NEW YORK – Andrea Dworkin wrote openly about the experiences as a prostitute, rape victim and battered wife that led her to become a crusader against pornography and violence against women — and a lightning rod for the feminist movement.
Dworkin died Monday at her home in Washington, said John Stoltenberg (search), who married her in 1998 after living with her for three decades. She was 58 and had been ill for several years from ailments including osteoarthritis (search).
"In every century, there are a handful of writers who help the human race to evolve," fellow feminist Gloria Steinem (search) said in a statement. "Andrea is one of them."
Dworkin, a self-proclaimed radical feminist once described as the Malcolm X of the women's movement, devoted her work and more than a dozen books to fighting what she considered the subordination of women, notably in marriage and pornography.
"She really committed her life to giving voice to the women at the bottom, the women who were battered, raped, who were prostituted, who were made into pornography," Stoltenberg said.
Her first book, "Woman Hating," published when she was 27, launched her lifelong advocacy on the ways pornography harms women.
She campaigned frequently on the subject and teamed with legal scholar Catharine A. MacKinnon (search) to draft an ordinance defining pornography as a violation of women's civil rights, allowing women to sue for damages.
The ordinance was inspired by the situation of Linda Marchiano, who as Linda Lovelace (search) appeared in the pornographic film "Deep Throat" and later said she had been coerced.
The anti-porn ordinance was originally drafted for Minneapolis but vetoed by the mayor there. It was adopted by other communities, but later ruled unconstitutional.
"Pornography is used in rape — to plan it, to execute it, to choreograph it, to engender the excitement to commit the act," Dworkin testified before the U.S. Attorney General's Commission on Pornography in 1986, according to a transcript on her Web site.
She was well known as a firebrand for her views on pornography and her 1987 book "Intercourse," in which some reviewers said she labeled all sex as rape. She denied that, but wrote about marriage laws that she felt "mandated intercourse."
She was often lampooned as a prude or man-hater and criticized by other feminists for making women out to be the victims of sex. She filed a $150 million libel lawsuit against Hustler magazine in the 1980s for running sexually explicit caricatures using her name, but courts ruled the cartoons were protected by the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court rejected her appeal without comment in 1989.
Dworkin said repeatedly that she did not hate men, just the subjugation of women.
Originally from Camden, N.J., Dworkin graduated from Bennington College (search) in Vermont in 1968 with a degree in literature.
She was arrested at a protest against the Vietnam War when she was 18 and sent to prison, where she said she was subjected to a body cavity search by prison doctors. She also said she married a man who beat her, was raped and at one point became a prostitute.
Her many books included "Scapegoat: The Jews, Israel, and Women's Liberation," which in 2001 won an American Book Award, given to honor cultural diversity in American writing.
She was writing a book with the working title "Writing America: How Novelists Invented and Gendered a Nation," when she died, Stoltenberg said.
She and Stoltenberg were both openly gay but had lived together since 1974.
A public memorial will be held in New York, said Stoltenberg, 60, an author and managing editor of AARP The Magazine. Arrangements were incomplete.