Customer Reviews: Pornography: Men Possessing Women
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on January 4, 2000
This is quite simply probably the best book ever written on the evil of pornography. It's a refreshing change to read on the subject from an author who's not from the religious right.
Dworkin's shocking descriptions of the violence and abuse that pornography causes and depends on for its survival will have all but the most diehard users feeling physically sick in disgust.
If there is any man out there who thinks that "softcore" pornography is okay and doesn't hurt women, you really need to read this book! It will change your mind, I know it did mine.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon September 8, 2011
Andrea Rita Dworkin (1946-2005) was an American radical feminist and writer, as well as anti-war activist and anarchist in the 1960s, best known for her criticism of pornography; she was married to John Stoltenberg. She wrote many books, such as Our Blood / Andrea Dworkin.,Woman Hating (Plume),Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant,Intercourse,Scapegoat The Jews, Isreal, and women's Liberation,Life and Death,Right Wing Women,Letters from a War Zone,Mercy: A Novel, and Ice and Fire : A Novel.

She wrote in the Preface to this 1981 book, "This is a book about the meaning of pornography and the system of power in which pornography exists. Its particular theme is the power of men in pornography. This not a book about the First Amendment... This is not a book about obscenity... This book is not about the difference betwen pornography and erotica... Finally, this is not a liberal book about how pornography hurts all of us."

Here are some additional quotations from the book:

"The female name on the cover of the book is part of the package, an element of the fiction. It confirms men in their fantasy that the eroticism of the female exists within the bounds of male sexual imperatives." (Pg. 34)
"The fear that what men have supressed in women will emerge to destroy them makes the control of women an urgent and absolute necessity. Men dare to claim not only that they are fragile but that the power of women over them is immense and real." (Pg. 65)
"Women do not believe that men believe what pornography says about women. But they do. From the worst of them to the best of them, they do." (Pg. 167)
"We will know that we are free when pornography no longer exists." (Pg. 224)
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on January 23, 2014
Andrea Dworkin and her dark "second wave" feminist take on pornography don't get much attention any more. Americans imagine they're beyond the need for such critiques, thus the third wave feminists and their "discovery" that porn just needs a bit of tweaking (or maybe none at all if you're a Nancy Friday type feminist). Let's all be sex positive. Uh.....

All I can do is tell my story. I am a Christian, a white male, and the perfect candidate to massively reject Andrea Dworkin and her message. But when I read this book it was a bone-breaker and a b***s breaker. I mean, I had to rethink my own consciousness after reading Dworkin. She turned me into a Christian feminist-in-training (ain't arrived yet), and I suspect every woman I've interacted with since (from my wife to my daughters to my pastors to my friends) owes Dworkin a debt!

The book is flawed. It is written with such red-hot intensity (reminiscent in tone to Richard Wright's novel "Native Son") that her often literary voice goes a bit flat. But the flaw may also be why it works. For instance, she writes passages which at first read seem pornographic... and one begins to respond to them that way. Then, suddenly, one sees through what she is doing and apprehends just how demeaning, appalling, depersonalizing, and UNsexual it all is! Which of course is her point. And one, if allowing the self to do so, comes into contact with that reactionary core that none of us want to admit to.

