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Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  533 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Andrea Dworkin reveals the personal side of her lifelong journey as activist and writer. A bittersweet memoir of falling in love with books, ideas, and the fight for social justice - from the 60s to the present.
Paperback, 180 pages
Published March 10th 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2002)
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Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dworkin has been criticized, ridiculed and much men and by women alike. She did not deserve all the spite she got. One only needs to observe all the kind of opposition her voice met, in order to see the kind of patriarchal authoritarianism she talked against.
I do not agree with everything she believed, I do not support all of her methods, I might not have walked with her for some of her causes…..but I am incredibly grateful to her for coming out and shouting at the top of her lungs,
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
She is not being flippant when she titled her book "Heartbreak." This book was one of her last books published, and by far, the saddest. She writes about feeling abandoned by the feminists she is fighting for. Although I understand that Dworkin can appear extreme at times, she is wicked smart and has oceans of compassion for women. That can forgive a lot of disagreement over what we consider "extreme" or "militant". Dworkin is a miracle of a human being (considering the modern patriarcy we live ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
"The worst immorality is to be stupid, because it's easy.
The worst immorality is to repudiate one's own uniqueness to fit in.
The worst immorality is to set one's goals so low that one must crawl to meet them.
The worst immorality is to hurt children.
The worst immorality is to use one's strength to dominate or control.
The worst immorality is to surrender the essence of oneself for love or money.
The worst immorality is to believe in nothing, do nothing, achieve nothing.

The worst immoralities are bu
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
"The worst immorality is to be careless with another person's heart or soul."

"The worst immoralities are but one, a single sin of human nothingness and stupidity. "Do no harm" is the counterpoint to apathy, indifference, and passive aggression; it is the fundamental moral imperative. "Do no harm" is the opposite of immoral. One must do something and at the same time do no harm. "Do no harm" remains the hardest ethic."

"I want women to stop crimes against women. There I stand or fall."

"There is no
Mar 16, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir, feminist
Dworkin presents the bold strokes of her life and justifies her considerable anger at the world. The deeper aspects of her life remain hidden out of sight, for example, the story of her marriage to John Stoltenberg. We learn how they met, but nothing more. She is as ever provocative, but in a memoir that is not enough. The deeper story of who she was has yet to be written.
ryan bears
Dec 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book kicks bum. i dont understand how people claim she has no sense of humor. this lady is funny. good call on the ginsberg part, f--king brohemians scare me anyways. i swear devandra banhart is ginsberg's reincarnate (whats with that little boys song). i wonder who andrea will come back as?
Jo Watson
Jul 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I cant remember a day that i haven't wished Andrea was all wrong, it's just all been a massive mistake.. I also can't remember a day that I haven't gathered some evidence that she was right ... I admired her strength to be continuously angry and In battle and I miss her presence in the world
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
what a challenging and at times tear jerking read. The book is about a feminist and her life story and is conveyed in short bite sized chapters that you find you can quickly and easily traverse through like a Saramago paragraph. It had chapters about the influence on music on her, Plato, cuba, contraceptives, young americans for freedom, discipline, leftism, it takes a village, prisons, heartbreak and an amazing closing chapter called immoral which i will show below. At times some of her insight ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
"The worst immorality is in living a trivial life because one is afraid to face any other kind of life--a despairing life or a twisted and difficult life...

The worst immorality is to set one's goals so low that one must crawl to meet them."
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, reference
This is a difficult book to rate. Either way, I really wish she were still with us. Apparently she came eventually to be trans-exclusionary. I don't feel particularly fussed to check up on this.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This book definitely changed my outlook on Dworkin. I had no idea what she endured, and although I wasn't likely to espouse the classic arguments against her, I had given up on the angry tone of Right Wing Women, thinking she wasn't for me. Now, I don't agree with her in all she has said, but had she dug a bit deeper, probably there'd have been something interesting coming up.

Her life is surely very sad and one gets to understand, as she promises, why does she think the way she does. Her love o
Mar 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreak is a memoir in the vein of Bob Dylan's Chronicles: not just a fleshed out skeleton of one's dreams, desires and actions, but a map of how a person came to be, significant landmarks including books one has read, people who have influenced one, ideas and ideals that have motivated one to action. Perhaps this isn't a different kind of memoir, but simply a memoir by a certain kind of person, a person whose life was held to a higher purpose, be that art or radical politics.

This is a beauti
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
I am inspired by this book, feel vindicated in my life-long work to end sexual violence and exploitation, and am pleased to have Andrea Dworkin's rough and honest and pained voice articulating what drives her, which is often what drives me. My only complaint is that it is too short, and in being too short leaves out the full, visual depth of stories and how those stories connect to other themes present in the book. It also leaves out some of the evidence that would back up her statements and mak ...more
Nov 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more of an outline of an identity rather than a memoir. It reminded me a lot of Rebecca Walker's Black White and Jewish in that regard. Dworkin is an incredibly compelling writer. Her ability to persuade you to see things her way is unmatched in my experience. While there were a few awkward moments in the book where it devolved into adolescent ranting, she spoke her own truth. Say what you will about her politics and beliefs--she was acting from a genuine desire and passion to help women ...more
Apr 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
I'm about halfway through right now, and it's a compelling read. I challenge anyone (especially men) to read this book without coming away with at least a taste of the complexity of Dworkin's ideas, given the complexity of some of the life stories she tells here. You'll no longer stand for oversimplifications of her ideas. She clearly doesn't "hate men" and isn't "anti-sex". She's a feminist with a heartbreaking history.

