Free Men, Free Women: Sex, Gender, Feminism
New York: Pantheon, 2017
“A very few have thought the problems through to the end and proposed constructive solutions . . . Such men are never popular with their ‘intellectual peers,’ since their very existence is an implied reproach.” – Colin Wilson
The latest from this academic troublemaker and public gadfly is one of those end of career – or perhaps career-ending – anthologies, collecting three abridged chapters from her debut magnum opus, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Yale University Press, 1990); selected essays from the earlier collections Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays (Vintage, 1992) and Vamps and Tramps: New Essays (Vintage, 1994), and more recent uncollected pieces; these are bookended with a retrospective essay on her formative youth, and a selection of publicity shots throughout the years.
It was her editor’s “bold idea,” she says, to collect “the most representative of my articles and lectures on sex, gender, and feminism from the mass of my other writings on culture and society.” (Another volume of more recent essays is promised, but still no word on the long-awaited second volume of Sexual Personae.) As we’ll see, the distinction between writings on sex and those on culture is somewhat porous. In any event, this will be essential reading for those on the Alt Right who want to understand why this avowedly Leftist and loudly lesbian college professor keeps being shown a strange respect among many on the Alt Right itself.
Legacy journos often used the expression “strange new respect” to dog-whistle that some “conservative” troglodyte had “evolved his position” (as Obama did on gay marriage) and come around to the liberal “mainstream” so as to get invited to the better Georgetown cocktail parties. Sort of like the way Bomber Trump is now considered “presidential.”
But the respect shown Paglia on the Alt Right, though strange, is not new, but pretty longstanding.
Steve Sailer, for instance, likes to use Paglia to shut up liberals who get triggered by something un-PC but well-founded in biology or history that he “notices.” Like this, from 2005:
And if the blogger is indignant about the second half of my sentence [“as Camille Paglia has noted, lesbians tend not to be interested in the classic visual arts, and, indeed, are often resentful of the prestige of Dead White European Male artists”], well, then his argument is with Camille Paglia’s Sexual Personae, which a “Lingua Franca” survey of academics picked as the number one academic book of the 1990s.
Or more recently, in one of his more important essays:
Camille Paglia had the bad taste to point out about the Shepard murder: It used to be called “rough trade”—the dangerous, centuries-old practice of gay men picking up grimy, testosterone-packed straight or semi-straight toughs. She was excoriated for doing so. And most pundits have less courage than Paglia.
Paglia’s name has even become a kind of thumbs-up shorthand on the Alt Right: Hannibal Bateman, managing editor of Radix Journal, when asked “Salon or National Review?” replied “Salon, Camille Paglia is worth the entire stable of NR writers,” while Andy Nowicki blurbed the Rustbelt sage, James O’Meara, as “the Camille Paglia of the Alternative Right.”
How to reconcile this? Does the Alt Right just like to keep a token outsider around, as in “some of my best friends are . . .” or, “As a National Socialist, I find I must agree with the Rev. Elijah Mohammed’s views”? I think not. The relevance of Paglia to the Alt Right goes right to the heart of what the Alt Right is.
Sailer, for instance, is best known for his insistence on “noticing” things, such as the genetic basis of IQ or gender or sports or dancing or whatever, which the various codes of political correctness insist must not be noticed.
This is perhaps the salient feature of the Alt Right, and probably why many liberals or Leftists can suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of the fence; they didn’t get the memo.
In an increasingly heterogeneous society where there is always a potential for internecine strife, . . . caution also counsels the Mafia’s Omertà, the code of silence. . . . The Alt-Righter resembles an un-socialized youngster who regularly blurts out the unspeakable, embarrassing truth.
But what is this unspeakable, embarrassing truth? Let’s ask the Z-Man!
What is it that forever separates the Right from the Left? What is the thing about which there can be no meeting in the middle, between Left and Right? The great divide that can never be crossed, is biology. The Left embraces the blank slate and rejects biological reality. The Right accepts biology, human diversity and all the truths about the human animal that arise from it.
