"I am not here to make anyone happy. What I am here for is to claim my life"

— Dorothy Allison (Via Anti_Intellect on twitter) 

(Source: twitter.com)

"I was born in 1949, and by the time I was 10, I figured out that my hope chest was not aimed in the same direction everybody else’s was. And that life was going to be very, very complicated. And that I could either be provocative and declamatory, or shy, retiring and scared. And ashamed. I couldn’t do much about scared; I was always going to be scared. But I could damn well fight off shame."

— Dorothy Allison (via Anti_Intellect on twitter) 

(Source: twitter.com)

"What kind of women might we be if we did not have to worry about being too sexual, or not sexual enough, or the wrong kind of sexual for the company we keep, the convictions we hold?"

— Dorothy Allison - Skin (via marchingstars)

"Instead of speaking out in favor of sexual diversity, most feminists continue to avoid the discussion. It is too dangerous, too painful, too hopeless, and the Sex War are supposed to be over anyway. But when women remain afraid of what might be revealed about our personal fears and desires, it becomes clear that the Sex Wars are far from over. When it is easier to dismiss any discussion of sexuality as irrelevant or divisive rather than to look at all the different ways we have denied and dismissed each other, the need to break the public silence still exists."

— Dorothy Allison, ‘Public Silence, Private Terror, in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature, (New York: Firebrand Books, 1994), p. 118

"A decade later, many of my questions from the early 1980s remain unanswered. I find myself continuing to wonder how our lives might be different if we were not constantly subjected to the fear and contempt of being sexually different, sexually dangerous, sexually endangered. What kind of women might we be if we did not have to worry about being too sexual, or not sexual enough, or the wrong kind of sexual for the company we keep, the convictions we hold? I have not found a solution to my own impatience with the terms of the discussion about sex that persists among feminists, lesbian and queer activists, and radical heterosexuals. Not addressing the basic issues of sexual fear, stereotyping, and stigmatization reinforces the rage and terror we all hide, while maintaining the status quo in a new guise."

— Dorothy Allison, ‘Public Silence, Private Terror, in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature, (New York: Firebrand Books, 1994), p. 117-8

"For all of us, it is the public expression of desire that is embattled, any deviation from what we are supposed to want and be, how we are supposed to behave"

— Dorothy Allison 

"When feminism exploded into my life, it gave me a vision of the world totally different from everything I had assumed or hoped. The concept of a feminist literature offered the possibility of pride in my sexuality. It saved me from either giving up writing entirely, or the worse prospect of writing lies in order to achieve some measure of grudging acceptance. But at the same time, Feminism destroyed all my illusions about Literature. Feminism revealed the city as an armed compound to which I would never be admitted. It forced me to understand, suddenly and completely, that literature was written by men, judged by men. The city itself was a city of Man, a male mind even when housed in a female body. If that was so, all my assumptions about the worth of writing, particularly working-class writing, were false. Literature was a lie, a system of lies, the creation of liars, some of them sincere and unaware of the lies they retold, but all acting in the service of a Great Lie — what the system itself labelled Universal Truth. If that truth erased me and all those like me, then my hopes to change the world through writing were illusions. I lost my faith. I became a feminist activist propelled in part by outrage and despair, and a stubborn determination to shape a life, and create a literature, that was not a lie."

— Dorothy Allison, ‘Believing in Literature’, in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature, (New York: Firebrand Books, 1994), p. 167. 

"Throughout my life somebody has always tried to set the boundaries of who and what I will be allowed to be: if working class, an intellectual, upwardly mobile type who knows her place, or at least the virtues of gratitude; if a lesbian, an acceptable lesbian, not too forward about the details of her sexual practice; if a writer, a humble, consciously female one who understands her relationship to “real” writers and who is willing to listen to her editors. What is common to these boundary lines is that their most destructive power lies in what I can be persuaded to do to myself — the walls of fear, shame and guilt I can be encouraged to build in my mind […] I have learned through great sorrow that all systems of oppression feed on public silence and private terrorization. But few do so more forcefully than the systems of sexual oppression, and each of us is under enormous pressure to give in to their demands."

— Dorothy Allison, ‘Public Silence, Private Terror, in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class and Literature, (New York: Firebrand Books, 1994), p. 117

"FAGGOT!" That’s what he called me. The boy on the street with the baseball bat who followed me from Delores Park the week after I moved to San Francisco. He called me a faggot. My hair is long. My hips are wide. I wear a leather jacket and walk with a limp. But I carry a knife. What am I exactly? When he called me a faggot I knew. I knew for sure who I was and who I would not be. From the doorway of the grocery at 18th and Guerrero I yelled it at him. "Dyke! Get it right, you son of a bitch, I’m a dyke."

Dorothy Allison, from the short story “Her Body, Mine, and His”, in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature (1994).

"I believe the secret in writing is that fiction never exceeds the reach of the writer’s courage. The best fiction comes from the place where the terror hides, the edge of our worst stuff. I believe, absolutely, that if you do not break out in that sweat of fear when you write, then you have not gone far enough"

— Dorothy Allison 

"When feminism exploded in my life, it gave me a vision of the world totally different from everything I had ever assumed or hoped. The concept of a feminist literature offered the possibility of pride in my sexuality. It saved me from either giving up writing entirely, or the worse prospect of writing lies in order to achieve some measure of grudging acceptance. But at the same time, Feminism destroyed all my illusions about Literature. Feminism revealed the city as an armed compound to which I would never be admitted. It forced me to understand, suddenly and completely, that literature was written by men. The city itself was a city of Man, a male mind even when housed in a female body. If that was so, all my assumptions about the worth of writing, particularly working-class writing, were false."

— Dorothy Allison (via fivedollarradio)

"Two or three things I know for sure, and one is that I would rather go naked than wear the coat the world has made for me."

— Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1996), p. 71

"

I took my sex back, my body. I claimed myself and remade my life. Only when I knew I belonged to myself completely did I become capable of giving myself to another, of finding joy in desire, pleasure in our love, power in this body no one else owns.

I am the only one who can tell the story of my life and say what it means.

"

— Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1996), p. 70.

"If people really believed that rape made lesbians, and brutal fathers made dykes, wouldn’t they be more eager to do something about it?"

— Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, p. 46.

Excerpt from Dorothy Allison’s Two or Three Things I Know for Sure

"People might get confused", a woman once told me. She was a therapist and a socialist, but she worried about what people thought. "People might imagine that sexual abuse makes lesbians".

"Oh, I doubt it." I was too angry to be careful. "If it did, there would be so many more".

Dorothy Allison, Two or Three Things I Know for Sure, p. 45.