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Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism
Author: Camille Paglia
Publisher: Published February 28th 2017 by Pantheon (first published 2017)
ISBN: 9780375424779
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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From the fiery intellectual provocateur: a brilliant essay collection that both celebrates and challenges modern feminism from motherhood to Madonna, football to Friedan, stilettos to Steinem. When Camille Paglia first burst onto the scene with her best-selling Sexual Personae, she established herself as a smart, fearless, and often dissenting voice among feminists. Now, From the fiery intellectual provocateur: a brilliant essay collection that both celebrates and challenges modern feminism from motherhood to Madonna, football to Friedan, stilettos to Steinem. When Camille Paglia first burst onto the scene with her best-selling Sexual Personae, she established herself as a smart, fearless, and often dissenting voice among feminists. Now, for the first time, her best essays on the subject are gathered together in one concise volume. Whether she s declaring Madonna the future of feminism, asking if men are obsolete, calling for equal opportunity for American women years before the founding of N.O.W., or urging all women to love football, Paglia can always be counted on to get a discussion started. The rock-solid intellectual foundation beneath her fiery words assures her timeless relevance."

30 review for Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism

  1. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Free Women, Free Men is a collection of Camille Paglia's articles, lectures and interviews on feminism and gender from 1990 through 2016. A significant portion of the content consists of criticisms of modern feminism, for its pervasive misandry, its collective victimhood complex, its denial of biology, and its historical revisionism. She particularly focuses on campus feminism, with its policing of speech and dependence on institutional authorities to monitor private interactions between young m Free Women, Free Men is a collection of Camille Paglia's articles, lectures and interviews on feminism and gender from 1990 through 2016. A significant portion of the content consists of criticisms of modern feminism, for its pervasive misandry, its collective victimhood complex, its denial of biology, and its historical revisionism. She particularly focuses on campus feminism, with its policing of speech and dependence on institutional authorities to monitor private interactions between young men and women, and laments the rise of "gender studies" (or "women's studies") courses, which merely function as echo chambers that reinforce an ideological and delusional world-view, lacking any awareness of history. I've been dimly aware of Paglia, if only by name, since her first book was published in 1990, but have only begun listening to her recently, via online videos, and now this book. What a tremendous oversight! I think I had disregarded her from the start because of the dreaded f-word, but Paglia is a feminist of her own stripe. She describes herself as an equity feminist, and believes that women should have the same opportunities as men, but no special considerations or protections. And she has a deep appreciation for men and all they've done and accomplished throughout history, which is very heartening in these days of socially-acceptable male-bashing. I can't think of anyone else like her, except perhaps Christina Hoff Sommers, whom I have also seen speak but want to read as well. My only problem with the book is that there is a lot of repetition. With the essays, speeches given, etc. on related topics for diverse sources over the course of 25 years (and not much has changed about feminism over that time, except perhaps for the internet making it even more virulent) she is bound to use the same references, but collected all together and read in one go, it does seem like she harps on the same points over and over. It might be better to dip into it now and again, but Paglia is such a lively and fun speaker/writer that I couldn't put it down. I'd love to read an entirely new, unified work from her. Oh, how I wish she'd been one of my college professors! She teaches in Philadelphia, so perhaps I may yet have a chance to see her. Thank you, Dr. Paglia.

  2. 4 out of 5

    The American Conservative

    Cultural battles whose ideological roots were planted in the 1970s by American academics under the influence of French post-structuralism, and which percolated in various forms throughout the 1980s, came to a crushing head by the beginning of the 1990s. What emerged was a new intellectual orthodoxy, characterized by a stance of permanent victimhood applicable to any group felt to fall outside of the privileged position occupied by white western males; widespread suspicion of, if not outright hos Cultural battles whose ideological roots were planted in the 1970s by American academics under the influence of French post-structuralism, and which percolated in various forms throughout the 1980s, came to a crushing head by the beginning of the 1990s. What emerged was a new intellectual orthodoxy, characterized by a stance of permanent victimhood applicable to any group felt to fall outside of the privileged position occupied by white western males; widespread suspicion of, if not outright hostility to, the heights of the great Western cultural traditions and its makers; and rejection of a biological human nature. Social and linguistic constructivism, accompanied by global relativism regarding truth and knowledge, replaced them. Mired in the shallow puddles of linguistic puzzles and affecting chic political postures, the new dogma rigidly circumscribed the range of acceptable inquiry within its ideological constraints. Deviations from doctrine routinely resulted in condemnation for perpetuating past systems of oppression. Indeed the value of free inquiry and free expression came under fire from these quarters, on the grounds that they aided injustices. The result was an enforced intellectual conformity, severely straightening the bounds of free thought and talk—the very value of which began to look suspect from such angles. Against this broad background, Camille Paglia first burst onto the scene in 1990 with the publication of her magnum opus, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, a peerless study of perennial themes in Western art and literature. Her pro-sex, pro-freedom provocations against the prevailing PC culture helped stem the tide. As the 1990s unfolded, the stridency and stranglehold of that culture seemed to subside. During the last decade, too, these totalitarian tendencies appeared to have at least lain dormant. While the wider culture was otherwise concerned with war, terrorism, the development of a dominant digital age, and other Bush-era preoccupations, its agenda receded from prominence in the public consciousness. The present decade, by contrast, bears witness to the return of the repressed, as this familiar Kulturkampf from the recent past has re-emerged with a vengeance. Just so, it is within this current cultural context that Paglia now presents her new book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, and Feminism. http://www.theamericanconservative.co...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Arianna

    Good lord, no. The worst of white feminism and plain old misogyny combined. Her views on rape and women who aren't like her are simply unbearable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Devogenes

