The Current

Modern feminism needs to 'stop blaming men,' says Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia is one of the most provocative public intellectuals in America. She's never afraid to speak her mind — even when it rankles her fellow feminists.
Camille Paglia argues modern feminism is harming women in her book, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism. (Michael Lionstar)

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Camille Paglia has been called the "anti-feminist feminist" for decades but she's not one to back down.

As a self-proclaimed "leader of the dissident wing of feminism," she maintains that her arguments with what she calls "mainstream feminists" are necessary to shake up a movement she sees as stuck in near-religious ideologies.

In Paglia's recent collection of writings from 1990 to today, Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism, she argues "Women will never know who they are until they let men be men."

Her key message to feminists: "Stop blaming men."
(Penguin Random House Canada)

"I do feel that I'm going to win in the long run," Paglia tells The Current guest host Laura Lynch, "... and that I will be seen to have been a prophet of my time."

"It's the young people who will determine what feminism will be," Paglia says on what the future holds for the movement but says it's hard to acknowledge anyone as an independent thinker like Germaine Greer — a woman she admires most in the world.

"I think people are looking for a religion," the atheist declares, pointing to a feminist ideology that is universal.

"That's what makes it very difficult to argue with anyone because they're so locked into the commandments that they've absorbed."

Paglia explains her positions on some of her more provocative arguments:

Why she called Hillary Clinton "a disaster" during the 2016 election campaign:

"Hillary Clinton has ridden her husband's coattails her entire life … She's never accomplished a thing … She was a terrible secretary of state who destabilized North Africa and caused that refugee influx into Italy."

Women in the workplace:

"I think that the way women dress is also ultimately undermining the seriousness with which men take them ... I love sexy clothing, but I'm saying women really need to look at themselves and realize, when you are dressing with short skirts, bare legs and stiletto heels in a professional workplace, you are saying that your sexuality is part of your power … I'm not saying stop wearing that sexualizing clothing. I'm saying, you cannot just offer yourself as an ornament."

Discussions of sexual assault on campus:

"We're not talking about sexual assault. We're talking about, often in the case of undergraduates, we're talking about both individuals are drunk. The men are looking for sexual experience. The women aren't sure what they want ... What I've said from the start, and I maintain I'm correct: a girl who goes to a fraternity party and is asked by a young man, would you like to go up to my room — I still maintain to this day that a woman who says yes is signaling she is ready for sex."

Paglia's advice to young women wanting to succeed in today's world:

"They should model their persona on me — and on fellow Amazon feminists of the 1960s," says Paglia, "which is that you are responsible for how people treat you."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley.