Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Camille Paglia: My Kind Of Feminist

This is worth reading.

I dismissed Paglia years ago on the basis of some silly things she wrote quite awhile ago. I thought she was just another lightweight literary bullshitter.

But this interview is great.

She comes across as sober, thoughtful, reasonable, and staunchly opposed to the illiberal excesses of current web and academic feminism.

If that were feminism, I'd still be one. I agree with just about everything she says. She still considers herself a feminist, albeit a dissident one. I tend to not consider myself one anymore, since I think that 'feminism' now mostly means the nutty academic neo-po-mo radicalism of the feminist vanguard. Old-style egalitarian feminism has, I'd say, just been absorbed into liberalism, and feminists per se have moved on to more radical pastures in an effort to have something distinctive to say. But this is largely a merely semantic dispute.

Anyway, some highlights:
I remain an equal opportunity feminist. That is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women’s advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women (such as differential treatment of the names of accuser and accused in rape cases), and I condemn speech codes of any kind, above all on university campuses. ... We need a more flexible psychology, as well as an end to the bitter feminist war on men. ...
As for playing “devil’s advocate”, I can’t imagine a committed feminist engaging in that kind of silly game. The real problem is the cliquish, tunnel-vision intolerance that afflicts too many feminists, who seem unprepared to recognise and analyse ideas. In both the U.S. and Britain, there has been far too much addiction to “theory” in post-structuralist and post-modernist gender studies. With its opaque jargon and elitist poses, theory is no way to build a real-world movement. My system of pro-sex feminism has been constructed by a combination of scholarly research and every-day social observation
It is difficult to understand how a generation raised on the slapdash jumpiness of Twitter and texting will ever develop a logical, coherent, distinctive voice in writing and argumentation. And without strong books and essays as a permanent repository for new ideas, modern movements eventually sputter out for lack of continuity and rationale. Hasty, blathering blogging (without taking time for reflection and revision) is also degrading the general quality of prose writing. 
As for feminists being hounded off Twitter by other feminists, how trivial and adolescent that sounds! Both sides should get offline and read more—history, sociology, psychology, and the big neglected subject, biology. How can the greater world, much less men, ever take feminism seriously if its most ardent proponents behave like catty sorority girls throwing hissy fits at the high-school cafeteria?
Transgenderism has taken off like a freight train and has become nearly impossible to discuss with the analytic neutrality that honest and ethical scholarship requires. First of all, let me say that I consider myself a transgender being, neither man nor woman, and I would welcome the introduction of “OTHER” as a gender category in passports and other government documents. ... 
As a libertarian, I believe that every individual has the right to modify his or her body at will. But I am concerned about the current climate, inflamed by half-baked post-modernist gender theory, which convinces young people who may have other unresolved personal or family issues that sex-reassignment surgery is a golden road to happiness and true identity. 
How has it happened that so many of today’s most daring and radical young people now define themselves by sexual identity alone? There has been a collapse of perspective here that will surely have mixed consequences for our art and culture and that may perhaps undermine the ability of Western societies to understand or react to the vehemently contrary beliefs of others who do not wish us well...
I say the whole thing is worth a read.

(h/t J. Carthensis)


Blogger Dark Avenger said...

She's still an idiot, albeit one who has fooled another sucker now.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Here's some of her wisdom, from the Happy Nice Time People website.

Sex education has triggered recurrent controversy, partly because it is seen by religious conservatives as an instrument of secular cultural imperialism, undermining moral values. It’s time for liberals to admit that there is some truth to this and that public schools should not promulgate any ideology. The liberal response to conservatives’ demand for abstinence-only sex education has been to condemn the imposition of “fear and shame” on young people. But perhaps a bit more self-preserving fear and shame might be helpful in today’s hedonistic, media-saturated environment.


This is what I said about her at Wonkette about the same subject:

"She was a moll with a difference. An Apollonian gunsel who sold out to no man, a few women, and fewer llamas."


10:40 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I acknowledged that I've read dumb things by her in the past, and think I only endorsed what she said in that article.

I guess I'm not clear on what's so terrible about what you quote. She does not endorse abstinence-only sex ed in the quote...does she endorse it elsewhere?

She seems to be saying that public school sex-ed can plausibly be seen as promulgating a liberal ideology about sex. I don't think that's a crazy thing to say. Of course, I think that the liberal view of sex is largely right...but...that's a different thing...

She just says that "There's some truth" in it...that's fairly measured...

And: schools should not advance an ideology.

That's true.

Then she suggests that we may have gone too far in the direction of unrestricted sexual hedonism, and that--as I read her--*a little more* fear and shame might be prudent given that we've kind of gone apeshit with the unrestricted sexual hedonism.

Now, I've got no sympathy for puritanism, but I don't find what she says here to be stupid.

I tend to be at odds with it, but I don't think it's totally nuts.

Of course, it might be nuts against the backdrop of the rest of the thing, which I haven't read yet.

But, again: yeah, Paglia has said lots of dumb things.

But, according to me, not in the piece I linked to.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

She does not endorse abstinence-only sex ed in the quote...does she endorse it elsewhere?

I'm sorry, Winston, but a clear reading of the passage I italicised demonstrates that she does endorse it.

But perhaps a bit more self-preserving fear and shame might be helpful in today’s hedonistic, media-saturated environment.

Fear and shame. Two great emotions, aren't they?

11:03 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...


Reading comprehension: it's your friend.

8:57 AM  

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