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Intercourse Paperback – March 12, 1997

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Product Details

  • Series: Free Press Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (March 12, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684832399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684832395
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,431,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Dworkin argues that in a society where men oppress women, they will use sex for that purpose as well, and that men's sexual dominion over women underpins the whole system of oppression codified in law. Her most provocative point is that sexual intercourse itself intrinsically creates problems for women's self-esteem. She bases this argument on the premise that human beings need to protect their physical boundaries to feel safe. Since women's boundaries are breached in even the most welcome and humane forms of sexual intercourse, they must therefore experience themselves, as part of their normal existence, as more vulnerable than men experience themselves and less able to assert their humanity. Dworkin's argument is obviously one-sided, disregarding benefits women may derive from these intimate connections. Nor does she spend much time on a solution for the problem of boundaries she has identified. Still, this fascinating book deserves a wide readership. Cynthia Harrison, American Historical Assn., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The most shocking book any feminist has yet written." Germaine Greer" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

The problem with "Intercourse" isn't so much that Dworkin takes her rhetoric overboard.
David A. Bede
It was good to read the full context of what she's saying rather than just a quote, even if I don't agree with her conclusion or how she got there.
This woman is totally clueless not only about the central issue of male sexuality, but her own as well.
G. Bujak

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hedonist on October 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am an unpopular person in the current world of sadomasochistic, sex-working-as-"empowerment" lesbian "feminists" who volunteer to be painfully copulated by men and enjoy "consensual" slave/master relationships with their girlfriends. Yes, I agree with a lot of what Andrea Dworkin has to say in this book, and those who spew vitriolic hatred towards her in response for her theories are merely knee-jerk reactionaries (from both the left "sex radical" and right wing Dudebro sides)! If you at all have an open mind no matter your gender, and you are against domination and dehumanization (even if the person supposedly "consents" to be abused), you owe it to yourself to read this book and start thinking. It was written decades ago yet has EVEN MORE relevance in today's society, where women supposedly feel "empowered" by powerlessness (as well as competing with men in the misogyny arena). Also check out "Refusing to be a Man" by John Stoltenberg. Only when we all refuse to take on the gender roles of the cruel man or the happy-to-be-objectified woman can this miserable pit of a world improve. I'm not holding my breath, but Andrea and John's work at least give me the hope that I'm not the only one who feels the way I do. RIP, Andrea, you were sorely unappreciated as a great writer and thinker.
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27 of 36 people found the following review helpful By David A. Bede on April 28, 2007
Format: Paperback
The problem with "Intercourse" isn't so much that Dworkin takes her rhetoric overboard. That much was probably intentional, in order to make a point about how deep sexism runs in most cultures and for how long it has been that way - and she definitely got that point across. The book's downfall is that she not only doesn't make it clear that that's what she's doing, she even eschews any opportunity to clue readers in to that end.

"Intercourse" is probably the work that gave rise to the myth that Dworkin believed all sex was rape. In fact she never said that, here or elsewhere, and as such it would be wrong to attribute that belief to this or any other of her works. That said, she doesn't quite NOT say that either, and it's not entirely unreasonable to conclude that she is implying as much. Perhaps she considered it unnecessary to spell out the point that a survey of literary sex scenes could never be completely comprehensive. But after chapter upon chapter of examples in which she (correctly) shows various classic works of literature to be rather misogynistic, it may well have strengthened her thesis if she'd shown an example or two of more female-positive works. Never is the possibility of such things even floated. Also, for all her later denials that she was arguing that women can never really enjoy sex or that men can never be anything but dominating in the bedroom, she scrupulously avoids allowing for either of those possibilities throughout the book. Given the opportunity to clarify those points directly, she refused. In the preface to the updated 1997 printing, she asked rhetorically if men could ever hope to understand her thesis, pointedly refused to give a straight answer, and then referred to any and all of her detractors with a word I can't repeat here.
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69 of 95 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Koch on August 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
Holy gawd, a male who loved this book! And I did. It's sad how most people can only see the sophomoric caricatures their biases craft in this book, rather than the real story: which is not hatred for males, nor an indictment of all heterosexuality as rape. Though it will be read that way if a person can *only* concieve of sex which contains an element of domination: take away the domination aspect, and for them, sex is abolished. The men and women (such as the odious Camille Paglia) who fear this book have minds too entrenched in patriarchal pseudoscientific essentialist nonsense to get over that. As for me, I love sex. I think it's beautiful -- and that's also why I love this book. It suggests to me that intercourse can retain that beauty, and that it doesn't have to be debased by being used as a weapon and a tool of oppression. Dworkin is a brilliant mind whose works have altered my life.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. Swaney on June 6, 2007
Format: Paperback
After Betty Friedan, Andrea Dworkin seems to top the list as one of the most referenced feminists. Her popularity did not prepare me in the least for what exactly her book de jour is. That is, Intercourse, the book coined as "saying" "all sex is rape," is actually an intriguing literary criticism with a brief peppering of art history. Any quotes I previously listed by Dworkin were taken out of context in that it would only make sense that after Dworkin is read a conversation must occur on art's ability (and lack of) to reflect and represent life.

Dworkin's book begins at Tolstoy and moves through biographies of he and his wife and his literary work The Kreutzer Sonata. The book provides a feminist and specific sexual critique on how sexuality is represented throughout classical, fictional pieces ranging from Tennessee Williams to James Baldwin to Bram Stoker to the Bible and how these works reflect the reality of the culture they were produced in. This bundle of information is presented to the reader and then weaved together in a luxurious manner to critique present views on sexuality. (Absolutely fascinating to me as this is what I did for my late modern art assignment last semester.)

Similar to Reading Lolita in Tehran, it is not necessary that you've actually read any of these works. However, as with any literary criticism it's a bit difficult to rebut or disagree with it without reading the actual texts the critique is based on. Overall, it's a brilliant piece of feminist literature that is blunt and honest and thought provoking. Whether or not you agree with everything (or anything) that Dworkin says, it's a thought stimulating book that consistently questions the reader.
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