Finished it, and whew, it's a tough read. It gets more heartbreaking,
Dec 10, 2009 added it
This was recommended by Ariel Levy on the NYer blog as one of her all-time favorite feminist books, and I like Ariel Levy, so. . . . Dworkin organized it in vaguely chronological, very short chapters, starting with stories of her early life, her love of music, and the sexist men and women who shaped her politics, and then moved on to her crusade against pornography and domestic abuse. I liked reading about New York in the '60s. The tone is angry and intense, which I also liked. I didn't find her ...more
Jesse Lehrer
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So amazing. There's like...2 cringeworthy moments, but other than that she speaks the bitter angry truth of the hypocritical world we live in. Her anger makes me feel righteous fury and want to completely destroy the status quo, and that's a great thing. There are right and wrongs in the world, and she's fantastic at calling out the bullshit and stating the truth.
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone.
an account of the life of possibly the most hated feminist ever, from piano lessons to prostitution to militant activism. regardless of criticism, this book has made dworkin a certain brand of hero in my eyes, as a woman who really has herself together morally.
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Utterly sorrowful. I maintain that Dworkin is the only writer in the world to really and truly GIVE A FUCK about women in every single thing she did.
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
She's a crazy anti-man feminist, what more is there to say? It was a good read, although some of her thoughts were very disturbing.
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Actual Rating: 10 of 5 thorns

"Do no harm." (page 204)
"I hope for nothing; I fear nothing; I am free." (page 106)

Humor. Pain. Transparency. This memoir is bold and beautiful. The vignettes build upon one another to create a powerful narrative of the experiences that shaped Dworkin's life as a radical feminist. Through sorrowful details and eloquently rendered storytelling, she leads us into her past, relating what pushed her to do the work she has done, and she motivates readers to become active
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Book 43 of my #2017readingchallenge is Andrea Dworkin's "Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant." it was published in 2002.

"I walk with women whispering in my ears."

I have heard disparaging things about Dworkin over my life and this book really sealed the deal for me: people judged her harshly (1) because she's a woman, and (2) because of how she looked. She is an unequivocal badass; she's an intelligent, well-read philosopher, activist and writer whom I agree with on SO many le
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I felt as though it got off to a rough start. The chapters were short and, initially, very choppy and full of names. There was a chapter about musicians and jazz, then a chapter about books, then a bit more about music, then something about college... It just jumped around a lot and didn't feel like it had a lot of cohesion.

During college she spent some time in Crete, and then went back to finish her degree. It was about that point in the book that I f
Emer O'Toole
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
A political memoir is the right title, as this autobiography treads gently around the personal. The first few chapters are about music and books Dworkin liked as a young woman – sort of Proustian in tone. I’m not a fan of that kind of writing, but I’m glad I didn’t give up - as Dworkin tells the story of how she developed into a writer and an activist, I realised that this is not just her story. It's the story of male violence; it's the story of a woman on the male-dominated left; it’s a story f ...more
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Dworkin was a gift. Dedicated, full to the brim with compassion, intellectually brave, and in my mind a revolutionary. I loved the way this series of autobiographical essays gave glimpses into her life that really fleshed out who she was and how she got there.

It makes me wish I could have met her. A tantalising glimpse of an incredible woman.

I'd already read Intercourse and a few essays and interviews. I've got most of her books as pdfs but hadn't managed to get them onto my kindle until now. Af
Teresa Parton
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016
I found this book pretentious and hard to get through for all the name dropping in the beginning. The last third of the book was probably the best, and it would have been nice to see the whole book like that. I liked hearing about how she protected women and fought for women. I did not like hearing her mention as many times as possible which college she went to and how many times she slept with women. Just mention it once and move the fuck on. It's funny, this was one of the books I was most loo ...more
Apr 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminist-studies
Excellent book, that summarizes the moral imperatives and struggles of a young girl coming to be an activist, detailing how her social conscious developed and her acts of defiance against a system she saw as majorly wrong to women early on in her life.

One of those books that sometimes while reading, you have to put down on your lap and think because the author's keen observations or stories of real experience just hit you blind side.

A recommended absolute reader for anyone finding themselves con
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this. I would have given it five stars apart from the sudden short burst of trans*-hatred at the end of the book. Disappointing.

I do love Dworkin's style, though; her passion and her way with words and her uncompromising attitude. This memoir is a fast read, made up of short snapshots of her life. It's Dworkin, so I wouldn't call it an easy read, given that her work was in confronting horrific abuse of herself and so many others. But it's engaging and wonderful as well as horrible and,
Scott Moore
Oct 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Heartwrenching. A dear friend gave me this memoir as a gift for my 21st birthday. It moved me more than anything else I was reading at that time. Despite my mixed feelings about some of Dworkin's political stances, this book evoked compassion, identification, and righteous anger in a way I hadn't expected it to.
May 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really love Andrea Dworkin. She's not always right, but she's so fucking smart.
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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
“I`m tired, very weary, and I cry for my sisters. Tears get the nothing, of course. One needs a generation of warriors who can`t be tired out or bought off. Each woman needs to take what she endures and turn it into action. With every tear, accompanying it, one needs a knife to rip a predator apart; with every wave of fatiguem one needs another platoon of strong, tough women coming up over the horizon to take more land, to make it safe for women. I`m willing to count the inches. The pimps and rapists need to be dispossessed, forced into a mangy exile; the women and children - the world`s true orphans - need to be empowered, cosseted with respect and dignity” 3 likes
“Books were my church but even more my native land, my place of refuge, my DP camp. I was an exile early on, but exile welcomed me; it was were I belonged.” 2 likes
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