April 9, 2017


Camille Paglia and the Battle of the Sexes (Suzanne Venker, 4/06/17, Quillette)

This movement, she writes, began its descent the moment it turned on men. The feminists of the 1920s and 30s "showed with class and style what it was to be a modern woman, free of the shackles of the past." But, she adds, they "accepted the achievements of the men of the past . . . There was not the kind of wholesale male-bashing or derisive denigration of men that would later become so entrenched a feature of the second wave of feminism that continues at present."

Paglia herself was raised in the 1950s, an environment she personally found "unbearable" but which she would later concede made sense for the times, as parents were reeling from the Depression and World War II and merely wanted "something better for their children."

Still, the social repression of that era didn't cater to Paglia's needs. So it isn't surprising she became enamored with women such as Amelia Earhart, Katharine Hepburn and Germaine Greer--all of whom represented "the new 20th century woman." Like Paglia, these women were nonconformists who symbolized for Paglia what it meant to be a modern, free-thinking woman.

But in the next sentence Paglia separates herself from the "smug and entitled" feminists of our day who have zero understanding of human nature. All three of these 20th century non-conformist women, writes Paglia, were childless. Translation: they were different from most women. Most women, says Paglia, are biologically wired to procreate--and, foolishly, feminists pretend otherwise. "Feminist ideology has never dealt honestly with the role of the mother in human life."

In many ways, motherhood is the constant in women's lives that brings them together in a primal way. Yet women are routinely pulled away from this natural state, this human desire, as though wanting a child or, God forbid, taking care of one, makes a woman a lesser being. I remember my mother telling me, on more than one occasion, that when she attended her graduate school reunion at Radcliffe (in the 1970s), one of the female professors gave a lecture about work and family and said women would need to deal with children as an "intrusion" into their lives.

But the motherhood dilemma isn't new to feminism. What is new is its glaring animosity toward men. "[Feminist ideology's] portrayal of history as male oppression and female victimage is a gross distortion of the facts," writes Paglia. "There was a rational division of labor from the hunter and gatherer period that had its roots not in the male desire to subjugate and imprison but in the procreative burden which has fallen on woman from nature."

She adds, "Feminism cannot continue with this poisonous rhetoric--it is disastrous for young women to be indoctrinated to think in that negative way about men."

The animosities of revolutions seldom make any sense, nor are they sustainable, precisely because those revolting just want those they revolt against to live up to their own rhetoric.  .

Posted by at April 9, 2017 5:32 PM