In an interview with Spiked Online, radical feminist Camille Paglia unloaded both barrels on the Left's "self-absoprtion" with gender identity, saying all the "hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I? Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing, while in the Middle East, ISIS is beheading people."
In the half-hour interview with Spiked's Ella Whelan, the openly gay, contrarian feminist professor commented on several controversial issues, including the transgender debate, the so-called "campus rape culture," and the censorship of honest discussions about what causes homosexuality. As usual, Paglia's take on all of it probably won't make her fellow feminists and LGBT activists happy.
A few excerpts (partial transcript via MercatorNet):
On gender identity politics and transgender bathrooms, Paglia slammed all the "navel-gazing" as "a kind of madness of self-absorption" that doesn't deserve the media attention it's getting. She was particularly critical of those "pressur[ing]" others to make "dangerous" and irreversible changes to their bodies. A lot of those being influenced by the movement, she suggested, are simply using the issue as a "mask" for other deeper problems:
I really pity young people today in this environment because the pressures are enormous. It’s one thing to feel, ‘I’m not quite comfortable in the gender I was assigned at birth,’ but the pressures are to change, change, change, and to telegraph it to the world. People are pushed into making choices about surgical interventions and taking hormones, which is dangerous, and they will have all kinds of medical problems in the long run…
I think there are authentic transgender people who had a genetic issue from the start, but they are a tiny, tiny minority of the population, and medical science is still developing to help these people. But now it’s become a fashion statement, or a mask [for other problems]. People are being induced to think that all their unhappiness -- in family life, in school, in relation to society – is to do with this gender issue. Well, maybe it isn’t. Maybe there are other issues a person needs to deal with.
In the old days there were different kinds of guidance to help you focus and develop yourself psychologically, spiritually, culturally. Instead, now, all the unhappiness that people feel in these areas is consolidated in the gender issue. Maybe there is a gender issue for you, but it’s not the whole issue.
On the topic of "campus rape culture," Paglia criticized the safe space college atmosphere, where students are taught not to "bully" and to accept everyone, but don't have a firm grasp of the real world.
She particularly slammed college girls who apparently now want "authority figures hovering over them" when it comes to sex but simply "have no idea" what sex really is, failing to understand how "dangerous" being evocative can really be. Knowing she'd be accused of "victim blaming," Paglia slapped the charge away, saying it's time to start living in reality:
It’s not that they fear sex, but that they have no idea of what it is, because they have been raised in a culture where skimpy clothing is simply standard issue. They don’t have any sense whatever that exposure of the flesh or a particular choice of clothing can communicate a message of sexual interest or readiness.
But the moment you say this your contemporary feminist will say, ‘You’re blaming the victim. We have the right to dress as we want.’ Of course. However, you have to be prepared for the reality of the world … which is a dangerous place. They have no idea about human psychology … that you don’t mess around with sexuality, which is extremely explosive, that you must be prepared to defend yourself, be alert to your environment.
Earlier Paglia noted that millennials seem to have "no sense of the great patterns of world history" and, thus, believe that "we are marching to perfection," that we are reaching a "transnational" "utopia," while our sexual tolerance is actually a sign that we, like Babylon and Rome, are about to fall.
"We are very tolerant, not passionate, but there are bands of vandals and destroyers circling around the edge of our civilization who will bring it down," she said, making clear in her comments about ISIS that she was at least in part referring to Radical Islamists.
As for the "causes of various gender issues," the lesbian feminist ripped the current "censorship" of honest discussion. "To even raise the question of how homosexuality is caused is considered homophobic," she said, adding, "I'm waiting for some brave young gays to protest against the censorship."