Andrea Dworkin, the American radical feminist who has died aged 58, campaigned ferociously against pornography and the abuse of women for almost 40 years; the author of several controversial feminist texts, she dismissed men as moral cretins, said that seduction was hard to distinguish from rape, and regarded pornography as akin to terrorism.
Although she was lauded by some of her fellow feminists, many felt that her inflammatory writing (and possibly her appearance) did little for the cause; to Dworkin, men were, at best, oafish misogynists, while most were rapists for whom the primary sexual motive was killing.
Her own experiences - as a rape victim, a prostitute and a battered wife - only added to the trenchancy of her views, but she reacted with fury to suggestions that such traumas had made it difficult for her to be objective.
"I've never heard Solzhenitsyn asked if he can be objective about the gulag," she snarled. "As if not paying attention to rape and wife battery were some kind of objectivity."
In America, it was her battle with pornographers that earned her respect from other radicals and the contempt of the multi-million dollar porn industry. To some she was a heroine, but she was demonised not only by pornographers but by many liberals, whom she held in almost equal contempt.
Andrea Dworkin's most public attack on pornography began in 1980 when she was approached by the ex-porn actress Linda Lovelace, who said that she had been forced to make the film Deep Throat.
With the help of the feminist academic, Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin drafted an ordinance for Minneapolis recognising pornography as sex discrimination and a violation of women's civil rights. Women involved in pornography were called to testify from all over America.
The porn industry reacted with fury, and Hustler magazine published a sexually explicit cartoon featuring Andrea Dworkin. She sued, but lost, and found herself portrayed as a national hate figure. Playboy appealed to the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming that her attempt to censor porn ran counter to the constitutional right of every American to a free press.
So thorough was her demonisation that the more sympathetic elements of her campaign were overshadowed. The ordinance was eventually overturned by a federal appeals court in 1985, but later upheld by the US Supreme Court.
Yet even those who espoused her causes were somewhat perturbed by the fierceness of her enthusiasm for vengeance. When it came to punishment, Andrea Dworkin favoured that most phallic symbol of male oppression, the gun.
"I have no problem with killing paedophiles," she once said; and stuck above the desk in the study of her New York home was a picture of an alleged rapist with a rifle at his head and the words: DEAD MEN DON'T RAPE.
But while she was irritated by liberal feminists such as Naomi Wolf, she accepted that her views were not palatable to everyone. "I have a really strong belief that any movement needs both radicals and liberals," she explained. "You always need women who can walk into the room in the right way, talk in the right tone of voice, who have access to power. But you also need a bottom line."
Andrea Dworkin was born into a Jewish family on September 26 1946 at Camden, New Jersey, where she attended a progressive school. Her father, a teacher and a committed socialist, inspired her political leanings. "It would be hard to overstate," she wrote, "how much he taught me about human rights and human dignity, how to talk and how to think."
She later said that her childhood was overshadowed by being raped in a cinema when she was nine.
She won a place to read Literature at Bennington College, Vermont, but while still a student there she was arrested outside the US mission to the United Nations during a protest against the Vietnam war. Sent to the Women's House of Detention at Greenwich, New York, she was subjected to several brutal internal examinations.
Her graphic description of her ordeal was then reported in newspapers across the world; the "downtown Bastille" was subsequently closed down.
Her parents, humiliated by the public scandal, turned against her and in 1968, after graduating from Bennington, Andrea Dworkin moved to Amsterdam and married a Dutch anarchist. Beaten and abused by her husband, after five years she left him, to live, as she put it, "as a fugitive, sleeping on people's floors and having to prostitute for money to live."
In 1974, at the age of 27, she published Woman Hating: A Radical Look at Sexuality. Uncompromising and furious, it set the tone for her later work which included Pornography: Men Possessing Women (1981).
In 2000 she described in the New Statesman how the previous year she had been drugged and raped in a hotel room in Paris. Traumatised by the experience (and by the suggestion by some that her account may not have been true), she withdrew from public life.
Recently, however, she had returned to the public eye, announcing: "I thought I was finished, but I feel a new vitality. I want to continue to help women."
Andrea Dworkin published 13 books of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. She suspected that her fiction was rejected by publishers who feared the power of Playboy, but her novels were not popular even when published; the Literary Review described one book about sex as "grossly disgusting". Her memoir, Heartbreak: the Political Memoir of a Feminist Militant, was published in 2002.
Surprisingly softly spoken, she would beguile interviewers with her engaging smile. But she was contemptuous of reactions to her appearance. "When women write about me," she said, "they always talk about how they think I must feel about the way I look. I find all of this close to absurd."
Nevertheless, her refusal to make any concessions to feminine beauty was bound up in her philosophy, not least because while some women regarded it as an act of bravery, others saw it as a symptom of her problems. "Dworkin pretends to be a daring truth-teller," wrote the feminist Camille Paglia, "but never mentions her most obvious problem, food."
Although regularly referred to as a man-hater, she was particularly close to three men: her father, her brother - whose death in 1992 devastated her - and John Stoltenberg, the civil rights activist, author of Refusing to Be a Man, and her companion for 30 years.
She once claimed to be a lesbian, but she described their relationship as "very deep" and they were married in 1998. "I don't hate men," she once said. "Not that they don't deserve it. It's just not in my nature."
Andrea Dworkin, who died on April 9, was increasingly frail in recent years.
She had undergone several painful operations on her knees which were worn down by years of obesity.
She is survived by her husband.http://www.cbc.ca/story/arts/national/2005/04/12/Arts/dworkinobit050412.html