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Camille Paglia on Hugh Hefner’s Legacy, Trump’s Masculinity & Feminism’s Sex Phobia 

Jeanie Pyun writes: With the death of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner on Sept. 27, cultural historian and contrarian feminist Camille Paglia spoke to The Hollywood Reporter in an exclusive interview on topics ranging from what Hef’s choice of the bunny costume revealed about him to the current “dreary” state of relationships between the sexes.

Have you ever been to a party at the Playboy Mansion?

No, I’m not a partygoer!  [laughs]

So let me just ask: Was Hugh Hefner a misogynist?

Absolutely not! The central theme of my wing of pro-sex feminism is that all celebrations of the sexual human body are positive. Second-wave feminism went off the rails when it was totally unable to deal with erotic imagery, which has been a central feature of the entire history of Western art ever since Greek nudes.

So let’s dig in a little — what would you say was Playboy’s cultural impact? 

Hugh Hefner absolutely revolutionized the persona of the American male. In the post World War II era, men’s magazines were about hunting and fishing or the military, or they were like Esquire, erotic magazines with a kind of European flair.

Hefner re-imagined the American male as a connoisseur in the continental manner, a man who enjoyed all the fine pleasures of life, including sex. Hefner brilliantly put sex into a continuum of appreciative response to jazz, to art, to ideas, to fine food. This was something brand new. Enjoying fine cuisine had always been considered unmanly in America. Hefner updated and revitalized the image of the British gentleman, a man of leisure who is deft at conversation — in which American men have never distinguished themselves — and with the art of seduction, which was a sport refined by the French.

Hefner’s new vision of American masculinity was part of his desperate revision of his own Puritan heritage. On his father’s side, he descended directly from William Bradford, who came over on the Mayflower and was governor of Plymouth Colony, the major settlement of New England Puritans.

But Hefner’s worldview was already dated by the explosion of the psychedelic 1960s. The anything-goes, free-love atmosphere — illustrated by all that hedonistic rolling around in the mud at Woodstock in 1969 — made the suave Hefner style seem old-fashioned and buttoned up. Nevertheless, I have always taken the position that the men’s magazines — from the glossiest and most sophisticated to the rawest and raunchiest — represent the brute reality of sexuality. Pornography is not a distortion. It is not a sexist twisting of the facts of life but a kind of peephole into the roiling, primitive animal energies that are at the heart of sexual attraction and desire.

What could today’s media learn from what Hef did at Playboy?

It must be remembered that Hefner was a gifted editor who knew how to produce a magazine that had great visual style and that was a riveting combination of pictorial with print design. Everything about Playboy as a visual object, whether you liked the magazine or not, was lively and often ravishing.

In the early 1990s, you said that Hugh Hefner “ushered in a revolution in American sexual consciousness. Some say that the women in Playboy come across as commodities, like a stereo, but I think Playboy is more an appreciation of pleasure of all kinds.” What would you add to his legacy today, if anything?

I would hope that people could see the positives in the Playboy sexual landscape — the foregrounding of pleasure and fun and humor. Sex is not a tragedy, it’s a comedy! [laughs]

What do you think about the fact that Trump’s childhood hero and model of sophisticated American masculinity was Hefner?

Before the election, I kept pointing out that the mainstream media based in Manhattan, particularly The New York Times, was hopelessly off in the way it was simplistically viewing Trump as a classic troglodyte misogynist. I certainly saw in Trump the entire Playboy aesthetic, including the glitzy world of casinos and beauty pageants. It’s a long passé world of confident male privilege that preceded the birth of second-wave feminism. There is no doubt that Trump strongly identified with it as he was growing up. It seems to be truly his worldview.

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

But it is categorically not a world of unwilling women. Nor is it driven by masculine abuse. It’s a world of show girls, of flamboyant femaleness, a certain kind of strutting style that has its own intoxicating sexual allure — which most young people attending elite colleges today have had no contact with whatever.

I instantly recognized and understood it in Trump because I had always been an admirer of Hefner’s sexual cosmos. I can certainly see how retrograde and nostalgic it is, but at the same time I maintain that even in the photos that The New York Times posted in trying to convict Trump of sexism, you can feel leaping from these pictures the intense sizzle of sexual polarization — in that long-ago time when men were men and women were women!

