Camille Paglia

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Equal opportunity feminism, which I espouse, demands the removal of all barriers to woman's advance in the political and professional world — but not at the price of special protections for women which are infantilizing and anti-democratic.

Camille Paglia (born 2 April 1947) is an American author, scholar and critic, most notable for writing Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, a monumental survey of Western art and literature from earliest recorded history to the 20th Century.

Quotes[edit]

  • I have been studying it [sexuality] since before it became fashionable. At the Yale Grad School, for example, where I was from 1968 to 1972, I was literally the only person in the humanities departments doing a dissertation on sex — hard to believe now, but I was a real pioneer and I took the career hit for it. It was considered tacky, low, not serious — my dears, I was absolutely scouring the Yale archives for every bit of dirt on homosexuality, sadomasochism, transvestism — you name it. That is the basis of the research for my first book, Sexual Personae, which was my dissertation.
  • I'm so sick of the brainless overpraise of her shrill show. She's oafishly unfunny and phony to boot. I liked her as a newcomer stand-up comedian, but her humor's become adolescent and predictable. And that forced Long Island accent that she no longer has in real life — ugh!
  • Men are run ragged by female sexuality all their lives. From the beginning of his life to the end, no man ever fully commands any woman. It's an illusion. Men are pussy-whipped. And they know it. That's what the strip clubs are about; not woman as victim, not woman as slave, but woman as goddess.
    • As quoted in Sexuality and Gender (2002) by Christine R. Williams and Arlene Stein, p. 213 ISBN 0631222723
  • The feminist line is, strippers and topless dancers are degraded, subordinated, and enslaved; they are victims, turned into objects by the display of their anatomy. But women are far from being victims — women rule; they are in total control ... the feminist analysis of prostitution says that men are using money as power over women. I'd say, yes, that's all that men have. The money is a confession of weakness. They have to buy women's attention. It's not a sign of power; it's a sign of weakness.
    • As quoted in Sexuality and Gender (2002) by Christine R. Williams and Arlene Stein, p. 213
  • The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words.
    • Break, Blow, Burn (2005)
  • Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.
    • As quoted in Sex from Plato to Paglia : A Philosophical Encyclopedia (2006) by Alan Soble, Volume 2, p. 378, ISBN 9780313334252
  • Let's get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims, and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catch-all vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses.
    • As quoted in The Quotable Bitch: Women Who Tell It Like It Really Is (2007) edited by Jessie Shiers, p. 167 ISBN 9781599212135
  • I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity. Obama has served longer as an elected official than Hillary. He has had experience as a grass-roots activist, and he is also a highly educated lawyer who will be a quick learner in office. His international parentage and childhood, as well as his knowledge of both Christianity and Islam, would make him the right leader at the right time. And his wife Michelle is a powerhouse. The Obamas represent the future, not the past.
    • "Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Iran and More" at Salon.com (8 January 2008)
  • Popular culture is the new Babylon, into which so much art and intellect now flow. It is our imperial sex theater, supreme temple of the western eye. We live in the age of idols. The pagan past, never dead, flames again in our mystic hierarchies of stardom.

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990)[edit]

The last western society to worship female powers was Minoan Crete.
The moral ambivalence of the great mother goddesses has been conveniently forgotten by those American feminists who have resurrected them.
Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects governments to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other words, liberalism defines government as tyrant father but demands it behave as nurturant mother. Feminism has inherited these contradictions.
  • Sexual Personae seeks to demonstrate the unity and continuity of western culture — something that has inspired little belief since the period before World War I.
    • p. xiii
  • My stress on the truth in sexual stereotypes and on the biologic basis of sex differences is sure to cause controversy.
    • p. xiii
  • In the beginning was nature. The background from which and against our ideas of God were formed, nature remains the supreme moral problem. We cannot hope to understand sex and gender until we clarify our attitude toward nature. Sex is a subset to nature. Sex is the natural in man.
    • Opening sentence, p. 1
  • Society is a system of inherited forms reducing our humiliating passivity to nature. We may alter these forms, slowly or suddenly, but no change in society will change nature.
    • p. 1
  • Human life began in flight and fear. Religion rose from rituals of propitiation, spells to lull the punishing elements.
    • p. 1
  • Sexuality and eroticism are the intricate intersection of nature and culture. Feminists grossly oversimplify the problem of sex when they reduce it a matter of social convention: readjust society, eliminate sexual inequality, purify sex roles, and happiness and harmony will reign. Here feminism, like all liberal movements of the past two hundred years, is heir to Rousseau.
    • p. 1
  • Society is not the criminal but the force which keeps crime in check. When social controls weaken, man’s innate cruelty bursts forth. The rapist is created not by bad social conditioning influences but by a failure of social conditioning. Feminists, seeking to drive power relations out of sex, have set themselves against nature. In western culture, there are no nonexploitative relationships. Everyone has killed in order to live. Nature’s universal law of creation from destruction operates in mind as in matter. As Freud, Nietzsche’s heir, asserts, identity is conflict. Each generation drives its plow over the bones of the dead.
    • p. 2
  • Feminism has exceeded its proper mission of seeking political equality for women and has ended by rejecting contingency, that is, human limitation by nature or fate.
    • p. 3
  • Sexual freedom, sexual liberation. A modern delusion. We are hierarchical animals. Sweep one hierarchy away, and another will take its place, perhaps less palatable than the first.
    • p. 3
  • Modern liberalism suffers unresolved contradictions. It exalts individualism and freedom and, on its radical wing, condemns social orders as oppressive. On the other hand, it expects governments to provide materially for all, a feat manageable only by an expansion of authority and a swollen bureaucracy. In other words, liberalism defines government as tyrant father but demands it behave as nurturant mother. Feminism has inherited these contradictions.
    • p. 3
  • The search for freedom through sex is doomed to failure.

