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Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant

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Always innovative, often provocative, and frequently polarizing, Andrea Dworkin has carved out a unique position as one of the women's movement's most influential figures, from the early days of consciousness-raising to the "post-feminist" present. Heartbreak reveals for the first time the personal side of Dworkin's lifelong journey as an activist and a writer. By turns wr Always innovative, often provocative, and frequently polarizing, Andrea Dworkin has carved out a unique position as one of the women's movement's most influential figures, from the early days of consciousness-raising to the "post-feminist" present. Heartbreak reveals for the first time the personal side of Dworkin's lifelong journey as an activist and a writer. By turns wry, spirited, and poignant, Dworkin tells the story of how she evolved from a childhood lover of music and books into a college activist, embraced her role as an international advocate for women, and emerged as a maverick thinker at odds with both the liberal left and the mainstream women's movement. Throughout, Dworkin displays a writer's genius for expressing emotional truth and an intellectual's gift for conveying the excitement of ideas and words. Beautifully written and surprisingly intimate, Heartbreak is a portrait of a soul, and a mind, in the making.


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Always innovative, often provocative, and frequently polarizing, Andrea Dworkin has carved out a unique position as one of the women's movement's most influential figures, from the early days of consciousness-raising to the "post-feminist" present. Heartbreak reveals for the first time the personal side of Dworkin's lifelong journey as an activist and a writer. By turns wr Always innovative, often provocative, and frequently polarizing, Andrea Dworkin has carved out a unique position as one of the women's movement's most influential figures, from the early days of consciousness-raising to the "post-feminist" present. Heartbreak reveals for the first time the personal side of Dworkin's lifelong journey as an activist and a writer. By turns wry, spirited, and poignant, Dworkin tells the story of how she evolved from a childhood lover of music and books into a college activist, embraced her role as an international advocate for women, and emerged as a maverick thinker at odds with both the liberal left and the mainstream women's movement. Throughout, Dworkin displays a writer's genius for expressing emotional truth and an intellectual's gift for conveying the excitement of ideas and words. Beautifully written and surprisingly intimate, Heartbreak is a portrait of a soul, and a mind, in the making.

