John Stoltenberg

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John Stoltenberg
Born1944 (age 77–78)
California, U.S.
Education
Occupation
  • Writer
  • activist
Movement
Spouse(s)
  • (m. 1998; died 2005)
  • Joe Hamilton
    (m. 2005)
Academic background
InfluencesAndrea Dworkin

John Stoltenberg (born 1944) is an American author, activist, magazine editor, college lecturer, playwright, and theater reviewer who identifies his political perspective as radical feminist. For several years he has worked for DC Metro Theater Arts and is currently its executive editor. He has written three books, two collections of his essays and a novel. He was the life partner of Andrea Dworkin for 30 years and has lived with his husband, Joe Hamilton, for over 15 years.[1][2][3]

Education and career[edit]

Stoltenberg studied philosophy, focusing on the philosophy of religion. He holds a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary and a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Arts from Columbia University School of the Arts. In undergraduate and graduate school, he began writing, producing, directing, and acting in plays. Upon graduation, he became the writer-in-residence and administrative director for the influential experimental theater company The Open Theater, whose artistic director was Joseph Chaikin. Meanwhile, Stoltenberg's own plays were produced off-Broadway, and he won a New York State Arts Council grant to be a playwright.[4]

In the 1980s, John began his career as a magazine editor. He worked as the managing editor at Essence, Working Woman, Lear's, and later AARP: The Magazine. Stoltenberg currently serves as executive editor and Communications Advisor for DC Metro Theater Arts, where he publishes theater reviews, interviews, and essays about live theater in Washington, D.C.[5][6] In 2015, John produced a one-woman play titled Aftermath, which was an edited version of an unpublished essay by Andrea Dworkin. It was edited and directed for the stage by Adam Thorburn.[7][8]

Writings[edit]

Stoltenberg has written many essays and speeches, as well as a novel, reflecting his pro-feminist sexual politics.[9] Several appeared in the book For Men Against Sexism: A Book of Readings (1977): "Refusing to Be a Man", "Toward Gender Justice", and "Eroticism and Violence in the Father-Son Relationship".[10] In 1989, he published a collection of his essays, Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice.[11] Lesbian author Rita Mae Brown stated the book carefully identifies the process by which male identification "affects and distorts men's most intimate capacities."[12] This was followed in 1993 by a second collection The End of Manhood: A Book for Men of Conscience.[13] In 2013, he published the novel, GONERZ.[14] He has stated the writings of Andrea Dworkin have been the inspiration for his own and he dedicated all three books to her. His work is included in several anthologies including Feminism and Men: Reconstructing Gender Relations and The New Politics of Masculinity: Men, Power and Resistance.[15][16] Stoltenberg has been credited with the quote: "Pornography tells lies about women. But pornography tells the truth about men."[17]

Personal life[edit]

Born and raised in Minnesota, in his early life John was married to a woman and lived within proscribed sexist marital roles.[18] After that, John has lived as an out gay man who also uses the term queer. He chose to spend his life with the radical feminist and lesbian, Andrea Dworkin.[19][20][21][22] They were introduced by a mutual friend, a theater director, in 1974, at a meeting of the then-fledgling Gay Academic Union.[21] Later in 1974, after walking out of a poetry reading—a benefit for the War Resisters League in Greenwich Village—due to the misogynist content, they began their decades-long intellectual and personal relationship.[21] Their agreement was that while they would always live together, they could have relationships outside of their partnership and John did have relationships with men. John and Andrea planned never to marry unless one of two things occurred. As Andrea stated to The New York Times in 1985, "unless one of us is terminally ill or jailed for political activity", as she had been, traumatically, at the Women's House of Detention in New York at the age of eighteen.[23] While they intended for the 1985 article to make clear they were not heterosexual, the "editor refused to allow the writer to identify us as gay and lesbian, as we had asked."[21] They married in 1998, due to her ill health. Their life of 31 years together ended in 2005 with Dworkin's unexpected death from an enlarged heart. Since then, John has lived with his husband, Joe Hamilton, in Washington, D.C.[24] See also Andrea Dworkin § Relationship with John Stoltenberg.

