Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A feminist on the Ivy Leagues

Paglia: I'm talking about date rape, what everyone is talking about right now, about this so-called "rape culture." But that essay that I wrote begins, "Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in any civilized society." That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about this new reclassification of people getting drunk, going on a date, going to fraternity houses, and women not taking responsibility for their own behavior. I said that gay men for thousands of years have been going out and having sex with strangers everywhere. They know they can be beaten up. They know they can be killed. What is this where women are, "Oh, we must be protected against even our foolish choices. It's up to men to…" This is ridiculous. This is an intrusion into the civil liberties of young people that have this kind of vampiric parent figures and the administrators hovering, watching, supervising people's sex lives. In Europe, there's nothing like this. There's no idea that the University of Paris is concerned about the dating lives of damn students.
reason: Well, they also don't have sports teams, and they don't have dorms. 
Paglia: Exactly. It's this residential college thing, this vision of college as this summer camp, this Club Med. This is the folly of American education.
reason: It's more reeducation camp now, right? Camp Wo-Chi-Cha?
Paglia: It's, "Let us hold your hand. Let us give you the incredible gym with exercise equipment. Let's give you the thousand choices in the cafeteria." This has nothing to do with education anymore.
Paglia: So now, we're in a period, this is what I don't understand, where women on campus—the institutionalized whining now—that's what it's turned into.
reason: Clarify what's the difference between a legitimate gripe and whining?
Paglia: Well, in my point of view, no college administration should be taking any interest whatever in the social lives of the students. None! If a crime's committed on campus, it should always be reported to the police. I absolutely do not agree with any committees investigating any charge of sexual assault. Either it's a real crime, or it's not a real crime. Get the hell out. So you get this expansion of the campus bureaucracy with this Stalinist oversight. But the students have been raised with helicopter parents. They want it. The students of today—they're utterly uninformed, not necessarily at my school, the art school, I'm talking about the elite schools.
reason: So it's those kids over at that other school.
Paglia: It's the grade grubbers, the bright overachievers. I'm not at that kind of school [here at University of the Arts in Philadelphia] . I'm at a school of arts and communication where people already have a vocational trend. To be admitted here, you have to already have demonstrated a vocational aptitude. I'm talking about the Ivy League. Now, I've encountered these graduates of Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, and Princeton, I've encountered them in the media, and people in their 30s now, some of them, their minds are like Jell-O. They know nothing! They've not been trained in history. They have absolutely no structure to their minds. Their emotions are unfixed. The banality of contemporary cultural criticism, of academe, the absolute collapse of any kind of intellectual discourse in the U.S. is the result of these colleges, which should have been the best, have produced the finest minds, instead having retracted into caretaking. The whole thing is about approved social positions in a kind of misty, love of humanity without any direct knowledge of history or economics or anthropology.
reason: What would be a way forward for colleges or other institutions to start making a defense of the humanities?
Paglia: They have no sense of history. I find there's more sense of history in southern evangelicals who didn't even finish high school because their knowledge of the world is based on the Bible, so they're thinking in terms of, "What happened 2,000 years ago? What happened 2,500 years ago?"
reason: What is it about her? Is Hillary Clinton kind of your worst nightmare as a woman? 
Paglia: No, she's exactly my age. I feel I know her completely. Our accents are kind of the same. I understand her completely. So I see all the games and falsehoods and so forth. So I've enjoyed it. I've made an entire career practically—in fact I wrote the cover story for The New Republic "Ice Queen, Drag Queen"—that was 1996, it was way back there.
reason: So what is it about Hillary that bothers you.
Paglia: She's a fraud!
reason: Explain how.
Paglia: She can't have an opinion without poll testing it. She's a liar. This is not a strong candidate for our first woman president.


  1. Fascinating. (Steve, are you seeing something in this feminist that you like/agree with?)

    1. There's a lot to agree with in this interview. She's also not a third wave feminist.

    2. Mind explaining what you mean by that?

    3. The feminism that rose from the early 90's and onwards is called third wave.