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Camille Paglia on feminism

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This article provides an exposition and extension of some of Camille Paglia's comments on contemporary feminism.

When asked about the concept of "rape culture," she said:

It’s ridiculous. The one place we should be worried about is India. Why American feminists haven’t mobilized against gang rapes in India is an absolute outrage. This obsession with rape [in North America] is neurotic. There are attacks on men also. This privileging of the female victim is a distortion. To see the world in terms of rape is absurd. Throughout history there have been atrocities of every kind. Throughout history honourable men don’t rape.

When asked if we can teach men not to rape, she said:

You can try to teach people to make ethical judgments. Telling a rapist not to rape? [Laughs] A liberal ideology is out there that people are basically good. It’s a bourgeois version of reality—this idea that the whole world should be like a bourgeois living room and anyone who doesn’t belong, you can retrain. No you can’t! I was raised in the Italian working-class way, which is “watch out!” The world is a dangerous place. It’s up to you to protect yourself, not just from rape, but from anything. The lack of imagination for criminality amazes me. There are people who are evil. The problem here is the inability of women to project themselves into the minds of men. Feminists say [proper, mocking tone] “women have the right to do whatever they want.” Of course we have the right to do whatever we want–to be jogging with earphones on with our breasts going like this [simulates breasts bouncing]. Yes you have the right to but it’s also stupid! I see with the eyes of the criminal. I must have a criminal mind.

When asked if there were any worthwhile voices in feminism today, she said:

Feminism is dead. The movement is absolutely dead. The women’s movement tried to suppress dissident voices for way too long. There’s no room for dissent. It’s just like Mean Girls. If they had listened to me they could have gotten the ship steered in the right direction. My wing of feminism—the pro-sex wing—was silenced. I was practically lynched for endorsing The Rolling Stones. Susan Faludi is still saying I’m not a feminist. Who made her pope? Feminist ideology is like a new religion for a lot of neurotic women. You can’t talk to them about anything.

I believe that, taken together, these quotes provide very helpful critiques of contemporary feminism from a psychological perspective. I would like to advance the following theses:

-The intellectual justification on which most feminists today base their claims is an extreme form of social constructionism popularized by thinkers like Jacques Derrida and Judith Butler. These thinkers argue that all of reality is linguistically constructed. They do not argue that we construct an antecedently existing linguistic and social substrate, but rather, they simply affirm that all of reality is linguistically constructed.

-Camille Paglia states that feminists adhere to their belief system with the inflexibility and fervor of a religion, and refers to such feminists as 'neurotic.' I agree that they exhibit such inflexibility and fervor, but I believe that what we witness in the contemporary feminist cult of the victim is more comparable to what Dr. Tara J. Palmatier characterizes as a cluster B personality disorder.

-The reason feminists are willing to affirm something as absurd as a linguistic construction of all of reality is because they exhibit the aforementioned personality traits. Since they hate men, oftentimes because of extreme crimes of individual men, their extreme social constructionism allows them to intellectually justify themselves in their ascription of the criminal behavior and behavioral characteristics of these men to all other men.

I agree with Ms. Paglia that the belief in human perfectibility of feminists has a formal resemblance to bourgeois, liberal social political philosophies, but I do not believe that they consciously sympathize with these philosophies (they were, after all, popularized by white men). Instead, their belief that all men can be taught not to rape is the to-be-expected issue of their extreme social constructionism, which, as previously stated, itself functions as an ideology which allows them to indulge their hatred of all men. Even though the most heinous crimes are committed by a very small percentage of the human population, their social constructionism allows them to conclude that, since there are men still committing these crimes, it is because we live in a masculinist culture of which all men are advocates.

The blindness to which their hatred of men and social constructionism submits them is terrifying. The average feminist is utterly uninterested in the fact that the most heinous crimes are committed by a very small percentage of the human population, that these are specifically men with antisocial personality disorder, which very frequently lands them in prison, and that this disorder has very distinct neurobiological correlates which sets them apart from other men and allows them to be totally uninterested in the feelings of others. In blaming all men for the crimes of serial rapists and sexual sadists, such feminists have ingeniously concocted an ideology which furnishes them with the intellectual justification for false-rape accusation.

The idea that such men exhibit distinct neurobiological abnormalities which distinguish them from other men, of course, is totally irrelevant to someone who thinks that reality is entirely socially constructed. And, of course, it is in the best interest of such a feminist to deny anything other than social and linguistic conventions, because if there are neurobiological roots of antisocial behavior, it means that there are women who behave in such a manner for reasons other than oppression. Such women, then, would not be acting out merely in response to abuse or oppression. Instead, a neurobiological ground for their behavior would mean that there is something wrong with those individual women; something which is anathema to such feminists.

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