Activism[edit]

In addition to joining Dworkin in marches to protest against pornography, Stoltenberg founded Men Against Pornography in New York City, the male branch of Women Against Pornography.[25][26] In the mid-'80s, he created and facilitated "The Pose Workshop", which entailed clothed men adopting the poses that women strike in pornographic shots with direction from other attendees, a version of which was broadcast on BBC television.[27] He used that as an empathy-builder with young men on college campuses and at anti-sexist men's conferences across the US.[28] He was a founder of the group Men Can Stop Rape and developed the group's “My Strength” poster campaign which aims to educate young men on sexual relationships, consent, and rape.[29][30][31] He is also the creative director of the group's "My Duty" sexual-assault-prevention media campaign, which is licensed to the United States Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.[32][33]

Controversy[edit]

In 2016, Stoltenberg and trans activist Cristan Williams began a project together to try and demonstrate that radical feminism and trans politics were not necessarily in opposition on the level of theory or praxis.[34] In 2014 and again in 2020, in response to what he perceived as a misrepresentation of Dworkin (and radical feminism) as anti-trans, John put forth the idea that Andrea was not; he argued she was, in fact, "a trans ally".[35][36] Some feminists and pro-feminists have charged Stoltenberg with misunderstanding, decontextualising, or projecting his own pro-trans perspective onto Dworkin's political views in two key ways. First, that he maintains she was not an essentialist and didn't see being female as an existential, material, or assigned prerequisite for being a women.[37] Second, he identifies her as having been unambiguously supportive of transgender rights. Given her death in 2005, she never had the opportunity to address the issues as they are currently discussed philosophically and organised politically, particularly in the US and UK.[38][39][40][41] Privately in correspondence and in one passage of her first feminist book, Woman Hating, she describes her political views about "male-to-female transsexuals". She speaks in clear opposition to the group in Europe being persecuted and exiled, with some comparison to European Jews, and expresses a belief that surgery for transsexuals should be a right, paid for by the State.[42][43] However, issues in the 21st century include the fairness of trans women competing on college and professional female sports teams and the erasure of the term "women" in phrases such as "people with a cervix" and "pregnant people".[44][45] Given his current views and the absence of hers, the controversy continues.[46][35][36][37]

Selected bibliography[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Stoltenberg, John (1978). Disarmament and masculinity: An outline guide and bibliography for studying the connection between sexual violence and war. Palo Alto, California: Frog in the Well. OCLC 6185444.
  • Stoltenberg, John (1989). Refusing to be a man: essays on sex and justice. Portland, Oregon: Breitenbush Books. ISBN 9780932576736. Reprinted as: Stoltenberg, John (2000). Refusing to be a man: essays on sex and justice. London & New York: UCL Press. ISBN 9781841420417. Pdf.
  • Stoltenberg, John (1994). The end of manhood: a book for men of conscience (1st ed.). New York, New York, U.S.A: Plume. ISBN 9780452273047.
  • Stoltenberg, John (1994). What makes pornography "sexy". Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions. ISBN 9781571312013.
  • Stoltenberg, John (1998). The end of manhood: a book for men of conscience (2nd ed.). Bridgewater, New Jersey: Replica Books. ISBN 9780735100404.
  • Stoltenberg, John (2000). The end of manhood: parables on sex and selfhood. London Bristol, Pennsylvania: UCL Press. ISBN 9781857283259.
  • Stoltenberg, John (2013). Gonerz. ISBN 978-1481986472.

Chapters in books[edit]

Reprinted as Stoltenberg, John (2005), "Making rape an election issue", in Buchwald, Emilie; Fletcher, Pamela R.; Roth, Martha (eds.), Transforming a rape culture (2nd ed.), Minneapolis, Minnesota: Milkweed Editions, ISBN 9781571312693.

Reviews[edit]