In other words, [the Left] get things backward and end up rejecting the human condition. This is the crack in the foundation of all Left-Wing movements. It’s what they share in common.
What gives rise to the Alt Right intellectual posture is “noticing.” C. S. Lewis said that based on his own conversion experience, an atheist can’t be too careful in his reading – all the best books being for some strange reason written by believers.
In the same way, someone who, for whatever reason – in Paglia’s case, I suspect sheer cussedness from pre-pubescence onward – falls out of the echo chamber of PC, or slips on the right pair of sunglasses, and begins to see, will find himself condemned to or welcomed by the Alt Right.
Take Rabbit, for instance, who prefers to call himself Alt Left, since “most people I’ve encountered in pro-white or nationalist circles over the years have ranged from totally insufferable to outright bonkers (and those are just my friends!),” and just like Paglia, he “actually like[s] much of what constitutes the bogeyman of ‘modernity.’” And yet:
It wasn’t my idea to get involved in any kind of racial identity politics. It was imposed on me. Like others, I came to it reluctantly by simply noticing the real-time implications demographic changes and concluding that white people will have to start looking out for our collective interests the way other groups do.
It just so happens that white people probably need to embrace identity politics both out of necessity for survival and for self determination in realizing any of the types of societies we would aspire to live in, (however incompatible they may all be with one another.)
All I know is I just don’t want to be in a scenario where I’m electorally outnumbered by or have to interact with significant numbers of people from groups which disproportionately display hostility toward my group (since non-whites have already overwhelmingly rejected the notion of an individualist or color blind society anyway.) This sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Like Rabbit, Paglia would likely reject any seat on the Alt Right. Based on her autobiographical reflections in the Introduction, she’s really just an old-time FDR Democrat, albeit one who found childhood inspiration in Amelia Earhart, rather than Betty Crocker – or, for that matter, Hanna Reitsch.
Contrary to the idea, common throughout the Right, that academia is in the hands of “tenured radicals” (in Roger Kimball’s phrase, which she quotes), the real radicals of the ‘60s burned out or went elsewhere, leaving the universities in the hands of the same old WASP careerists supposedly left behind in the ‘50s.
The multiculturalists and the politically correct on the subjects of race, class and gender actually represent a continuation of the genteel tradition of respectability and conformity. They have institutionalized American niceness, which seeks, above all, not to offend and must therefore pretend not to notice any differences or distinctions among people or cultures.
She frequently calls herself a “libertarian” – hence the book’s title – which will likely raise eyebrows or curl lips among the Alt Right, but she means a “small l” libertarian (as indeed she consistently spells it). She means not an autistic Rand cultist, but someone devoted to individual liberty as a – perhaps the – primary value. This is really just the valorizing of individualism characteristic of the white race, which used to be fairly common on both sides of the political divide.
What Paglia really considers the primary value, and again it’s an Aryan virtue, is truth. If she has a faith, it’s that the pursuit of truth will not be incompatible with individuality. We might, perhaps, call this a Faustian faith.
Her “liberal” opponents, on the contrary, talk about “liberty” and “freedom,” but their actions show they find these incompatible with truth, leaving them or their wards in danger of various “hurts” and “aggressions,” micro and otherwise, and in need of “safe spaces,” especially, oxymoronically, on college campuses.
It’s this devotion to truth – might as well start calling it Truth – that puts Paglia, malgré lui, among the Alt Right; or, if that’s going too far, makes her a figure of respect, a Godfather, if you will (and the shapeshifting Paglia will not be micro-aggressed by the male nomenclature), in the Alt Right pantheon.
It’s this devotion to truth, especially biological truth, that has been Paglia’s leitmotiv, as displayed in various contexts in the works collected here, and the primary reason for her continued “outrageousness.”
Culture, after all, is produced by human beings, and even if it isn’t entirely reducible to biology – as I suspect most of the HBD and “evolutionary psychology” crowd would be glad to think – it is a product of a struggle with – and against – nature.
