The "Truce" speech evinces a view of reality so severely misshapen that it borders on psychosis. That this woman could be considered influential in any movement, much less a broad-based movement that has helped shape public policy, tells us everything we need to know about both the movement and the society that kowtows to it.
The incoherence and the over-the-top denigration of men, both as a class and as individuals, makes the speech richly absurd and terribly pathetic at the same time. It made me laugh out loud several times. But then I remembered the influence this woman wielded, and still wields long after her death, in shaping public policy, and I stopped laughing.
Now, students in Laura Diener's Women Studies 101 class at Marshall University are using Dworkin's "Truce" as both a learning experience and to help raise awareness about sexual assault and violence against women -- these are issues which, according to one sophomore, "are never addressed." (Yeah, you read that right: "never addressed.")
Let's take a look at Dworkin's "Truce" speech, if only to remind ourselves about the true face of feminism, and to get a sampling of what they are teaching our daughters in these Women's Studies classes. Here are some excerpts, with my analysis interspersed.
"I have thought a great deal about how a feminist, like myself, addresses an audience primarily of political men who say that they are antisexist. And I thought a lot about whether there should be a qualitative difference in the kind of speech I address to you. And then I found myself incapable of pretending that I really believe that that qualitative difference exists. . . . . I can't come here as a friend even though I might very much want to. What I would like to do is to scream . . .."
[What a great ice breaker: tell your audience you hate them!]
"And also: that we do not have time. We women. We don't have forever. Some of us don't have another week or another day to take time for you to discuss whatever it is that will enable you to go out into those streets and do something. We are very close to death. All women are. And we are very close to rape and we are very close to beating."
[Nothing connects better with a group of strangers than to make far-fetched statements everyone knows aren't true.]
"And we are inside a system of humiliation from which there is no escape for us."
[Well, there's a red flag -- she missed taking some kind of medication the day she gave this speech.]
"Every eighteen seconds a woman is being beaten. There is nothing abstract about it. It is happening right now as I am speaking. And it is happening for a simple reason. There is nothing complex and difficult about the reason. Men are doing it, because of the kind of power that men have over women."
[Nice! It's not the tiny percentage of men who are actually rapists who rape, it's "men," which includes the vast majority who would never dream of committing rape. But why quibble over a little thing like that? If she wants to call me a rapist, as a feminist icon, she would know.]
". . . .men believe they have the right to force sex, which they don't call rape."
[Yeah, because every time I pin my wife to the floor and force my penis inside her against her will -- you know, pretty much a daily thing depending on how much I want to "get some" -- I get so-o-o pissed off when she calls me a "rapist"! I am NOT a rapist! I'm a man!]
". . . . you're turned into little soldier boys from the day that you are born and everything that you learn about how to avoid the humanity of women becomes part of the militarism of the country in which you live and the world in which you live. It is also part of the economy that you frequently claim to protest."
[It's my understanding that Rod Serling of Twilight Zone-fame scripted this part of the speech for her. I know what you're thinking, it gives "unintelligible" new meaning. But, hey, remember, she missed taking her medication.]
"I think that you rightly perceive--without being willing to face it politically--that men are very dangerous: because you are."
[Ah, Andrea, you're a woman after my own heart! Finally, someone willing to speak the truth about me! Here I come, ladies -- clear the sidewalks -- hide, cause I might just rape you! If only all women would respect me like Andrea does.]
"The men's movement seems to stay stuck on [the fact] that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you?"
[You tell 'em, sister!]
"The things the men's movement has wanted are things worth having. Intimacy is worth having. Tenderness is worth having. Cooperation is worth having. A real emotional life is worth having. But you can't have them in a world with rape. Ending homophobia is worth doing. But you can't do it in a world with rape. Rape stands in the way of each and every one of those things you say you want. And by rape you know what I mean. A judge does not have to walk into this room and say that according to statute such and such these are the elements of proof. We're talking about any kind of coerced sex, including sex coerced by poverty."
[Yeah, who needs some stupid law to tell me I'm a rapist? I'm a man, and that's all you need to know. And "coerced by poverty"? Say what? Ever wonder where the colleges get their ideas about how to define sexual assault? http://falserapesociety.blogspot.com/2011/09/college-campuses-expand-definitions-of.html.]
"Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence."
[No, no, no--don't say you believe in my humanity--I am so unworthy!]
The shame of men in front of women is, I think, an appropriate response both to what men do do and to what men do not do. I think you should be ashamed.
[I am such a wretch -- because I have a penis.]
So, the young women at Marshall University are studying using Dworkin's "Truce" to write how they'd like their wretched male classmates, and men in general, to change.
You tell us, sisters!
The professor reveals that the point of the exercise is to demonstrate the futility of calling for such a truce. Why is that? "We can't have a 24-hour truce with rape, it's impossible, which is such a sad thing. We can't have a truce with no violence, we can't have a truce with no rape, we can't have one with no cruelty but we want that and the fact that we can't have these simply things show some of the major problems in our society"
Why can't we have those things? It's not hard to guess: men.