Feminist Scholar Andrea Dworkin Dies at 58

Andrea Dworkin, a feminist icon and scholar, died on Saturday at the age of 58. Her cause of death was not known, but her agent Elaine Markson told the Guardian that she had become frail in the last week and had a series of falls. Dworkin was the author of over a dozen books, and was known best for her writings on pornography and violence against women, as well as her theories on how these issues contributed to sexual inequality.

“The women’s movement, domestically and globally, has lost one of its most moving, brilliant, and clear voices,” said Robin Morgan, a noted feminist author (her books include Sisterhood Is Powerful and Sisterhood Is Global) and former editor-in-chief and current Global Editor of Ms. magazine. “Andrea Dworkin was a fine writer, had a fierce intellect, and was an uncompromising feminist.”

Dworkin, together with feminist lawyer Catharine MacKinnon, wrote a law defining pornography as a violation of women’s civil rights, enabling women to sue those who produce and distribute pornographic materials. The law was passed in Indianapolis in 1983, but was overturned by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals two years later.

The works of Dworkin on sexual inequality and to end pornography have been highly controversial. The Guardian described Dworkin in 2001, saying, “Dworkin is a threat, of course, to exactly the extent that radical feminists have always posed a threat – pointing out unapologetically the degree to which violence against women and children by men remains rampant.”

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Guardian 4/11/05, 6/25/01; Ms. magazine

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