Intelligence is a form of energy, a force that pushes out into the world. It makes its mark, not once but continuously. It is curious, penetrating. Without the light of public life, discourse, and action, it dies. It must have a field of action beyond embroidery or scrubbing toilets or wearing fine clothes. It needs response, challenge, consequences that matter. Intelligence cannot be passive and private throughout a lifetime. Kept secret, kept inside, it withers and dies. The outside can be brought to it; it can live on bread and water locked up in a cell - but barely. Florence Nightingale, in her feminist tract Cassandra, said that intellect died last in women; desire, dreams, activity, and love all died before it. Intelligence does hang on, because it can live on almost nothing: fragments of the world brought to it by husbands or sons or strangers or, in our time, television or the occasional film. Isolated, intelligence becomes like the bloated belly of a starving child: swollen, filled with nothing the body can use. It swells, like the starved stomach, as the skeleton shrivels and the bones collapse; it will pick up anything to fill the hunger, stick anything in, chew anything, swallow anything. 'Jose Carlos came home with a bag of crackers he found in the garbage,' wrote Carolina Maria de Jesus, a woman of the Brazilian underclass, in her diary. 'When I saw him eating things out of the trash I thought: and if it's been poisoned? Children can't stand hunger. The crackers were delicious. I ate them thinking of the proverh: He who enters the dance must dance. And as I also was hungry, I ate.' The intelligence of women is traditionally starved, isolated, imprisoned.
Andrea Dworkin, Right Wing Women, 1983