    • p. 4
  • Sex cannot be understood because nature cannot be understood. Science is a method of logical analysis of nature’s operations. It has lessened human anxiety about the cosmos by demonstrating the materiality of nature’s forces, and their frequent predictability. But science is always playing catch-up ball. Nature breaks its own rules whenever it wants. Science cannot avert a single thunderbolt. Western science is a product of the Apollonian mind: its hope is that by naming and classification, by the cold light of intellect, archaic night can be pushed back and defeated.
    • p. 5
  • The moral ambivalence of the great mother goddesses has been conveniently forgotten by those American feminists who have resurrected them. We cannot grasp nature's bare blade without shedding our own blood.
    • p. 8
  • Western culture from the start has swerved from femaleness. The last western society to worship female powers was Minoan Crete. And significantly, that fell and did not rise again.
    • p. 8
  • Judaism, Christianity’s parent sect, is the most powerful of protests against nature. The Old Testament asserts that a father god made nature and that the differentiation into objects and gender was after the fact of his maleness. Judeo-Christianity, like Greek worship of the Olympian gods, is a sky-cult. It is an advanced stage in the history of religion, which everywhere began as earth-cult, veneration of fruitful nature.
    • p. 8
  • The evolution of earth-cult to sky-cult shifts woman into the nether realm. Her mysterious procreative powers and the resemblance of her rounded breasts, belly, and hips to earth’s contours put her at the center of early symbolism. She was the model for the Great Mother figures who crowded the birth of religion worldwide. But the mother cults did not mean freedom for women. On the contrary […] cult objects are prisoners of their own symbolic inflation. Every totem lives in taboo.
    • p. 8
  • Woman was an idol of belly-magic. She seemed to swell and give birth by her own law. From the beginning of time, woman has seemed an uncanny being. Man honored but feared her. She was the black maw that had spat him forth and would devour him anew. Men, bonding together, invented culture as a defense against female nature. Sky-cult was the most sophisticated step in this process, for its switch of the creative locus from earth to sky is a shift from belly-magic to head-magic. And from this defensive head-magic has come the spectacular glory of male civilization, which has lifted woman with it. The very language and logic modern woman uses to assail patriarchal culture were the invention of men.
    • p. 9
  • All the genres of philosophy, science, high art, athletics and politics were invented by men. But by the Promethean law of conflict and capture, woman has a right to seize what she will and vie with man on her own terms.
    • p. 9
  • The female body is a chthonian machine, indifferent to the spirit who inhabits it.
    • p. 10
  • We have an evolutionary revulsion from slime, the site of our biologic origins. Every month, it is woman's fate to face the abyss of time and being, the abyss which is herself.
    • p. 11
  • The Bible has come under fire for making woman the fall guy in man's cosmic drama. But in casting a male conspirator, the serpent, as God's enemy, Genesis hedges and does not take its misogyny far enough. The Bible defensively swerves from God's true opponent, chthonian nature. The serpent is not outside Eve but in her. She is the garden and the serpent.
    • p. 11
  • The Devil is a woman.
    • p. 11
  • In every premenstrual woman struggling to govern her temper, sky-cult wars again with earth-cult.
    • p. 12
  • Most of western culture is a distortion of reality. But reality should be distorted; that is, imaginatively amended. The Buddhist acquiescence to nature is neither accurate about nature nor just to human potential.
    • p. 13
  • Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered. The basic mechanics of conception require action in the male but nothing more than passive receptivity in the female.
    • p. 13
  • Nature is a Darwinian spectacle of the eaters and the eaten. All phases of procreation are ruled by appetite: sexual intercourse, from kissing to penetration, consists of movements of barely controlled cruelty and consumption. The long pregnancy of the human female and the protracted childhood of her infant, who is not self-sustaining for seven years or more, have produced the agon of psychological dependency that burdens the male for a lifetime. Man justifiably fears being devoured by woman, who is nature’s proxy.
    • p. 16
  • Repression is an evolutionary adaptation permitting us to function under the burden of our expanded consciousness. For what we are conscious of could drive us mad.
    • p. 16
  • The mystique of the femme fatale cannot be perfectly translated into male terms.
    • p. 15
The mystique of the femme fatale cannot be perfectly translated into male terms.
Capitalism is an art form.
The book of Genesis is a male declaration of independence from the ancient mother-cults. Its challenge to nature, so sexist to modern ears, marks one of the crucial moments in western history.
  • Mind is a captive of the body.
    • p. 17
  • Every man harbors an inner female territory ruled by his mother, from whom he can never entirely break free.
    • p. 18
  • Love for all means coldness to something or someone. Even Jesus, let us recall, was unnecessarily rude to his mother at Cana.
    • p. 18
  • Not until all babies are born from glass jars will the combat cease between mother and son.
    • p. 19
  • Every fetus becomes female unless it is steeped in male hormone, produced by a signal from the testes. Before birth, therefore, a male is already beyond the female. But to be beyond is to be exiled from the center of life. Men know they are sexual exiles. They wander the earth seeking satisfaction, craving and despising, never content. There is nothing in that anguished motion for women to envy.
    • p. 19
  • An erection is a thought and the orgasm an act of the imagination. The male has to will his sexual authority before the woman who is a shadow of his mother and of all women. Failure and humiliation constantly wait in the wings. No woman has to prove herself a woman in the grim way a man has to prove himself a man. He must perform, or the show does not go on. Social convention is irrelevant. A flop is a flop.
    • p. 20
  • Women have conceptualized less in history not because men have kept them from doing so but because women do not need to conceptualize in order to exist. […] Fetishism, for instance, a practice which like most of the sex perversions is confined to men, is clearly a conceptualizing or symbol-making activity. Man’s vastly greater commercial patronage of pornography is analogous.
    • p. 20
  • The female body’s unbearable hiddenness applies to all aspects men’s dealings with women. What does it look like in there? Did she have an orgasm? Is it really my child? Who was my real father? Mystery surrounds women’s sexuality. This mystery is the main reason for the imprisonment man has imposed on women. Only by confining his wife in a locked harem guarded by eunuchs could he be certain that her son was also his.

