In a wide-ranging interview this month with the British Internet magazine Spiked that is well worth your valuable time, legendary feminist writer Camille Paglia roundly thrashes today’s infantile, mollycoddling brand of feminism.
Paglia directs considerable ire at the repressive “yes-means-yes” affirmative consent policies which are sweeping America’s neo-Victorian campuses:
Spiked: “Are you therefore concerned by the push for affirmative-consent or, as they’re otherwise known, ‘Yes means Yes’ laws?”
Paglia: As I have repeatedly argued throughout my career, sex is a physical interaction, animated by primitive energies and instincts that cannot be reduced to verbal formulas. Neither party in any sexual encounter is totally operating in the rational realm, which is why the Greek god Dionysus was the patron of ecstasy, a hallucinatory state of pleasure-pain. ‘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. Sex is always a dangerous gamble — as gay men have known and accepted for thousands of years. Nothing in the world will ever be totally safe, even the plushy pads of an infant’s crib, to which feminist ideologues would evidently wish to reduce us all.”
Paglia reserves special fury for the term “rape culture”:
“‘Rape culture’ is a ridiculous term — mere gassy propaganda, too rankly bloated to critique. Anyone who sees sex so simplistically has very little sense of world history, anthropology or basic psychology. I feel very sorry for women who have been seduced by this hyper-politicized, victim-centered rhetoric, because in clinging to such superficial, inflammatory phrases, they have renounced their own power and agency.”
The longtime critic of decadent liberalism also dresses down contemporary feminism for its manic focus on protecting wealthy women from any danger.
“The problem with too much current feminism, in my opinion, is that even when it strikes progressive poses, it emanates from an entitled, upper-middle-class point of view. It demands the intrusion and protection of paternalistic authority figures to project a hypothetical utopia that will be magically free from offense and hurt. Its rampant policing of thought and speech is completely reactionary, a gross betrayal of the radical principles of 1960s counterculture, which was inaugurated in the U.S. by the incendiary Free Speech Movement at the University of California at Berkeley.”
“I am continually shocked and dismayed by the nearly Victorian notions promulgated by today’s feminists about the fragility of women and their naïve 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.”
Paglia also brutally guts and fillets the tyrannical feminism of Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon and Gloria Steinem — and calls out young, ignorant feminists for parroting their authoritarian, anti-free speech politics:
“The anti-porn crusader Andrea Dworkin (who died a decade ago) was a rabid fanatic, a self-destructive woman so consumed by her hatred of men that she tottered on the edge of psychosis. Dworkin and her puritanical henchman Catharine MacKinnon (born into wealth and privilege) were extremely powerful in the US for a long time, culminating in the major media’s canonization of MacKinnon in a 1991 New York Times Magazine cover story. When I burst on the scene after the release of my first book in 1990, I attacked Dworkin and MacKinnon with all guns blazing. I am very proud of the role I played in defending free speech and helping the pro-sex wing of feminism to go public and eventually win its great victory over both Dworkin-MacKinnon and the priggish feminist establishment typified by Steinem. Hence the unthinking backward turn of current feminism toward censorship is appalling and tragic. Young feminists seem to have little sense of the crucial battles that were waged and won a quarter century ago.”
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