Against nature! Here we see the beginning of a more precise, tripartite division of the field: those who would reduce our tool kit for understanding culture to biology alone (the more autistic HBDers and, oddly enough, our old-time Catholic or “traditionalist” conservatives with their fetishistic “natural law”); those who regard culture as an autonomous, abstract dreamworld of “structures” and “signifiers” (the theorists of the academic Left despised by Paglia and the Alt Right); and those like Paglia who understand human culture as a Promethean attempt to escape nature, though likely doomed and in any event showing all the marks of its origins.
Thus the Alt Rightist reader will frequently find himself cheering on, and being cheered by, a Paglia passage that skewers some Leftist goodthinking, only to be brought up short by Paglia’s relentlessly logical pursuit of the full implications of her view: that nature is real, and it by and large sucks.
How does the volume under review illustrate this? Paglia does well to begin with substantial excerpts from Sexual Personae, as these provide the essential framework for everything to come.
Reviewing her last book, Glittering Images (Pantheon, 2012), Greg Johnson – another fan on the Alt Right – provided a little precis of Paglia’s worldview, as assumed rather than documented in Sexual Personae. Being, unlike yours truly, a professional philosopher, it’s worth starting there:
For Paglia, “In the beginning was nature.” With this line, she sweeps aside the academic dogma of social constructionism and affirms the reality of nature, without which we cannot understand culture. Although Paglia says nothing about the reality of racial differences and their importance for understanding history and culture, she affirms the biological reality of sex differences and makes sex central to her theory of culture and interpretation of art.
For Paglia, however, culture is less an expression of nature than a refuge from her terrors, including nature inside of us: sexual desire. Although Paglia denies that nature is merely a social construct, she also denies that culture is merely a natural construct. Although nature drives and constrains the culture creation process, culture is a realm of imagination, freedom, and creativity that cannot be meaningfully reduced to natural drives.
Now, as we said above, sex and culture are barely distinguished here. The culture spoken of here is/was created by men, and, at least initially, for men:
Men, bonding together, invented culture as a defense against female nature.
From this defensive head-magic has come the spectacular glory of male civilization, which has lifted woman with it. The very language and logic modern woman uses to assail patriarchal culture were the invention of men.
The Western idea of history as a propulsive movement into the future . . . is a male formulation.
If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.
Already, here we see Paglia formulating, on the basis of nature, a key motif of Traditionalist symbolism that O’Meara has devoted much attention to: the symbolic contrast of the circle (here, the female and her eternal natural cycle) and the spiral (here, the male’s vertical escape from cyclical repetition), expressed with a coy bawdiness that would no doubt please him:
Woman does not dream of transcendental or historical escape from natural cycle, since she is that cycle. Evolutionary or apocalyptic history is a male wish list with a happy ending, a phallic peak.
My explanation for the male domination of art, science, and politics, an indisputable fact of history, is based on an analogy between sexual physiology and aesthetics. I will argue that all cultural achievement is a projection, a swerve into Apollonian transcendence, and that men are anatomically destined to be projectors.
Through concentration to projection into the beyond. The male projection of erection and ejaculation is the paradigm for all cultural projections and conceptualization – from art and philosophy to fantasy, hallucination, and obsession.
But the happy ending is itself only a fantasy; for Paglia at least the attempt is ultimately futile:
Apollo can swerve from nature but he cannot obliterate it. As emotional and sexual beings we go full circle. Old age is a second childhood.
This pessimism also shadows her most controversial ideas:
I agree with Sade that we have the right to thwart nature’s procreative compulsions, through sodomy or abortion. Male homosexuality may be the most valorous of attempts to . . . defeat nature. By turning away from the Medusan mother, whether in honor or detestation of her, the male homosexual is one of the great forgers of absolutist Western identity. But of course nature has won, as she always does, by making disease the price of promiscuous sex.
Nevertheless, though rejecting the feminist ideal of “androgyny” as “belonging to the contemplative rather than active life . . . the ancient prerogative of priests, shamans and artists,” Paglia, foreshadowing O’Meara’s equally disturbing debut offering, exults that
Major peaks of Western culture have been accompanied by a high incidence of male homosexuality – in classical Athens and Renaissance Florence and London. Male concentration and projection are self-enhancing, leading to supreme achievements of Apollonian conceptualization.