    • p. 22
  • The reform of a college English department cuts no ice down at the corner garage.
    • p. 22
  • That nature acts differently upon the sexes is proved by the test case of modern male and female homosexuality, illustrating how the sexes function separately outside social conventions. The results, according to statistics of sexual frequency: male satyriasis and female nesting. The male homosexual has more sex than his heterosexual counterpart; the female homosexual less often than hers, a radical polarization of the sexes along a single continuum of shared sexual nonconformity. Male aggression and lust are the energizing factors in culture. They are men’s tools of survival in the pagan vastness of female nature.
    • p. 26
  • The old “double standard” gave men a sexual liberty denied to women. Marxist feminists reduced the historical cult of woman’s virginity to her property value, her worth on the male marriage market. I would argue instead that there was and is a biological basis to the double standard. The first medical reports on the disease killing male homosexuals [i.e., AIDS] indicated men most at risk were those with a thousand partners over their lifetime. Incredulity. Who could such people be? Why, it turns out, everyone one knew. Serious, kind, literate men, not bums or thugs.
    • p. 27
  • Freud says, “Man fears that his strength will be taken from him by woman, dreads becoming infected with her femininity and then proving himself a weakling.” Masculinity must fight off effeminacy day by day. Woman and nature stand ever ready to reduce the male to boy and infant.
    • p. 27
  • Everything great in western culture has come from the quarrel with nature.
    • p. 28
  • Only utopian liberals could be surprised that the Nazis were art connoisseurs.
    • p. 29
  • The artist makes art not to save mankind but to save himself. Every benevolent comment by an artist is a fog to cover his tracks, the bloody trail of his assault against reality and others.
    • p. 29
  • The English language was created by poets, a five-hundred year enterprise of emotion and metaphor, the richest dialogue in world literature. French rhetorical models are too narrow for the English tradition. Most pernicious of French imports is the notion that there is no person behind a text. Is there anything more affected, aggressive, and relentlessly concrete than a Parisian intellectual behind his/her turgid text? The Parisian is a provincial when he pretends to speak for the universe.
    • p. 34
  • Pornography’s male-born explicitness renders visible what is invisible, woman’s chthonic internality. It tries to shed Apollonian light on woman’s anxiety-provoking darkness. The vulgar contortionism of pornography is the serpentine tangle of Medusan nature. Pornography is human imagination in tense theatrical action; its violations are a protest against the violations of our freedom by nature. The banning of pornography, rightly sought by Judeo-Christianity, would be a victory over the west’s stubborn paganism. But pornography cannot be banned, only driven underground, where its illicit charge will be enhanced.
    • p. 35
  • The idea that emotion can be separated from sex is a Christian illusion, one of the most ingenious but finally unworkable strategies in Christianity’s ancient campaign against pagan nature.

