- Allen posits that small groups within women’s liberation create an obstacle to their goals by not being honest with themselves. What do you think that means? Does that hold any truth for you?
- “Differences in men and women are not acknowledged because it would attest to the fact that equality is a myth.” How have you seen this problem play out in your own life or in the media?
- “We came to learn the hard way that one of the key characteristics of an oppressed people is self hatred…” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not?
- Allen describes a disagreement of how to go about women’s liberation (should the group start with the personal, or the political) and the conclusion (that both approaches are necessary). Many Radical Feminists argue that “the personal is political.” What are some different ways that women and women’s groups can use these ideas to develop a concrete strategy?
- What does “acting responsibly towards the group mean to you?
- What would help you to establish trust towards group members?
- How do you feel challenged (or hope to be challenged) within the context of the group?
Small Group Processes
- The processes listed are Opening Up, Sharing, Analyzing, and Abstracting. How do you think these processes could be utilized by our group? What do you think we shouldn’t use?
- How can we continue to refine our group and personal goals?
- How can our group contribute to changing society? Allen lists multiple ideas, did any in particular stand out to you, or did you think of any on your own?
- Allen also suggests communication and cooperation with other women’s groups. What are the pros and cons of that strategy? Is that something that we should explore or not?
- Discuss the 5 enemies: capitalism, men, ourselves, the state, and racism.
- Discuss the 4 elements of women’s condition: production, sexuality, socialization, reproduction, and interrelations.
- I will try to flesh out these last 2 questions a little bit more, but any suggestions are very appreciated!
Questions to consider throughout:
- What is Dworkin’s thesis for each section/chapter (and the book as a whole). Do you agree or disagree with her theses? Why?
- Throughout Woman Hating, Dworkin sprinkles the text with expletives. Do you think this helps or hinders her writing? Is her writing style accessible? Why or why not? How might this affect how readers perceive her message? How might this be connected to her beliefs about punctuation and typography (as evidenced by the afterword)?
May 28 – June 11, 2017: Introduction, Parts 1 & 2
- Multiple historical events and women are mentioned as they relate to feminism. Are there any in particular that you are unfamiliar with or would like to learn more about to gain additional context?
- Dworkin asserts that white and middle class women oppress other women of different classes and races. Do you feel that you have been/are complicit in that? Why or why not?
Part One: The Fairy Tales
- 1. Dworkin talks about women inhabiting certain “fairy tale roles.” Do you think that there are any “fairy tale roles” that others people perceive in you? Which ones? Why? Do you think that is accurate, why or why not?
- The stories of Cinderella, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty are all touched on. Has Dworkin’s analysis changed your perception of any of these stories? How?
- The “happy ending” for the fairy tale women is described as “passive, victimized, destroyed, or asleep.” If you were to rewrite the story for women, what would your real world happy ending look like?
Part Two: The Pornography
Before reading any of this chapter, how do you feel about pornography? How do you think it affects women who participate in its production? How does it affect people who consume it?
The description of the Story of O is very graphic and unsettling. Based on that, how do you think it measures in those terms against modern pornography?
Dworkin alludes to the nature of choice. What do you think about women who “choose” to be sexually subjugated?
What do you think about the religious symbolism? Is there any way religion has impacted how you were expected to perform (or not perform) sexually?
In the description of The Image, Dworkin writes “The moral of the story is that Claire, by virtue of her gender, can only find happiness in the female/slave role.” what behaviors or roles have you been expected to be happy with due to gender?
The relationship between women and men in our culture is characterized as “dual roles” (slave/master, oppressed/oppressor). How can/have you worked to change these relationship patterns in your own life? In what ways have you participated?
Dworkin writes about the sin of narcississm, “a flaw which defines woman … and to atone for it a woman must consent to and participate in her own annihilation.” How do you interepret this in a modern sense? How do women annihilate their own bodies and minds?
The “cunt photos” in Suck are described as superficial, and that is one of the reasons why Dworkin disagrees with their use. What else is wrong with pornography? Do you think there could ever be a time or place when women and their sexuality is not objectified by men? Would pornography be okay then? Why or why not?
Dworkin draws some parallels between women and gay men, especially in terms of how they are expected to submit sexually. Do you agree with her analysis? Are there any examples you can give of misogyny coming from gay men?
June 11 – June 25, 2017: Parts 3 & 4, Afterword
Part Three: The Herstory
- Women who did not have their feet bound were considered un-marriable. Can you think of any other (gendered) cultural practices as physically or mentally crippling as foot binding?
- Mothers often perpetuate and enforce practices such as foot binding. Why do you think that is? What other practices, ancient or contemporary, do women continue to inflict on their daughters? Feel free to share any thoughts about your own mother or other women in your life who have enforced harmful expectations based on your sex.
- Dworkin describes phallocentric religious rituals and beliefs. How have they been passed down to modern religion as well as secular society?
- Men were said to be bewitched by women. How else have women been made to bear the fault of men’s problems and actions? How are women blamed for tricking men? Women are blamed both for men’s carnal desires as well as their lack thereof. How has this double standard historically contributed to the oppression of women?
- Witches practiced and taught ways to alleviate the physical and emotional suffering of other women. What practices or information can you (or we, as a group) pass along to reduce the suffering women experience under patriarchal and misogynistic systems?
Part Four: Androgyny
- “The separation of man from nature man placing himself over and above it, is directly responsible for the current ecological situation, which may lead to the extinction of many forms of life, including human life.” Feminism and ecological sustainability have many close ties. What important parallels do you see?
- Male supremacy is often described as the natural order of things. What arguments can be used to counter that idea?
- How does the belief that women are somehow nasty or evil currently perpetuate harmful stereotypes and social hierarchies?
- Many of the statistics and information regarding hermaphrodites and dual sex is often used as supporting arguments for transsexuality and inclusion of Male to Trans people in women’s spaces. Do you think that was Dworkin’s intention? What are your thoughts about that?
- Please refer to the 2nd question about Dworkin’s writing style. Do you have any additional thoughts or questions about that?