Photo of Andrea Dworkin: Andrea Dworkin,  feminist author of twelve books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, was the conference's keynote speaker. She is also the co-author of ordinances in Minneapolis and Indianapolis that define pornography as a civil rights violation against women.  Here are some excerpts from her speech "Freedom Now: Ending Violence Against Women."

Official PayPal Seal

If you can support this project financially and be listed as a donor please make a donation to paypal.

If you have video or audiotapes you would like to make available to this archive please contact Nikki Craft at
In 1992 women from around the state gathered to discuss a problem affecting more than half a million Texas women a year: domestic violence

"Being battered is being a captive. This is the part that is urgent to understand. When you look at what happens to women in battery, the only place where you see the kind of systematic injuries, the physical and psychological injuries that come from battery, are in prisons where people are tortured. Virtually everything we know about people who have been tortured in prisons comes from studying what is done to battered women. In the home, the situation that is created is virtually the same."

"It is staggering to understand that the place where a women is most in jeopardy is her own home, that 4,000 women a year in the United States are killed in their own homes, not by strangers who break in, but by men who presumably love them."

PDF Version of this article
Audio Files of Andrea's Speech:

Freedom Now: Ending Violence Against Women (mp3 file) (86 min, 128 Kbps, mp3)

Part I Part II Part III Part IV (for slower computers)

This Andrea Dworkin speech, "Freedom Now: Ending Violence Against Women," was delivered in November of 1992 at a three day conference sponsored by the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin Texas and is provided by the Andrea Dworkin Audio File Archive.

Project Coordinator: Nikki Craft
Audio File Mastering: Erik Emmanualsson

Very special thanks to Erik Emmanualsson for mastering the audio files of Andrea's speeches; Melissa Farley with Prostitution Research & Education; John Stoltenberg; Laurel Long with DCFeminist; and special appreciation to Sara, for her sisterhood and her generous support; without it this work would not exist. --Nikki Craft, Project Coordinator
In this speech, given before a group of women social workers, Andrea Dworkin is at her strongest, angriest, and best. She speaks about the nightmare life becomes for battered women—It was her own nightmare, as the wife of an antiwar activist, and batterer, during her twenties, and continues to be the nightmare of as many as half of all married women in America. The torture suffered by battered women is comparable to prison torture, and their pain is every bit as real. This speech is both a plea and battle cry—It demands that we care about women beaten and killed by men in their homes, men who supposedly love them. It also urges social workers not to become calloused to women’s suffering.

Dworkin’s radical feminism is unflinching. As a result, her analysis of battery is never superficial. She asks that we confront the underlying assumptions men make about women. Particularly in sex, she asks that women recognize how these assumptions set up battery as the normal use of a woman’s body. The male version of intercourse throughout history has been that it requires men to use force, and women to submit. This belief helps keep battery alive. Women are told that men’s use of physical force is romantic, that when a man hurts a woman, he is demonstrating the strength of his desire for her. Women, on the other hand, are expected to show how much we love men, by willing allowing ourselves to be annihilated by them. This idea that women are masochists has been around a long time. As Dworkin notes, it helps keep women in a second class position. Currently there is a different standard of dignity for women, and rape and battery happen because of this gender prejudice. Thus, sex can be an expression of men’s physical ownership of women. But, contrary to what those who misrepresent Dworkin’s work always seem to imply, Dworkin never states that  sex between men and women has to be violent. Instead, she challenges men to prove that they can have sex that is tender and egalitarian, sex that involves treating women as human beings with dignity, and sovereignty over our bodies.