    • p. 35
  • In the past fifteen years, Marxist approaches towards literature have enjoyed increasing vogue. To be conscious of the social context of art seems to automatically entail a leftist orientation. But a theory is possible that is both avant-garde and capitalist. Marxism was one of Rousseau’s nineteenth-century progeny, energized by faith in the perfectabilty of man. Its believed that economic forces are the primary dynamic force in history is Romantic naturism in disguise. … Marxism is the bleakest of anxiety-formations against the power of cthonian mothers.
    • p. 36
  • Marxism is a flight from the magic of the person and the mystique of hierarchy. It distorts the character of western culture, which is based on the charismatic power of person. Marxism can work only in pre-industrial societies of homogeneous populations. Raise the standard of living, and the rainbow riot of individualism will break out. Personality and art, which Marxism fears and censors, rebound from every effort to oppress them.
    • p. 36
  • We could make an epic catalog of male achievements, from paved roads, indoor plumbing, and washing machine to eyeglasses, antibiotics and disposable diapers. We enjoy safe, fresh milk and meat, and vegetables and tropical fruits heaped in snowbound cities. When I cross the George Washington Bridge or any of America’s great bridges, I think: men have done this. Construction is a sublime male poetry. When I see a see a giant crane passing on a flatbed truck, I pause in awe and reverence as would for a church processions.
    • p. 37
  • Capitalism, gaudy and greedy, has been inherent in western aesthetics from ancient Egypt on. It is the mysticism and glamour of things, which take on a personality of their own. As an economic system, it is in the Darwinian line of Sade, not Rousseau.
    • p. 37
  • The capitalist distribution network, a complex chain of factory, transport, warehouse and retail outlet, is one of the greatest male accomplishments in the history of culture.
    • p. 37
One of feminism’s irritating reflexes is its fashionable disdain for “patriarchal society,” to which nothing good is ever attributed.
Nefertiti is like Athena born from the brow of Zeus, a head-heavy armored goddess. She is beautiful but desexed.
  • One of feminism’s irritating reflexes is its fashionable disdain for “patriarchal society,” to which nothing good is ever attributed. But it is patriarchal society that has freed me as a woman. It is capitalism that has given me the leisure to sit at this desk writing this book. Let us stop being small-minded about men and freely acknowledge what treasures their obsessiveness has poured into culture.
    • p. 37
  • If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.
    • p. 38
  • Capitalism is an art form.
    • p. 38
  • The book of Genesis is a male declaration of independence from the ancient mother-cults. Its challenge to nature, so sexist to modern ears, marks one of the crucial moments in western history. Mind can never be free of matter. Only by mind imagining itself free can culture advance. The mother-cults, by reconciling man to nature, entrapped him in matter. Everything great in western civilization has come from struggling against our origins. Genesis is rigid and unjust, but it gave man hope as a man. It remade the world by male dynasty, canceling the power of mothers.
    • p. 40
  • Not a shred of evidence supports the existence of matriarchy anywhere in the world at any time. [...] The matriarchy hypothesis, revived by American feminism, continues to flourish outside the university
    • p. 42
  • The toothed vagina is no sexist hallucination: every penis is made less by every vagina, just as mankind, male and female, is devoured by mother nature. The vagina dentata is part of the Romantic revival of pagan myth. It is subliminally present in Poe’s voracious maelstrom and dank, scythe-swept pit. It overtly appears in the bible of French Decadence, Huysmans’s A Rebours (1884), where a dreamer is magnetically drawn towards mother nature’s open thighs, the “bloody depths” of a carnivorous flower rimmed by “swordblades.”
    • p. 47
  • Male mastery in marriage is a social illusion, nurtured by women exhorting their creations to play and walk. At the emotional heart of every marriage is a pietà of mother and son.
    • p. 53
  • Art advances by self-mutilation of the artist.
    • p. 54
  • The Nefertiti bust is one of the most popular art works in the world. It is printed on scarves and molded in necklace pendants and coffee-table miniatures. But never in my experience is the bust exactly reproduced. The copyist softens it, feminizes it and humanizes it. The actual bust is intolerably severe. It is too uncanny an object for domestic display. Even art books lie. The bust is usually posed in profile or at an angle, so that the missing left pupil is hidden or shadowed. What happened to the eye?
    • p. 67
  • Nefertiti is like Athena born from the brow of Zeus, a head-heavy armored goddess. She is beautiful but desexed.
    • p. 71
  • Homeric mind is ingenuity, practical intelligence. There is no Rodin-like deep thinking, no mathematical or philosophical speculation. Odysseus thinks with his hands.
    • p. 85
  • At the opening of the Odyssey, Telemachus, inspired by the male-born Athena, searches for his father by turning against his mother. Jesus too publicly spurns his mother to be about his father’s business. Male adulthood begins with the breaking of female chains.

    • p. 89
  • Male tumescence is an assertion of the separateness of objects. An erection is architectural, sky-pointing. Female tumescence, through blood or water, is slow, gravitational, amorphous. In the war for human identity, male tumescence is an instrument, female tumescence an obstruction. The fatty female body is a sponge. At peak menstrual and natal moments, it is locked passively in place, suffering wave after wave of Dionysian power.
    • p. 91
  • The Apollonian and Dionysian, two great western principles, govern sexual personae in life and art. My theory is this: Dionysus is identification, Apollo objectification. Dionysus is the empathic, the sympathetic, emotion transporting us into other people, other palaces, other times. Apollo is the hard, cold separation of western personality and categorical thought. Dionysus is energy, ecstasy, hysteria, promiscuity, emotionalism -- heedless indiscriminateness of idea or practice. Apollo is obsessiveness, voyeurism, idolatry, fascism -- frigidity and aggression of the eye, petrification of objects. … The quarrel between Apollo and Dionysus is the quarrel between the higher cortex and the older limbic and reptilian brains.
    • p. 96
  • Women played no part in Athenian high culture. They could not vote, attend the theatre, or walk in the stoa talking philosophy. But the male orientation of Greek culture was inseparable of its genius. Athens became great not despite but because of its misogyny.
    • p. 100
  • The Orestia shows that society is a defense against nature. Everything intelligible -- institutions, objects, persons, ideas -- is the result of Apollonian clarification, adjudication, and action. Western politics, science, psychology and art are creations of arrogant Apollo. Through every century, winning or losing, western mind has struggled to keep nature at bay. The Orestia’s sexist transition from matriarchy to patriarchy records the rebellion every imagination must make against nature. Without that rebellion, we as a species are condemned to regression or stasis. Even rebelling, we cannot get far. But vying with fate is godlike.
    • p. 101
  • Greek pederasty honored the erotic magnetism of male adolescence in a way that today brings police to the door. Children are more conscious and perverse than parents like to think.
    • p. 115
  • Visionary idealism is a male art form. The lesbian aesthete does not exist. But if there were one, she would have learned from the perverse male mind.
    • p. 117
  • Women have ironically enjoyed a greater symbolic, if not practical freedom. Thus it is that male and not female homosexuality has been harshly punished by law. A debater in Lucian declares, “Far better that a women, in the madness of her lust, should usurp the nature of man, than that man’s noble nature should be so degraded as to play the woman.” Similarly today, lesbian interludes are a staple of heterosexual pornography. Ever since man emerged from the dominance of nature, masculinity has been the most fragile and problematic of psychic states.
    • p. 125
  • Effeminate men have suffered a bad press the world over.
    • p. 125
  • Judaism’s campaign to make divinity invisible has never fully succeeded. Images are always eluding moral control, creating the brilliant western art tradition. Idolatry is fascism of the eye. The western eye will be served, with or without the consent of conscience.
    • p. 139
  • What is Mona Lisa thinking? Nothing, of course. Her blankness is her menace and our fear. [...] Walter Pater is to call her a 'vampire,' coasting through history on her secret tasks.
    • p. 154
  • Oil painting and color, said Michelangelo, are for “women and the lazy.” His sharp-edged Apollonian style is the only way to beat back mother nature.
    • p. 158
  • I cannot be convinced that great artists are moralists. Art is first appearances, then meaning.
    • p. 166
  • The Fairie Queene makes cinema out of the west's primary principle: to see is to know; to know is to control. The Spenserian eye cuts, wounds, rapes.