My 1960s generation was the gender-bending generation — we were all about blending the genders in fashion and attitude. But it has to be said that in terms of world history, the taste for and interest in androgyny is usually relatively brief. And it comes at late and decadent phases of culture! [laughs]  World civilizations predictably return again and again to sexual polarization, where there is a tremendous electric charge between men and women. Read the rest of this entry »

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Camille Paglia: How to Age Disgracefully in Hollywood

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The social critic and academic blames 1960s disruptions of gender roles (and not the entertainment industry) for Madonna’s and J. Lo’s difficulty letting go of their youth as she chastises them to “stop cannibalizing the young.”

Camille Paglia writes: In December, at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in New York City, Madonna was given the trophy for Woman of the Year. In a rambling, tearful acceptance speech that ran more than 16 minutes, she claimed to be a victim of “blatant misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.”

It was a startling appropriation of stereotypical feminist rhetoric by a superstar whose major achievement in cultural history was to overthrow the puritanical old guard of second-wave feminism and to liberate the long-silenced pro-sex, pro-beauty wing of feminism, which (thanks to her) swept to victory in the 1990s.

Madonna’s opening line at the awards gala was edited out of the shortened official video: “I stand before you as a doormat — oh, I mean a female entertainer.” Merciful Minerva! Can there be any woman on Earth less like a doormat than Madonna Louise Ciccone? Madonna sped on with shaky assertions (“There are no rules if you’re a boy”) and bafflingly portrayed the huge commercial success of her 1992 book, Sex, as a chapter of the Spanish Inquisition, in which she was persecuted as “a whore and a witch.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

I was singled out by name as having accused her of “objectifying” herself sexually (prudish feminist jargon that I always have rejected), when in fact I was Madonna’s first major defender, celebrating her revival of pagan eroticism and prophesying in a highly controversial 1990 New York Times op-ed that she was “the future of feminism.”

Swanson in <em>Sunset Boulevard</em>, in which her character &quot;has gone bonkers and thinks she's the sexy Salome of her youth.&quot;

Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, in which her character “has gone bonkers and thinks she’s the sexy Salome of her youth.” Getty Images

Crawford exhibits “crazed willpower and misery in her facial muscles,” says Paglia. Getty Images

But I want to focus here on the charge of ageism that Madonna, now 58, leveled against the entertainment industry and that received heavy, sympathetic coverage in the mainstream media. Her grievances about the treatment of women performers climaxed with this: “And finally, do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

First of all, lack of radio airplay may indeed hamper new or indie groups, but in this digital age, when songs go viral in a flash, rich and famous performers of Madonna’s level fail to get airplay not because of their age, but because their current music no longer is attracting a broad audience. When was the last time Madonna released hit songs of the brilliant quality of her golden era of the 1980s and ’90s? Lavish, lucrative touring rather than sustained creative work in the studio has been her priority for decades. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Christina Hoff Sommers & Camille Paglia on Intersectional Feminism and ‘Safe Spaces’ 

Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia examine the origins of intersectional feminism and “safe spaces”, and discuss Paglia’s own interpretations of feminism—what she labeled over the years as “amazon feminism”, “drag queen feminism”, and “street smart feminism.”

This is part three of a nine part series featuring Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia. The other videos in the series can be found here:

Part 1 – The state of contemporary feminism: https://goo.gl/nRJ0ss
Part 2 – The fight for student liberties: https://goo.gl/dS1QKF
Part 3 – Intersectional feminism and safe spaces: https://goo.gl/cmbj8g
Part 4 – Based Mom and Based Goddess on #Gamergate: https://goo.gl/ZFfuzh
Part 5 – Trigger warnings and the danger of overprotecting students: https://goo.gl/WE29Yc
Part 6 – The “male gaze”: https://goo.gl/hRWfhi
Part 7 – Fixing a broken university curriculum: https://goo.gl/pWmpwh
Part 8 – The absence of biology in gender studies: https://goo.gl/QrZQEU
Part 9 – The danger of looking at history through a contemporary political lens: https://goo.gl/D82LYB

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[VIDEO] Camille Paglia: ‘Universities Are an Absolute Wreck Right Now’

“The universities are an absolute wreck right now,” said Camille Paglia. “For decades any graduate student in the humanities who had independent thinking was driven out.”

