ESSAY TRAMP: The he said/she said war heats up with Gloria Steinem's pronouncement that anti-women's movement author and feminist Camille Paglia is kind of like, gulp, Supreme Court Judge Clarence Thomas: "Someone who was helped by a movement they weren't a part of, but then discovered they could be rewarded for opposing it."
Gee, she must have just finished Paglia's latest essay collection Vamps and Tramps, a boring slog through the mind and sexuality of she-woman Paglia, who loves one person intimately--herself.
What stands out in this book, unfortunately, are not some of her more interesting and enlightened comments regarding things like the decline of American universities and the upswing of shoddy multi-cultural programs, but her verbal assaults on other women and her disregard for victims of sexual violence.
She calls lesbians "mournful sentimentalists" and "sour political activists who look like stumpy trolls." She feels compelled to say Martina Navratilova's "hyperdeveloped masculine musculature is overcompensation for her creampuff interior." Who's compensating for what here?
People I know have grasped pieces of Paglia, but it's through her written words that you get to know her. It's different from catching her on late-night radio where her rapid-fire responses and name calling have garnered her fans.
Paglia, by the way, does love men, but can't decide whether to sleep with them or merely imagine sleeping with them. She loves gay men, straight men, men who read pornography, older men who have liaisons with children, drag queens, Woody Allen, Bill Clinton. "I think the peccadilloes of great men, of great politicians should be overlooked." Oh, me too.
Her dictum, "Everyone should be free to insult everyone else, as long as words don't escalate into violence," comes from someone too high up in the tower. Paglia wants us all to be highly sexual, primitive love beings, responsible only to ourselves and our actions. Her lack of compassion for others, however is appalling. Of the men of her generation and mine who die daily she writes, cruelly, "Gay men challenged nature and lost."
She is as callous about women: "Let's get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catch-all vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses."
As for her spot in the drawer, she admits to not being able to fathom intimacy: "Intimacy kills sex. I think that every very, very talented woman in some way has difficulty in how to relate sexually to other people. And that's been my problem."
Not getting enough. I thought so.
Don't take this paperback to the beach, warriors. Scares off the prospects.
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