It seems to be only defending pornography that brings them out

Michael Moorcock talked to Andrea Dworkin for the New Statesman in 1995.

Michael Moorcock: After “Right-Wing Women” and “Ice and Fire” you wrote “Intercourse“. Another book which helped me clarify confusions about my own sexual relationships. You argue that attitudes to conventional sexual intercourse enshrine and perpetuate sexual inequality. Several reviewers accused you of saying that all intercourse was rape. I haven’t found a hint of that anywhere in the book. Is that what you are saying?

Andrea Dworkin: No, I wasn’t saying that and I didn’t say that, then or ever. There is a long section in Right-Wing Women on intercourse in marriage. My point was that as long as the law allows statutory exemption for a husband from rape charges, no married woman has legal protection from rape. I also argued, based on a reading of our laws, that marriage mandated intercourse–it was compulsory, part of the marriage contract. Under the circumstances, I said, it was impossible to view sexual intercourse in marriage as the free act of a free woman. I said that when we look at sexual liberation and the law, we need to look not only at which sexual acts are forbidden, but which are compelled.

The whole issue of intercourse as this culture’s penultimate expression of male dominance became more and more interesting to me. In Intercourse I decided to approach the subject as a social practice, material reality. This may be my history, but I think the social explanation of the “all sex is rape” slander is different and probably simple. Most men and a good number of women experience sexual pleasure in inequality. Since the paradigm for sex has been one of conquest, possession, and violation, I think many men believe they need an unfair advantage, which at its extreme would be called rape. I don’t think they need it. I think both intercourse and sexual pleasure can and will survive equality.

It’s important to say, too, that the pornographers, especially Playboy, have published the “all sex is rape” slander repeatedly over the years, and it’s been taken up by others like Time who, when challenged, cannot cite a source in my work.

That’s how it’s done.

Michael Moorcock: You have been wildly and destructively misquoted. I’ve been told that you hate all men, believe in biological determinism, write pornography while condemning it, have been censored under the very “laws” you introduced in Canada and so on. I know these allegations have no foundation, but they’re commonly repeated. Do you know their source?

Andrea Dworkin: Playboy, Penthouse, Hustler and lobbying groups for pornographers. Some of the lobbying groups call themselves anti-censorship, but they spend so much time maligning MacKinnon and myself that it is hard to take them seriously. And it seems to be only defending pornography that brings them out. I would define illiteracy as the basic speech problem in the US, but I don’t see any effort to deal with it as a political emergency with constitutionally based remedies, such as lawsuits against cities and states on behalf of illiterate populations characterised by race and class, purposefully excluded by public policy from learning how to read and write. Fighting MacKinnon and me is equivalent to going to Club Med rather than doing real work.

It’s much the same with the war on “TERFs” – like looking for the diamond under the streetlight instead of where you dropped it.

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