30 review for Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant

  1. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    Dworkin is much maligned as man-hating, too radical, opposed to sexual relations and much more. Her writing and activism opposing pornography has been criticised even by some feminists. Her strong stance and uncompromising views lead many to miss the nuance in her work. This collection of reminiscences in the form of brief essays. Dworkin discusses with Ricki Abrams (a fellow feminist) the origins of her views and some of the women she fought for: “Sitting with Ricki, talking with Ricki, I made a Dworkin is much maligned as man-hating, too radical, opposed to sexual relations and much more. Her writing and activism opposing pornography has been criticised even by some feminists. Her strong stance and uncompromising views lead many to miss the nuance in her work. This collection of reminiscences in the form of brief essays. Dworkin discusses with Ricki Abrams (a fellow feminist) the origins of her views and some of the women she fought for: “Sitting with Ricki, talking with Ricki, I made a vow to her: that I would use everything I knew, including from prostitution, to make the women's movement stronger and better; that I'd give my life to the movement and for the movement. I promised to be honor-bound to the well-being of women, to do anything necessary for that well-being. I promised to live and to die if need be for women. I made that vow some thirty years ago, and I have not betrayed it yet.” The essays outline Dworkin’s love of literature and writing There are asides about a number of writers and more about beat guru Allen Ginsberg who Dworkin initially admired and met a number of times. They were both a godparent of a mutual acquaintance and at the do afterwards: “He pointed to the friends of my godson and said they were old enough to fuck. They were twelve and thirteen. He said that all sex was good, including forced sex. … Referring back to the Supreme Court’s decision banning child pornography he said, “The right wants to put me in jail.” I said, “Yes, they’re very sentimental; I’d kill you”. The next day he point at me in crowded rooms and screech, “She wants to put me in jail”. I’d say “No, Allen, you still don’t get it. The right wants to put you in jail. I want you dead.”” She meant it. There is also a very dry humour at times. Dworkin attended Bennington College for a while and talks about her interactions with the composer Louis Callabro, with whom she compared work: her stories, his music: “I later understood that the all-girl Bennington’s expectation was that the girl, the woman, any female student should learn how to be the mistress of an artist, not the artist herself; this is the college that was the early home of Martha Graham. The equality between Lou and myself, our mutual recognition, was no part of the school’s agenda. This is not to suggest that Lou did not screw his students: he did; they all did. I always thought that I would go to heaven because at Bennington I never slept with faculty members, only their wives.” Her riposte to a particular grade teacher who was unpleasant to her is also quite forthright: “I knew I’d get her someday and this is it: eat shit, bitch. No one said that sisterhood was easy.” This is a very readable memoir, quite brief and as always with Dworkin, very to the point. Gloria Steinem once compared Dworkin to an Old Testament prophet who was uncomfortable and spent her time “ranting in the hills, telling the truth”. She is uncomfortable and uncompromising, but you can’t ignore her. She was brave and indomitable and had something to say: “A few nights ago I heard the husband of a close friend on television discussing antirape policies that he opposes at the university. He said that he was willing to concede that rape did take place. How white of you, I thought bitterly, and then I realized that his statement was a definition of ‘white’ in motion―not even ‘white male’ but white in a country built on white ownership of blacks and white genocide of reds and white-indentured servitude of Asians and women, including white women, and brown migrant labour. He thought maybe 3 percent of women in the United States had been raped, whereas the best research shows a quarter to a third. The male interviewer agreed with the percentage pulled out of thin air: It sounded right to both of them, and neither of them felt required to fund a study or read the already existing research material. Their authority was behind their number, and in the United States authority is white.” Dworkin battles with her own dilemmas. Inevitably as this is quite brief there is no space to look at ideas in depth. Her impulse to write is always very much to the fore: “Can one write for the dispossessed, the marginalized, the tortured? Is there a kind of genius that can make a story as real as a tree or an idea as inevitable as taking the next breath?” She uses words well, this is a description of Bessie Smith’s music: “tramped through your three-dimensional body but gracefully, a spartan, bearlike ballet.” Dworkin was immensely widely read and although her public persona can appear one-dimensional, her work is very nuanced. I need to re-read her more detailed work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    pronoti

