Camille Paglia: Tabloid-Style Politics

In her most recent political essay, Camille Paglia exposes readers to a skeletal mindset covered in layers of archaic academia — her own.

In so many ways, Paglia reminds me of Ann Coulter. They are both well-fed media darlings not, it seems, for the depth or truth of anything they might say, but for their ability to pander to one group while shocking another. Their brand of outrageousness gets picked up by the wire services, meaning more publicity, and more advertising sales.

Paglia infuriates me more, though. Coulter is so out in far right field, and so beyond intellectual redemption, that I dismiss her as easily as I dismiss other vapid mouthpieces of the neocon movement. Paglia, on the other hand, is capable of critical thinking — and she claims to be a democrat. Perhaps she is, in her own way, but I resent that she mixes my party of choice, the party I believe to be most humanitarian, with hateful, empty, propaganda.

Her recent diatribe in Salon is just one of many examples. Paglia wanted to write of her support for Obama, which is admirable, but rather than use the space to promote her candidate of choice, and tell readers of Obama’s accomplishments and goals, she sneers at and belittles his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Far beyond that, though, Paglia fictionalizes the life of a woman she does not personally know, has no firsthand knowledge of, and did not interview — projecting adjective-heavy attributes onto Clinton and her family as if she were intimately involved with them. Paglia’s sin of taking fictionalized license with Clinton’s life includes:

. . .the inky depths of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s warren-riddled psyche.

Hillary is the barracuda who fought for dominance at their expense

Flashes of that ruthless old family drama have come out repeatedly in this campaign, as when Hillary could barely conceal her sneers at her fellow debaters onstage — the wimpy, cringing brothers at the dinner table.

. . .general contempt for men. She distrusts them and feels morally superior to them. Following the pattern of her long-suffering mother, she thinks it is her mission to endure every insult and personal degradation for a higher cause — which, unlike her self-sacrificing mother, she identifies with her near-messianic personal ambition.

Hillary’s disdain for masculinity fits right into the classic feminazi package, which is why Hillary acts on Gloria Steinem like catnip.

Contemptuous condescension seems to be Hillary’s default mode with any male who criticizes her or stands in her way.

The Clintons live to campaign. It’s what holds them together and gives them a glowing sense of meaning and value.

She is a brittle, relentless manipulator with few stable core values who shuffles through useful personalities like a card shark (“Cue the tears!”).

Paglia, (and she has proudly confirmed this fact), is arrogant. Her words ooze with grandeur and self-importance. It’s her sense of entitlement, though, that is truly appalling.

Rather than offer an opinion based on reason or fact, Paglia creates her own scripts, in which real people (like Clinton, like Steinem) are replaced outright or marginalized by Paglia’s flamboyant and fictionalized characterization.

Paglia, in fact, has no insight at all into Hillary Rodham Clinton. She does not know how Clinton feels. She does not know what makes up Clinton’s psyche. She does not know what gives Clinton a sense of meaning and value. She does not know Clinton, or her brothers, or her husband. So Paglia, without conscience, and without regard for either her subject or the truth, just makes it up — which, in my mind, gives her no more value than a tabloid writer, no matter how lofty her literary references or imperious her language.

I have to say, too, that one of the many things I hope will go the way of the political dinosaurs this November is the hateful, off-base term “feminazi”. The collective feminine spirit is nurturing, caring, warm, loving, analytical, deep, innovative, creative, sustaining. The feminine spirit, if it ruled the world, would not have had an Auschwitz, a Dachau, a Hitler or a Mengele. That women who believe they have equal value in the world would be called called “feminazis” reeks of hatred for the very idea of equality. It’s a term that belittles the intelligence, contributions, and spirit of women — and in Paglia style — fictionalizes them into monsters.

Interesting that Paglia, who accuses Clinton of a “contemptuous condenscenion” towards males, would employ a term like feminazi — a word that heaps contempt upon women and seeks to diminish their value.

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  1. I am not a Clinton supporter but I have to say, low blow! If you’re going to attack a candidate, do it on their record or stated beliefs, not on their make-believe life.

    Good one, Jane. Thanks.

  2. I remembered the name but couldn’t figure out who she was so I googled her. Named in the top 100 intellectuals by some UK group, and by her own description, “a feminist bisexual egomaniac.”

    Weird, because I don’t see alot of intellect in that salon article! There’s ego though, and lots of it. Maybe she should stick to writing about herself.

  3. Unfortunately it is still considered unfeminine to be a feminist. If women collectivly have a fault it is that they do not stick together. There are more of us than of men. We could change everything if we only stuck together. I have often wondered if it is because when we are young we want the approval of men so badly that we turn on ourselves.

  4. Repulsive.
    She of course knows more than all the real people who have worked with her, campaigned for her, those that truely know Hillary Clinton. Plenty of men fall into that category and manage not to feel hated.
    Thanks again Jane!

  5. She’s an insufferable biotch, isn’t she?

    I share SOME of her disappointment in the feminist movement. Where are they, I wonder, in Darfur, the Middle East, Africa? Why has NOW deflated themselves into a minor corporation? Why aren’t they pushing issues, where the fire?

    I get all of that, I really do, because I feel that equality has become something of a cold side dish on the political table. Not just for women, but for minorities, gays, and all those who do not share in equal rights and protections.

    I used to wonder if perhaps the movement HADN’T grown so all-encompassing, if it wouldn’t have been more successful. I think, at its height especially, it scared the shit out of people to see Dykes on bykes holding their NOW posters. It took it out of the “oh, there’s a nice underpaid secretary” realm to wait – ohmygod – look at the lesbians, the people of color, the hard-core leftists!

    In a way, I wish we had accomplished what we set out to do for one group, and then tackled other relevant and related issues. Then again, there’s a big part of me that says well, screw you. Everybody deserved equal rights, and if there are people that don’t get that, tough!

  6. Oh, and on Hillary. Well, you know I think she’s just a typical politico, and wouldn’t bring about the change we need, but I agree CP was unfair in her article.

  7. And you are? Oh, that’s right. A nobody. A zero with a blog. A talentless hack who could only wish to be where others earned the right to be.

    Go cry in your bowl of granola and leave the writing to people who actually know how to make sense.

  8. Jane,
    Beautiful article as usual. I just love reading anything you write. I think you are spot on!

    Camille, you obviously don’t know how to appreciate good writing.

  9. I googled too Laurie. :-) Can’t say I appreciate anything I saw.

    As for “Camille” in the article and here in the comments (same? no?), I would rather read Jane’s words. And if she’s a nobody, I ask, why are you here???

  10. She’s far from a nobody Camille.
    Real people are frequently up-lifted, inspired,and enlightened, by what we read here.
    No one made you the world’s judge of written talent.

  11. Thank you Robin, LBJ and Allison.

    New post up, new stories coming, out of my usual realm for the next week or two, but I hope you enjoy.

    Camille – words are a terrible thing to waste.

  12. Talentless? I should be so talentless. Write on Jane….we wait.

    Writing on, Chequoline. Thank you! ;-)

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