Read it. But know it is not an easy book to read and you will come out with bruises.
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on June 28, 1998
Andrea Dworkin is not just unique among many talented, feminist authors - she is a woman with an exceptional command of the English language, and an exquisite talent for using words to make a point in an either brilliant or shockingly crude fashion. She simply will not allow the reader to make excuses in his/her mind for the basic lower value of females around the world which is the base of pornagraphy.
This book is not for the faint-hearted, weak, or those who wish to live in a fantasy-land when it comes to male views of women's bodies and sexuality. Andrea Dworkin is a genius and, whether or not one agrees with any of her points, she will challenge the very foundations of our paternal societies and their implications for female sexuality, how women's lower social status is perpetuated through the condoning of degrading and violent sexual themes in art, entertainment, and literature, and how these repeating (and all to frequent) themes affect the zeitgeist of our culture.
You are not a woman until you have carefully read this enlightening and liberating book, and you are not a man until you have faced up to the ugly and destructive side of male-dominated culture and sex explicitly exposed by Ms. Dworkin.
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on March 3, 2012
This is a great book. While not easy to read (in the sense that it forces one to reflect and think about what she is saying), it is one of those essential readings for anyone who really wants to understand much of the dynamics that happens in society between men, women and the powers that be
. Andrea Dworking is one of those special people,who occupies that category of 'prophet of our times', presenting aspects of life in which, as human beings, we must look at, examine and do much personal reflection if we, as men and women, are interested growth and becoming aware, compassionate human beings in relation to each other. I am heartened that there are people, men and women, like herself in this world.
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on October 18, 2002
This book is a testimony to the awful misogyny that we are forced to witness every day. The specific form of misogyny that this book deals with is called porn, and if it makes you sick, this book sure ensures you that you are not alone. I'm a man and I feel ashamed of being so when try to understand how many victims men have used for their own purpose. Tracy Lords is one of those victims. She was a famous porn actress AFTER this book was written, which goes to show that the problem is getting worse. Why is it getting worse? Well, not too long ago porn was still considered dirty - the last resort for junkies - while today it is glamorized out of proportion. But ask your porn-buying friend if he or she would be proud over her son or daughter if this child wanted to make quick money by having sex in public, and you would see the double standard of morality. And there are reasons why sons and daughters are taught to stay away from that line of work (even while the parents contribute to its continued existence by consuming it). Just look at how Tracy Lords is doing today. She won't get any roles because of her past, as her participation in these films are all she is remembered for. That shame and endless anxiety and regret is her life. She admits that by having lived in a culture that endorsed porn, she was drawn into it and got spat out with a reputation ruining and ridiculing her name and image, leaving her empty and alienated from society. This book fights her fight, and it fights for all those defenseless and scared little girls who have been used like she was, a fight that hopefully will prevent little Tracies in the future to have their innocense stolen from them.
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on January 2, 2005
is limitless and inescapable. Personally, I believe all men are really only hot for each other. Men love same-sex men only environments: the military, religious institutions, political organisations are cultures created by and for males giving free reign for men's hot obsession with males and hatred of women. No more evident is men's sexual fixation with men and hatred of women evident but in men's pornography. Men just love watching films produced by men and filmed by men where groups of naked sexually aroused males make a male-bonding high-five over the lonely woman lying down they've just watched each other penetrate. Men compare and admire the male genitals they idealise and vomit womanhating invectives over women males have invented to institutionalise men's hatred of women. Men's pornography is the most lucrative business in the world, because men's hatred of women is limitless. Dworkin's book analyses the psychosexual mechanics at work in the male brain and why women allow themselves to be used as sexual props in men's productions. When the woman screams in men's porn, gagging for more as males like to describe it, she reads from a script written by men to reassure the male viewer she loves his genitals as much as men do - however, 80% of women cannot experience an orgasm through the mechanical motions of male genitalia. It's all fake.
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on October 30, 2000
Too many exposes of atrocity, whether from the humanitarian or exploitation angles, downplay the impact of the harm men cause men (and women). Happily, Andrea Dworkin is an exception. She spares no detail, leaves no stone unturned, to expose in vivid, lip-smacking prose every cry of pain, every broken bone, each bruise or scar.
