A few notes on feminism before getting to Ms. Camile Pagalia, a "feminist" college professor and author. The left's claim of a "war on women" was always the purest of horse manure, as is the left's caricature of conservative men seeking to keep women barefoot and walking between the kitchen and the bedroom. I know of no conservative who does not unreservedly support equal treatment and equal opportunity for women. If simple equality were the goal of modern feminism, than this would be a non-issue.
But modern feminism, of the women's studies variety found in virtually every university, is something else entirely. For them, all of society is founded on "patriarchy," gender roles are evil incarnate, and every act of sex is rape. (Or at least sex with a male is. If the Vagina Monologues is to be believed, an act of lebian statutory rape is redemption.) The most recent cause celebres for modern feminism, at least when not pushing the campus rape epidemic or 72 cents on the dollar canards, appear to have been manspreading and men who happen to interrupt a woman during a conversation. True subjegation of women, as in the Middle East, or true sexual harrassment of women by anyone on the left is studiously ignored.
And in many ways, modern feminism has come full circle, taking society back to the point of devaluing women and encouraging women's sexual objectification to a degree beyond that of a fourteen year old boys most rabid fantasies. Modern feminists have killed chivalry and they deny the reality of genetics, all the while seeking special considerations for women. Modern feminism has far more to do with Stalinism than enlightenment and equality.
As regards genetics, they do happen to be real. In one respect, modern feminists deny that. The seminal example is the call to open the combat arms of our military -- and in particular, the infantry and special ops -- to women. Women have no place in those units. The military is not a social justice organization. To open those units up to women is to, of necessity, lower the physical standards as a general matter, let alone the impact on unit cohesion.
In another respect, modern feminist don't merely acknowledge the genetic differnce, they define "equal rights" within the context. That is in regards to sex. In order for a woman to have a "consequence free" sex life like a male's, she needs access to birth control. Modern feminists see government paying for that birth control as a "right" they deserve. And indeed, to take it a step further, and most importantly, modern feminists invariably seek to exclude parents from any influence on their daughters when it comes sex and birth control. It is, in my view, the single most toxic impact modern feminism has had on society.
Such is my take, and it is why I happen to have great respect for Camile Pagalia, a classical feminist who is quite willing to take on "modern feminism." This from a recent interview were she comments on modern feminism as well as "post struturalism," the most recent variant of "post modernism."
Read the whole interview.
In your view, what’s wrong with American feminism today, and what can it do to improve?
After the great victory won by my insurgent, pro-sex, pro-fashion wing of feminism in the 1990s, American and British feminism has amazingly collapsed backward again into whining, narcissistic victimology. As in the hoary old days of Gloria Steinem and her Stalinist cohorts, we are endlessly subjected to the hackneyed scenario of history as a toxic wasteland of vicious male oppression and gruesome female suffering. College campuses are hysterically portrayed as rape extravaganzas where women are helpless fluffs with no control over their own choices and behavior. I am an equal opportunity feminist: that is, I call for the removal of all barriers to women's advance in the professional and political realms. However, I oppose special protections for women, which I reject as demeaning and infantilizing. My principal demand (as I have been repeating for nearly 25 years) is for colleges to confine themselves to education and to cease their tyrannical surveillance of students' social lives. If a real crime is committed, it must be reported to the police. College officials and committees have neither the expertise nor the legal right to be conducting investigations into he said/she said campus dating fiascos. Too many of today's young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system "street-smart feminism": there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.
Briefly put, what is post-structuralism and what is your opinion of it?
Post-structuralism is a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and promoted by the idolized Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought. It is a laborious, circuitously self-referential gimmick that always ends up with the same monotonous result. I spent six months writing a long attack on academic post-structuralism for the classics journal Arion in 1991, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf" (reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture). Post-structuralism has destroyed two generations of graduate students, who were forced to mouth its ugly jargon and empty platitudes for their foolish faculty elders. And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.