"I ask myself the question, What is freedom for a battered woman?
"Initially, it’s just not being hit. Its anything that will stop you from being hit. That’s incredible freedom: you go through a day and nobody hits you. You go through two days and nobody hits you. You go through a week and you haven’t been hit and you can barely believe it. But then you want to walk down the street and you don’t know where he is. Are you free? No, you’re not free. We cannot talk about what freedom is for women without talking about what freedom is for battered women. To me, that means that every woman who is or has been battered has to have in our society a real right of sovereignty over her body.
"There have to be boundaries that she can set and that everyone else is legally bound to respect. If they don’t, they will be punished. No exceptions. No bullshit.
"A woman has a right to safety—in real life, not abstractly. A lot has to change before safety is possible. All the implicit assumptions about women’s inferiority have to change.
Women will never be free unless we are not any longer treated as objects, which includes sexual objects. We are human beings; we are the center of our own lives. We are not things for men to act out on. We will never be free unless we stop the notion that violence is okay. It’s not okay. Nobody has a right to control another human being through violence. We cannot continue to sanction violence as a way of life— for both victim and executioner. Women are not ever going to be free unless all the institutions that support hurting women end— including the use of pornography by men, such that the hurting of women becomes a form of sexual entertainment; including the exploitation of women in prostitution, such that men have a right to lease women's bodies for sexual release whenever they want; and including incest, now the reigning model of male-female relations." --Andrea Dworkin, Life and Death
"Men often react to women’s words - speaking and writing - as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women’s words with violence. So we lower our voices. Women whisper, Women apologize. Women shut up. Women trivialize what we know. Women shrink. Women pull back. Most women have experienced enough dominance from men - control, violence, insult, contempt - that no threat seems empty."
--Andrea Dworkin, Intercourse
"I am going to ask you to use every single thing you can remember about what was done to you - how it was done, where, by whom, when, and, if you know, why - to begin to tear male dominance to pieces, to pull it apart, to vandalize it, to destabilize it, to mess it up, to get in its way, to fuck it up. I have to ask you to resist, not to comply, to destroy the power men have over women, to refuse to accept it, to abhor it and to do whatever is necessary despite its cost to you to change it. --Andrea Dworkin
"I'm going to ask you to remember the prostituted, the homeless, the battered, the raped, the tortured, the murdered, the raped-then-murdered, the murdered-then-raped; and I am going to ask you to remember the photographed, the ones that any or all of the above happened to and it was photographed and now the photographs are for sale in our free countries. I want you to think about those who have been hurt for the fun, the entertainment, the so-called speech of others; those who have been hurt for profit, for the financial benefit of pimps and entrepreneurs. I want you to remember the perpetrator and I am going to ask you to remember the victims: not just tonight but tomorrow and the next day. I want you to find a way to include them - the perpetrators and the victims - in what you do, how you think, how you act, what you care about, what your life means to you.
"Now, I know, in this room, some of you are the women I have been talking about. I know that. People around you may not. I am going to ask you to use every single thing you can remember about what was done to you - how it was done, where, by whom, when, and, if you know - why - to begin to tear male dominance to pieces, to pull it apart, to vandalize it, to destabilize it, to mess it up, to get in its way, to f-ck it up. I have to ask you to resist, not to comply, to destroy the power men have over women, to refuse to accept it, to abhor it and to do whatever is necessary despite its cost to you to change it." ---From Andrea Dworkin's speech at University of Toronto
"Every woman who has had experience with sexual violence of any kind has not just pain, and not just hurt, but has knowledge. Knowledge of male supremacy. Knowledge of what it is. Knowledge of what it feels like. And can begin to think strategically about how to stop it. We are living under a reign of terror. Now what I want to say is that I want us to stop accepting that that's normal. And the only way that we can stop accepting that that's normal is if we refuse to have amnesia everyday of our lives." --Andrea Dworkin, From "Terror, Torture, and Resistance", keynote speech at Canadian Mental Health Association, Fall 1991
"And finally I want to say that what’s urgent is to make the war against women visible. When it’s invisible we can’t fight it, and when it’s invisible every single woman is isolated in the trauma of what is happening to her. She has no way out, and she has no way to become whole again. But standing together, and seeing the connections in the various kinds of violence against women—and in the exploitation that is not overtly violent—we can go up against the power of the batterer, the legal system that still protects him, and the society that gives him privileges over us.