Indeed, even pornography “should be tolerated”:
Though its public display may reasonably be restricted. Our knowledge of [fantasies of sexual violence] is expanded by pornography, [which] show us natures’ daemonic heart, those eternal forces at work beneath and beyond social convention. The imagination cannot and must not be policed.
And speaking of the imagination, Paglia also anticipates O’Meara’s more recent obsession with the New Thought effusions of the mystical Neville:
Most of Western culture is a distortion of reality. But reality should be distorted; that is, imaginatively amended.
An erection is a thought and the orgasm an act of imagination.
Conservatives will take some comfort in her defense of marriage; but again, like all cultural institutions, marriage is profoundly unnatural, in fact, like homosexuality, something against nature, and we’re all the better for it.
This is a pretty good example of Paglia’s one-two punch; the devotion to fact leads her to contravene some PC guideline, causing the Rightist to cheer, only to become a stifled choking as she cheerfully careens through the Right’s own bias and bugaboos.
The essays that follow examine various aspect of modern life (one could hardly call most of them “culture”) from this perspective, and find them mostly wanting.
Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects government to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other words, liberalism defines government as tyrant father but demands it behave as nurturant mother.
Needless to say, “Feminism has inherited these contradictions.” “Feminists, seeking to drive power relations out of sex, have set themselves against nature,” but only in the sense of repressing and ignoring it, resulting in any number of bad ideas aggressively promoted by various PC codes.
Foremost among them is the whole idea of society as a plot to impose sexist hierarchies on women, smoothing the “natural” equality and freedom. Bunkum!
Sexual freedom, sexual liberation. A modern delusion. We are hierarchical animals. Sweep one hierarchy away, and another will take its place, perhaps less palatable that the first. There are hierarchies in nature and alternative hierarchies in society. In nature, brute force is the law, a survival of the fittest. In society, there are protections for the weak. Society is our frail barrier against nature. When the prestige of state and religion is low, men are free, but they find new ways to enslave themselves, through drugs or depression. My theory is that whenever sexual freedom is sought or achieved, sadomasochism will not be far behind. Romanticism always turns into decadence. Nature is a hard taskmaster. It is the hammer and the anvil, crushing individuality.
This perspective informs her most controversial writings, on so-called “date rape.”
Modern feminism’s most naïve formulation is its assertion that rape is a crime not of violence but of sex. That is merely power masquerading as sex. But sex IS power, and all power is inherently aggressive. Society is woman’s protection against rape, not, as some feminists absurdly maintain, the cause of rape. The rapist is a man with too little socialization rather than too much.
Paglia, as we’ve said, is really just something of an old-time liberal, exulting in the freedoms supposedly obtained in the ‘60s, and infuriated, sometimes almost comically so, by the way so-called “progressives” have betrayed those freedoms and become the new, real, reactionaries.
Women and students, the supposed beneficiaries of the ‘60s, were supposed to be mature and intelligent enough to throw off the benevolent controls of parents, society, and campus administrations, and deal with men and ideas as equals.
Instead, they are busy reconstructing half-assed versions (because based on ideological fantasy rather than solid facts of nature) of the old restrictions, concocting “speech codes,” “safe spaces,” and checklists to complete before initiating intercourse (in the event, unlikely) and gumming up the workplace with diversity seminars and sexual harassment investigations.
Speaking of which, all this seems to have come to a head in the “totalitarian show trial” of Anita Hill v. Clarence Thomas. Paglia finds Anita Hill to be “intelligent,” but despite her maturity and education, unable to simply signal her displeasure with sexual innuendo in the workplace.
Sex, Freud has taught us, is everywhere, and with the end of paternalism in the ‘60s, it is up to men and women to freely assert their own standards; the move toward codes of conduct and rigid rules is a step backward, a re-infantilizing of women.
As for “Gender Studies,” enamored with “the swindling Lacan” or “awash with soupy Campbellism,” the only reform can come from “men and women conservatively trained in high-level intellectual history” or “the intellectual discipline of the masculine classical tradition”; a “systematic training in political science and history.”