    • p. 173
  • The Faerie Queene is the most extended and extensive meditation on sex in the history of poetry. It charts the entire erotic spectrum, a great chain of being rising from matter to spirit, from the coarsest lust to chastity and romantic idealism. The poem’s themes of sex and politics are parallel: the psyche, like society, must be disciplined by good government. Spenser agrees with the classical and Christian philosophers on the primacy of reason over animal appetites. He looks forward to the Romantic poets, however, in the way that he shows the sex impulse as ultimately daemonic and barbaric, breeding witches and sorcerers of evil allure. Like the Odyssey, The Faerie Queene is a heroic epic in which the masculine must evade female traps or delays.
    • p. 188
What is Mona Lisa thinking? Nothing, of course.
Even the best critical writing on Emily Dickinson underestimates her. She is frightening.
  • The sixteenth century transformed Middle English into modern English. Grammar was up for grabs. People made up vocabulary and syntax as they went along. Not until the eighteenth century would rules of English usage appear. Shakespearean language is a bizarre super-tongue, alien and plastic, twisting, turning, and forever escaping. It is untranslatable, since it knocks Anglo-Saxon root words against Norman and Greco-Roman importations sweetly or harshly, kicking us up and down rhetorical levels with witty abruptness. No one in real life ever spoke like Shakespeare’s characters. His language does not “make sense,” especially in the greatest plays. Anywhere from a third to a half of every Shakespearean play, I conservatively estimate, will always remain under an interpretive cloud. Unfortunately, this fact is obscured by the encrustations of footnotes in modern texts, which imply to the poor cowed student that if only he knew what the savants do, all would be as clear as day. Every time I open Hamlet, I am stunned by its hostile virtuosity, its elusiveness and impenetrability. Shakespeare uses language to darken. He suspends the traditional compass points of rhetoric, still quite firm in Marlowe, normally regarded as Shakespeare’s main influence. Shakespeare’s words have “aura.” This he got from Spenser, not Marlowe.
    • p. 195
  • Romanticism, like the Rousseauist Swinging Sixties, misunderstands the Dionysian as the pleasure principle, when it is in fact the gross continuum of pleasure-pain. Worshiping nature and seeking political and sexual freedom, Romanticism ends in imaginative entrammelment of every kind. Perfect freedom is intolerable and therefore impossible.
    • p. 231
  • We remain in the Romantic cycle initiated by Rousseau: liberal idealism canceled by violence, barbarism, disillusionment and cynicism.
    • p. 232
  • In Romanticism, unlike the Renaissance, Amazons retain their power. Rousseau wants it both ways. Idolizing women is natural and right, a cosmic law. On the other hand, male recessiveness is blamed on female coercion. Either way, sadomasochistic dominance and submission are inherent in Rousseausism from the start.
    • p. 232
  • Sade has barely made a dent on American academic consciousness. It is his violence far more than his sex which is so hard for liberals to accept. For Sade, sex is violence. Violence is the authentic spirit of mother nature.
    • p. 235
  • Simply follow nature, Rousseau declares. Sade, laughing grimly, agrees.
    • p. 235
  • Serial or sex murder, like fetishism, is a perversion of male intelligence. It is a criminal abstraction, masculine in its deranged egoism and orderliness. It is the asocial equivalent of philosophy, mathematics and music. There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.
    • p. 247
  • Every male copulating with a woman returns to his origins in the womb. Goethe postponed intercourse until he was forty. This must be related to his self-imposed distance from his forceful mother. To refuse phallic penetration is to refuse surrender to the female matrix.
    • p. 257
There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.
Why more people are not seen rushing shrieking from libraries, shredding James novels in their hands, I cannot say.
  • The Gothic tradition was begun by Ann Radcliffe, a rare example of a woman creating an artistic style.
    • p. 265
  • The thrill of terror is passive, masochistic, and implicitly feminine. It is imaginative submission to overwhelming superior force.
    • p. 267
  • Butchery is not the point of vampirism. Sex - domination and submission - is.
    • 268
  • Woman's flirtatious arts of self-concealment mean man's approach must take the form of rape.
    • p. 276
  • Personality maintains its discreetness by an act of will. Otherwise one person will flow helplessly into another.
    • p. 293