"But the woman has to win. We have to win. Our lives are at stake here. There is a great sadness in escape without freedom. But it is very much better than not escaping at all. And the happiness that a battered woman feels in being able to live an individual life and make her own decisions, from the largest to the smallest— in feeling the joy of self-determination— is overwhelming." --Andrea Dworkin, Life and Death
"The problem for women is that being hurt is ordinary. It happens every day, all the time, somewhere to someone, in every neighborhood, on every street, in intimacy, in crowds; women are being hurt. We count ourselves lucky when we are only being humiliated and insulted. We count ourselves goddamn lucky when whatever happens falls short of rape. Those who have been beaten in marriage (a euphemism for torture) also have a sense of what luck is. We are always happy when something less bad happens than what we had thought possible or even likely, and we tell ourselves that if we do not settle for the less bad there is something wrong with us. It is time for us to stop that." --Andrea Dworkin, Pornography Happens to Women
People play life as if it's a game, whereas each step is a real step. The shock of being unable to control what happens, especially the tragedies, overwhelms one. Someone dies; someone leaves; someone lies. There is sickness, misery, loneliness, betrayal. One is alone not just at the end but all the time. One tries to camouflage pain and failure. One wants to believe that poverty can be cured by wealth, cruelty by kindness; but neither is true. The orphan is always an orphan.
The worst immorality is in apathy, a deadening of caring about others, not because they have some special claim but because they have no claim at all.
The worst immorality is in disinterest, indifference, so that the lone person in pain has no importance; one need not feel an urgency about rescuing the suffering person.
The worst immorality is in dressing up to go out in order not to have to think about those who are hungry, without shelter, without protection.
The worst immorality is in living a trivial life because one is afraid to face any other kind of life--a despairing life or an anguished life or a twisted and difficult life.
The worst immorality is in living a mediocre life, because kindness rises above mediocrity always, and not to be kind locks one into an ethos of boredom and stupidity.
The worst immorality is in imitating those who give nothing.
The worst immorality is in conforming so that one fits in, smart or fashionable, mock-heroic or the very best of the very same.
The worst immorality is in accepting the status quo because one is afraid of gossip against oneself.
The worst immorality is in selling out simply because one is afraid.
The worst immorality is a studied ignorance, a purposeful refusal to see or know.
The worst immorality is living without ambition or work or pushing the rest of us along.
The worst immorality is being timid when there is no threat.
The worst immorality is refusing to push oneself where one is afraid to go.
The worst immorality is not to love actively.
The worst immorality is to close down because heartbreak has worn one down.
The worst immorality is to live according to rituals, rites of passage that are predetermined and impersonal.
The worst immorality is to deny someone else dignity.
The worst immorality is to give in, give up.
The worst immorality is to follow a road map of hate drawn by white supremacists and male supremacists.
The worst immorality is to use another person's body in the passing of time.
The worst immorality is to inflict pain.
The worst immorality is to be careless with another person's heart and soul.
The worst immorality is to be stupid, because it's easy.
The worst immorality is to repudiate one's own uniqueness in order to fit in.
The worst immorality is to set one's goals so low that one must crawl to meet them.
The worst immorality is to hurt children.
The worst immorality is to use one's strength to dominate or control.
The worst immorality is to surrender the essence of oneself for love or money.
The worst immorality is to believe in nothing, do nothing, achieve nothing.
The worst immoralities are but one, a single sin of human nothingness and stupidity.
"Do no harm" is the counterpoint to apathy, indifference and passive aggression; it is the fundamental moral imperative. "Do no harm" is the opposite of immoral. One must do something and at the same time do no harm. "Do no harm" remains the hardest ethic." --Andrea Dworkin, Heartbreak
Wall of Shame: Marty Warner & the Pastors, Christians & Ministries Who Support Him
by Coral Anika Theill
People ask me what I have learned from the local religious and judicial systems these past 20 years. I candidly share with them that I have learned that in America’s dominator society...."my body is not mine, but belongs to the community that upholds male dominance and female possession and ownership. By being possessed (occupied) the female becomes weak, depleted, and usurped, in all her physical and mental energies and capacities by the one who has physically taken her, by the one who occupies her. Her body is used up, and the will is raped. In our society, 'masculinity is still measured by how well a man controls his wife in the house and his horse in the field.'"—Andrea Dworkin
Recommended Resources for Protective Moms, Battered Women, Mothers of Lost Children & Trauma Survivors by Coral Anika Theill
PATRIARCHY: THE GIRLS AND THE GRASSES by Lierre Keith
PATRIARCHY & the Oppression of Women: Recommended Resources by Coral Anika Theill