    Would rather give it 3.5. I really liked parts of it. In a departure from Goodreads convention, I've actually read this book. Paglia is an unrepentant weirdo. Some of her views are ridiculous, many of her insights are cutting. Her critique of poststructuralism is a breath of fresh air. Her view on the abortion debate are whacky (she accuses 'liberals' of being inconsistent in opposing the death penalty but supporting access to abortion — an interesting reversal of conventional thinking but one t Would rather give it 3.5. I really liked parts of it. In a departure from Goodreads convention, I've actually read this book. Paglia is an unrepentant weirdo. Some of her views are ridiculous, many of her insights are cutting. Her critique of poststructuralism is a breath of fresh air. Her view on the abortion debate are whacky (she accuses 'liberals' of being inconsistent in opposing the death penalty but supporting access to abortion — an interesting reversal of conventional thinking but one that doesn't hold a lot of water). Paglia is proud and defiant about the fact that she hasn't changed her mind about anything since the 1950s. Well, it certainly shows at times, and sometimes it's good to let one's thoughts progress with the passing decades. She constantly excoriates feminists for neglecting empiricism and science, and yet when it comes to defending her own worldview she relies heavily on personal anecdotes like the time she met Aunt Jemimma as a child and on endlessly repetitive references to how Emilia Earhart and Katherine Hepburn made her feel as an adolescent. She has some pretty questionable statements in this collection, which is mostly op-eds she has written for various magazines. Prominent among these is the suggestion that Americans should stop taking anti-depressants and simply drink more alcohol, or her tendency to conflate capitalism (a socioeconomic system) with science/technology/industry, like when she credits capitalism with contributing towards the emancipation of women by providing them with laundry machines. But, really, you probably aren't interested in Paglia for her own theories. She's interesting because of her criticisms. I personally found the first chapter of the book, an excerpt from her apparently voluminous thesis-turned-first-book Sexual Pesonae to be virtually unintelligible. I'm not interested in literary or art criticism, and I don't care at all about the dimensions of Nefrititi's hat. But it's her criticisms of the authoritarian streak in feminism, from the tolerance movement to Dworkin to contemporary anti-oppression and PC identity politics, that make her voice important. Similarly her attacks on post-modern gender theory and identity politics for attempting to theorize about gender without any reference to biology are powerful and refreshing. Her seething disdain for Lacan-inspired theorizing and the unapproachable, undecipherable language games of postmodern "Theory" is beautiful justice. A champion of free speech, a cage-rattling voice of dissent, and an oddball with an attitude, Paglia should be required reading for all feminists. She won't change her mind about anything ever, and that's part of her idiosyncratic charm. Unencumbered by ossified Left-Right partitioning, Paglia will help make you aware of your ideological blind spots.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I really wanted to enjoy this book. Written by a fiery unrepentant feminist who questions the gender binary, I thought there would be much to learn. Paglia writes about gender in a way that assumes biological sex determines much more than we realize. this is an assumption I don't disagree with entirely. Certainly hormones--to the extent that we actually measure hormone flux in differently gendered bodies--make a difference in a person's bodily development and likely their personality. But these I really wanted to enjoy this book. Written by a fiery unrepentant feminist who questions the gender binary, I thought there would be much to learn. Paglia writes about gender in a way that assumes biological sex determines much more than we realize. this is an assumption I don't disagree with entirely. Certainly hormones--to the extent that we actually measure hormone flux in differently gendered bodies--make a difference in a person's bodily development and likely their personality. But these essays assume a basis of biological research that frankly hasn't been accepted as 'true' since the 80s or 90s. While Paglia wants to claim biological support for her arguments (and criticizes women's studies and gender studies programs for not adequately including bio research as reqs for their students), the biology she uses is outdated and watered down to support her beliefs. Research from this century (add comment and I'll PM you citations) makes it very clear that even biological sex is multi-layered, intersectional, and in many ways (such as chromosonal sex and sex-based DNA markers) still not understood. In one essay she asserts that men are critiqued for rape, but women are not held responsible for their part in being passive in relationships and asserts they should take responsibility when "she makes a mistake" rather than "running to Mommy and Daddy on the campus grievance committee. " This statement to me is highly problematic. While I agree that all persons have the right and the responsibility to be assertive and both set and respect boundaries in our relationships, that does not make it 'our' mistake when someone else violates our boundaries (through rape or Other violence). It's a paradox, I agree, that there are things we can do to minimize our risk of violence, and there are often things we can do to interrupt the patterns of a would-be rapist. But that does not make the experience of violence 'our' responsibility. We have the right to not be violated. The natural consequence of heavy drinking is a hangover, not rape! To imply otherwise is IMHO anti-feminist. Overall I was disappointed. I wanted this book to lead me in new direction, introduce me to research and ideas that would be fruitful. While I was glad to have read this collection of essays, and would recommend it to others as an intellectual exercise, as far as women's studies or feminist studies is concerned, these essays are frankly outdated. Even her attempts bring art history into the mix are fraught. As a scholar (My PHD is in South Asian literature), I found her analyses of Asian comparisons simplistic at best, and unfactual at worst.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Schulman

    Lesbian tells straight women to be less whiney about rape and dress sexier, feels victimized.

  7. 5 out of 5

    MsPink

    It's been at least 20 years since I read Sexual Personae and I'd completely forgotten how much I enjoy Camille Paglia. (Also, since this was available in audiobook format, I was finally able to hear the word "chthonic" pronounced aloud for the first time!) Her worldview is refreshingly, bracingly original--and seemingly undaunted by social trends or prevailing schools of thought (urgh, no pun intended). E.g., her essay about rape on college campuses, written over 25 years ago, is presented here It's been at least 20 years since I read Sexual Personae and I'd completely forgotten how much I enjoy Camille Paglia. (Also, since this was available in audiobook format, I was finally able to hear the word "chthonic" pronounced aloud for the first time!) Her worldview is refreshingly, bracingly original--and seemingly undaunted by social trends or prevailing schools of thought (urgh, no pun intended). E.g., her essay about rape on college campuses, written over 25 years ago, is presented here without apology or concession to the distance the goalposts have moved in the intervening time. Whether you agree or disagree with her, you won't find a fiercer advocate for (or example of) female power in the Amazonian sense of the word. While I don't agree with *every* argument she makes (for one, I think her view of transgender people is--I hesitate to say "uninformed"--but maybe misguided), I suspect there are very few people who agree with *all* her opinions. At least Professor Paglia expresses them with conviction, rationality and biting wit, which is always entertaining to read (or hear, as the case may be).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Banafsheh Esmailzadeh

    It’s kinda spooky how Camille Paglia called a lot of what would happen today...

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I don't even know where to begin with this book. Maybe by saying that Paglia is a libertarian and thus everything in the book comes from that perspective. She's against campuses getting involved in handling Title IX cases and feels that free speech is honored above all. She's entirely unsympathetic to people who feel threatened by hate speech and simply wants them to toughen up, without ever specifying how this should happen. Maybe we do need to toughen up, but we also need to learn how to be ki I don't even know where to begin with this book. Maybe by saying that Paglia is a libertarian and thus everything in the book comes from that perspective. She's against campuses getting involved in handling Title IX cases and feels that free speech is honored above all. She's entirely unsympathetic to people who feel threatened by hate speech and simply wants them to toughen up, without ever specifying how this should happen. Maybe we do need to toughen up, but we also need to learn how to be kind, understanding, and courteous, and Paglia discounts that entirely. It's a book with a lot of assertions and almost no practical solutions whatsoever. One of my main problems with this book, aside from a lot of Paglia's ideology, is how intensely repetitive it is. Yes, it's a collection of previously written essays. Some repetition is to be expected. But this went above and beyond. There were certain phrases and ideas that were repeated constantly. By the end, I could predict exactly how a sentence about women's careers in politics, women's ability to have children, etc. would end (almost word for word). I wish some of the repetitiveness had been cut out or at least shortened. I would've been a lot less annoyed. I was also disgusted by some of Paglia's personal attacks on women. It's fine to disagree with other people's views. That's allowed. But she spends pages upon pages personally attacking Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon. Paglia heavily disagrees with their strict views on pornography. But she spends the essay complaining about Dworkin being a "pudgy, clumsy, whiny child" and MacKinnon possessing "cold, inflexible, and fundamentally unscholarly mind." What a perfect opportunity to offer a thoughtful critique of their views. Instead Paglia wastes it with personal attacks that accomplish absolutely nothing of value. Everything is also a bit dated. She criticizes how feminism doesn't allow women the freedom to choose to have children. But the feminists I know (both in real life and online) would never condemn a woman for wanting to have children rather than work, or do both, or do neither. It's an incredibly dated view on feminism for being published so recently. Perhaps feminism was like this in the 1980s - I won't deny that - but to imply that it continues to perceive motherhood this way is completely misguided. Her views about sexual assault are also pretty crude. I'm a firm believer that women should be smart and aware of their surroundings and know how to defend themselves. We are strong and capable. But I also think that male aggressors should be held responsible for assault. She seems to think that if a woman says no to a man firmly enough, the man will back off every single time. Of course a good man would do so, but there are way too many men, and I've encountered some of them, who don't hear a "no" regardless of how firmly it's communicated and continue to pursue a woman who is uninterested. It feels like there should be a balance in who holds responsibility and how assault cases are handled, and Paglia misses that entirely. Paglia does have some good points. Her incorporation of art into feminism is fascinating. I enjoyed her critique of books exploring sex. She rightly points out that humanities disciplines, like women's studies, shouldn't exclude scientific research from their positions. Science can inform philosophy, and I believe this strongly. Although I disagree with her claim that women's and gender studies programs entirely ignore biology and science. This hasn't been my experience in reading modern feminist works and in studying at my university. I mostly enjoyed reading this as an intellectual exercise. I'm a philosophy major and I firmly believe that you have to read and study (and be charitable towards) dissenting opinions, both to understand other people and strengthen (or modify!) your own positions. It was good to see the ways in which we could agree and disagree on the same issue. It helped me to solidify my own views and to understand Paglia's perspective. I'm definitely glad that I read it even though I disagree with her on most major issues in feminism. I recommend this if you want to challenge yourself and learn something new from someone whose views can be appalling in some cases.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    I've been wondering what happened to her more "men-friendly" version of feminism. She certainly writes like a fever and certainly left me with a few passages I will remember for some time. She has an interesting set of views: she is 100% for abortion rights, but somewhat pro-life, she is pro androgyny, well at the same time admitting that sexual freedom often precedes the decline of civilizations, and most controversially of all, she thinks the "rape-culture" accusation is infantilizing and coun I've been wondering what happened to her more "men-friendly" version of feminism. She certainly writes like a fever and certainly left me with a few passages I will remember for some time. She has an interesting set of views: she is 100% for abortion rights, but somewhat pro-life, she is pro androgyny, well at the same time admitting that sexual freedom often precedes the decline of civilizations, and most controversially of all, she thinks the "rape-culture" accusation is infantilizing and counter productive. Like most intellectuals, she is interesting to read and you can learn a few things even if you don't agree with her. The jury is still out for me on some of her ideas, but she writes with such a flourish the book was hard to put down, despite being fairly repetitive.