    Dworkin has been criticized, ridiculed and much maligned..by men and by women alike. She did not deserve all the spite she got. One only needs to observe all the kind of opposition her voice met, in order to see the kind of patriarchal authoritarianism she talked against. I do not agree with everything she believed, I do not support all of her methods, I might not have walked with her for some of her causes…..but I am incredibly grateful to her for coming out and shouting at the top of her lungs, Dworkin has been criticized, ridiculed and much maligned..by men and by women alike. She did not deserve all the spite she got. One only needs to observe all the kind of opposition her voice met, in order to see the kind of patriarchal authoritarianism she talked against. I do not agree with everything she believed, I do not support all of her methods, I might not have walked with her for some of her causes…..but I am incredibly grateful to her for coming out and shouting at the top of her lungs, of the million ways the world broke her heart. It broke us all, a little bit of the shame and the discomfort managed to dent each of our spirits…some dents more pronounced than the other. In Hertbreak, Dworkin does not talk of her own wounds or her pain, rather she takes us along to witness a slice of this world as seen through her eyes...the stories she heard, the pain she saw, the inhumanity that she knew existed.Dworkin is brilliant, expolsive. Her words hurt, they bite and they seethe with rage. A fantastic look into the elements that made Dworkin.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    She is not being flippant when she titled her book "Heartbreak." This book was one of her last books published, and by far, the saddest. She writes about feeling abandoned by the feminists she is fighting for. Although I understand that Dworkin can appear extreme at times, she is wicked smart and has oceans of compassion for women. That can forgive a lot of disagreement over what we consider "extreme" or "militant". Dworkin is a miracle of a human being (considering the modern patriarcy we live She is not being flippant when she titled her book "Heartbreak." This book was one of her last books published, and by far, the saddest. She writes about feeling abandoned by the feminists she is fighting for. Although I understand that Dworkin can appear extreme at times, she is wicked smart and has oceans of compassion for women. That can forgive a lot of disagreement over what we consider "extreme" or "militant". Dworkin is a miracle of a human being (considering the modern patriarcy we live in) and, I think, a brilliant person.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    Andrea Dworkin sets out to explain why she became the woman she is, and it's completely changed my way of thinking about life. One of the most important things to Dworkin, aside from helping women, was not to lie. To herself, to the public, to women, to men, to her friends, family, or enemies. And think about how revolutionary it is to live a life that way. I know, you probably want to believe you don't lie either. But you do, every single day, whether it's telling yourself that you don't love a Andrea Dworkin sets out to explain why she became the woman she is, and it's completely changed my way of thinking about life. One of the most important things to Dworkin, aside from helping women, was not to lie. To herself, to the public, to women, to men, to her friends, family, or enemies. And think about how revolutionary it is to live a life that way. I know, you probably want to believe you don't lie either. But you do, every single day, whether it's telling yourself that you don't love an abusive man or telling yourself your wrong behavior is right. I want to live like that. I want to be able to live like that out loud. It's impossible in my line of work and in navigating important social and professional relationships to live a 100% truthful life. But to the extent that I can - for example, in book reviews - I pledge not to lie. It really makes me understand why so many radfems have glommed onto the late Magdalen Berns' statement that she'd "rather be rude than a fucking liar." So would I.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    "The worst immorality is to be careless with another person's heart or soul." "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." "I want women to stop crimes against women. There I stand or fall." "There is no "The worst immorality is to be careless with another person's heart or soul." "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." "I want women to stop crimes against women. There I stand or fall." "There is nothing redemptive about pain." Every single day I experience the truth of this: "Men are shits and take pride in it." "The pimps and rapists need to be dispossessed, forced into a mangy exile; the women and children -- the world's true orphans -- need to be empowered, cosseted with respect and dignity.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    "The worst immorality is to be stupid, because it's easy. The worst immorality is to repudiate one's own uniqueness 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 bu "The worst immorality is to be stupid, because it's easy. The worst immorality is to repudiate one's own uniqueness 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." p.204 One of her best.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Dworkin presents the bold strokes of her life and justifies her considerable anger at the world. The deeper aspects of her life remain hidden out of sight, for example, the story of her marriage to John Stoltenberg. We learn how they met, but nothing more. She is as ever provocative, but in a memoir that is not enough. The deeper story of who she was has yet to be written.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ryan bears

    this book kicks bum. i dont understand how people claim she has no sense of humor. this lady is funny. good call on the ginsberg part, f--king brohemians scare me anyways. i swear devandra banhart is ginsberg's reincarnate (whats with that little boys song). i wonder who andrea will come back as?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jo Watson

    I cant remember a day that i haven't wished Andrea was all wrong, it's just all been a massive mistake.. I also can't remember a day that I haven't gathered some evidence that she was right ... I admired her strength to be continuously angry and In battle and I miss her presence in the world

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sunny

    what a challenging and at times tear jerking read. The book is about a feminist and her life story and is conveyed in short bite sized chapters that you find you can quickly and easily traverse through like a Saramago paragraph. It had chapters about the influence on music on her, Plato, cuba, contraceptives, young americans for freedom, discipline, leftism, it takes a village, prisons, heartbreak and an amazing closing chapter called immoral which i will show below. At times some of her insight what a challenging and at times tear jerking read. The book is about a feminist and her life story and is conveyed in short bite sized chapters that you find you can quickly and easily traverse through like a Saramago paragraph. It had chapters about the influence on music on her, Plato, cuba, contraceptives, young americans for freedom, discipline, leftism, it takes a village, prisons, heartbreak and an amazing closing chapter called immoral which i will show below. At times some of her insight into feminism and womanhood truly amazed me. Any book that shows me different angles on a subject i thought i understood (wtf!) i will always be impressed with. Here are my best bits. •Ideas can move through sound from Bach •Being in thrall to an icon keeps you from becoming yourself. •Everything was calculated to make one afraid enough to confirm. •I told her that most people thought that women prostitute in order to get money for drugs, but it was the other way around; the prostitution became so vile so ugly so hard that drugs provided the only soft landing, a kind of embrace and on the literal level that took away the pain, physical and mental. •"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."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    "The worst immorality is in living a trivial life because one is afraid to face any other kind of life--a despairing life or a twisted and difficult life... The worst immorality is to set one's goals so low that one must crawl to meet them."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    She's a crazy anti-man feminist, what more is there to say? It was a good read, although some of her thoughts were very disturbing.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Perifian