Despite her general disparagement of fancy French thought, Paglia does think that if any part of society “calls out for a Foucauldian analysis,” it’s “Gender Studies.” In this nuanced use of Foucault, Paglia resembles, or foreshadows, another Alt Right figure, Jason Reza Jorjani, whose Prometheus and Atlas (Arktos, 2016) provides a subtly progressive – or rather, archeofuturist – philosophical foundation for the Alt Right, in contrast to the usual gloomy and doomy suspects (Evola, Spengler, Yockey, etc.). Paglia, however, clearly states right at the beginning of Sexual Personae that “[t]his book takes the point of view of Sade,” whose work she considers an elaborate satire of Rousseau, while Jorjani takes Sade to be himself a reductio ad absurdum of Descartes. Nevertheless, passages such as this:
Sex is the point of contact between man and nature . . . I called it an intersection. This intersection is the uncanny crossroads of Hecate, where all things return in the night. Eroticism is a realm stalked by ghosts . . . Sex is daemonic.
. . . and this:
Western science is a product of the Apollonian mind: its hope that by naming and classification, by the cold light of intellect, archaic night can be pushed back and defeated . . . The West’s greatness arises from this delusion [as also does] our titanic contributions to art.
. . . as well as her remarks about male “projection” as the basis of culture, make for an interesting field of comparison with Jorjani’s theme of the uncanny and spectral possession by the Titans of forethought and measurement as tools for understanding the origins of Aryan culture.
Unlike many on the Right, Paglia has a positive view of Judaism, calling both the Apollonian and Judeo-Christian traditions male “sky cults” and “transcendental” to nature. But here again, she pulls the rug out from under the evangelical or mainline Christian Right, pointing out that it insists on a father-god making nature, while “differentiation into gender was after the fact of his maleness”; in other words, the maleness of YHVH is more fundamental than any “male and female He created them” support for what O’Meara likes to sneer at as “family values.”
Paglia frequently alludes to herself as writing in the critical spirit and style of Oscar Wilde or, with more justice, Wilde’s unwilling mentor, Walter Pater. Perhaps one can again modestly suggest she has misjudged herself. Time and again, the critic who comes to mind is A. E. Housman.
Housman hammered away on two points. First, literary criticism is hard, but rather than leaving it alone, academics want to devise ways to make it easier by, well, cheating. And it’s cheating because literary criticism can’t actually be done by mechanically applying easy formulas (such as “the older the manuscript, the more accurate”), but only by the hard work of examining each document in minute detail.
Paglia would argue similarly, I think; feminists and others are attempting to substitute easy formulas (PC or post-structuralism) for the hard work of actually reading and evaluating literature, or the hard work of really studying biology; and the results are worthless.
And that demand, to look at the data of the text itself, rather than muttering allegiance to some formulaic dogma, is what brings her, in social contexts, into the orbit of the Alt Right.
Even as a selection, not everything is gold here. Those of us who remember her transgressive essays for Salon, trashing Hillary and all but endorsing Trump, will be puzzled to see only some pro-Hillary, anti-Trump pieces here. The sports pieces are not really interesting, although your mileage may vary. And one could do without reprinting the fulsomely praising introductions to the original magazine appearances, but then would this be Paglia?
That leaves us with the matter of the long-promised second volume of Sexual Personae, which “will show how movies, television, sports, and rock music embody all the pagan themes of classical antiquity.” Perhaps we don’t need it after all; has the Alt Right repaid its debt by covering that job for her?
2. “NYT’s Tierney on ‘The Golf Gene’“, Isteve, August 19, 2005. I think this is why I recall Sailer actually calling Sexual Personae something like “the most important book of the twentieth century,” but if he did, I can’t find it.
3. “The KKKrazy Glue That Holds the Obama Coalition Together,” TakiMag, March 13, 2013.
4. “Intro to the Alt-right (1): Hannibal Bateman” by Ryan Andrews, Alternative Right, October 20, 2016.