  • In 'A Room of One's Own', Virginia Woolf satirically describes her perplexity at the bulging card catalog of the British Museum: why, she asks, are there so many books written by men about women but none by women about men? The answer to her question is that from the beginning of time men have been struggling with the threat of woman's dominance.
    • p. 295
  • Gautier says, “Baudelaire abhorred philanthropy, progressivists, utilitarians, humanitarians and utopianists.” In other words, Baudelaire condemned Rousseausism in all its forms. Today, Rousseausism has so triumphed that the arts and the avant-garde are synonymous with liberalism, an error enforced by literature teachers, with their humanist bias. I follow the Decadents in trying to drive Rousseauist benevolence out of the discourse in art and literature. The Decadents satirized the liberal faith in progress with sizzling prophecies of catastrophe and cultural collapse.
    • p. 429
  • Tranvestism is far more common among men, I noted, because it originates in the primary relation of mother and son.
    • p. 508
  • Charisma is the radiance produced by the interaction of male and female elements in a gifted personality. The charismatic woman has a masculine force and severity. The charismatic man has an entrancing female beauty. Both are hot and cold, glowing with presexual self-love.
    • p. 521
  • The reason Wilde did his best work after turning homosexual is that women simply reinforced his own feminine sentimentality. … Heterosexuality inhibited his imagination because woman is physically and psychologically internal.
    • p. 571
  • [Henry] James’s repressions and evasions are many, varied and exhausting. Why more people are not seen rushing shrieking from libraries, shredding James novels in their hands, I cannot say. I used to wonder whether enthusiasm for him was based on identification, since his passive, tentative heroes resemble many academics. Perhaps what is intolerable is his enshrinement in a soporific criticism. So much must be overlooked to crown him with laurel.
    • p. 622
  • Even the best critical writing on Emily Dickinson underestimates her. She is frightening. To come to her directly from Dante, Spenser, Blake, and Baudelaire is to find her sadomasochism obvious and flagrant. Birds, bees, and amputated hands are the dizzy stuff of this poetry. Dickinson is like the homosexual cultist draping himself in black leather and chains to bring the idea of masculinity into aggressive visibility.
    • p. 624
  • Emily Dickinson is the female Sade, and her poems are the prison dreams of a self-incarcerated, sadmomasochistic imaginist. When she is rescued from American Studies departments and juxtaposed with Dante and Baudelaire, her barbarities and diabolical acts of will become glaringly apparent. Dickinson inherits through Blake the rape cycle of The Faerie Queene. Blake and Spenser are her allies in helping pagan Coleridge defeat Protestant Wordsworth.
    • p. 624
  • Richard Chase declares, "No great poet has written so much bad verse as Emily Dickinson." He blames the Victorian cult of little women for the fact that "two thirds of her work" is seriously flawed: "Her coy and oddly childish poems of nature and female friendship are products of a time when one of the careers open to women was perpetual childhood." Dickinson's sentimental feminine poems remain neglected by embarrassed scholars. I would maintain, however, that her poetry is a closed system of sexual reference and that the mawkish poems are designed to dovetail with those of violence and suffering.
    • p. 637
  • Women have been discouraged from genres such as sculpture that require studio training or expensive materials. But in philosophy, mathematics, and poetry, the only materials are pen and paper. Male conspiracy cannot explain all female failures. I am convinced that, even without restrictions, there still would have been no female Pascal, Milton, or Kant. Genius is not checked by social obstacles: it will overcome. Men's egotism, so disgusting in the talentless, is the source of their greatness as a sex. [...] Even now, with all vocations open, I marvel at the rarity of the woman driven by artistic or intellectual obsession, that self-mutilating derangement of social relationship which, in its alternate forms of crime and ideation, is the disgrace and glory of the human species.
    • p. 653
  • It is no coincidence that while some major female artists have married, very few have borne children. The issue is not conservation of energy but imaginative integrity. Art is its own self-swelling, proof that the mind is greater than the body.
    • p. 660
  • Sappho is a great poet because she is a lesbian, which gives her erotic access to the Muse. Sappho and the homosexual-tending Emily Dickinson stand alone above women poets, because poetry's mystical energies are ruled by a hierach requiring the sexual subordination of her petitioners. Women have achieved more as novelists than as poets because the social novel operates outside the ancient marriage of myth and eroticism.
    • p. 672

