was quite a bit more venomous in her analysis of the other two books (which, duh).

In fact, compared to her take on Shalit and Sessions, she is downright laudatory w/r/t Dworkin. She certainly regards her as a formidable intellectual, a respectable scholar, and a skillful writer -- just one with whom she happens to disagree on certain points. And I didn't think she seemed grudging in her respect. And, while she doesn't directly address mental illness, I think she does open that door just a bit, AntiP -- but I have speculated on that previously myself. And I thought she handled the Stoltenberg thing pretty well. I never agreed with those who tried to imply that that relationship invalidated everything else she ever said.

Anyway, what I liked about the review was the way in which the reviewer contrasted Dworkin's take on sex (anti) with the other two writers. They differ primarily in that Sessions and Shalit are essentially misogynist; they regard women (loose! shallow! deluded by feminism!) as the problem, and men (or more specifically, marriage to them, once they've been properly tamed by a virtuous woman) as some bizarre combination of solution and reward for good behavior -- something worth pursuing. Dworkin persists in regarding that scene as just another venue for women's oppression, and Kipnis credits her for that.

As for my own take on Dworkin, [which I know you asked AntiP and not me, but what the hell], I'm going to quote from the post I wrote when I learned of her death: "Her death this week saddens me in an odd way, like that of an eccentric aunt whom you never really knew because that one thing she said all those years ago pissed you off so bad you never took her seriously again, even though you knew she was smart as hell. You never tried to understand her after that, and you never tried to defend her when everyone else in the family said anything about her or somehow distorted her life or her views or made fun of her. And they did. And so did you. And so did I, even though I was one of them once."

Daisy said...
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Daisy said...

Great obit, AB! ((sniff))

I was an acolyte of Dworkin's, in the late 70s. I started realizing she was "nervous" (official southern diagnosis/term), and became uncomfortable with her writing in the 80s. A lot of Kipnis' criticisms were also mine; the way she ignores female orgasm, etc.

I agree, as I go through the article and calm myself down (and thanks for pointing those things out to me), she WAS laudatory, but I just don't like the quotes she decides to highlight. Yes, perhaps it's a matter of radical feminism's dotty aunt on display. But she is OUR dotty aunt, and maybe that's it. I feel that several of the quotes are open to a totally different interpretation that she misses or avoids. And that's where I got the "hit-piece" reading; she deliberately chooses the most uncharitable reading, for example:

[Dworkin] thinks the reasons want women intercourse are foul, "filled with the spiteful but carefully hidden malice of the powerless."


That quote placement is suspect, and she does it throughout the piece. growf!

But thank you so much for your take on the review, and it makes me feel better that you found it NOT a hit-piece, which means others will probably agree with you. I'm undoubtedly too close to the whole thing!

As for Stoltenberg, et. al. I wish someone would dig up Dworkin's old essay on "sexual intelligence" (I have forgotten the exact title--that maybe have been it) which I think was first in the old feminist journal Chrysalis. Rather than everyone speculate on whether she slept with Stoltenberg or women or men or whoever, I thought the essay sounded like any one of us who are trying to "free" sexuality from the old categories, without falling into misogynist patterns. Reading that essay, I had no doubts that Dworkin had an active sex life, and I am always surprised people steadfastly come to the opposite conclusion.

Daisy said...

[Dworkin] thinks the reasons want women intercourse are foul, "filled with the spiteful but carefully hidden malice of the powerless."

Excuse me, that should be:

[Dworkin] thinks the reasons women want intercourse are foul,

See, I get so upset I can't type it correctly. :P

alphabitch said...

Ha! I didn't even notice the typo.

It's been a few years since I read AD, but I think you can make a case that Dworkin does think that -- of at least some women, some of the time, on some level. And I have to say that I'm tempted to agree sometimes, if briefly, when I talk to certain straight women. There's a way in which Shalit and Sessions illustrate facets of this phenomenon, and it seemed to me that's why Kipnis brought it up. They are all about sleeping with the enemy and calling that winning. And then the whole mother-blaming thing.

I wish I had the review in front of me. I can kind of see what you mean about the quote choices and placement, but it felt all along to me like she was lining it all up to demonstrate the shallowness of Shalit and Sessions' books. And Dworkin runs circles around them.

Crap, I've got so much to do this weekend and now I've gotta spend it all re-reading Dworkin [I think I have that essay somewhere] and also Laura Kipnis' "Against Love: a Polemic," which I recommend, if you can stomach the use of almost-absurd overstatement to make a point. She's very pointy (and also pointy-headed), but she doesn't demand that the reader agree with her.

Not sure if I have the stomach for Sessions and/or Shalit, though.

Daisy said...

I certainly will check out Kipnis!

I am a big fan of Dworkin's RIGHT WING WOMEN, which explains Ann Coulter before she was even born, as well as WOMAN HATING and OUR BLOOD, which are her best works, IMHO.

In the 80s, she just got "worse"--and as AntiP is saying, I would like to know exactly what was going on, if you catch my drift. Carol Anne Douglas of Off Our Backs called her "despairing"--which is the best description I've read of this 80s period, that also produced INTERCOURSE. Douglas worried that more women would actually be turned off by the book and by feminism (I believe her review was of THE NEW WOMAN'S BROKEN HEART) than converted to the cause.

The fact that Stoltenberg told her that he would always "take care" of her, is interesting. I think he was expecting her to run into some problems in which she could not take care of herself. What did he know about her that the rest of us did not know, that would lead him to use exactly those words to her? And these are the words she seemed to particularly respond to, and why she implicitly trusted him.

As AntiP says, are we ready for the critical biography?

antiprincess said...

I loved Our Blood. (didn't she try to distance herself from that book later in life?)

Daisy said...

I loved Our Blood. (didn't she try to distance herself from that book later in life?)

Yes, she did, but I can't remember her exact reasons why.

She probably did not think it was "strong" or emphatic enough... sort of like someone might say the New Testament isn't as "strong" as the Old Testament! Ha! :P It's still pretty damn STRONG, all things considered! ;)

(borrowing here from Gloria Steinem's description of Andrea Dworkin as "the Old Testament prophet for feminists.")

Ravenmn said...

Ah, Dworkin. Different times, different tactics. She rose to the challenge and for that I am grateful.

She paid a price, too, and never hid that fact.

Which fascinates me no end.

I'll have to check out the Harper's piece. I've read an enjoyed Kipnis in the past.

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