Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Camille Paglia Says: "It's a Man's World!"

If there were no Camille Paglia, we would have to invent her. Speaking truth to the sisterhood, Paglia offered a few choice remarks on Hanna Rosin’s notion that men are obsolete.

As usual, Paglia’s remarks were a rhetorical tour de force. They are worth your attention:

A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism.  Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment.  Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.

And this:

History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children.  Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.

And then, for those who get carried away on the wings of ideology, a reality check:

Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments.  It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall.  Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world.  These stately colossi are loaded, steered, and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role–but women were not its author.  Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!

As much as we agree with Paglia, we must note that, teamed with Caitlin Moran, she lost the debate to Hanna Rosin and Maureen Dowd.


Leo G said...

Kinda on topic:


Anonymous said...


In a recent article, Camille Paglia (pronounced PAHL-ya) criticizes Taylor Swift and Katy Perry as too “white bread” and lauds the decadent black-Hispanic eroticism of Rihanna and BeyoncĂ©. On this basis, Mark Richardson observes—though he says he’s not sure because he hasn’t read her earlier work—that Paglia has revealed herself as a vitalist nihilist, meaning that she doesn’t believe in the good but just in excitement. But of course Paglia is a vitalist nihilist who doesn’t believe in the good but just in excitement. That’s been true of her from the start. I wrote her a letter (a real letter) twenty years ago saying pretty much the same, based on my reading of the first chapter and other sections of Sexual Personae. I don’t know that I used the phrase “vitalist nihilism” in that letter, since I’m not sure that I had yet read Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose’s Nihilism in which he coined the concept. But I do remember that I told her that she lacked the Aristotelian idea of the good, in which man attains happiness by fulfilling what is best in his nature. At the time I thought that she would dismiss me as a hopeless square for saying that.

Sam L. said...

Tehre was a debate? Why was I not informed (not that I'd be interested)?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

True enough, anon, Paglia has always had a streak of Nietaschean amorality. Yet, people change; their ideas evolve... I would not want to be held to what a wrote thirty years ago.

In her short presentation at the debate she was providing a reality check for some absurd feminist propositions.

She might not have an Aristotelian sense of the good, but she certainly does not denounce the state of the world as bad.

Anonymous said...

Paglia on Feminism


Anonymous said...

Camille Paglia. I discovered her her in college, 20+ years ago. Thank God.

Phenomenal. Nutty. Honest. What more can one ask for?

I knew this article would end up on this blog. I just knew it...


AHLondon said...

Yes, there was a debate and by Munk Debate standards Paglia and Moran lost because Rosin and Dowd (just Rosin really, Dowd didn't contribute much) changed more minds but the end poll was still 56% for men's continued relevance. And the swing might have been a silent protest by the men in attendance.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Since the normalization of abortion, our perspective of human exceptionalism has regressed. Human beings did not and again do not have intrinsic value.

Yes, men did build civilization. Yes, men did, literally, build half of humanity. Men and women are equal but complementary in our natural and civil roles.

I guess every woman has their unique perspective of a man. Some women value men as labor. Some women value men as sperm banks. Some women believe men -- and women -- are disposable and interchangeable from conception to death. Some women are enlightened and have a broader appreciation of life and humanity.