Friday, December 18, 2015

Forever, Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia does not disappoint. As an older feminist, one who has been through it all, Paglia has a unique perspective from which to judge the strange rumblings arising from the souls of today’s feminists. (Via Maggie’s Farm)

She is not amused. Not only is she not amused, she is not impressed by the way that today’s feminists have taken leave of reality. They have become totalitarian cupcakes, too weak to deal with anything that happens to them, decrying any male who would attempt to protect them, but crying out for the state to shield them from life's torments.

Paglia explains:

I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their na├»ve helplessness in asserting control over their own dating lives. Female undergraduates incapable of negotiating the oafish pleasures and perils of campus fraternity parties are hardly prepared to win leadership positions in business or government in the future.

Point well taken. How can you expect a woman who is incapable of handling herself in a fraternity party to be able to compete successfully for a leadership position? Why would anyone in the corporate world respect her? Lacking confidence in one significant area of her life, she can hardly be expected to manifest it in any others.

As for the current efforts to regulate adolescent sexual behavior to within an inch of its life, Paglia rejects the current wave of affirmative consent laws:

‘Yes means Yes’ laws are drearily puritanical and literalistic as well as hopelessly totalitarian. Their increasing popularity simply demonstrates how boring and meaningless sex has become – and why Hollywood movies haven’t produced a scintilla of sexiness since Sharon Stone uncrossed her legs in Basic Instinct. 

Kill off the feminine mystique, eliminate the erotics of courtship and what do you have? Perhaps you have the strange practice of hooking up, but at some point women figure out that being used by a man they do not know for a random sexual encounter provides them with little pleasure. It is neither liberating nor empowering.

Speaking for her own generation, Paglia explains that when she and her cohorts in the early days of second-wave feminism fought for freedom they understood that responsibility comes with freedom. If they wanted to take risks they bore some responsibility for the consequences:

We wanted the same freedoms as men, and we took charge of our own destinies. We viewed life as a continual experiment, an urgent pressing into the unknown. If we got knocked down, we got up again, nursed our bruises and learned from our mistakes. Today, in contrast, too many young feminists want their safety, security and happiness guaranteed in advance by all-seeing, all-enveloping bureaucracies. It’s a sad, limited and childish view of life that I find as claustrophobic as a hospital ward.

And finally, Paglia calls out feminists for disparaging motherhood. After all, feminism can count it as one of its dubious achievements to have turned pregnancy into “the curse.” She also rejects what she calls feminism’s “near-hysterical obsession with abortion.” And she denounces feminism for failing to respect women who choose freely to stay at home to bring up their children.

She says:

Stay-at-home moms have been arrogantly disdained by orthodox feminism. This is a primary reason for the lack of respect that a majority of mainstream citizens has for feminism, which is addicted to juvenile male-bashing and has elevated abortion to sacramental status. While I firmly support unrestricted reproductive rights (on the grounds that nature gives every individual total control over his or her body), I think that the near-hysterical obsession with abortion has damaged feminism by making it seem morally obtuse.

Feminism is “morally obtuse.” Whoever would have thought such a thing?


Ares Olympus said...

Paglia: Today, in contrast, too many young feminists want their safety, security and happiness guaranteed in advance by all-seeing, all-enveloping bureaucracies.

Ah, so the 2012 Obama campaign marketing of "The Life of Julia" was a sincere if flawed vision, created within the brainstorming fantasies of the feminists involved in the campaign.

I wonder what Hillary's version of Julia will look like?

Paglia's conclusions of what feminists should be fighting for is curious.
"I want universities to create more flexible, extended-study options for young women who choose to have earlier (and thus safer) pregnancies, and I want more public and private resources devoted to childcare facilities for working parents of every social class. Finally, I call for the investigation and reform of the current systemic exploitation of working-class women (many of them black or Latina immigrants) who have become the invisible new servant class for affluent white women leaving childcare to others as they pursue their feminist professional dreams."

Like other feminists she doesn't mention marriage, or husbands. And what should we make of this "invisible new servant class" being exploited?

What is she really saying? From what I've seen, the BEST path for stay-at-home mothers is to add daycare into their homes and use an economy of scale to supplement her husband's income.

And more strangely most of the career women I know of my Xer generation (35-50) have only one child, or only plan to have one child, while having a single child seems like the MOST INEFFICIENT use of resources possible UNLESS they follow the model above, and specialize, so some women are raising the kids communally, while others are helping to bring home the bacon, in part to pay for the daycare!

Anyway, you can't go wrong with Paglia's advice to young women: "My advice, as in everything, is to read widely and think for yourself."

So yes, think for yourself, BUT also find other like-minded women, and do that womenly think of cooperating, so you don't have to do everything yourself. And actually it looks like modern connectivity is a godsend, as the mothers I know are fully dependent upon social media for exchanging advice and finding ways to connect up to their extended neighborhood circles for support.

Dennis said...

Camille never fails to illuminate. One wonders if H.L. Mencken was not right when he defined "Misogynist: A man who hates women as much as women hate one another." I wonder how he would have defined feminism today given his "Defense of Women?" When one gives up the advantages of being a woman for acting like a man one can see why many women have little use for today's feminism. Many women are just to smart. It does seem as if Puglia is or could be considered the Mencken of Feminism.