Camille Paglia Sounds Off About Hillary
Maverick did I say? Well all right, let's just say that Camille Paglia is a maverick upon a certain range -- undoubtedly a broad range, but the prairie does stretch a mite further! For to be honest, Camille Paglia is doggedly addicted to the word feminist even in the teeth of all those "real feminists" would dearly love to drop-kick her clear the hell out of the game altogether.
Ah, the F-word! The mark of the beast. The blighted bar code. The sign which you are unwise to hang upon your back no matter what you think it means! For if do so, you are only inviting trouble when the hurly-burly gets underway! Yet I should note that Camille Paglia is far from alone in her addiction. Heavens, aren't there any 12-step programs for such people? Will they never break loose from their moral dependency upon the word feminist?
Paglia has recently published an opinion piece in the U.K. Telegraph, where she does an astute job of taking apart Hillary Clinton and rubbishing her credibility as presidential material:
The article is titled 'Hillary Clinton's Candidacy has done Feminism no Favours', and I can certainly drink to that, although I'm not so sure if feminism really deserves any favors. But then, I would say that, wouldn't I? Camille may call feminism a 'noble movement' if she feels so inclined, and one may certainly agree to disagree!
So much for the title. Paglia's article begins with the following:
"When the dust settles over the 2008 election, will Hillary Clinton have helped or hindered women's advance toward the US presidency?"That is Paglia's rhetorical question setting the stage for what follows, but to me it sets the stage for one or two thoughts on my own tangent. What about this business of having a female president, eh? Should anybody -- other than a feminist, I mean -- honestly give a mound of warm, steaming horse-puckey whether a woman gets into the offal office? Should they? Are we as citizens (male or otherwise) bound by any moral duty to feel any special pang of urgency upon that subject? Are we?
Well. I do frankly confess that my heart is unoccupied upon that subject. To me, it is far from axiomatic that having a woman in the White House should be a priority. Throughout most of American history it has not been a priority even among women themselves, for although women have always been free to run for the presidency, they simply have not done so. I suspect this is because the thought has seldom occurred to anybody -- male OR female. Cultural ideas about "a woman's place" were common currency clear across the board, and nearly everybody shared in such ideas. It was only in the course of time, gradually, that certain "radicals" (read drama queens) started framing this normative, accepted state of affairs as "oppression", and spreading their meme. And their campaigns amounted to something like forcing a door open against its natural swing -- which they quixotically interpreted as "overcoming oppression." That so-called oppression would have been more aptly characterized as "cultural inertia".
The radical drama queens are still present today, and still framing things as "oppression". And they are still feeding upon the pyramidally accumulated historical legacy of such framings, along with a related heritage of self-fulfilling prophecies and self-validations. But I say again that the question of electing a female president seems to me a trifling thing, a point of indifferent urgency. To me it is far more important that we choose the right person for the job -- although I realize that the political selection process makes it unlikely that a worthy candidate would ever gain candidature.
So, although I harbor no personal animus against the prospect of a female president, I will not bestir myself to quicken the arrival of that inaugural day. Why should I? And if you try to converse with me upon the subject, you will see my eyes glaze over. You will hear me whicker my lips like a horse. Insofar as I give a toot, that glorious day can postpone itself until some abstract, unspecified time beyond the blue horizon. I wash my hands of it. I shrug my shoulders at the mere thought of it. I have other fish to fry.
However: my laissez-faire and my insouciance quickly take a different road when I consider the motivations of my enemies. For you see, the feminists don't just want a female in the White House, they want a feminist female in the White House! And that fact, well and truly, poses a critical distinction.
For present purposes, a feminist female means one who has, on some level, bought into the two-party model of sexual politics. That is to say, a feminist female is one who has bought into the feminist world-view, whether she calls herself a feminist or not. And whichever way you slice it, that is the kind of woman the feminists want to see in the presidential chair. Their candidate would need to be a "feminist" in an operatively meaningful fashion or, barring that, a pliant clay that would yield to their lobbyings and their legislatings.
Any woman who got into the White House would be either a feminist, or under inhuman feminist pressure to act like a feminist. Whether she was 'right' or 'left' on the political spectrum would make a stylistic rather than a substantive difference. In other words, it would scarcely matter. And that is why the prospect of a woman President, although a matter of personal inconsequence, is for me a point of tremendous political consequence. My poor little patriarchal ego doesn't give two cold spits in a tornado if the president is a woman, but my pragmatic political mind is seriously concerned about the possible ramifications for people like myself. This is all about power: we know it and they know it, so let's not be cute about it! That is a harsh assessment, but I choose to live in the real world because I have weighed the consequences of doing otherwise.
