Skip to comments.Nobody’s dummy (Camille Paglia on Sarah Palin)(Surprising!)
Posted on 10/08/2008 7:59:51 PM PDT by markomalley
Yes, both Todd and Sarah Palin, whom most people in the U.S. and abroad had never even heard of until six weeks ago, have emerged as powerful new symbols of a revived contemporary feminism. That the macho Todd, with his champion athleticism and working-class cred, can so amiably cradle babies and care for children is a huge step forward in American sexual symbolism.
Although nothing will sway my vote for Obama, I continue to enjoy Sarah Palins performance on the national stage. During her vice-presidential debate last week with Joe Biden (whose conspiratorial smiles with moderator Gwen Ifill were outrageous and condescending toward his opponent), I laughed heartily at Palins digs and slams and marveled at the way she slowly took over the entire event. I was sorry when it ended! But Biden wasnt judging by his Gore-like sighs and his slow sinking like a punctured blimp. Of course Biden won on points, but TV (a visual medium) never cares about that.
The mountain of rubbish poured out about Palin over the past month would rival Everest. What a disgrace for our jabbering army of liberal journalists and commentators, too many of whom behaved like snippy jackasses. The bourgeois conventionalism and rank snobbery of these alleged humanitarians stank up the place. As for Palins brutally edited interviews with Charlie Gibson and that viper, Katie Couric, dont we all know that the best bits ended up on the cutting-room floor? Something has gone seriously wrong with Democratic ideology, which seems to have become a candied set of holier-than-thou bromides attached like tutti-frutti to a quivering green Jell-O mold of adolescent sentimentality.
And where is all that lurid sexual fantasy coming from? When I watch Sarah Palin, I dont think sex I think Amazon warrior! I admire her competitive spirit and her exuberant vitality, which borders on the supernormal. The question that keeps popping up for me is whether Palin, who was born in Idaho, could possibly be part Native American (as we know her husband is), which sometimes seems suggested by her strong facial contours. I have felt that same extraordinary energy and hyper-alertness billowing out from other women with Native American ancestry including two overpowering celebrity icons with whom I have worked.
One of the most idiotic allegations batting around out there among urban media insiders is that Palin is dumb. Are they kidding? What level of stupidity is now par for the course in those musty circles? (The value of Ivy League degrees, like sub-prime mortgages, has certainly been plummeting. As a Yale Ph.D., I have a perfect right to my scorn.) People who cant see how smart Palin is are trapped in their own narrow parochialism the tedious, hackneyed forms of their upper-middle-class syntax and vocabulary.
As someone whose first seven years were spent among Italian-American immigrants (I never met an elderly person who spoke English until we moved from Endicott to rural Oxford, New York, when I was in first grade), I am very used to understanding meaning through what might seem to others to be outlandish or fractured variations on standard English. Furthermore, I have spent virtually my entire teaching career (nearly four decades) in arts colleges, where the expressiveness of highly talented students in dance, music and the visual arts takes a hundred different forms. Finally, as a lover of poetry (my last book was about that), I savor every kind of experimentation with standard English beginning with Shakespeare, who was the greatest improviser of them all at a time when there were no grammar rules.
Many others listening to Sarah Palin at her debate went into conniptions about what they assailed as her incoherence or incompetence. But I was never in doubt about what she intended at any given moment. On the contrary, I was admiring not only her always shapely and syncopated syllables but the innate structures of her discourse which did seem to fly by in fragments at times but are plainly ready to be filled with deeper policy knowledge, as she gains it (hopefully over the next eight years of the Obama presidencies). This is a tremendously talented politician whose moment has not yet come. That she holds views completely opposed to mine is irrelevant.
Even if she disappears from the scene forever after a McCain defeat, Palin will still have made an enormous and lasting contribution to feminism. As I said in my last column, Palin has made the biggest step forward in reshaping the persona of female authority since Madonna danced her dominatrix way through the shattered puritan barricades of the feminist establishment. In 1990, in a highly controversial New York Times op-ed that attacked old-guard feminist ideology, I declared that Madonna is the future of feminism a prophecy that was ridiculed at the time but that turned out to be quite true. Madonna put pro-sex feminism on the international map.
But it is now 18 years later the span of an entire generation. The instabilities and diminishments for young women raised in an increasingly shallow media environment have become all too obvious. I had grown up in a vibrant pop culture with glorious women stars of voluptuous sensuality above all Elizabeth Taylor, sewn into that silky white slip as the vixen Manhattan call girl of Butterfield 8. In college, I feasted on foreign films starring sexual sophisticates like Jeanne Moreau, Anouk Aimée and Catherine Deneuve. Sex today, however, has become brittle and superficial. Except for the occasional diverting flash of Lindsay Lohans borrowed bosom, I see nothing whatever that is worth a second glance. Pro-sex feminism has worked itself out and, like all movements, has degenerated into clichés. And even Madonna, with her skeletal megalomania, looks like a refugee from a horror movie.
The next phase of feminism must circle back and reappropriate the ancient persona of the mother without losing career ambition or power of assertion. Betty Friedan, who had first attacked the cult of postwar domesticity, had long warned second-wave feminists such as Gloria Steinem about the damaging exclusion of homemakers from their value system. The animus of liberal feminists toward religion must also end (I am speaking as an atheist). Feminism must reexamine all of its assumptions, including its death grip on abortion, if it wishes to survive.
