Dear Camille Paglia: An ardent anti-feminist urges the controversial academic to go that extra mile and drop the sisterly tosh and Sixties rhetoric
Friday 07 January 1994
One reason why I can't face it is the quality of the company which will assemble there. If you think American feminists are infantile dunderheads, incompetent academics, spoilt yuppies, trendy ideologues, white upper-middle-class puritans (most of these are your own expressions), wait till you meet our crew. Most of them are so thickened in the mental arteries that the flash of a radical idea, like some of yours, wouldn't jolt them if it was administered with a cattle prod.
But the chief reason why I shan't be with you on Monday is that I can't bear to hear somebody who is half-right coming on as if she has received the gift of divine infallibility.
Being the nearest thing to a complete adult that American feminism has produced, you are a demi-wonder. Some of your remarks are as cultured as the wisdom of my favourite publican, such as when you said: 'Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist's' Likewise, you were not alone when you thought that 'The girl in the Kennedy rape case is an idiot She's the one who should be charged - with ignorance. Because everyone knows that Kennedy is spelled S-E-X. Give me a break, this is not rape' - though few of us who feel this way would call ourselves feminists, as you do.
We are with you, too, when you declare that women's studies have proved 'a disaster' for academic life, that Naomi Wolf 'cannot write a coherent paragraph' and that the date-rape fantasies of today's young feminists are a pernicious delusion.
You're almost grown. Why can't you come all the way? Why do you have to go on talking sisterly tosh out of the other side of your mouth, such as when you say that Madonna and Cher are embodiments of 'women's cosmic sexual power'. Puh-leez] Give me a break, as you would say.
You still believe, don't you, that your Sixties generation of women 'rebelled against and shattered those paternalistic rules' of previous generations because you were so much smarter, sassier and stronger than your mothers? You really should be leading your sisters out of this collective infantilism.
Others are opening the way. Deborah Hayford Weiss wrote to the magazine Atlantic Monthly this month to say that cultural and economic trends over centuries had led to changes in the social status of women and that those trends would continue 'when feminism has come to be regarded as just another ideological ripple in the great century of ideologies. The claims of feminism are like the claim of the rooster that he has caused the sun to shine.' I'm with her.
The crowing of that old rooster gets wearisome. You ought to come down off that feminist perch. Then you might be perfectly divine.
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