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The Real ACLU


Andrea Dworkin's polemic against the American Civil Liberties Union is appropriately entitled "Bait and Switch." While ostensibly attacking the ACLU as anti-feminist and inimical to the rights and needs of women and other disadvantaged groups, Dworkin in fact seeks to discredit an organization that doesn't exist. The real ACLU is and has been for many years something quite different from the white-male-dominated monolith she first imagines and then condemns, primarily for its alleged monomaniacal devotion to disembodied principles in callous disregard of real harms to real people. The real ACLU-the one with which the authors of this essay have been associated for more than fifteen years-was infiltrated and transformed by women, feminists, and feminist ideas, long ago. The real ACLU celebrates and defends the importance of first amendment values, especially unfettered speech, but it also proclaims, nurtures, and struggles to secure for women and historically disempowered minorities the fourteenth amendment's enduring promises of equality and nondiscrimination.

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