Sex, Art and American Culture : New Essays (1992)[edit]

ISBN 9780679741015
Feminism, coveting social power, is blind to women’s cosmic sexual power.
  • In today's impoverished dialogue, critiques of liberalism are often naively called "conservative," as if twenty-five hundred years of Western intellectual tradition presented no other alternatives.
    • p. vii
  • Professors of humanities, with all their leftist fantasies, have little direct knowledge of American life and no impact whatever on public policy.
    • p. ix
  • We do not need French post-structuralism, whose pedantic jargon, clumsy convolutions, and prissy abstractions have spread throughout academe and the arts and are now blighting the most promising minds of the next generation. This is a major crisis if there ever was one, and every sensible person must help bring it to an end.
    • p. ix
  • Academic Marxists, with their elitist sense of superiority to popular taste, are the biggest snobs in America.
    • p. ix
  • Madonna won my undying loyalty by reviving and re-creating the hard glamour of the studio-era Hollywood movie queens, figures of mythological grandeur. Contemporary feminism cut itself off from history and bankrupted itself when it spun its paranoid fantasy of male oppressors and female sex-object victims. Woman is the dominant sex. Woman’s sexual glamour has bewitched and destroyed men since Delilah and Helen of Troy.
    • p. 10
  • Incompetent amateurs have given prostitution a bad name.
    • p. 11
  • For me, the Profumo affair symbolizes the evanescence of male government compared to women’s cosmic power.
    • p. 11
  • Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliche. But the femme fatale expresses woman's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm. The specter of the femme fatale stalks all of men's relationships with women.
    • p. 15
  • Meryl Streep, in her Protestant way, is stuck on words; she flashes clever accents as a mask for her deeper failures. (And she cannot deliver a Jewish line; she destroyed Nora Ephron’s snappy dialogue in Hearburn.) Streep’s work doesn’t travel. Try dubbing her for movie houses in India: there’d be nothing left, just that bony, earnest horse face moving its lips. Imagine, on the other hand, lesser technicians like Hedy Lammarr, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner: these women have an international and universal appeal, crossing the centuries. They would have been beautiful in Egypt, Greece, Rome, medieval Burgundy, or eighteenth-century Paris. Susan Hayward played Bathsheba. Try to picture Streep in a Bible epic! Streep is incapable of playing the great legendary or mythological roles. She has no elemental power, no smouldering sensuality. 

    • p. 16
  • Gay and straight men have much more in common than do gay men with lesbians or straight men with straight women. Every man must define his identity against his mother. If he does not, he he just falls back into her and is swallowed up. This is the agonizing myth-pattern in the comic, matricidal Psycho (1960), one of the hauntingly emblematic films of our time.
    • p. 23
  • Contemporary feminists, who are generally poor or narrowly trained scholars, insist on viewing history as a weepy scenario of male oppression and female victimization. But it is more accurate to see men, driven by sexual anxiety away from their mothers, forming group alliances by male bonding to create complex structures of society, art, science and technology.
    • p. 23
  • When women cut themselves off from men, they sink backward into psychological and spiritual stagnancy.
    • p. 24
  • In insisting, for political purposes, on a sharp division between gay and straight, gay activism, like much of feminism, has become as rigid and repressive as the old order it sought to replace.
    • p. 35.
  • When feminism and gay activism set themselves against organized religion, they have the obligation to put something better in its place.
    • p. 36
  • The saints, many of them women, warred with themselves as well as God. The body has its own animal urges, just as there are attractions and repulsions in sex that modern liberalism cannot face.
    • p. 37
  • What troubles me about the “hostile workplace” category of sexual harassment policy is that women are being returned to their old status of delicate flowers who must be protected from assault by male lechers. It is anti-feminist to ask for special treatment for women.
    • p. 47
  • A woman simply is, but a man must become. Masculinity is risky and elusive. It is achieved by a revolt from woman, and is confirmed only by other men. Feminist fantasies about the ideal “sensitive” male have failed. Manhood coerced into sensitivity is no manhood at all.
    • p. 82
  • Minerva save us from the cloying syrup of coercive compassion! What feminism does not need, it seems to me, is an endless recycling of Doris Day Fifties clichés about noble womanhood.
    • p. 87
  • Feminism was always wrong to pretend that women could “have it all.” It is not male society but mother nature who lays the heaviest burden on woman. No husband or day care can adequately substitute for a mother’s attention. My feminist heroes are the boldly independent and childless Amelia Earhart and Katherine Hepburn, who has been outspoken in her opposition to the delusion of “having it all.”
    • p. 89
  • If you want to see what’s wrong with Ivy League education, look at The Beauty Myth, that book by Naomi Wolf. This is a woman who graduated from Yale magna cum laude, is a Rhodes scholar, and she cannot write a coherent paragraph. This is a woman who cannot do historical analysis, and she is a Rhodes scholar? If you want to see the damage done to intelligent women today in the Ivy League, look at that book. It’s a scandal. Naomi Wolf is an intelligent woman. She has been ill-served by her education. But if you read Lacan, this is the result. Your brain turns to pudding. She has a case to make. She cannot make it. She’s full of paranoid fantasies about the world. Her education was completely removed from reality.

    • p. 262
  • [W]omen will never be taken seriously until they accept full responsibility for their sexuality.
    • p. 269
  • The idea that feminism is the first group that has ever denounced rape is a gross libel to men. Throughout history, rape has been condemned by honorable men. Honorable men do not murder; honorable men do not steal; honorable men do not rape. It goes all the way back through history. Tarquin’s rape of Lucretia caused the fall of the tyrants and the beginning of the Roman Republic. The idea that somehow suddenly feminism miraculously found out that women were being exploited and raped throughout history is ridiculous.
    • p. 273
  • [T]here’s a lot to be said for celibacy, for the concentration of your mental and physical energy.
    • p. 291
  • My position on date rape is partly based on my study of The Faerie Queen, as detailed in a full chapter in Sexual Personae: in 1590, the poet Edmund Spencer already sees that passive, drippy, naive women constantly get themselves into rape scenarios, while talented, intelligent, alert women, his warrior heroines, spot trouble coming and boldly trounce their male assailants. My feminism stresses courage, independence, self-reliance, and pride.