One of the most amazing things about Dworkin is her ability to touch on all aspects of women’s lives. This speech is a wonderful example of her gift for that. Dworkin gives special insight into the behavior of women who runaway from their batterers, only to return later, because men have strong economic and social power over them. In particular, Dworkin notes that women need the freedom not to marry, and not to have children. She notes that there is a social demand placed upon women to marry and become mothers, and that women who fail to do these things are not really allowed to exist as citizens, whose lives matter on their own. Dworkin asserts that the treatment of  women as objects in pornography and prostitution, must also be stopped. She addresses the importance of the history of slavery in this country, and the unique ways in which that has affected African American women’s experiences of battery. Yet, even in the middle of describing men’s cruelty, Dworkin notes, she is not speaking about not entering into relationships with men. Rather, those relationships need to be chosen in real freedom, a kind of freedom men have never allowed women to claim. Perhaps the biggest question of this speech is: Can men have sex with equals? At this minute, men’s celebration of sadomasochism and pornography as liberated sex would seem to indicate an answer of no. If that is the case, Dworkin argues, either men have to change, or women must give up equality. Dworkin favors changing men. --Stephanie Cleveland


By Toni Y. Joseph

Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News

November 11, 1992

AUSTIN-Although Linda and Jay Hill both were convicted of the starvation death of their son Stephen, comments made after the trial seemed to lay the blame on Mrs. Hill.           

"She talks about her own problems," said her lawyer, Charles Baldwin of Fort Worth, in stories published after the sentencing. "She, in her twisted mind, believes she was abused, and she believes we don't understand her pain."

A physician who said he never spoke to Mrs. Hill offered this assessment: She was "probably born bad."

The comments surprised few participants at "Backlash Mom Bashing," a recent workshop sponsored by the Texas Council on Family Violence. The session was one of 66 attended by more than 400 women and men during a three-day conference on domestic violence.

"It's safer to displace anger and blame women for family violence than to call for the types of societal change that will be difficult to achieve," said Patricia Castillo, a social worker with San Antonio's Benedictine Resource Center and a coordinator of the city's P.E.A.C.E. initiative.

The packed workshop examined how social service workers, law enforcement officials and the courts tend to hold women to a higher standard of conduct and responsibility than men—even when their spouses and partners usually perpetuate the violence that lands the family in the justice or social service system.

"We expect so much from women in terms of their roles as wives, in terms of their roles as mothers," said Ms. Castillo. "We have these incredible standards for women to live up to, yet we're not ready to provide them with the kind of support they need from the community to meet these elevated standards."

Ms. Castillo's comments stimulated a lively discussion. One woman from Houston told the group that her father regularly abused her sexually, but she blamed her mother for the violence in her childhood home.

"I understand my mother better now," she said. "I have sympathy, but only recently have I begun to be not angry with her."

Other 90-minute workshops at the conference provided management training for shelter employees, updated the participants on recent research, and emphasized the need for children's services. Additional sessions addressed addictions that afflict women and their children, and discussed battering prevention and intervention.

The conference was held to offer improved services to battered women and their children, said Ellen Fisher, assistant director for programs with the Texas Council. Workshops were also offered to help improve the quality of treatment programs for batterers.

"We wanted to bring family violence program staff members and volunteers together in a non-crisis situation so that everyone could learn and reinforce the importance of one another's work," Ms Fisher said.

Michelle Ferguson, an administrative supervisor with the Houston Police Department's family violence unit, said the conference was as beneficial as graduate school field work. It also reinforced the idea that police departments and women's advocates, who sometimes differ over family violence issues, have similar goals.

"The networking will help me do a better job," Ms Ferguson said. "More than half our calls are from African-American women in distress. I learned things I can do to help African-American victims of domestic violence. I found out what's going on in the shelters. Before the conference, I had no idea that shelter leaders were largely responsible for a lot of the (family violence) legislation that's been passed."

Renee Carroll-Grate, executive director of the Collin County Women's Shelter and the council's area coordinator, said the conference said the conference gave her a new perspective on the work she does in Plano.

"The workshops helped me get in touch with the bigger picture," Ms. Carroll-Grate said. "It kept me mindful that the problem isn't just here in Collin County."

Back to Andrea Dworkin Video & Audio File Archive Index