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Pornography: Men Possessing Women

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  757 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
This volume presents a study of the damaging effect of pornography and its ramifications on society.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published November 1st 1991 by Plume (first published 1981)
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Jan 16, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sex, gender-stuff, ebooks
Andrea Dworkin, Pornography: Men Possessing Women, 1989
Wendy McElroy, XXX: A Woman's Right to Pornography, 1995

It's difficult to talk about porn. It's hard not to speculate on the hidden motives of the people involved in any discussion, I find. Those arguing against it tend to come across as though they merely find it distasteful on a personal level. Those arguing for it are presumed to be avid consumers.

Then again, you often see people defend it on free-speech grounds while, as it were, holding
"The most cynical use of women has been on the Left—cynical because the word freedom is used to capture the loyalties of women who want, more than anything, to be free and who are then valued and used as left-wing whores: collectivized cunts"- Andrea Dworkin.

Yeah, Andrea Dworkin is the shit.

See, for proof, the chapter in which she exposes the ludicrous treatment of deSade by intellectuals, the countless attempts to exonerate not the writer but the man of his crimes, while ignoring his victims e
Jun 23, 2008 rated it liked it
While I don't agree with Dworkin's position that the state should censor all pornographic images that depict violence or non-consensuality against women, I do agree that the issue needs to be brought up that pornography is often the pschological training camp for male sexuality. It's what boys can get their hands on before they get a chance to actually learn how to do physical intimacy. Somewhere in there lies the responsibility of male elders to teach that fantasy is okay but must not be confus ...more
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Everything in life is part of it. Nothing is off in its own corner, isolated from the rest. While on the surface this may seem self-evident, the favorite conceit of male culture is that experience can be fractured, literally its bones split, and that one can examine the splinters as if they were not part of the bone, or the bone as if it were not part of the body. This conceit replicates in its values and methodology the sexual reductionism of the male and is derived from it. Everything is split ...more
Jun 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I started writing down favorite lines from this and eventually realized I'd be copying damn near the whole book. But how can one resist with lines like this:

"A bible piling up its code for centuries, a secret corpus gone public, a private corpus gone political, pornography is the male's sacred stronghold, a monastic retreat for manhood on the verge of its own destruction."


"We will know we are free when pornography no longer exists. As long as it does exist, we must understand that we are th
Rus Funk
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the first books that I read of Andrea and a book that mobilized me on my path from pornography consumer to anti-pornography activist and leader. One of the many brilliant and truly life-changing books I've read from Andrea!
Jan 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reading Pornography: Men Possessing Women was tricky. Its large-print title attracted unwanted attention on a Greyhound bus trip, and it made me slightly and entirely unjustifiably apprehensive of the friend I was on said bus trip to visit, simply because he happened to be male. Nonetheless, I was glad I read this treatise against pornography by one of the major thinkers of second-wave feminism. She's passionate, angry, and articulate against what she sees as the essence of patriarchal society a ...more
Feb 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It would be awkward to star-rate anything by Andrea Dworkin, since I don't think of myself as having enjoyed the subject matters she deals with. BUT, everything I read by her was disturbing, new, mind-bending, powerful, and sometimes plain ridiculous. I didn't and don't agree with everything Dworkin, but her writing definitely had a huge impact on my early interest in mass media and pornography's impact on the mainstream.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thank heaven for this clear sighted woman who could see the impact of porn, although I think she makes the mistake of thinking it is only women who suffer as a result of it. (Perhaps that is because we are now more informed.) This was an important book, even if, to me, written in a slightly woolly style.
Jul 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist, nonfiction
My first introduction to feminist opposition to pornography. The details and the passion of her work are inspiring and paints a realistic portrait of the harm that pornography does to women and our culture.
Claire S
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Claire by: Women's Studies, UofM, 1983
This review isn't for this book necessarily, but her writings and her positions as of 1983-1984 when she co-taught a women's studies class I was in, here in Mpls, and co-led an effort to have Minneapolis put in place a process within which women could sue the makers/distributors of a piece of pornography if she felt it harmed her.
Some points (since I see by the reviews that these things are being discussed):
The outcome would be financial, and a 'chilling effect' on negative materials, not ever c
Jun 22, 2013 marked it as abandoned
Shelves: ribs
The introduction sucked me in! It sounded so promising. 50 pages in: this will not be the 1000th book I mark as read, after all. I give up! The author spends forever detailing the plot of bad porn books in icky details with "[sic]" being deployed in every other quotation. If it is to prove a point about the pervasiveness of certain ideas, either better known examples or a larger number of examples more concisely summarized might have worked better and not worn on my patience so. From the first 5 ...more
Apr 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, sociology, study
While I lean more towards a sex-positive position in feminism and pornography, there are definitely valid and interesting points that are made in this book. It's worth a read and points are still valid to this day. I disagree with homosexual men and heterosexual men being in cahoots against women (although, other authors agree like Stoltenberg and Kendall to a degree, I think). It's a complicated issue and this showcases more facets in the discussion about pornography, feminism, and male suprema ...more
Jul 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
beautifully written and sorely needed to be read and re-read today. there's so much here: phallic economies, racism and "sex" read: sexualized violence and dehumanization, the valuation of women in pornography and outside of pornography. really dworkin presaged a lot of feminist 'debate' decades before they were even hotly-debated issues and it's sad that she is written of as a man-hater or sex-negative (it's clear in the work that she has a lot of hope for men and doesn't think that sex has to ...more
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism
In this book Dworkin breaks down the social context of various pieces of erotica, deconstructing the patriarchal, racist and often fascistic values underlying much of the porn the average male (and sometimes females) may consume. She gets to the root of the word, porneia, meaning "whore", and correctly illuminates the purpose of porn: a form a propaganda used to subjugate women. Her criticism of Sade was particularly useful and cutting. A highly recommended read.
Jun 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5. This was incredible. Passionately written, trenchantly argued, thoroughly researched - agonisingly in fact, when you read the acknowledgements section, as well as the article on her experience of writing it and how it affected her. I do have my criticisms, the main one being somewhat speculative: the tautology male = penis = power which pervades the work and which I do agree with generally speaking leads me to wonder what her opinion of transgender people is, specifically amab transwomen, a ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
I don't agree with Dworkin. I think a lot of her analysis of sex and sexuality is plain wrong but she was an important figure and she was a passionate advocate. And she could damn well write. So whilst I might not agree with her analysis and her views on sexuality - and in particular her views on male sexuality - I still think her work is worth reading.