  11. 5 out of 5

    ems

    i can read a book that includes views that i disagree with. fine. but a badly written book? nope.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Claudio

    Reflexões mais do que necessárias, urgentes mesmo, para o debate feminista. Um alento ler textos que fogem do pensamento de manada, do clichê vazio de mantras como "capitalismo", "patriarcado", "construção social".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shellie Blum

    I have admired Camille Paglia's intellect for quite some time. I knew I had to read her latest book and it did not disappoint. I have to admit some of the vocabulary was a bit out of my league but that's what makes it so wonderful. She makes you think. She made me stretch my intellectual boundaries. My soon to be 81 year old Mom will read it next and then my 15 year old daughter and then my 15 year old son. I can't wait to discuss some of the issues and articles with them. One of my favorite cha I have admired Camille Paglia's intellect for quite some time. I knew I had to read her latest book and it did not disappoint. I have to admit some of the vocabulary was a bit out of my league but that's what makes it so wonderful. She makes you think. She made me stretch my intellectual boundaries. My soon to be 81 year old Mom will read it next and then my 15 year old daughter and then my 15 year old son. I can't wait to discuss some of the issues and articles with them. One of my favorite chapters was 16, GRIDIRON FEMINISM. Thank you for your words and wisdom Professor Paglia.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bridget

    I was disappointed none of these essays covered any new ground. Reading Paglia is always an experience. Whether I'm thinking: "Hm, I never thought of it that way" or scratching my head and saying: WHAT the...?", you realize that Camille Paglia refuses to engage in Groupthink. For that, I tip my hat to her. I don't always agree with her, but she's never boring.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Isabel Hogue

    I really enjoyed these common sense essays about feminism from someone who seems to delight in humanity, rather than hate half of it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Keith

    26 April 2018 - At the half way point and it's been really hard work getting here. There is a saying in the UK - "those that can do; those that can't teach" - Ms Paglia is very much a teacher; need I say more? Whilst busy criticising others for being stuck in academic ivory towers and therefore having no knowledge of the real world, her world view is twisted by Freud (in her view a genius) and what seems to be a belief that Margaret Thatcher was the epitome of a strong woman and one to emulate. 26 April 2018 - At the half way point and it's been really hard work getting here. There is a saying in the UK - "those that can do; those that can't teach" - Ms Paglia is very much a teacher; need I say more? Whilst busy criticising others for being stuck in academic ivory towers and therefore having no knowledge of the real world, her world view is twisted by Freud (in her view a genius) and what seems to be a belief that Margaret Thatcher was the epitome of a strong woman and one to emulate. Whilst I can't comment on Freud, I did live through "Thatcherism" and I can truthfully tell you Ms Paglia has no clue at all about the realities of neo-liberalism and the decimation it wrought on the UK. If truth be told, she has no idea either about the realities of living and working outside college campus and even less about the lives of those who struggle everyday just to exist. For all her spouting about high art and literature being of utmost importance at the expense of anything else, for many just putting food on the table is a singular achievement in itself. Another saying from the UK - "People in glass house should not throw stones" - This really does apply to Ms Paglia. Please bear in mind that Ms Paglia's version of free speech is to say what you like; so I am. We will see how the rest of the book goes, but I'm not hopeful at all. 27 April 2018 - "Feminist theory has failed to acknowledge how much the emergence of modern feminism owes to capitalism and the industrial revolution, which transformed the economy, expanded the professions and gave women, for the first time in history, the opportunity to earn their own living and to escape dependency on father or husband " - Camille Paglia. For an academic this is pure drivel, as she neglects to mention the pain, suffering and deaths of the thousands of people who worked in factories and mines in order to reach this 'pinnacle of achievement'. She may be a professor of Media Studies, but she is no academic of history and certainly has little knowledge of anything outside of the USA. Not very well rounded at all. We also have the assertion that 'Feminism was born in America' - so far as I remember Mary Wollstonecraft was British, but don't let facts get in the way of a good story. Isn't the rest of the world lucky that America even exists? Just think where we would be without all the inventions created there and the interventions in world affairs. Why, according to the film 'U571', an American submarine captured an Enigma machine and shortened WW2 by 2 years. Well, yes, the capture did actually occur, but THREE years after the first Enigma machine was captured by HMS Bulldog. Bletchley Park and Alan Turing are but a footnote in this travesty of a film which is just a pure distortion of historical fact. 28 April 2018 Finally finished. Whilst some of her musings I can kind of get along with, such as the idea of responsibility for yourself, her wholesale generalisations take some getting used to. She is forever taking stereotypes and applying them to every women. For example, she espouses the myth of the 'Southern Belle' as a strong willed woman to aspire to, using, in the main, examples from film and television. What she fails to see, is that these characters are caricature in the extreme and bear no resemblance to anyone alive or dead. I have firmly come to the conclusion that her research into people is limited to watching films and television; there is no indication whatsoever of any research undertaken by 'talking to someone real'. She lays in to other women wholesale, with the subtly of Billy Connelly in full rant; Gloria Steinem comes in for some serious bile. She is referenced 15 times, mainly via spiteful (and it seemed to me envious) descriptions of her looks. Ms Paglia has little time for what she sees as feminist academics who are brainwashing young women into being man-haters with no backbone. She see herself as the saviour of these women and of college campus's across the USA. She asks for a rounded education (which I agree with btw) but brooks no criticism of her own position - in this respect, she is no better than those she criticises. Read it if you must, but don't expect to be enlightened

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tânia

    https://observador.pt/2018/08/22/o-fe...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erika Hope Spencer

