Andrea Dworkin, probably one of the most controversial social theorists in recent history, has died aged 58.

I always thought I disagreed with the majority of her theories. I thought she was an extremist, a woman whose attitude to men was an equal, opposite counterpart to the misogyny she deplored.

I’ve just spent much of the afternoon browsing her major work online, to find proof of this unworkable extremism. And I’ve discovered to my surprise that I can finally understand what she was saying. Not just that, but her views were not really what I (or a lot of people) initially thought. We mistook her uncompromising attitude for vengeful militance. Or, at least, I did. Now I still might not agree 100%, but I at least see what she was getting at.

In memoriam, then, here’s an excerpt of one of her feminist texts:

“I renounce masculinist art. It is not art which illuminates the human condition–it illuminates only, and to men’s final and everlasting shame, the masculinist world–and as we look around us, that world is not one to be proud of. Masculinist art, the art of centuries of men, is not universal, or the final explication of what being in the world is. It is, in the end, descriptive only of a world in which women are subjugated, submissive, enslaved, robbed of full becoming, distinguished only by carnality, demeaned. I say, my life is not trivial; my sensibility is not trivial; my struggle is not trivial. Nor was my mother’s, or her mother’s before her. I renounce those who hate women, who have contempt for women, who ridicule and demean women, and when I do, I renounce most of the art, masculinist art, ever made.

As feminists, we inhabit the world in a new way. We see the world in a new way. We threaten to turn it upside down and inside out. We intend to change it so totally that someday the texts of masculinist writers will be anthropological curiosities. What was that Mailer talking about, our descendants will ask, should they come upon his work in some obscure archive. And they will wonder–bewildered, sad–at the masculinist glorification of war; the masculinist mystifications around killing, maiming, violence, and pain; the tortured masks of phallic heroism; the vain arrogance of phallic supremacy; the impoverished renderings of mothers and daughters, and so of life itself. They will ask, did those people really believe in those gods?”

Andrea Dworkin, Our Blood: Prophesies and Discourses on Sexual Politics (1974)