    This is a difficult book to rate. Either way, I really wish she were still with us. Apparently she came eventually to be trans-exclusionary. I don't feel particularly fussed to check up on this.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amy Layton

    Dworkin's title sums her memoir up perfectly: it is heartbreaking.  Dworkin is a master with words, and knows just how to use each word to its fullest meaning, knows how to create a sentence that will slice and dice your heart to pieces.  Though she's often either loved or hated, she knows one thing and remembers how she knows this: she cannot be bought or sold, for she feels too strongly.   She remembers her piano lessons, remembers remembering them, having forgotten how musical she was as a chi Dworkin's title sums her memoir up perfectly: it is heartbreaking.  Dworkin is a master with words, and knows just how to use each word to its fullest meaning, knows how to create a sentence that will slice and dice your heart to pieces.  Though she's often either loved or hated, she knows one thing and remembers how she knows this: she cannot be bought or sold, for she feels too strongly.   She remembers her piano lessons, remembers remembering them, having forgotten how musical she was as a child.  She remembers protesting against her college, and then the wars, and then going to prison.   Even if you aren't a fan of Dworkin, you must admit one thing: she is brutally honest about the world, and herself.  She cannot be anything but that, and for that alone, she is a respectable person, a person with a solid moral compass, a wise woman.   Having read all of her non-fiction work now, it was absolutely fascinating to read her memoir.  Broken up into many short chapters, she describes all of the meaningful events that have led her to be the woman she is today, and how her thoughts and decisions and perceptions have been determined by her past, her socialization, her experiences as a woman.   Overall, this memoir is indeed heartbreaking, and just as gut-wrenching as every other text she writes.  Well worth the read. Review cross-listed here!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    This book definitely changed my outlook on Dworkin. I had no idea what she endured, and although I wasn't likely to espouse the classic arguments against her, I had given up on the angry tone of Right Wing Women, thinking she wasn't for me. Now, I don't agree with her in all she has said, but had she dug a bit deeper, probably there'd have been something interesting coming up. Her life is surely very sad and one gets to understand, as she promises, why does she think the way she does. Her love o This book definitely changed my outlook on Dworkin. I had no idea what she endured, and although I wasn't likely to espouse the classic arguments against her, I had given up on the angry tone of Right Wing Women, thinking she wasn't for me. Now, I don't agree with her in all she has said, but had she dug a bit deeper, probably there'd have been something interesting coming up. Her life is surely very sad and one gets to understand, as she promises, why does she think the way she does. Her love of music, her academic interests, her disenchanment with the left, her failed marriage, they're all a part of this person we made ourselves a caricature of, because we're scared of the words "radical feminist". I still disagree with the core tenets of her political beliefs (abortion as pro-woman, namely; or her antiprison crusade), but there is some honesty in her breaking away from pacifism and the need of women to stand up against what's being done to them. The parts that put me off had to do with her lack of care for policemen, but I guess those are basic leftist points. If you can see brutalized women as human, sure you can see brutalized men as such too.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Heartbreak is a memoir in the vein of Bob Dylan's Chronicles: not just a fleshed out skeleton of one's dreams, desires and actions, but a map of how a person came to be, significant landmarks including books one has read, people who have influenced one, ideas and ideals that have motivated one to action. Perhaps this isn't a different kind of memoir, but simply a memoir by a certain kind of person, a person whose life was held to a higher purpose, be that art or radical politics. This is a beauti Heartbreak is a memoir in the vein of Bob Dylan's Chronicles: not just a fleshed out skeleton of one's dreams, desires and actions, but a map of how a person came to be, significant landmarks including books one has read, people who have influenced one, ideas and ideals that have motivated one to action. Perhaps this isn't a different kind of memoir, but simply a memoir by a certain kind of person, a person whose life was held to a higher purpose, be that art or radical politics. This is a beautiful gem of a book. Not only a memoir that shines a light on the life of one of the most important figures of the 20th century, but a manifesto and a key for how to articulate the subtlety of oppression for those of us who feel it but blank in the face of naysayers.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura Avellaneda-Cruz