For conoisseurs of true misogynistic pleasure, Dworkin is nonpareil. She can always be counted on to deliver the goods.
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on November 7, 2002
This is the book that caused a whole generation of feminists to waste their lives in a futile and fruitless crusade against pornography.
The bizarre thing is how a work this incoherent managed to inspire such misplaced fervour in its readers. Porn is a pretty easy target, you might think, but Dworkin actually struggles to build a case against it, and many are laugh-out-loud tendentious. Mention of a Porsche in a photo shoot caption is, we are told, a veiled reference to the transportation of the Jews and the Holocaust (Dworkin name drops the Holocaust on every conceivable occasion, which I pfind in very poor taste). Posing a model with a laser beam is clear evidence of violent intent, because powerful laser beams can be very dangerous--in case we don't beleive her, Dworkin quotes page after page of a US Navy report on laser beams.
This sort of crazed pseudo-scholarship is the hallmark of Dworkin's work and is very much in evidence here. The flimsiness of the argument is propped up by a impressive looking scholarly apparatus of footnotes, citations and bibliography. But, like the laser beam report its mainly padding--even Dworkin has admitted that many of the books in the bibliography are't even cited in the text.
None the less this hyper-activity has led to Dworkin being cited as something of an intellectual within the feminist movement but there's very little reasoned argument here, just an elongated version of slogans like: "Pornography is violence against women". "Pornography is the theory: rape is the practice", to which one can only reply well, is it?
Unfortunately, with this work Dworkin succeeded in convincing a lot of people that pornography was the root of all evil. Many have gone on to swallow the Dworkinite line that all conflicts are subordinate to gender oppression (even, she has claimed, that of Palestinian versus Israeli). The corollary of this belief is of course that all we need to do to heal the world is to sort out gender politics: this has effectively committed huge numbers of female radical activists to waste their time on pointless activites like attacking adult bookshops...
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on October 7, 2008
Let's see what nice things I can say about this book:
*it has one of the nicest, most complete indexes I've ever come across. Exemplary!
*I share Dworkin's disregard for the wholesale appreciation of many intellectuals for authors such as de Sade and Bataille (and Restif de la Bretonne, to name another culprit), and of sadomasochism and fetishism in general. I mean, if whips and chains are for you, fine. Just don't tell me that it makes you more of an intellectual.
*Like Dworkin, I am sceptical of the Kinsey Report.
But apart from that, wow. Andrea Dworkin was clearly a troubled woman with regards to men, like an inverted Larry Flynt. In this book she mainly picks up some pretty random examples of pornography, describes them in an often overly elaborate and graphic way (it reminds you of that old joke where a high-and-mighty priest gets into describing some perversion with surprising acuity and enthusiasm), and then freely interprets them. One salient example is where she cites a Playboy photo where laser lights are being used (we never get to see the photo, of course): she first describes this picture minutely; then she cites some document that laser is the most powerful form of light and that the military are planning to use it as a weapon (at this point you can tell that Dworkin is not really the type of person who reads Popular Mechanics for fun), and then concludes that the photo depicts a woman being violated by a weapon. This is complemented by several elaborate references which are meant to lend the argument a whiff of scientificity ... nessability.

Another peculiar example is where she delineates the term husband from "husbandry" (i. e. farm keeping), and then claims that it means someone who stores up his semen. A prime example of feminist bogus etymology.

Dworkin's style of writing reminds me how I used to pad out my essays at university: quote some extreme example. Describe it as verbosely as possible (max out that text counter in MS Word). Then make some extremely emotional, radical and far-out statement, and support it by quoting as many high-faluting references as possible (Das Kapital, the collected works of Aristotle and the Gilgamesh epic being surefire sources). Sprinkle liberally with quotations, and serve to the lecturer while still seething. I guess if you find Dworkin's offering impressive, then you never had to finagle your way past a term paper deadline.

Peculiarly, Dworkin cites Bataille's "History Of The Eye" as well as that obscure Playboy laser photo, but for some reason she doesn't even mention the 1972 Deep Throat movie (arguably the most popular piece of porn of all times).

Dworkin is strangely, unsalubriously fascinating because of her sheer venom, and, for some, because of her intellectual pretense. If she had written a balanced essay about how some pornography is a bit over the top, no-one would have cared. But as she wrote about pornography being the ultimate weapon of one half of mankind to annihilate the other, she landed a minor bestseller and became a feminist icon.

So let the gender wars begin!
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