    Paglia is an unapologetic libertarian intellectual and many of her insights are thought provoking and even refreshing, but ultimately she shows the same limits that plague anyone who writes about a movement from their very personalized POV. She is undoubtedly a pistol of a woman and she is understandably proud of that- but she barely disguises her disgust with anyone "too soft" to be an admirable woman. I admire a strong woman as much as the next person, but Paglia expects any woman "worth her s Paglia is an unapologetic libertarian intellectual and many of her insights are thought provoking and even refreshing, but ultimately she shows the same limits that plague anyone who writes about a movement from their very personalized POV. She is undoubtedly a pistol of a woman and she is understandably proud of that- but she barely disguises her disgust with anyone "too soft" to be an admirable woman. I admire a strong woman as much as the next person, but Paglia expects any woman "worth her salt" to be able to defend herself from insults, harassment and perhaps worse from men (who she characterizes as alternately cowed by women- or the brave warriors who built our civilization -depending on the essay). She essentially asks women why we expect to be protected and why can't we protect ourselves (dammit)? Well...Ok, I can appreciate the sentiment of taking care of yourself, but doesn't that give men a whole lot of latitude? It doesn't hold them accountable at all (except under the law if proven guilty which she adds as almost an aside) and puts all of the pressure on women to be tough enough to just... spit in their face I guess... meanwhile men can continue to foist all kind of obnoxious or aggressive of behavior upon us. I don't know about that. And this is one of maybe...25 topics that she writes about with a bold empowered perspective but often takes a bit too far almost as if she just wants to be a contrarian for the pure joy of it. It seems that she loves some women and despises others which is not terribly helpful-and her opinions are a little simplistic since every person is a mix of positive and negative aspects at least to some extent. In any case, we have to get along with a wide array of characters in this world and not everyone is willing or able to be the sultry vixen she seems to admire (a la Madonna). And this is not even touching some of her tone deaf comments on Affirmative Action. I haven't heard her address this topic in depth but she seems out of touch from what I see here. She usually starts out saying that these efforts are "well-intentioned" but then goes on the bash them. She has just about zero compassion or understanding of women who need help or ask for help not to mention asking why this would be the case (discrimination, abuse, illness or just not being born so damn strong/smart/outspoken as she was). Her ability to write a biting book review is unrivaled in my opinion (a dubious honor). I read this with my jaw dropped half the time. She does not pull her punches and she does have a remarkably descriptive vocabulary. I got lost in all her talk of post structuralist theory and didn't totally understand her gripe with Foucault or Pierre Bourdieu. In fact I found myself wondering if she would think I was smart or educated enough to be permitted to read her book-I could feel her imagined wrath descend on me when I skimmed through something too esoteric. She seems to loath most French intellectuals save Simone de Beauvoir (thank god) and Marquis de Sade (hmmm...) Reading this made me kind of relieved I am not a woman academic publishing today because she goes right for the jugular. God be with you if you haven't boned up on just about everything ever written about art or feminism. I almost pitied those two anti-pornography activists, Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon -and I had never even heard of them. But Paglia really roasts them-and it gets personal. I guess knowing her Vamps and Tramps book I knew what I was getting into. I can't help but think she goes for shock value with some of her opinions such as her ode to Princeton Wrestling and her high praise of buxom cheerleaders as fabulously feminine in all the best ways. She totally dismisses ideas of "female objectification" which, while it did make me think, did not really convince me. I wonder if there is a Feminist today who would take her on. I'd like to see it. Personally, she reminds me of an English teacher I had once. I never knew if she would love or hate what I wrote but I knew she could defend her judgement with impeccable prose. That doesn't mean she was always right though. The one thing I do like about her is that she brings up the male bashing habit of some feminists that is counter productive. She also has an interesting take on southern vs northern women (spoiler-she loves strong southern charm and hates the cold uptight north) but as with all her essays she manages to say thing in such categorically emphatic terms that ultimately, you can never agree with her.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Reading Camille Paglia, just like listening to her, is akin to letting a fantastic circus run though your brain, with the intensity turned to max and at the speed of hyperloop. M'kay? She is a force of nature, in her intellectual physicality, determination, knowledge and imagination. Even more so, given the sorry state of public discourse these days. In her own words: "... what I represent is independent thought. What I represent is the essence of the Sixties, which is free thought and free speec Reading Camille Paglia, just like listening to her, is akin to letting a fantastic circus run though your brain, with the intensity turned to max and at the speed of hyperloop. M'kay? She is a force of nature, in her intellectual physicality, determination, knowledge and imagination. Even more so, given the sorry state of public discourse these days. In her own words: "... what I represent is independent thought. What I represent is the essence of the Sixties, which is free thought and free speech. And a lot of people don’t like it. A lot of people who are well-meaning on both sides of the political spectrum want to shut down free speech. And my mission is to be absolutely as painful as possible in every situation."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Camille Paglia is the best, most smartest feminist ever. Just ask her she’ll tell you. I wish I had marked all the times she describes her own writing as prophetic. She has such an interesting voice. She considers herself a libertarian feminist, taking the best from both the liberal and conservative sides. In addition to what you might expect, she is also very anti-PC language, suggesting the policing of language doesn’t belong on college campuses. She also seems to be pointing fingers at femini Camille Paglia is the best, most smartest feminist ever. Just ask her she’ll tell you. I wish I had marked all the times she describes her own writing as prophetic. She has such an interesting voice. She considers herself a libertarian feminist, taking the best from both the liberal and conservative sides. In addition to what you might expect, she is also very anti-PC language, suggesting the policing of language doesn’t belong on college campuses. She also seems to be pointing fingers at feminists that want to weaken men. I still think that’s a bit overblown by conservatives. But she wants to give a voice to all women - I’ve just never seen intersectionality in feminism include conservatism. I don’t know what to think about all that. She also takes on a more assertive voice, which I think makes sense, after seeing the silencing of women in the 50s. Plus there’s that saying of always have the confidence of a mediocre man. Which I think applies. However. This book slowly descends into madness. Sex is violence This is interesting - but you don’t realize the extent to which she believes this: Civilized man conceals from himself the extent of his subordination to nature. Okay. I thought about this and it made my wonder, could this be why some people fight against renewable energy? Because they feel like they have to submit to nature and they can’t be the one to control it? But, wait - she really goes crazy on the nature/nurture debate. And holy crap! She is so goddamn cynical. (Though to be fair she did call the first essay “Wagnerian” and said that going from the first essay to the second was going to be like the sun rising.) Back to the nature/nurture debate - she seems to be all nature and no nurture. Violence and aggression are just part of