She also had a tragic life and the fact she campaigned and taught and researched after so many horrors is a testament to an amazing character. A
Josh Hornbeck
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Andrea Dworkin's "Pornography: Men Possessing Women" is a weighty piece of feminist literature exploring the links between pornography, male power and entitlement, and rape. It's a difficult book - confronting the abuse and intellectual foundation inherent in a patriarchal society. While there are times Dworkin seems to engage in some of the same generalizations of which she accuses men, this is an essential part of the conversation about the links between pornography, patriarchy, and sexual ass ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book was a very necessary look into the links between misogyny, gynophobia and violence towards women and pornography of all forms. Much of what Dworkin presents are explicit analysis and explainations of man's subjugation of woman. While a good portion of this seems so obviously related, without this text I doubt I would have made the express connections that I have instinctually felt. Occasionally, more towards the finale of the book, I felt that Dworkin over stretched her analysis and tr ...more
Daan Olthoff
Dec 19, 2013 rated it liked it
I give this three stars because this is an entertaining read, not because I particularly agree with Dworkin. She makes some interesting and valid points, but bizarre passages (especially the one about lasers) and uncompromising ideology keep me from actually taking her very seriously. Read Pornography if you are interested in radical feminism, not if you want a objective argument against pornography itself.
Jax Gullible
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highlighted a passage every 2 pages. She was so daring in telling the truth, "The most cynical use of women has been in the Left- cynical because the word freedom is used to capture the loyalties of women who want,more than anything, to be free and who are then valued and used as left-wing whores: collectivized whores."
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it
As an anti-censorship feminist I don't agree with Dworkin's ideas, but I think she was a fascinating person who wrote beautifully. This is a powerful and challenging book, whether you believe pornography is harmful to women or not.
Ryan Mishap
Nov 03, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminism
The classic, but I detect an antipathy to gay male culture that is sour.
Siofra Dempsey
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Obviously extremely biased against porn, but recommended reading in any debate about porn and sex work
Book Wyrm
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: No one, read Sontag's The Pornographic Imagination instead
There are some legitimate concerns with the way written (or filmed) pornography depicts women and men, but I sure as hell don't remember seeing many of them here, nor were they addressed coherently. Simply stating the entirity of a book's narrative, violently sexual scene by violently sexual scene is not a way to criticise pornographic texts. It's not even an argument about pornography, it's a cheap, often out of context trick of trying to disgust and bore the reader through sheer blunt force.
Alicia Fox
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Even after this, I'm a pragmatist caught between second- and third-wave feminism. I'm against slut shaming and all that, but I don't think that human nature allows for a world where sex work is ever going to be empowering for 99% of the women who do it (largely, out of financial desperation).

As usual, Andrea Dworkin writes powerful arguments. Her section on the Marquis de Sade is worth reading, even if you skip the rest of the book.
Steven Wilson
Sep 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Anita Dalton
Read this in anticipation of discussing the "rape" edition of Jim Goad's ANSWER Me!.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i wish i could give this 3.5 but i rounded up bc the critiques arent that detrimental to the overall positive impact this text had on me. it was just very scattered and sometimes the intense descriptions of heinous sex acts were a bit... much (i know why it was necessary. but still.) and got triggering in some aspects.
Angus Stirling
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A compelling argument that pornography is opression; it both typifies and supports male supremacy, and directly and indirectly harms society by constructing and normalising male sexual desire as dominating and agressive. In doing so it reflects, maintains, and promotes varieties of violence in the real-world oppression of women.
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On Paths Unknown: Feminism project 1 16 Nov 11, 2015 03:54AM  
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Andrea Rita Dworkin was an American radical feminist and writer best known for her criticism of pornography, which she argued was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women.

An anti-war activist and anarchist in the late 1960s, Dworkin wrote 10 books on radical feminist theory and practice. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, she gained national fame as a spokeswoman for the feminist
More about Andrea Dworkin

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“Capitalism is not wicked or cruel when the commodity is the whore; profit is not wicked or cruel when the alienated worker is a female piece of meat; corporate bloodsucking is not wicked or cruel when the corporations in question, sell cunt; racism is not wicked or cruel when the black cunt or yellow cunt or red cunt or Hispanic cunt or Jewish cunt has her legs splayed for any man's pleasure; poverty is not wicked or cruel when it is the poverty of dispossessed women who have only themselves to sell; violence by the powerful against the powerless is not wicked or cruel when it is called sex; slavery is not wicked or cruel when it is sexual slavery; torture is not wicked or cruel when the tormented are women, whores, cunts. The new pornography is left-wing; and the new pornography is a vast graveyard where the Left has gone to die. The Left cannot have its whores and its politics too.” 15 likes
“The object, the woman, goes out into the world formed as men have formed her to be used as men wish to use her. She is then a provocation. The object provokes its use. It provokes its use because of its form, determined by the one who is provoked. The carpenter makes a chair, sits on it, then blames the chair because he is not standing. When the object complains about the use to which she is put, she is told, simply and firmly, not to provoke.” 6 likes
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