 


[VIDEO] Navel-Gazing About Gender While the World Burns: Camille Paglia on the Unreal World of America’s Youth

CAMILE PAGLIA

“They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell.”

Carolyn Moynihan writes: Camille Paglia, an American college professor and social critic, is one of a kind: a feminist who objects to almost every form of feminism known to womankind; a sexual radical who believes in complete freedom of sexual expression, yet a realist who insists that women have to take full responsibility for the sexual choices they make; and a lesbian who objects to the current censorship of any discussion about the causes of homosexuality.

“This hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I? Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing, while in the Middle East ISIS is beheading people. It is a kind of madness of self-absorption.”

Paglia is, in fact, a notorious contrarian on practically every social issue. And for all her radicalism the 69-year-old often sounds more like an Italian grandmother of yesteryear (she is the child of Italian immigrants) than the political progressive and sexual radical she claims to be. At least, that is the impression left by the very interesting and entertaining interview with Ella Whelan of Spiked (the home of UK contrarianism) about feminism, recorded in the video above.

The video is half an hour long, but here is a taste of Paglia’s views on the issues flourishing in the American hothouse.

yale-university-social-justice-rally-ap-640x480

Today’s college students

“They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilisations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell. If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the pagliaenvironment will be pure…’ – a magical utopian view that we are marching to perfection. And the sign of this progress is toleration – of the educated class – for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.

[Check out the books and essays of Camille Puglia at Amazon.com]

“To me it’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilisation just before it falls: ‘we’ are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilisation who will bring it down.”

On homosexuality

“There is censorship of discussion about the causes of various gender issues – for at least 25 years, now, in the case of homosexuality itself. In the 1980s there was talk of finding a gay gene, but when that was not found, silence [became the rule]. To even raise the question of how homosexuality is HomosexualActivistsLBGTBakeMyCake11130140_10200526944171526_294534521920097925_ncaused is considered homophobic. But I think it is imperative for everyone to ask questions about matters of development of the personality and sexual orientation.

[Read the full story here, at MercatorNet]

“I’m waiting for some brave young gays to protest against the censorship.

On identity politics and transgenderism

“This hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I? Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing, while in the Middle East ISIS is beheading people. It is a kind of madness of self-absorption.”

“I think there are authentic transgender people who had a genetic issue from the start, but they are a tiny, tiny minority of the population, and medical science is still developing to help these people.”

Noting that Hillary Clinton gave transgenders specific mention at the beginning and end of a rally speech last week, the interviewer asks why this issue gets so much attention in the news. Read the rest of this entry »


Camille Paglia: ‘Transgender Mania’ is a Symptom of West’s Cultural Collapse

Foto: TomCabral/ SantoLima Data: 13-11-2010 Ass: Fliporto 2010 em Olinda - PE. Na foto Camille Paglia.

“I think that the transgender propagandists make wildly inflated claims about the multiplicity of gender.”

(CNSNews.com)– Sam Dorman reports: Best-selling feminist author, social critic and self-described “transgender being” Camille Paglia said in an interview last month that the rise of transgenderism in the West is a symptom of decadence and cultural collapse.

[Check out the books and essays of Camille Puglia at Amazon.com]

“Nothing… better defines the decadence of the West to the jihadists than our toleration of open homosexuality and this transgender mania now,” Paglia said during an October 22 interview on the Brazilian television program Roda Viva.

“Sex reassignment surgery, even today with all of its advances, cannot in fact change anyone’s sex, okay. You can define yourself as a trans man, or a trans woman, as one of these new gradations along the scale.”

But ultimately, every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that cell, remains coded for your biological birth… So there are a lot of lies being propagated at the present moment, which I think is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Paglia also said during the interview that “transgender propagandists” are overstating their case.

“I think that the transgender propagandists make wildly inflated claims about the multiplicity of gender,” she said.

western-Civiliz

“I found in my study that history is cyclic, and everywhere in the world you find this pattern in ancient times: that as a culture begins to decline, you have an efflorescence of transgender phenomena. That is a symptom of cultural collapse.”

“Sex reassignment surgery, even today with all of its advances, cannot in fact change anyone’s sex, okay. You can define yourself as a trans man, or a trans woman, as one of
these new gradations along the scale. But ultimately, every single cell in the human body, the DNA in that paglia-facecell, remains coded for your biological birth.

