>Thinking of my dear friend Dorelies Kraakman


This is my friend Dorelies Kraakman who died four years ago of Ovarian Cancer. She was a brilliant feminist lesbian historian.

From the internet:

‘Dorelies was born in 1946, studied law and international relations, and later continued with history. She tried to make it to the diplomatic class of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs but was refused because she was a single woman with a child. Although she won her case in court, she was not admitted to the service and continued a career in feminist endeavours such as the foundation of a women’s bar and bookshop in Utrecht, played in the allwomen’s band Vendetta and coedited the first Dutch book by and for lesbians (1979). She wrote the chapter on the prehistory of the worlds of gods when women still were central figures. In the 1980’s, she was one of the cofounders and treasurer of the women’s foundation Mama Cash that gives financial support and advice to women’s activities in The Netherlands and elsewhere.

In 1987, she joined the group of gay and lesbian studies at the University of Amsterdam. Ten years later, she finished her dissertation “Kermis in de hel” (“Carnival in Hell”) on women and pornography in eighteenth Century France. An important finding was that women participated at that time in the writing, production, commerce and reading of pornography that was not yet a business only for men. Women still were the lustful beings that they could not be any longer to the same degree in the Victorian Age. The works themselves were not as sexist and misogynous as they would become in the nineteenth century. Pornography at this stage could also be humorous or philosophical and was not yet the kind of literature whose major aim was sexual satisfaction. The libertine subversion of the Enlightenment made place for the onedimensional and sexist porn of Victorian times.

Her work on this topic has been published in English in the Journal of Homosexuality (25:1/2, 1993), Journal of the History of Sexuality (4:4, april 1994) and in the book edited by Franz Eder, Lesley Hall and myself “European Sexual Cultures II: Themes in Sexuality” (Manchester 2000). She was working on a history of lesbian worlds in The Netherlands since the 1970’s and on the history of Mama Cash. Both projects will regrettably remain unfinished. Her archives have been stored at the IIAV in Amsterdam, the International Institute and Archive for the Women’s Movement.

Dorelies was a beloved teacher and colleague. Most students liked her wisdom, clarity and strongmindedness. Student evaluations of her teaching always were very positive. A Japanese couple that had studied with her, returned just before her death to Amsterdam to say goodbye. Her robust presence made her an excellent chair of panels and meetings. Together we organized debates and conferences on such diverse topics as European sexual histories, the Marquis de Sade, masturbation, public sex, paedophilia and child pornography, sexual politics and queer games. Sometimes we did so under the aegis of gay and lesbian studies, sometimes as the Forum on Sexuality for which we also edited the “FoS”Newsletter. Dorelies was instrumental in bringing Teresa de Lauretis as guest professor for lesbian studies to The Netherlands.

We were for 15 years the couple of gay and lesbian studies in the Department of Sociology at the University of Amsterdam, and spoke or saw each other on a daily basis. In the beginning, we had some quarrels because of our different gender agenda’s on the future of gay and lesbian studies and the cooperation with women’s studies. Nowadays such fights are over while all sides work together in an MA for “Gender, Sexuality and Culture”. In the end, Dorelies and I were more friends than colleagues. I will sadly miss her essential contribution to our common project the more so because she was an intelligent, practical and lovely friend. She also was an excellent drinking companion. The sturdy dyke she was once came to my defense on one of our many urban tours when I was attacked by a drunken leather guy in Amsterdam’s (in)famous Warmoestraat.’

(c) Gert Hekma

Got the next message in my mail today:

SHE JUST LEFT my house. She is walking for ovarian cancer . Please pass her on so that she can reach her destination. Say a prayer for all those who are affected by this terrible disease. She’s walking around the world — via e-mail!! Pass it on so she can get there!

Please hit your forward button, so this woman stays animated. Change the subject line to your name and your town.

Ovarian Cancer Whispers – so listen… Watch for Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort; vague but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion; frequency and/or urgency of urination in the absence of an infection; unexplained weight gain or weight loss;
pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness; ongoing unusual fatigue; or unexplained changes in bowel habits.
If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, ask your doctor for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, CA-125 blood test, and transvaginal ultrasound. A Pap Test WILL NOT detect ovarian cancer.
Please keep her going…


And I thought of Dorelies.

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