October 16 2013

Camile Paglia at AU

Charlotte Hays

What a bummer!

I missed the debate last week at American University between iconoclastic feminist Camille Paglia and AU gender scholar Jane Flax. Fortunately, Christina Hoff Sommers was there, and she recounts the event at the American Enterprise Institute blog:

The topic: “Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture?” Flax gave a polite and respectable defense of an exhausted idea: “gender is a social construction.” But Paglia stole the show. She deftly reminded the audience that Mother Nature tends to get the final word—and is not a feminist. I watched the faces of astonished and fascinated undergraduates as Paglia shattered the sacred icons of contemporary gender studies. By the end of the evening, even three sullen hipsters sitting next to me seemed to be won over.

 

Christina provides a link to Paglia’s full speech—along with some hightlights:

On women’s studies:

Women’s studies programs were rushed into existence in the 1970s partly because of national pressure to add more women to faculties that were often embarrassingly all-male.  Administrators diverting funds to these new programs were less concerned with maintaining scholarly rigor than with solving a prickly public relations problem.  Hence women’s studies was from the start flash-frozen at that early stage of ideology. . . . No deviation was permitted from the party line, which was that all gender differences are due to patriarchy, with its monolithic enslavement and abuse of women by men. .

The hazards of gender neutralized men:

Extravaganzas of gender experimentation sometimes precede cultural collapse, as they certainly did in Weimar Germany.  Like late Rome, America too is an empire distracted by games and leisure pursuits.  Now as then, there are forces aligning outside the borders, scattered fanatical hordes where the cult of heroic masculinity still has tremendous force.  I close with this question:  is a nation whose elite education is increasingly predicated on the neutralization of gender prepared to defend itself against that growing challenge?

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