The hysterical emotionalism and eruptions of amoral malice at the arrival of Sarah Palin exposed the weaknesses and limitations of current feminism. But I am convinced that Palins bracing mix of male and female voices, as well as her grounding in frontier grit and audacity, will prove to be a galvanizing influence on aspiring Democratic women politicians too, from the municipal level on up. Palin has shown a brand-new way of defining female ambition without losing femininity, spontaneity or humor. Shes no pre-programmed wonk of the backstage Hillary Clinton school; shes pugnacious and self-created, the product of no educational or political elite which is why her outsider style has been so hard for media lemmings to comprehend. And by the way, I think Tina Feys witty impersonations of Palin have been fabulous. But while Fey has nailed Palins cadences and charm, she cant capture the energy, which is a force of nature.
Politics is irrational and emotional. Why do we even bother with democracy?
LOL! Good thing she doesn't teach English.
You may love or you may hate her but you have to admire any woman who can compose a sentence like that. Paglia is, if nothing else, a really entertaining writer.
William F. Buckley would approve.
Bravo, Camille! Finally...a liberal woman who is not threatened by Palin’s intelligence, vitality, and beauty.
A woman with a fine mind who realizes that yesteryear’s feminist ideology has been shattered by Palin, along with that glass ceiling.
Thank you, Camille, for your hoesty!
The bromides are the intellectual part, Camille. It goes downhill from there. But it sells like cotton candy, and it's just about as good for you.
If so, it's a coincidence. Paglia has written dozens of columns over the years in which she explores her obsession with Madonna in mind-numbing detail.
I’ve always had a soft spot for Paglia. She gets it right far more often than most feminists and leftists, and she is not afraid to piss them off by telling the truth. She’s pretty much an outcast in the modern feminazi movement.
Not much competition for *that* honor...
What a terrible typo! I am redfaced.
When she finds she invited Sharia Law into the White House she will think again.
Here is the deal libs. You want a free for all hedonistic chaos with lots of government goodies. You will not get that with bambi. Bambi's heavy supporters such as Hamas, Nation of Islam, and Odinga, will slowly bring in an oppressive, patriarchal society that will see the end of feminism and gay rights. You are being hoodwinked. Are you paying ANY attention at all to bambi's history and associates? Are you even giving any thought to the fact that bambi supports tyrants that are the very antithesis of what you want society to be? Are you really that stupid and foolish?
This guy Joe...he’s allright!
“Your story about the calf reminded me of one that I recall personally. It was the mid-1970s, and my young uncles car had gotten stuck on the beach during a sudden, howling thunderstorm. Our beach house was bursting at the seams with family members willing to help push the car back to the road. Among those chosen to take up the task were Louise and Jean, two of my grandmothers female cousins. They were fraternal twin sisters, the last in the family to be born in Italy. At the time they were pushing 55 but were in great shape, strapping and the size of Amazons, their skin tanned into a dark, olive complexion. I wasnt allowed to go because I was only eight years old.
An hour later, they came back to the house, soaking wet but mission accomplished. They entered carrying Mickey, their cousin, a man of slight frame, who had been knocked over by the wind and who had sprained his ankle. The first thing Louise and Jean did when they came through the door was to drop Mickey unceremoniously on the couch and ask me to fetch them beers from the refrigerator. To this day, I look back and think: Those were two of the sexiest women I ever laid my eyes on!
Not surprisingly, when I later went to college, during the height of the PC wars in the late eighties, campus feminism often puzzled me and sometimes angered me. These women would never in a million years choose my great-aunts and cousins as their role models. In fact, theyd probably cast scorn on them as backwards hillbillies. And you know what, those relatives of mine were hillbillies, in a way, or their equivalent in rural southern Italy. But I suppose the sisterhood of feminism was a rather small tent, the way it played out on campus. Their loss, as youve pointed out for years.
When I saw Sarah Palins speeches just before and during the Republican convention, I turned to my boyfriend and said, This woman is the biggest threat to Democratic chances to the presidency since Reagan. He understood immediately, but others I said that to initially had no idea what I was talking about. Clearly, they never had a Louise or Jean in the family!
What has Happened to MY DADS Democrat Party??
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture—education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [”]united force[”] to solve economic, political or social problems.
Read my home page
Why would Biden look like a slow sinking punctured blimp if he was winning on points?
“and is hoping he serves two terms”
Some of us are hoping he serves a couple of terms, in the klinker.
What has Happened to MY DADS Democrat Party??Naaah... history is cyclic. Any society with overwhelming economic power and no military threats turns to debauchery and hedonism very quickly. It's an organic process. There are plenty of community organizers and various other sundry hippies but they're really not nearly as influential and cult like as you think.
Even the *real* cults like the masons have gone through a tremendous decline of influence. I wouldn't be so quick to see conspiracies in everything.
Disagree she’s a hypocrite. It’s fair to differ with any candidate on issues or ideology, but where the left crossed the line was by attacking Gov. Palin personally. If the “feminist movement” was actually and honestly pro-female, this would have been the typical response to the Palin pick, rather than the exception.