who we are, and the function of society is to hold that back. In her view, violence natural. I guess she would probably say she is not cynical. Violence and power is man’s natural state. And society is the fight to keep that back. And sex is that intersection of the society and nature that we will never be rid of. Sex can never be wholly pure and beautiful, because it is natural, and by definition will always contain a dark side. This is why, in her view, whenever you see a period of sexual freedom, it is always followed by a period of a wave of S&M. Okay… But she flips this idea with sexual orientation — in her view, the idea that someone might be innately gay is completely ludicrous. She suggests that orientation is purely an adaptation. So, in her view gender has all basis in biology, but sexual orientation has all basis in environment? Some quotes to see where she starts to go off the rails… On how all sex is violent: A perfectly humane eroticism may be impossible. Children are monsters of unbridled egotism and will, for they spring directly from nature, hostile intimations of immorality. In western culture there can never be a purely physical or anxiety-free sexual encounter. Every attraction, every pattern of touch, every orgasm is shaped by psychic shadows. The search for freedom through sex is doomed to failure and sex compulsion and ancient necessity rule. Interesting, I think she believes that instead of women having penis envy, men have uterus envy, and all of our tension (between the sexes) is because women get to procreate, but men cannot. And men’s violence against women, in a super Oedipal way, has to do with them being scared of their mothers. Psycho was popular because “it was about the vampiric maternal domination of a sons psyche.” This literally made me laugh out loud. It was one of the funniest lines in the book. She goes on to say, "I view many cases of rape as attack on mother-power." Men are the weaker sex. This is why they attack women. We should be encouraging meant to be stronger, because when we act like we don’t want them stronger they will be more likely to attack women. But here she is a contradiction, because she suggests that historically men have always rightly protected women and children. This starts to sound so much like my fundamentalist upbringing. “Sex is innately bad.” I fought for so many years to come out of this, so weird to see a feminist arguing for it. And she is so deterministic. There is no free will. She is very Freudian. And her diatribe on the femme fatale and women’s power in sex is some throwback Freudian fantasy and comes across like crazy MRA bullshit. The femme fatale is one of the most mesmerizing of sexual personae. She is not a fiction but an extrapolation of biologic realities in women that remain constant. The North American Indian myth of the toothed vagina, vagina dentata, is a gruesomely direct transcription of female power and male fear. Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered. The basic mechanics of conception require action in the male but nothing more than passive receptivity the female. Sex as a natural rather than social transaction, therefore, really is a kind of drain of male energy by female fullness. Physical and spiritual castration is the danger every man runs in intercourse with a woman. Love is the spell by which he puts his sexual fear to sleep. WHAT?? Women’s latent vampirism is not a social aberration, but a development of her maternal function for which nature has equipped her with tiresome thoroughness. For the male, every act of intercourse is a return to the mother and a capitulation to her. For men, sex is a struggle for identity. In sex, the male is consumed and release again by the toothed power that bore him: the female dragon of nature. All of our attempts at social progress - more individual freedom - will end up in violence. Or as the author says “every road from Russo leads to Sade.” We are instinctually immoral. Oddly enough, as a feminist, her primary criticism of Christianity seems to be its introduction of the ideas of love and peace which she deems impossible. Some of the crazier ideas espoused by Paglia: Why have man created more art than women? It’s not because men have oppressed or suppressed women. It’s because women don’t need to create art. But men need to create art because they have a penis. WTF? Also being able to pee anywhere has led to a disassociation of sex and emotion. This is why gay men have sex in bathrooms. What the hell are you talking about? She suggests that the domination of man over woman is NOT a product of our society. It’s a part of our nature. We cannot fight this by attacking patriarchy as a societal construct. If I was interested in what she was saying, I might like the flowery and poetic language. But because the content is just so crazy, it just comes across as annoying and self-aggrandizing. Here’s an example, and it doesn’t matter if it’s out of context, it represents her writing. Sex, I said, is a descent to the nether realms. A daily syncing from sky cult to earth cult. It is abdominal, abominable, daemonic. It’s really fucked up - rape is inevitable without society set up to protect women against men. Men can’t help it. This is a dangerous way to think. I do love her emphasis women being strong, but I think she dangerously overexpresses this. Especially when she uses it to decry feminism, and at the same time suggest that sexual tension is women’s fault. Feminism, coveting social power, is blind to women’s cosmic sexual power. To understand rape, you must study the past. There never was, and never will be sexual harmony. Every woman must take personal responsibility for her sexuality, which is nature’s red flame. She must be prudent and cautious where she goes and with whom. And she is so sure that she is so right. It’s funny, because she exhibits all the worst characteristics of men — those characteristics which make me hate the way men are. She has so much ego about her opinions — everyone who is intelligent must see the obvious wisdom and truth in everything she says. I don’t think the solution for women’s equality is for them to take the worst male characteristics and adopt them. American feminists are complete morons who are destroying our society She loves to attack feminists. She blames feminists for prohibition and hates the anti-porn feminists of the latter 20th century. I get when she attacks feminists for not being inclusive of all women. But (for a feminist) she seems so be overly obsessed with the flaws of feminists. She suggests that popular culture in Hollywood has done so much more for women than feminists have. That the commodification of women by Hollywood is a bunch of hogwash. And she and Madonna and their feminism and their Mediterranean sensibilities, with their pro sex-views, are saving feminism from the Anglo-American feminists. She thinks the patriarchy does not exist. She suggests that the idea of workplaces being possibly hostile toward women actually makes women weak. At some level she seems to raise up the same man-hating feminist straw man that conservatives like to suggest. [Feminist ideology’s] portrayal of history as male oppression and female victimage is a gross distortion of the facts. In the matters of history and men taking care of the family: “feminist theory has been grotesquely unfair to man,” “ feminism has been very small-minded in the way it has treated male history,” “ feminism cannot continue with this poisoned rhetoric.” She would be right at home at a fundamentalist church service or a an MRA convention. I find this really interesting. What is the cause of eating disorders so rampant on college campuses? It is definitely not the unreachable standards that the media and society display for women to reach. It’s really the fault of ambitious feminists that try to force women to stay in school when they really want to become housewives and raise children. Plus, American feminism is effectively castrating man and making them undesirable to women. What? Feminism can only move forward when we accept that our differences are pretty much all nature and that we must use society to fight against that. Also, Sigmund Freud is “the seminal theorist of the 20th century and a another male genius who callow feminists have sought to overthrow.” As she describes the pictures in the back of the book, she suggests that feminists like Gloria Steinem and Naomi Wolfe don’t have the “intellectual wherewithal” to even read her books. Wow, the ego. I can’t even — this is crazy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joe Haack

