Paglia’s Observations on Palin and American Feminism are of Great Political Significance

The insights of this essay are borne of a lifetime of cultural observations and writings by self-described dissident feminist Camille Paglia.  This piece is a must-read for the left and the right and everyone in between, and helps explain the significance of Palin-mania.

Paglia is an Obama supporter:

“We need a new generation of leadership with fresh ideas and an expansive, cosmopolitan vision — which is why I support Barack Obama and have contributed to his campaign. My baby-boom generation — typified by the narcissistic Clintons — peaked in the 1960s and is seriously past it. But McCain, born before Pearl Harbor, is even older than we are! Why would anyone believe that he holds the key to the future? And why would anyone swallow that preening passel of high-flown rhetoric about “country above all” coming from a seething, short-fused character whose rampant egotism, zigzagging principles, and currying of the gullible press were the distinguishing marks of his senatorial career?”

On Palin:

“Conservative though she may be, I felt that Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism. At her startling debut on that day, she was combining male and female qualities in ways that I have never seen before. And she was somehow able to seem simultaneously reassuringly traditional and gung-ho futurist. In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment.

“As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing since my arrival on the scene nearly 20 years ago that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than taking women’s studies courses, with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances….

On the cultural elite and the fact that the teleprompter went dead during Palin’s big convention speech:

“Over the Labor Day weekend, with most of the big enchiladas of the major media on vacation, the vacuum was filled with a hallucinatory hurricane in the leftist blogosphere, which unleashed a grotesquely lurid series of allegations, fantasies, half-truths and outright lies about Palin. What a tacky low in American politics — which has already caused a backlash that could damage Obama’s campaign. When liberals come off as childish, raving loonies, the right wing gains. I am still waiting for substantive evidence that Sarah Palin is a dangerous extremist. I am perfectly willing to be convinced, but right now, she seems to be merely an optimistic pragmatist like Ronald Reagan, someone who pays lip service to religious piety without being in the least wedded to it. I don’t see her arrival as portending the end of civil liberties or life as we know it.

“One reason I live in the leafy suburbs of Philadelphia and have never moved to New York or Washington is that, as a cultural analyst, I want to remain in touch with the mainstream of American life. I frequent fast-food restaurants, shop at the mall, and periodically visit Wal-Mart (its bird-seed section is nonpareil). Like Los Angeles and San Francisco, Manhattan and Washington occupy their own mental zones — nice to visit but not a place to stay if you value independent thought these days. Ambitious professionals in those cities, if they want to preserve their social networks, are very vulnerable to received opinion. At receptions and parties (which I hate), they’re sitting ducks. They have to go along to get along — poor dears!

“It is certainly premature to predict how the Palin saga will go. I may not agree a jot with her about basic principles, but I have immensely enjoyed Palin’s boffo performances at her debut and at the Republican convention, where she astonishingly dealt with multiple technical malfunctions without missing a beat. A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.”

On the urban-cloistered, self-reinforcing intolerance displayed by the left:

“Now that’s the Sarah Palin brand of can-do, no-excuses, moose-hunting feminism — a world away from the whining, sniping, wearily ironic mode of the establishment feminism represented by Gloria Steinem, a Hillary Clinton supporter whose shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades has severely limited American feminism and not allowed it to become the big tent it can and should be. Sarah Palin, if her reputation survives the punishing next two months, may be breaking down those barriers. Feminism, which should be about equal rights and equal opportunity, should not be a closed club requiring an ideological litmus test for membership.

 “Frontier women were far bolder and hardier than today’s pampered, petulant bourgeois feminists, always looking to blame their complaints about life on someone else. “But what of Palin’s pro-life stand? Creationism taught in schools? Book banning? Gay conversions? The Iraq war as God’s plan? Zionism as a prelude to the apocalypse? We’ll see how these big issues shake out. Right now, I don’t believe much of what I read or hear about Palin in the media. To automatically assume that she is a religious fanatic who has embraced the most extreme ideas of her local church is exactly the kind of careless reasoning that has been unjustly applied to Barack Obama, whom the right wing is still trying to tar with the fulminating anti-American sermons of his longtime preacher, Jeremiah Wright.

“The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.”

Paglin then discusses the issue of abortion, which Paglin supports, and alludes to Obama’s “above my pay grade” quote.  This is an extremely important and fascinating part of her article, which I will not quote because I fear I cannot do it justice.

Even the extensive quotes above, do not do Paglin’s piece justice.

Please read Paglin’s article, in its entirety.  It is brilliant and important and is of great political significance.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply