Part One - The Fairy Tales
This part shows how male/female roles have been ground into us since the day we were born, in the disguise of innocent little fairy tales. But how innocent are these fairy tales? We pass on the same stories from generation to generation, without even bothering to anylize exactly what it is we are teaching our children. But the plain fact is, each of these fairy tales are sexist. The mothers are always looked upon as evil and witches; while the daughters are looked upon as innocent, passive, beautiful and all around "good". No is it just coincidense that Prince Charming is always handsome, powerful, and "good". Why are the mothers looked upon so horribly? Why are the daughters looked upon as if they sold thier brains for an evening gown? Why is it that Prince Charming always seems to "fall in love" with these girls while they are asleep (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty)? Let's take a look at how the mothers are always told to be "evil". In "Hansel and Gretal" the mother wanted rid of the children so she brought up the idea of leading the children out into the forest and then leaving them there. Her husband, of course being the "good" one, opposed saying, "But I really pity the porr children". Still the mother took her plan to action and left her two kids in the forest. When they finally found thier way home, they ran into the open arms of thier father. Of course he was just as much at blame for leaving the poor children out there, but all the responsibility laid with the mother, because he was a "good" man. Now let's take a look at Rapunzel. Her mother traded her for a vegetable! And the father had no say in this? The bottom line is, the mothers in these fairy tales are always "evil", "witches" and a threat to children. The fathers are always "good" and unresponsible for what they do or do not do. These tales teach us our little girls that the only way for them to get anywhere in life is to be beautiful, obediant and passive. They should be quiet, always smile and be freindly, and of course take responsibility for thier actions and others. We should anylize what we're teaching our children, and find better, non-sexist ways of learning for them.
Part Two: The Pornography
"The most gross thing about pornography is that billions of dollars are made by the industry every single year and women make that money for men." - Courtney Love. This part shows how mysoginistic the pornography industry actually is. It shows classic examples of sadism and masichism. It poits out how women in this society are taught to be masochistic. Women are taught to be the victims; taught to accept the violence that they deal with daily. I hear so many people say, "Pornography isn't sexist. The women choose to do it themselves." Well what about the fact that the picture of an erect penis is illegal, and yet there are plenty of pictures of women - legs astride. Pornography is a perversion that teaches men that it's okay to comment on women's bodies and treat them like shit. It teaches women that this treatment is "okay" and that nothing can be done about it. This behaviour is certainly not okay and next time someone feels the need to make a cmment on your ass or your tits...tell him straight out that he has no right to comment on your body (or any other girl's body for that matter). It's hard to do this, especially if this guy is with a group of other guys. But if you can single this guy out and tell him how uncomfortable it makes you feel and that he has no right to be doing it in the first place, your message might get across to him; then again, it might not. But NEVER stop trying.
Part Three: The Herstory
This is the one of the parts in the book that mazed me the most. It has two chapters. One on Chinese Footbinding, and another on the Witch Trials. Unbelievable facts are given (stuff I'm sure you never learned in history class). Women were tortured for centuries through the "bueatyizing" process of Chinese Footbinding. You have no idea how painfull this process was until you read this chapter. The chapter on the witches points out the incredible genocide preformed during the Dark Ages. Witches started out as nothing more than women who knew how to use herbs to lessen then pain of menstral periods and child birth. Sometimes they preformed abortions. Pregnancy and menstral periods back then were thought of as "punishment" to all women, which dated back to Eve for introducing sin into the world. That's why the witches (or anyone suspected of being a witch) were burned at the stake. The estimation of how many women died because of this "crime" is as high as 9 million (though other studies estimate less). This is a part of our "herstory" you really need to know.
Part Four: Androgyny
This part introduces the thought that the only way to earase these "roles" we are born into is by the adoption of an androgynys culture. This part also goes into the ideas of anarchy and the history of "roles" throughout the world.
I urge you to please read this book. In a way it has changed my life. It can change yours too.
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"...a bold and visionary book...Her ideas are powerful and dangerous." - Phyllis Chesler
"Reading a fairy tale after reading WOMAN HATING will never be the same. Nor will the prase 'they lived happily ever after.'" - Ellen Frankfort
"This is a particularly important book on matters of considerable significance." - Flo Kennedy
"To see where we are going we must understand where we have been. WOMAN HATING is a muuch needed and and long overdue addition toward that understanding." - Audre Lourde
"The very fact of Dworkin's book, its abrasive, outragous quality, its ability to generate so much abuse, anger, warfare - is testament to it's power." - Kate Millett
This book is fast, pure, and angry. Just reading the chapter on foot-binding or the "Story of O" could turn a reader into a revolutionary." - Gloria Steinem
© 1997 virago