“Now what I’m concerned about is the popularity and the availability of sex reassignment surgery, so that someone who doesn’t feel that he or she belongs to the biological birth, gender. People are being encouraged to intervene in the process.”

“So there are a lot of lies being propagated at the present moment, which I think is not in anyone’s best interest.

“Now what I’m concerned about is the popularity and the availability of sex reassignment surgery, so that someone who doesn’t feel that he or she belongs to the biological birth, gender. People are being encouraged to intervene in the process.

“Parents are now encouraged to subject the child to procedures that I think are a form of child abuse. The hormones to slow puberty, actual surgical manipulations, etcetera. I think that this is wrong, that people should wait until they are of an informed age of consent.”

“Parents should not be doing this to their children and I think that even in the teenage years is too soon to be making this leap. People change, people grow, and people adapt.” Read the rest of this entry »


HQ: Paglia on ‘Snark Atheism’ and How Jon Stewart Has Debased Political Discourse

Daily-Show-Stewart

“Suppressing information based upon what politics the information might help or hurt — is of course as illiberal and authoritarian an idea as you can have.”

Ace

[Segments of the Camille Paglia Salon interview via @rdbrewer4Ace of Spades. Go here for additional commentary at the HQ]

‘All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced.’

SALON: You’re an atheist, and yet I don’t ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?

PAGLIA: I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way….

paglia-salony

“I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark.

I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced.
paglia-face

“Now let me give you a recent example of the persisting insularity of liberal thought in the media…”

We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system.

“When the first secret Planned Parenthood video was released in mid-July, anyone who looks only at liberal media was kept totally in the dark about it, even after the second video was released…”

They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny….But this sneering thing! I despise snark. Snark is a disease that started with David Letterman and jumped to Jon Stewart and has proliferated since.

“It was a huge and disturbing story, but there was total silence in the liberal media. That kind of censorship was shockingly unprofessional.”

I think it’s horrible for young people! And this kind of snark atheism–let’s just invent that term right now–is stupid, and people who act like that are stupid….

“The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark….

Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers.”

As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States….

[Read more at Ace of Spades HQ]

The resistance of liberals in the media to new ideas was enormous. Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true! Liberalism has sadly become a knee-jerk ideology, with people barricaded in their comfortable little cells. They think that their views are the only rational ones, and everyone else is not only evil but financed by the Koch brothers. It’s so simplistic! Read the rest of this entry »


Camille Paglia: Bill Clinton = Bill Cosby

paglia-cosby

Next Up: how race-baiting Salon.com is worse than both…


[VIDEO] REASON: Nick Gillespie & Todd Krainin’s Epic Interview with Camille Paglia

Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!

editor-commen-deskI nearly bypassed this interview, having enjoyed Paglia’s memorable social and cultural critiques over the last 15 years or so, I expected it to be good, but easy to put off for later viewing. Boy was I wrong. A potent, and revealing conversation. Free Range Big Thinkers like Paglia, in culture paglia-faceand media — especially ones who identify as Democrats but talk like libertarians — are few and far between. It makes the rare good ones even more valuable. We’ve not seen Camille’s familiar Madonna-loving, pop-culture-riddled smart commentary as much as we did in the 1990s, at the now-diminished pioneering Salon magazine, where she was a regular. Fast-forward to 2015: Paglia represents a senior figure, as a public intellectual. A long way from those early days at Yale in the 1960s. She’s older, crankier, controversial, and impossible to categorize, but that’s how we like it.

I’d seen other references and links to this new Paglia interview, but it was the Twitter feed of noted media critic Mollie Z. Hemingway than finally got my attention. Yesterday, she’d collected a string of individual excerpts (well chosen clips, too, a few samples below) Thanks to MZH, otherwise I might have missed this. Included here is the hour-long video, and just a fraction of the transcript. If you don’t see anything else this weekend — or this year — don’t miss this. Brilliant work by REASON‘s  & . Go get the whole transcript. And tune into Mollie Z. Hemingway’s articles here, and tweets here.

INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: This is a rush transcript. Check against video for accuracy.

reason: Let’s talk about the state of contemporary feminism. You have been in a public life or in an intellectual life since the late 1960s, a proud feminist, often reviled by other feminists. Gloria Steinem most famously said you were an anti-feminist and that when you denied that, she said that would be like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic. You’re mixing it up. What is going on with the state of “professional feminism” in this country. It seems if you look at from, say, the early ’70s, things have gotten better for women. Men are less uptight about gender roles. Women are more in the workforce, they get paid equally, sexual assaults and sexual violence are down. In so many ways, things are going pagliabetter than ever, and yet from sites like Jezebel or Feministing, all you hear is that things have never been worse.

[Check out the books and essays of Camille Paglia at Amazon.com]

Paglia: Feminism has gone through many phases. Obviously the woman’s suffrage movement of the 19th century fizzled after women gained the right to vote through the Constitutional amendment in 1920. Then the movement revived in the late 1960s through Betty Freidan co-founding NOW in 1967. Now, I preceded all that. I’m on record with a letter in Newsweek, I was in high school in 1963, where I called for equal rights for American women and so on. I began thinking about gender, researching it, I loved the generation of Amelia Earhart and all those emancipated women of the ’20s and ’30s, and because I had started my process of thought about gender so much earlier, I was out of sync with the women’s movement when it suddenly burst forth.

[Read the full text here, at REASON]

reason: It became a huge kind of cultural moment in the late 60s—it had been percolating before…

Paglia: It was literally nothing. There was no political activism of any kind from women getting the right to vote in 1920… when Simone de Beauvoir wrote her great magnum opus, The Second Sex, published in the early 1950s, she was thought to be hopelessly retrograde. Nobody could possibly be interested again in gender issues.

reason: You were living in upstate New York. Did you already know what your sexuality was? What was it like to be a woman, a lesbian, in 1963?

Paglia: Well, the 1950s were a highly conformist period. Gender had repolarized after really great gains it seems to me in the ’20s and ’30s, and one must be more sympathetic to the situation of my parents’ generation. They had known nothing but depression and war throughout their entire lives. My father was a paratrooper, when he got out of the army, everyone married, and I’m the baby boom. They wanted normality. They just wanted to live like real people, man and wife in a home. I found the 1950s utterly suffocating. I was a gender nonconforming entity, and I was signaling my rebellion by these transgender Halloween costumes that were absolutely Neil Daviesunheard of. I was five, six, seven, eight years old. My parents allowed me to do it because I was so intent on it.

reason: What were you dressing up as?

Paglia: A Roman solider, the matador from Carmen. My best was Napoleon. I was Hamlet from the Classics Comics book. Absolutely no one was doing stuff like this, and I’m happy that this talk about medical sex changes was not in the air, because I would have become obsessed with that and assumed that that was my entire identity and problem, so this is why I’m very concerned about the rush to surgical interventions today. At any rate, I was attracted to men—I dated men—but I just fell in love with women and always have. Yes, there’s absolutely no doubt. I was on the forefront of gay identification. When I arrived at graduate school at Yale 1968-1972, I was the only openly gay person, and I didn’t even have a sex life. To me, it was a badge of militance. And I was the only person doing a dissertation on a sexual topic. It’s hard to believe this now.

[Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson]

reason: What was the topic?

Paglia: Sexual Personae, which was the book finally published in 1990 after being rejected by seven publishers and five agents, and that was unheard of again. I’m delighted I had the sponsorship of Harold Bloom that pushed the topic through the English department, I think possibly that they allowed me to do such a thing on sex was actually kind of amazing.

My clashes with other feminists began immediately. Read the rest of this entry »


Camille Paglia Talks Birds & Bees

Paglia Tells Educators to Get Real. When public schools refuse to acknowledge gender differences, we betray boys and girls alike

2007-10-12-98-birds-and-bees-and-birdsCamille Paglia writes:  Fertility is the missing chapter in sex education. Sobering facts about women’s declining fertility after their 20s are being withheld from ambitious young women, who are propelled along a career track devised for men.

“Too often, sex education defines pregnancy as a pathology, for which the cure is abortion.”

