This article explores the construction of Andrea Dworkin as a public persona, or a ‘feminist icon’, revered by some and demonized by others. It argues that in both her fiction and non-fiction, Dworkin engaged in a process of writing herself as an exceptional woman, a ‘feminist militant’ as she describes herself in the subheading of her 2002 memoir, Heartbreak. The article illustrates Dworkin’s autobiographical logic of exceptionalism by comparing the story told in Heartbreak to the story of Dworkin’s major novel, Mercy, which features a heroine, Andrea, who shares Dworkin’s name and significant biographical details. While Dworkin has insisted that Mercy is not an autobiographical novel, the author undertakes a reading here of Mercy as the story of Dworkin if she had not become the feminist icon of her own and others’ construction. In Mercy, Andrea unsuccessfully attempts to escape the silent, victimized status that Dworkin has insistently argued is imposed upon women. In her repeated victimization, Andrea functions for Dworkin as an ‘everywoman’ who both embodies Dworkin’s world-view and highlights how Dworkin’s own biography exists in tension with some of her central assumptions about women, gender and contemporary society.
- Andrea Dworkin
- Heartbreak: The Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities(all)
- Social Sciences(all)