If you have never heard of Camille Paglia, count yourself among the lucky. The late, great Molly Ivins wrote the definitive take on Camille:
There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that
politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity.
Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ``Poor dear, it's probably PMS.'' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ``What an asshole.'' Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole.
Twenty years later, and we still have Paglia but no Ivins. Which suggests that there is no god. It also suggests that someone, somewhere, in those backrooms of power wants to stick one in our feminist eyes, bad. I'm beginning to think that it's not only the poor we shall always have among us but the woman-haters. Now try to get that printed in the NYT!
But Paglia gets printed there, on a topic which begins:
WILL women soon have a Viagra of their own? Although a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recently rejected an application to market the drug flibanserin in the United States for women with low libido, it endorsed the potential benefits and urged further research. Several pharmaceutical companies are reported to be well along in the search for such a drug.
The implication is that a new pill, despite its unforeseen side effects, is necessary to cure the sexual malaise that appears to have sunk over the country. But to what extent do these complaints about sexual apathy reflect a medical reality, and how much do they actually emanate from the anxious, overachieving, white upper middle class?
This is compost. Utter compost. There is no evidence whatsoever that there is some new sexual malaise that 'appears to have sunk over the country,' and Paglia gives us exactly zero evidence on such a giant change happening over time or in the recent past. Neither is there any evidence that the 'overachieving white upper middle class' is somehow behind the demands for female viagra.
What's behind it is the medical industry which created Viagra for men (and with unforeseen side effects!) and now tries to get another equally large market out of women. This has nothing to do with the level of libidos somehow having dropped. But of course it allows Paglia to go and dig around in that old compost of hers for some less digested bits of bullshit:
Androgynous female heros have a dampening effect on the libidos of someone! Who? Heterosexual women? I doubt it. But the story was supposed to be about women's libidos, right? Suddenly it's about heterosexual men not desiring women who have low voices and artificial boobs.
She doesn't mention porn at all. I bet you a zillion grillion units of your choice that many more men have watched porn than those androgynous female heros, and if there is anything that has changed in the last two decades it is easy and hidden access to porn. But in Paglia's world men watch Alien and no porn whatsoever.
But what does any of that have to do with female Viagra? Nothing, as far as I can tell. The whole piece sounds so much like my limbering-up exercises when I start writing; the kind of word salad one gets when clearing the brain as one would clear the throat:
Start with lack of female libido which must exist for the story to grow wings but then quickly move to talking about male libido (which already has Viagra!) and how it must be hurt by the way men are neutered (clipclip) and pussy-whipped into something nobody in their right mind would want to fuck. Instead, give me the old Italian countryside, with haystacks and a violent rape of a peasant woman who really does like it after the bruises fade. Because sex is violence and violence is sex and all women like to be at the receiving end of that violence.
Except, of course, Camille Paglia.
Hmm. Perhaps I should post my limbering exercises, too?
Fascinating how easily an anti-feminist piece gets posted in these days. If I hadn't been recently told that men are ending and that feminazis are in power everywhere I'd feel a little surprised. But of course Paglia is just a counterpoint to all those thousands and thousands of feminist articles we read every day in the NYT. Maureen Dowd, among the many, many female columnists must be balanced, right?
OK. That was my very own compost. The truth is that we still live in backlash times. It's as if the powers-that-be hear invisible feminist voices inside their heads, all the time, and must, yes, must counterbalance them by offering column space to Paglia.