    I am inspired by this book, feel vindicated in my life-long work to end sexual violence and exploitation, and am pleased to have Andrea Dworkin's rough and honest and pained voice articulating what drives her, which is often what drives me. My only complaint is that it is too short, and in being too short leaves out the full, visual depth of stories and how those stories connect to other themes present in the book. It also leaves out some of the evidence that would back up her statements and mak I am inspired by this book, feel vindicated in my life-long work to end sexual violence and exploitation, and am pleased to have Andrea Dworkin's rough and honest and pained voice articulating what drives her, which is often what drives me. My only complaint is that it is too short, and in being too short leaves out the full, visual depth of stories and how those stories connect to other themes present in the book. It also leaves out some of the evidence that would back up her statements and make them more powerful. I wonder if the shortness of this book is a reflection of her fatigue, like she was just too tired to tell her stories fully.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Macie

    This is more of an outline of an identity rather than a memoir. It reminded me a lot of Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish in that regard. Dworkin is an incredibly compelling writer. Her ability to persuade you to see things her way is unmatched in my experience. While there were a few awkward moments in the book where it devolved into adolescent ranting, she spoke her own truth. Say what you will about her politics and beliefs--she was acting from a genuine desire and passion to help women This is more of an outline of an identity rather than a memoir. It reminded me a lot of Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish in that regard. Dworkin is an incredibly compelling writer. Her ability to persuade you to see things her way is unmatched in my experience. While there were a few awkward moments in the book where it devolved into adolescent ranting, she spoke her own truth. Say what you will about her politics and beliefs--she was acting from a genuine desire and passion to help women and improve their status. When I finished the book I felt ashamed that I'm not doing more to improve the lives of others.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Parton

    I found this book pretentious and hard to get through for all the name dropping in the beginning. The last third of the book was probably the best, and it would have been nice to see the whole book like that. I liked hearing about how she protected women and fought for women. I did not like hearing her mention as many times as possible which college she went to and how many times she slept with women. Just mention it once and move the fuck on. It's funny, this was one of the books I was most loo I found this book pretentious and hard to get through for all the name dropping in the beginning. The last third of the book was probably the best, and it would have been nice to see the whole book like that. I liked hearing about how she protected women and fought for women. I did not like hearing her mention as many times as possible which college she went to and how many times she slept with women. Just mention it once and move the fuck on. It's funny, this was one of the books I was most looking forward to reading on my reading challenge but it ended up being one of my least favorite books of all time.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This was recommended by Ariel Levy on the NYer blog as one of her all-time favorite feminist books, and I like Ariel Levy, so. . . . Dworkin organized it in vaguely chronological, very short chapters, starting with stories of her early life, her love of music, and the sexist men and women who shaped her politics, and then moved on to her crusade against pornography and domestic abuse. I liked reading about New York in the '60s. The tone is angry and intense, which I also liked. I didn't find her This was recommended by Ariel Levy on the NYer blog as one of her all-time favorite feminist books, and I like Ariel Levy, so. . . . Dworkin organized it in vaguely chronological, very short chapters, starting with stories of her early life, her love of music, and the sexist men and women who shaped her politics, and then moved on to her crusade against pornography and domestic abuse. I liked reading about New York in the '60s. The tone is angry and intense, which I also liked. I didn't find her views that extreme, but maybe I should read a book of hers that is not a short memoir.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I'm about halfway through right now, and it's a compelling read. I challenge anyone (especially men) to read this book without coming away with at least a taste of the complexity of Dworkin's ideas, given the complexity of some of the life stories she tells here. You'll no longer stand for oversimplifications of her ideas. She clearly doesn't "hate men" and isn't "anti-sex". She's a feminist with a heartbreaking history. ------- Finished it, and whew, it's a tough read. It gets more heartbreaking, I'm about halfway through right now, and it's a compelling read. I challenge anyone (especially men) to read this book without coming away with at least a taste of the complexity of Dworkin's ideas, given the complexity of some of the life stories she tells here. You'll no longer stand for oversimplifications of her ideas. She clearly doesn't "hate men" and isn't "anti-sex". She's a feminist with a heartbreaking history. ------- Finished it, and whew, it's a tough read. It gets more heartbreaking, and more angry, as it finishes up. I'll never read Dworkin in the same way again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesse Lehrer