The refusal by public schools’ sex-education programs to acknowledge gender differences is betraying both boys and girls. The genders should be separated for sex counseling. It is absurd to avoid the harsh reality that boys have less to lose from casual serial sex than do girls, who risk pregnancy and whose future fertility can be compromised by disease. Boys need lessons in basic ethics and moral reasoning about sex (for example, not taking advantage of intoxicated dates), while girls must learn to distinguish sexual compliance from popularity.

[Download Paglia’s book  “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars” from Amazon]

Above all, girls need life-planning advice. Too often, sex education defines pregnancy as a pathology, for which the cure is abortion. Adolescent girls must think deeply about their ultimate aims and desires. If they want both children and a career, they should decide whether to have children early or late. There are pros, cons and trade-offs for each choice. Read the rest of this entry »


If You Think Being Ruled by Obama Is Bad, Try Being Ruled by the Chinese

A-HamiltonHamilton writes:  Camille Paglia, the liberal-conservative lesbian who adores men, observed recently that nations must never neglect their basic strengths and survival skills. As she put it, “The earth is littered with the ruins of empires that believed they were eternal.” Perhaps she was thinking of the United States; this is, after all, a time when the gap between our towering international presumption is being undermined by our crumbling domestic reality.

The same Paglia-esque thoughts of political mortality came into Hamilton’s mind when he read the news about the near collision, on December 5, of a US Navy ship and a Chinese Navy ship.

Hamilton is reminded that plenty of American conflicts–including the War of 1812, the Spanish-American WarWorld War OneWorld War Two, and Vietnam–started with naval incidents.

So suppose we did end up in a war with China–maybe not today, but in five or 10 years. Who would win? Let’s remember, this hypothetical war wouldn’t necessarily be anything like what we have seen before; it could be waged with little more than cyber-hacking, satellite-blinding,and a few long-range missiles–which could be enough to establish military dominance.

In the meantime, we can see plenty of signs that our ability to prevail is ebbing. In 2010, for example, the website ZDNet reported that 80 percent of the world’s communications have a Chinese “back door”–and that China is working on accessing the remaining 20 percent. In other words, America could pass a law preventing the US National Security Agency from snooping on us, but we would still not be able to stop the Chinese from snooping on us.

Read the rest of this entry »


Interview With Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues

The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization itself
Neil Davies

Neil Davies

Bari Weiss writes:  ‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

Read the rest of this entry »


Camille Paglia: ‘It’s a Man’s World, And It Always Will Be’

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Andrew Burton / Getty Images

The modern economy is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role—but women were not its author

 writes: If men are obsolete, then women will soon be extinct—unless we rush down that ominous Brave New World path where females will clone themselves by parthenogenesis, as famously do Komodo dragons, hammerhead sharks, and pit vipers.

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.

Is it any wonder that so many high-achieving young women, despite all the happy talk about their academic success, find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life? When an educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood, then women will be perpetually stuck with boys, who have no incentive to mature or to honor their commitments. And without strong men as models to either embrace or (for dissident lesbians) to resist, women will never attain a centered and profound sense of themselves as women.

From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. InFrance, Italy, Spain, Latin America, and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamor. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.

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Camille Paglia: “It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton is our party’s best chance”

Camille Paglia:
Camille Paglia (Credit: Michael Lionstar)

I can vividly remember the first time I read Camille Paglia. I was visiting New York with my mom during college and we happened across “Vamps and Tramps” at a bookstore near our hotel. Lying in neighboring twin beds, I read passages out loud to her. Explosive things like, “Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free contemporary women than feminism itself.” I didn’t always agree with Paglia, but I enjoyed her as a challenging provocateur.

I still have that copy of the book. There are asterisks in the margins, double-underlined sentences and circled paragraphs. Reading it was a satisfying rebellion against the line-toeing women’s studies classes I was taking at the time — and at a college with an infamously anti-porn professor, no less. Since then, I have moments of genuine outrage and fury over Paglia’s writing and public commentary (see: thisthis and this, for examples of why) — but she is still compelling and occasionally brilliant. The truth is that many people still want to hear what she has to say — about everything from BDSM to Lady Gaga.

The paperback release last week of her book “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars” — which Salon interviewed her about last year, and which is an example of Paglia at her intellectual best and an antidote to her birther moments — is a great excuse to check back in with the so-called bete noire of feminism. I spoke with Paglia by email about contemporary feminism, Anthony Weiner and the “end of men.”

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