Given the anti-male, female-supremacist trajectory which the greater feminist enterprise has clearly manifested throughout the course of its development, we would be childish to suppose that a woman in the White House would do aught other than turbo-charge such tendencies and boost their evolution to a whole new level. Furthermore, if a woman became president she would do so upon a tide of feminist energy, and what are the chances that she would betray or reverse that energy once she got into office?
But to view this in the least prejudicial light, what could a woman president offer that an equally qualified (and ideologically similar) male couldn't offer? I would say, nothing at all -- and your only conceivable ground for disagreement would be either A.) some manner of "sexist" essentialism concerning the inherent nature of womanhood, or B.) some ideologically loaded "constructivist" universalization about female experience.
In short, given two equally qualified and ideologically similar candidates -- one male and the other female -- there would be no "good" reason to favor the woman over the man, but only a "sexist" reason, an agenda-driven reason. Oh very well, a feminist reason!
Hence, the bare idea of getting a woman into the White House has, purely of itself, nothing to command our interest one way or the other. Women in the abstract, do not "deserve" the presidency -- it is a complete non-issue! This realm of discussion becomes interesting if, and only if, you load it with additional baggage. And that additional baggage is, and can only be, feminist baggage.
So turning once again to Camille Paglia's rhetorical query, my first impulse is to say: "I frankly don't even care if Hillary's campaign embarassments have helped or hindered women's advance toward the presidency. I am indifferent to all of that. It means nothing to me, because it means nothing to me if a woman EVER gains the presidency. "
In an ideal world, a world not loaded with the feminist baggage of sexual politics, that would be the end of it. In fact, neither that statement nor the question which prompted it would even arise whatsoever in such a world!
And that is exactly my point. We do NOT live in such a world, and therefore such questions will arise. And when they do, I as a male citizen cannot afford to respond in such a blissfully transcendental way. A Himalayan Zen master in his cave high above the clouds could possibly afford to respond in such a way, but I am not so favorably situated!
Accordingly, I as a male citizen have not merely no personal reason to care if a woman gets into the White House, I have additionally the negative incentive (in terms of averages) to wish that a woman would NOT get into the White House, because such an event would be a bad gamble from my political point of view. In fine, there is no compelling reason -- from any strictly male angle of consideration-- to put a woman in the White House, and all else being equal, I would just as soon pick the best candidate from a pool of male contenders.
And to the hip, progressive, pro-feminist male "booster" who might sing his cornball cheerleading ditties about a woman in the oval office, listen up: you are a collaborationist, or at best a silly jackass with no idea what you are braying about!
Further along in the article, Camille Paglia (sounding very much like an MRA!) says this:
Well, which is it? Are men convenient sugar daddies or condescending oppressors?And my own MRA response to women in general would be, that a certain percentage of men can always be counted on to be convenient sugar daddies if you twirl your hair and bat your eyes. And that a certain other percentage can always be counted on to be condescending oppressors (as I am doing here) if you behave like an idiot or wear a feminist chip on your shoulder. So, exploit the former if you seek material support, and exploit the latter if you wish to validate your victim card. Extra points if you can get those two groups to duke it out with each other -- that's an ancient trick!
And then Camille says this:
From that rag-tag crew, she will build her army. Let the red flags fly! Hillary is positioning herself as the Crucified One, betrayed, mocked, flogged, and shunted aside for the cause of Ultimate Womanhood. But doesn't this saccharine melodrama undermine the central goals of feminism?In a way, yes. It undermines those goals by unveiling them with a too-painful clarity, because "saccharine melodrama" is so very central, and hence vital, to feminism altogether. Feminism wouldn't last two weeks without it. Camille Paglia's analysis of what is "central" to feminism differs sharply from my own. She sees feminism as a noble cause; I see it as, well . . . saccharine melodrama! And Hillary Clinton epitomizes the spiritual core of feminism whereas Camille Paglia does not.
All right, so here is the link to the article once again:
Half the fun of these things is reading the comments which follow, and this piece by Paglia has garnered a pretty fair number. Among that number, Warren Farrell makes a brief appearance! And here is something interesting: I was made aware of this Paglia column because somebody sent me a link by e-mail. And in that very same e-mail, I noticed Farrell's name in the 'CC' list! In other words, Warren Farrell got this information from the exact same person that I did, and as a result ended up writing the reader comment on the Paglia article which I duly noted. It's a small world, isn't it??
Well, I shall climb back up to my Himalayan cave for a while, far above the clouds. See ya later!