Posted in Pop Culture by Peter W. Schramm
I always enjoy Paglia, even though her worldview is wrong. I'd say her appeal comes from the fact that she, unlike so many of her peers, actually celebrates the differences between the sexes (albeit through a pre-Christian lens). Funny she blames the placid, sexless (or romance-less?) society she describes on the Protestant work ethic and Victorian morality rather than on feminism and the sexual revolution. One gave us Jane Austen, the other pantsuits.
The implication of the article is that the Protestant work ethic and propriety produced feminism. In such a culture, women must work to justify themselves. Sexuality in the work place is a nuisance and must be ruthlessly suppressed if women are there. The propriety there is practical. If people at work were always expressing their sexuality in ribald fashion, and I mean physically, what a mess their world would be. The modern propriety Paglia complains about is a practical outworking of a culture where all of us must work and necessarily work together.
In addition, a young woman's natural sexuality is tied up with procreation, but we make young women go to college and work and suppress childbearing. If a young woman is so neutered by working in a man's world, then she is rendered sexless. She doesn't gain man's sexuality, but she loses her own.
Paglia speaks of the "mind-based work" of bourgeois women. A woman's sexuality is of the mind, not so much of the eyes and other parts like a man's. If her mind is preoccupied with work and if she has children, carrying for those children in the modern busy way, then she hasn't much time for romantic thought. Maybe that is why the modern vacation has become a right, if not a rite. It offers women time to revert to natural patterns of thought.
Andrew, it is funny that you say that feminism brings us the pantsuit and femininity is in Austen, since she never married. She did have time to think about romance.
I stand corrected.
Coming back, and temporarily uninterested in the Constitution, your mention of Austen also reminds me of conversations I have had lately with young Christian women who talk about waiting for their Mr. Darcy. Each has an ideal man for whom she waits. The girl may even know who he is, as in have a specific man in her sights, but she feels constrained from pursuit, because of propriety or other things. These girls watch the world around them and see women unconstrained by those concerns of theirs and wonder if they can be right in their waiting. Their Mr. Darcy may not come to them, ever. They are not sexless, but maybe too romantic.
I don't think what Paglia writes pertains to them at all.
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