    So amazing. There's like...2 cringeworthy moments, but other than that she speaks the bitter angry truth of the hypocritical world we live in. Her anger makes me feel righteous fury and want to completely destroy the status quo, and that's a great thing. There are right and wrongs in the world, and she's fantastic at calling out the bullshit and stating the truth.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    an account of the life of possibly the most hated feminist ever, from piano lessons to prostitution to militant activism. regardless of criticism, this book has made dworkin a certain brand of hero in my eyes, as a woman who really has herself together morally.

  24. 4 out of 5

    George Jones

    This is a wonderful book - I would have given it five stars were it not for the fact that Dworkin makes a transphobic comment near the end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Isa

    Utterly sorrowful. I maintain that Dworkin is the only writer in the world to really and truly GIVE A FUCK about women in every single thing she did.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Actual Rating: 10 of 5 thorns "Do no harm." (page 204) "I hope for nothing; I fear nothing; I am free." (page 106) Humor. Pain. Transparency. This memoir is bold and beautiful. The vignettes build upon one another to create a powerful narrative of the experiences that shaped Dworkin's life as a radical feminist. Through sorrowful details and eloquently rendered storytelling, she leads us into her past, relating what pushed her to do the work she has done, and she motivates readers to become active Actual Rating: 10 of 5 thorns "Do no harm." (page 204) "I hope for nothing; I fear nothing; I am free." (page 106) Humor. Pain. Transparency. This memoir is bold and beautiful. The vignettes build upon one another to create a powerful narrative of the experiences that shaped Dworkin's life as a radical feminist. Through sorrowful details and eloquently rendered storytelling, she leads us into her past, relating what pushed her to do the work she has done, and she motivates readers to become active in the movement for women. Dworkin creates a quiet, safe space with her writing that allows her to propose, discuss, and expand ideas about society and its future. Quotes: "And even though I've lost debates since [...], I still think it's worth everything to say what you believe. There are always consequences, and one must be prepared to face them. In this context there is no free speech and there never will be." (page 71) "You tell the truth and people can shit all over it, the way that grand jury did, but somehow once it's said it can't be unsaid; it stays living, somewhere, in someone's heart." (page 81) "If one has to pick one kind of pedagogy over all others, I pick listening. It breaks down prejudices and stereotypes; it widens self-imposed limits; it takes one into another's life, her hard times and, if there is any, her joy, too. There are women whose whole lives have been pornography and prostitution, and still they fight to live."(page 179)