    The Goodreads rating system isn't nuanced enough to categorize this book, which is really a "best of" collection. I'll say this: her writings illustrate the power of presuppositions, because she names them (i.e. "My code of modern Amazonism..." or "Although I am an atheist who worships only great nature, I recognize the superior moral beauty of religious doctrine that defends the sanctity of life") and then tries her best to make arguments that are consistent with these first principles. I think The Goodreads rating system isn't nuanced enough to categorize this book, which is really a "best of" collection. I'll say this: her writings illustrate the power of presuppositions, because she names them (i.e. "My code of modern Amazonism..." or "Although I am an atheist who worships only great nature, I recognize the superior moral beauty of religious doctrine that defends the sanctity of life") and then tries her best to make arguments that are consistent with these first principles. I think it is her ideological consistency that makes her so provocative.

  22. 4 out of 5

    K.E. Barron

    So I've been waiting for this book for a while as I enjoy Paglia on the YouTubes, despite her near impossible trains of thoughts to follow. This collection of essays is no different, however, her writing is downright poetic, in particular, how she describes women as nature. It was sobering and beautiful. It blew my mind, knocked me out, shook me back to consciousness, and I was compelled to read it over and over again. Since I write fantasy fiction, I never expected this type of book to inspire So I've been waiting for this book for a while as I enjoy Paglia on the YouTubes, despite her near impossible trains of thoughts to follow. This collection of essays is no different, however, her writing is downright poetic, in particular, how she describes women as nature. It was sobering and beautiful. It blew my mind, knocked me out, shook me back to consciousness, and I was compelled to read it over and over again. Since I write fantasy fiction, I never expected this type of book to inspire me in that realm. It definitely gave me some great ideas for future book themes. I highly recommend this book to anyone hungry for a new perspective on men, women, and nature. For Feminism, I felt it was repetitive, but nonetheless relevant. Not for the faint of heart or for people who offend easily. Paglia does not hold back here. However, in no way do you need to agree with everything she says to take something away from her perspective (keep in mind most of these essays were written in the 90's, so things have changed somewhat).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anne Pak

    More of a 3.5 but rounded to 4 because I liked some of the essays so much. I didn't agree with them all but overall the book led to deep reflection on my own thoughts about feminism. Even when I disagreed with Paglia's opinions, I appreciated the opportunity to think about why I disagreed and how I had come to form my opinions on an issue. It is interesting to read her work through the years. The more things change.... While it is repetitive at times, that is understandable since her message has More of a 3.5 but rounded to 4 because I liked some of the essays so much. I didn't agree with them all but overall the book led to deep reflection on my own thoughts about feminism. Even when I disagreed with Paglia's opinions, I appreciated the opportunity to think about why I disagreed and how I had come to form my opinions on an issue. It is interesting to read her work through the years. The more things change.... While it is repetitive at times, that is understandable since her message has been consistent through the years. I particularly like that Paglia's take on feminism includes the acceptance of strong men. The male-bashing that frequently occurs with much of feminism has disturbed me for years. Her articles/thoughts on Title IX, stay-at-home moms, getting more women elected, and thoughts on abortion are particularly worth the read since they are rather different from the norm. Some of my favorites: the introduction, "Men's Sports Vanishing", "Coddling Won't Elect Women, Toughening Will", "Gridiron Feminism", "The Modern Battle of the Sexes", "Feminism Past & Present", "Gender Roles: Nature or Nurture", "Southern Women: old Myths & New Frontiers", "What a Woman President Should Be", "On Abortion". These make up about a third of the book. I listed the titles because I may want to review them later or have friends read them so we can discuss. They should be fairly easy to look up again since most were published in newspapers and magazines. It's an easy book to start and put down since it is broken into manageable sections of 30+ essays.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Corinne Wasilewski