6. See, for example, “The Hotep/Alt-Right Alliance” by Hunter Wallace; Occidental Dissent, February 27, 2017.
7. “Political correctness is a war on noticing, and it’s harder to not notice patterns when watching sports than almost anywhere else in life.” “World War T,” TakiMag, January 22, 2014.
8. Steve Sailer: “The more ‘simply a fact’ something is, the less you are supposed to mention it.” “Jewish Leader Says ‘Blacks Are Much Better Dancers’,” Forward, April 10, 2017.
9. “Why Is the Alt-Right So Threatening?” by Robert Weissberg, Unz.com, March 2, 2017.
10. “The Iron Law of Conservatism,” April 9, 2017.
11. Surprised by Joy (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1955).
12. “Lost in Secret Dreams,” March 29, 2017. I’ve italicized “by simply noticing.”
13. “I am the sixties, come back to haunt the present,” she told an MIT audience in 1991.
14. The Coen brothers have immortalized the Midwestern version in Fargo. Although the content of PC is Leftist, the mechanism making it possible to impose it is good old New England WASP gentility, a kind of watered-down but still devastatingly effective Puritanism, where pushy wops like Paglia are infra dig.
15. The second phrase is italicized by me.
16. “‘For some reason, I started thinking about the cost of Meryl Streep’s gown at the Golden Globes and the $30 million apartment she had recently put on the market in Greenwich Village.’ ‘Liberalism’ used to be about freedom but now is about a kind of warped moral authority that is actually part of the moral superiority movement. This faction of the left is touchingly now known as “The Resistance.” Oh yes, the resistance. What is this resistance? There are posters all over my neighborhood in West Hollywood urging me to resist, resist, resist.'” “‘American Psycho’ Author Blasts Hollywood Snowflakes For ‘Childish Meltdowns’ Over Trump,” Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, March 29, 2017.
17. “Much of western culture is a distortion of reality,” she writes in Sexual Personae. “But reality should be distorted; that is, imaginatively amended.”
18. Steve Sailer reviewing Vamps and Tramps in The National Review: “While never dull, this unabridged compilation can be repetitious. Because Miss Paglia ties every topic into The Theory, most of her op-eds include a rushed recap of the tragicomic world view she elucidated with supreme clarity in Sexual Personae‘s first chapter.” The National Review, December 31, 1994, pp. 58-59; quoted in “Camille Paglia,” on Encyclopedia.com.
20. “Taking the term broadly to embrace everything from ritual and religion to art, fashion, and Hollywood movies.” From Roger Kimball, “In the Footsteps of Sade: On Sexual Personae by Camille Paglia,” The New Criterion, March 1990.
21. Paradoxically, “mother cults did not mean social freedom for women . . . cult objects are prisoners of their own symbolic inflation.” Instead, “Western science and industry have freed women from drudgery and danger. Machines do housework. The pill neutralizes fertility. Giving birth is no longer fatal. And the Apollonian line of western rationality has produced the modern aggressive woman who can think like a man and write obnoxious books.”
22. Also noted by Greg Johnson, loc. cit.: “Like Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Spengler, Paglia is a pessimist. She does not believe that culture can ever fully master nature. She does not believe that all men will ever become free. She does not believe that mankind will move from myth and irrationality to science and rationality. In a word, she does not believe in progress.”
23. The ladies shouldn’t worry, though; unlike the “nerdy bookworm husbands” of the feminists, “the men who really like women” are “transsexuals and flamboyant drag queens.” (“Madonna: Animality and Artifice.”)
24. Not, in other words, the dumbed-down idea of thirteen-year-olds needing special bathrooms; see O’Meara’s take, “Accommodate This! Bruce Jenner & the Hermetic Rebis.”
25. The Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Politics and Popular Culture, edited by Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).
26. Later that year, she’ll start her long march through public pop culture, taking Madonna to task for thinking, unlike Baudelaire and Wilde, that “the artist has a moral responsibility to liberal social causes” and asserting that “’Justify My Love’ is truly avant-garde” but “it does not belong on a mainstream music channel watched around the clock by children.” From “Madonna: Animality and Artifice.” She might want to reconsider the claim that Cyndi Lauper “went nowhere.”