Journal articles[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "You searched for John Stoltenberg". DC Metro Theater Arts. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  2. ^ Stoltenberg, John (May 5, 2022). "John Stoltenberg". Linkedin.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Show of strength". the Guardian. March 15, 2006. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  4. ^ Stoltenberg, John (May 29, 2015). "Magic Time! 'Out/Spoken: Intimate Stories of LGBT Pride: Meet the Storytellers of 'Out/Spoken'-Onstage at 9:30 Club June 5th by Michael Poandl and John Stoltenberg". DC Metro Theater Arts. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  5. ^ "Our Staff". DC Metro Theater Arts. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  6. ^ "John Stoltenberg, Author at DC Metro Theater Arts". DC Metro Theater Arts. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  7. ^ "Aftermath brings us into Andrea Dworkin's mindset, using her own words". montrealgazette. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  8. ^ "On Directing Andrea Dworkin's Aftermath". HowlRound Theatre Commons. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "Search for john stoltenberg | www.xyonline.net". xyonline.net. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  10. ^ Snodgrass, ed. (1977). For Men Against Sexism: a Book of Readings. Albion, CA: Times Change Press. pp. 36–41, 74–83, 97–109. ISBN 978-0878100316.
  11. ^ Stoltenberg, John (1989). Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice. Portland, OR: Breitenbush Books. ISBN 978-1841420417.
  12. ^ Brown, Rita Mae (October 22, 1989). "In Flight From the Female: REFUSING TO BE A MAN: Essays on Sex and Justice by John Stoltenberg". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 5, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ Stoltenberg, John (1994). The end of manhood: a book for men of conscience (1st ed.). New York, New York, U.S.A: Plume. ISBN 9780452273047.
  14. ^ Stoltenberg, John (2013). GONERZ. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1481986472.
  15. ^ Schacht, Steven P.; Ewing, Doris W., eds. (1998). Feminism and men: reconstructing gender relations. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-8077-0.
  16. ^ Ashe, Fidelma. "The New Politics of Masculinity: Men, Power and Resistance". catalog.loc.gov. Retrieved May 5, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. ^ Stoltenberg, John (2000), "The forbidden language of sex", in Stoltenberg, John (ed.), Refusing to be a man essays on sex and justice, UCL Press, ISBN 9781841420417
  18. ^ "John Stoltenberg on Masculinity - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved May 15, 2022.
  19. ^ Levy, Ariel. "Prisoner of Sex: Radical Feminist Andrea Dworkin's Fight Against Hypersexualized America - Nymag". New York Magazine. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  20. ^ "The Radical Style of Andrea Dworkin". The New Yorker. March 23, 2019. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c d "Living With Andrea Dworkin". www.nostatusquo.com. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  22. ^ admin (April 4, 2017). "Andrea Dworkin Obituary - Death Notice and Service Information". Legacy.com. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  23. ^ "Andrea Dworkin". Women's House of Detention. May 22, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  24. ^ "Husbands John Stoltenberg and Joe Hamilton - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  25. ^ https://xyonline.net/sites/xyonline.net/files/2018-04/Men%20Against%20Pornography%2C%20Quitting.pdf
  26. ^ https://images.nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/features/prisonerofsex050530_3_400.jpg[bare URL image file]
  27. ^ "What Makes Pornography "Sexy"? by John Stoltenberg". LibraryThing.com. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  28. ^ "Hire Radical Feminist Activist John Stoltenberg for Your Event". PDA Speakers. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  29. ^ "Home page". Men can stop rape. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  30. ^ "Home page". Mystrength.org. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  31. ^ ""My Strength" Campaign Posters | Susan Huyser". Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  32. ^ "Hurts one. Affects all". Myduty.mil. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  33. ^ "Home page". Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO). United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original on April 19, 2006. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  34. ^ GenderGP (March 20, 2016). "The Conversations Project: The Intersection of Radical and Trans Feminism". GenderGP Transgender Services. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  35. ^ a b Stoltenberg, John (April 8, 2021). "Andrea Dworkin Was Not Transphobic". Medium. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  36. ^ a b "Andrea Dworkin Was a Trans Ally". Boston Review. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  37. ^ a b Real, Julian (April 22, 2020). "A Radical Profeminist: Why Does John Stoltenberg Call Andrea Dworkin a Trans Ally?". A Radical Profeminist. Retrieved May 5, 2022.
  38. ^ "National Center for Transgender Equality". National Center for Transgender Equality. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  39. ^ Singal, Jesse (September 7, 2021). "Trans Rights and Gender Identity". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  40. ^ Stock, Kathleen (2021). Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism. Fleet. ISBN 978-0349726601.
  41. ^ Joyce, Helen (2021). Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality. Oneworld Publications. ISBN 978-0861540495.
  42. ^ Dworkin, Andrea (1974). Woman Hating. New York, NY: Plume. pp. 186–87. ISBN 978-0452268272.
  43. ^ Chesler, Phyllis (April 9, 2021). "Woke Andrea Dworkin: Martin Duberman distorts the life and work of a pioneering feminist genius to make her more pleasing". phyllis-chesler.com. Retrieved May 14, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. ^ Wolken, Dan (March 17, 2022). "Trans swimmer Lia Thomas winning NCAA title should spark legitimate debate, not hate". USA Today.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  45. ^ "Gender Inclusive Language" (PDF).{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  46. ^ "Woke Andrea Dworkin". Tablet Magazine. April 9, 2021. Retrieved May 6, 2022.

External links[edit]