    Could not put this book down! Camille Paglia is a one person think tank! In a no holds barred style, she absolutely decimates the views/arguments of her critics/opponents in this hugely entertaining collection of essays. Fearless and provocative, she comes out with both guns blazing from the opening paragraph: "History moves in cycles. The plague of political correctness and assaults on free speech that erupted in the 1980s and were beaten back in the 1990s have returned with a vengeance. In the Could not put this book down! Camille Paglia is a one person think tank! In a no holds barred style, she absolutely decimates the views/arguments of her critics/opponents in this hugely entertaining collection of essays. Fearless and provocative, she comes out with both guns blazing from the opening paragraph: "History moves in cycles. The plague of political correctness and assaults on free speech that erupted in the 1980s and were beaten back in the 1990s have returned with a vengeance. In the United States, the universities as well as the mainstream media are patrolled by well-meaning but ruthless thought police, as dogmatic in their views as agents of the Spanish Inquisition. We are plunged once again into an ethical chaos where intolerance masquerades as tolerance and where individual liberty is crushed by the tyranny of the group." So many things to love about Paglia: she's a big picture thinker who doesn't limit herself to a specific ideology; she's courageous; she calls out bullshit where ever she finds it; she's ethical; she's provocative; and her writing is a blast -- so colourful and descriptive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book of essays is mostly very entertaining. It is pretty repetitive tho with multiple pieces about the state of feminism and her critique of gender studies. I find some of what she says interesting and even refreshing. Other stuff is much worse --her thoughts on the inadequacies of female politicians to take the US presidency, lots of her ideas about rape culture and responses to sexual violence. She seems at times to be pandering to a male reader, or maybe just baiting feminists (who seem This book of essays is mostly very entertaining. It is pretty repetitive tho with multiple pieces about the state of feminism and her critique of gender studies. I find some of what she says interesting and even refreshing. Other stuff is much worse --her thoughts on the inadequacies of female politicians to take the US presidency, lots of her ideas about rape culture and responses to sexual violence. She seems at times to be pandering to a male reader, or maybe just baiting feminists (who seem to be a monolith in her view). I also get tired of reading about her love for Madonna (which by now is just ???) and Patty smith and Keith Richards (again ???); also her tedious reminisces of her gender non conformist childhood. After a harsh critique of modern gender studies she also declares herself transgender which suggests to me she doesn't appreciate what that actually means. She's provocative tho and she writes wonderfully and has some terrific ideas.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jay Ehret

    One thing sticks out at you as you read Paglia's collection of essays on feminism and sex; she has been consistent. Her libertarian brand of feminism has remained constant since her publication of Sexual Personae in 1990, the book that launched her career as a voice in the space. What I appreciated about the book is the history of feminism Paglia weaves into her essays. I found myself frequently going to the search engines to get deeper into the historical references. I also enjoyed her no-holds- One thing sticks out at you as you read Paglia's collection of essays on feminism and sex; she has been consistent. Her libertarian brand of feminism has remained constant since her publication of Sexual Personae in 1990, the book that launched her career as a voice in the space. What I appreciated about the book is the history of feminism Paglia weaves into her essays. I found myself frequently going to the search engines to get deeper into the historical references. I also enjoyed her no-holds-barred even handedness. She is not afraid to call out what she perceives to be bunk, nor is she above giving credit to positions she disagrees with. If you want to get away from main-stream, men-bashing feminism, this book is for you.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jimmy Kang

    This compilation of Paglia's works fell short of my expectations in multiple ways. I was initially intrigued by her talk at the Battle of Ideas and bought the book to explore the issues in greater detail. Paglia's early works contain coherent and persuasive critiques on the contemporary feminism. However as the book progressed, her works resorted to lengthy ad.hominem attacks and the focus shifted onto rather tangential issues such as the decline of male sports and plastic surgery. Further, a lot This compilation of Paglia's works fell short of my expectations in multiple ways. I was initially intrigued by her talk at the Battle of Ideas and bought the book to explore the issues in greater detail. Paglia's early works contain coherent and persuasive critiques on the contemporary feminism. However as the book progressed, her works resorted to lengthy ad.hominem attacks and the focus shifted onto rather tangential issues such as the decline of male sports and plastic surgery. Further, a lot of her materials in this book became repetitive and trivial. I also did not get strong arguments backed up with supporting claims or new and insightful analysis as the book progressed to her later works. It was a disappointing read.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Will

    The first three chapters are selections from Sexual Personae and the remainder are lectures and op-eds, of which there are a few stand-out polemics on Madonna, rape and academic culture. Buried three-quarters in though is this cute anecdote:"It seems like centuries ago that, as a graduate student in 1970, I was vainly searching for a faculty sponsor for my doctoral dissertation, later titled Sexual Personae, which was—hard to imagine now—the only project on sex being proposed or pursued at the Y The first three chapters are selections from Sexual Personae and the remainder are lectures and op-eds, of which there are a few stand-out polemics on Madonna, rape and academic culture. Buried three-quarters in though is this cute anecdote:"It seems like centuries ago that, as a graduate student in 1970, I was vainly searching for a faculty sponsor for my doctoral dissertation, later titled Sexual Personae, which was—hard to imagine now—the only project on sex being proposed or pursued at the Yale Graduate School. (Rescue finally came in the deus ex machina of Harold Bloom, whose classes I had never taken. Summoning me to his office, Bloom announced, 'My dear, I am the only one who can direct that dissertation!')"

  29. 4 out of 5

    John

    feisty, Sex positive Feminist a good read, her book reads like she speaks although the book is more coherent, Camille Paglia, the author gave talk at Seattle Public Library-(Central), late May/ early June 2017, listened to her lecture on KUOW a couple days after event. https://www.alternativeradio.org/#

  30. 5 out of 5

    Carlton White

    I had read a small amount of her work and was interested in delving deeper into her thoughts and philosophies. This book was an excellent way to do just that. While it did get a bit repetitive, it showed me why many of my "feminist" friends do not like her. I find her refreshing and with a good dose of common sense.

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