27. See his edition of Neville’s Feeling is the Secret (Amazon kindle, 2016) and more recently his book on Trump: The Art of the Meme (Amazon Kindle, 2017). As for Neville, as near as I can make out – not much, I fear – “The Pruning Shears of Revision” sounds something like Paglia’s “imaginatively amended.”
28. See “Of Apes, Essence & Imagination.”
29. Steven Pinker, a Sailer favorite on IQ, diagnosed this as the contradiction in the vaporings of linguist turned pundit George Lakoff: “Recall that in Lakoff’s account, conservatives think of a strict father and progressives think of a nurturant . . . well, here Lakoff runs into a wee problem. The metaphors in our language imply that the nurturing parent should be a mother, beginning with ‘nurture’ itself, which comes from the same root as ‘to nurse.’ Just think of the difference in meaning between ‘to mother a child’ and ‘to father a child’! . . . But it would be embarrassing if progressivism seemed to endorse the stereotype that women are more suited to nurturing children than men are, even if that is, by Lakoff’s own logic, a ‘metaphor we live by.’ So political correctness trumps linguistics, and the counterpart to the strict father is an androgynous ‘nurturant parent.’” See his review, “Block That Metaphor!” in The New Republic, October 9, 2006. For more on Lakoff’s foolishness, see Margot Metroland’s “The Weaponized Nonsense of George Lakoff.”
30. I don’t think this indicates a disparagement of Joseph Campbell himself; for a positive perspective, see John Morgan’s “The Power of Myth: Remembering Joseph Campbell, March 26, 1904-October 30, 1987.”
31. “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf.”
32. “The MIT Lecture: Crisis in the American Universities.”
33. At least, so far as I can understand from reading the reviews by Andrew O’Donnell and – again! – James O’Meara. At this point in my life I prefer reading classic detective novels. And what’s with all these Micks, anyway? Probably the same guy.
34. Paglia insists that “all the genres” of culture have been invented by men, but also that “by the Promethean law of conflict and capture, woman has a right to seize what she will and to vie with man on his own terms.” So look out, guys.
35. Although one must wonder if this is a function of Harold Bloom being the only Yale professor willing to direct her original dissertation; or, as he’s quoted by her, “My dear, I am the only one who can direct that dissertation!” Freud, too, is a hero: “One of the major thinkers in world history . . . Reading him, you feel new tracks being cut into your brain.” (“Junk Bonds”)
36. Greg Johnson, loc. cit., calls Sexual Personae “the greatest work of art and literary criticism since the days of Matthew Arnold and Walter Pater.”
37. One might compare their personalized, polemical styles as a product of their career paths. Housman famously “ploughed” his exams and left with no hope of an academic position; toiling in the Patent Office, he made a name for himself with his scholarly publications (as well as, of course, a separate career as a poet) and eventually obtained professorships at both Oxford and Cambridge, along with a reputation for incisive, viciously personal criticism of academic fools that gained an audience with the amused public. Paglia toiled away at obscure institutions until Sexual Personae became a rather surprising bestseller, after which she was launched on the scandalous and scandalizing career in the public eye documented in this collection. The Times sees a less literary parallel for her waspish style: “Paglia’s temperament, in her essay collections, has much in common with that of our commander in chief. Like Trump, Paglia is paranoid and never forgets a slight. She speaks more than once here of ‘coordinated’ campaigns against her work.” “From Camille Paglia, ‘Free Women, Free Men’ and No Sacred Cows,” from Books of The Times, Dwight Garner, March 23, 2017.
38. Someone who has done the hard work of looking at biology, anthropology, and history to address Paglia and O’Meara’s claims about male bonding and human culture is James Neill; see his The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008) or, if that’s too hard, this handy Kindle review essay.
39. Did the publisher anticipate a different election result? Paglia is already cranking up the spin machine; see “Camille Paglia Predicted 2017: What the ’90s Provocateur Understands about the Trump Era,” Molly Fischer, New York Magazine, March 7, 2017. “I felt the Trump victory coming for a long time.”