  27. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    Book 43 of my #2017readingchallenge is Andrea Dworkin's "Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant." it was published in 2002. "I walk with women whispering in my ears." I have heard disparaging things about Dworkin over my life and this book really sealed the deal for me: people judged her harshly (1) because she's a woman, and (2) because of how she looked. She is an unequivocal badass; she's an intelligent, well-read philosopher, activist and writer whom I agree with on SO many le Book 43 of my #2017readingchallenge is Andrea Dworkin's "Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant." it was published in 2002. "I walk with women whispering in my ears." I have heard disparaging things about Dworkin over my life and this book really sealed the deal for me: people judged her harshly (1) because she's a woman, and (2) because of how she looked. She is an unequivocal badass; she's an intelligent, well-read philosopher, activist and writer whom I agree with on SO many levels. I honestly wondered, multiple times throughout reading this, how she'd feel in 2017 with all these blowhards finally getting the pedestal knocked out from underneath them. I think she's brilliant and uncompromising. "It happens so often that I, at least, cannot keep track of it. A woman is only believed if and when other women come forward to say the man or men raped them, too. The oddness of this should be transparent: if I'm robbed and my neighbor isn't, I'm still robbed - there is no legal or social agreement that in order for me, the victim of a robbery, to be believed, the burglar has to have robbed the neighbors." (p. 150) Keep fighting that shit. Thank you, Andrea Dworkin, for being a trailblazer.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Niffer

    I wanted to like this book more than I did. I felt as though it got off to a rough start. The chapters were short and, initially, very choppy and full of names. There was a chapter about musicians and jazz, then a chapter about books, then a bit more about music, then something about college... It just jumped around a lot and didn't feel like it had a lot of cohesion. During college she spent some time in Crete, and then went back to finish her degree. It was about that point in the book that I f I wanted to like this book more than I did. I felt as though it got off to a rough start. The chapters were short and, initially, very choppy and full of names. There was a chapter about musicians and jazz, then a chapter about books, then a bit more about music, then something about college... It just jumped around a lot and didn't feel like it had a lot of cohesion. During college she spent some time in Crete, and then went back to finish her degree. It was about that point in the book that I felt there was a bit more logic and structure. The chapters were still short and sometimes jolted a bit from one topic to another, but it overall flowed a little better after Crete. I wish I had liked this book better because I feel like much of what she said made a lot of sense. I look at a lot of what is going on politically right now and I feel like we have so far to go as far as women's rights and recognizing the true criminality of rape. In some ways I have hope, because I feel like much of the status quo she grew up with is changed. But we still have so far to go. And yet, based on her writing style in this book, I don't feel particularly driven to read more of her work.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Emer O'Toole

    A political memoir is the right title, as this autobiography treads gently around the personal. The first few chapters are about music and books Dworkin liked as a young woman – sort of Proustian in tone. I’m not a fan of that kind of writing, but I’m glad I didn’t give up - as Dworkin tells the story of how she developed into a writer and an activist, I realised that this is not just her story. It's the story of male violence; it's the story of a woman on the male-dominated left; it’s a story f A political memoir is the right title, as this autobiography treads gently around the personal. The first few chapters are about music and books Dworkin liked as a young woman – sort of Proustian in tone. I’m not a fan of that kind of writing, but I’m glad I didn’t give up - as Dworkin tells the story of how she developed into a writer and an activist, I realised that this is not just her story. It's the story of male violence; it's the story of a woman on the male-dominated left; it’s a story from the feminist front lines; it’s the story of the many women who spoke through Dworkin, and for whom she lived and worked. A valuable insight into the heart of one of the legends of the second wave.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Excellent book, that summarizes the moral imperatives and struggles of a young girl coming to be an activist, detailing how her social conscious developed and her acts of defiance against a system she saw as majorly wrong to women early on in her life. One of those books that sometimes while reading, you have to put down on your lap and think because the author's keen observations or stories of real experience just hit you blind side. A recommended absolute reader for anyone finding themselves con Excellent book, that summarizes the moral imperatives and struggles of a young girl coming to be an activist, detailing how her social conscious developed and her acts of defiance against a system she saw as majorly wrong to women early on in her life. One of those books that sometimes while reading, you have to put down on your lap and think because the author's keen observations or stories of real experience just hit you blind side. A recommended absolute reader for anyone finding themselves constantly up against the system in one way or another because they find that following it without question is just too morally intolerable.

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