    • p. 304

Rape and Modern Sex War[edit]

Running to Mommy and Daddy on the campus grievance committee is unworthy of strong women.
Don’t look for sexual enlightenment from academe, which spews out mountains of books but never looks at life directly.
  • Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in a civilized society. Yet feminism, which has waged a crusade for rape to be taken more seriously, has put young women in danger by hiding the truth about sex from them.
    • p. 49
  • For a decade, feminists have drilled their disciples to say, “Rape is a crime of violence but not of sex.” This sugar-coated Shirley Temple nonsense has exposed young women to disaster. Misled by feminism, they do not expect rape from the nice boys from good homes who sit next to them in class.
    • p. 51
  • Feminism, coveting social power, is blind to women’s cosmic sexual power.
    • p. 52
  • Running to Mommy and Daddy on the campus grievance committee is unworthy of strong women.
    • p. 53
  • A male student makes vulgar remarks about your breasts? Don't slink off to whimper with the campus shrinking violets. Deal with it. On the spot. Say, "Shut up, you jerk! And crawl back to the barnyard where you belong!" In general, women who project this take-charge attitude towards life get harassed less often. I see too many dopey, immature, self-pitying young women walking around like melting sticks of butter.
    • p. 53
  • Beware of the manipulativeness of rich students who were neglected by their parents. They love to turn the campus into hysterical psychodramas of sexual transgression, followed by assertions of parental authority and concern. And don’t look for sexual enlightenment from academe, which spews out mountains of books but never looks at life directly.
    • p. 53
  • I am saying that many of the problems between the sexes are coming from something prior to socialization, a turbulence that has to do with every boy’s origin in a woman’s body, and the way he is overwhelmed by this huge, matriarchal shadow of a goddess figure from his childhood. And I feel, after so many decades of studying this, that men are suffering from a sense of dependence on women, their sense that at any moment they could be returned to that slavery and servitude they experienced under a woman’s thumb, when they were a boy in the shadow of the mother. I got this from studying all world culture, and comparing and noticing how often there were these similar patterns in many different cultures. Many things that erupt in rape or violence, or battery and so on, are happening when a woman is pushing that button of fear and dependency.
    • p. 68

The Rape Debate, Continued[edit]

Pursuit and seduction and the essence of sexuality. It’s part of the sizzle.
Feminists have no idea that some women like to flirt with danger because there is a sizzle in it.
Everything is so damn Mary Poppins and sanitized.
  • I am being vilified by feminists for merely having a common-sense attitude about rape. I loathe this thing about date rape. Have twelve tequilas at a fraternity party and a guy asks you to go up to his room, and then you're surprised when he assaults you? Most women want to be seduced or lured. The more you study literature and art, the more you see it. Listen to Don Giovanni. Read The Faerie Queene. Pursuit and seduction are the essence of sexuality. It’s part of the sizzle. Girls hurl themselves at guitarists, right down to the lowest bar band here. The guys are strutting. If you live in rock and roll, as I do, you see the reality of sex, of male lust and women being aroused by male lust. It attracts women. It doesn't repel them. Women have the right to freely choose and to say yes or no. Everyone should be personally responsible for what happens in life. I see the sexual impulse as egotistical and dominating, and therefore I have no problem understanding rape. Women have to understand this correctly and they'll protect themselves better. If a real rape occurs, it's got to go to the police. The business of having a campus grievance committee decide whether or not a rape is committed is an outrageous infringement of civil liberties. Today, on an Ivy League campus, if a guy tells a girl she's got great tits, she can charge him with sexual harassment. Chickenshit stuff. Is this what strong women do?
    • p. 59
  • It’s these guys in the Ivy League schools who get used to obeying women. They’re sedentary guys. It’s ironic that you’re getting the biggest bitching about men from the schools where the men are just eunuchs and bookworms.
    • p. 61
  • I’ve watched therapy getting more and more mushy in the past fifteen years in America.... It’s become what I call coercive compassion. It’s disgusting, it’s condescending, it’s insulting, it’s coddling, it keeps everyone in an infantile condition rather than in the adult condition that was the ultimate goal of Freudian analysis.
    • p. 61
  • Feminists have no idea that some women like to flirt with danger because there is a sizzle in it. You know what gets me sick and tired? The battered-woman motif. It’s so misrepresented, the way we have to constantly look at it in terms of male oppression and tyranny, and female victimization. When, in fact, everyone knows throughout the history of the world that many of these working-class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex. They ask why won’t she leave him? Maybe she won’t leave him because the sex is very hot. I say we should start looking at the battered-wife motif in terms of sex. If gay men go down to bars and like to get tied up, beaten up, and have their asses whipped, how come we can’t allow that a lot of wives like the kind of sex they are getting in these battered wife relationships? We can’t consider that women have kinky tastes, can we? No, because women are naturally benevolent and nurturing, aren’t they? Everything is so damn Mary Poppins and sanitized.
    • p. 65
  • What women have to realize is their own dominance as a sex. That women’s sexual powers are enormous. All cultures have seen it. Men know it. Women know it. The only people who don’t know it are feminists. Desensualized, desexualized, neurotic women. I wouldn’t have said this twenty years ago because I was a militant feminist myself. But as the years have gone on, I began to see more and more that the perverse, neurotic psychodramas projected by these women is coming from their own problems with sex.
    • p. 66
  • I feel that the moment a date happens that it’s a social encounter that is potentially a sexual encounter. And the question of sex needs to be negotiated from the first moment on.
    • p. 70
  • Men knew that if they devirginized a woman, they could end up dead within twenty-four hours. These controls have been removed.
    • p. 71
  • Feminism’s claim that it discovered rape is simply false.
    • p. 72

Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders : Academe in the Hour of the Wolf[edit]

First published in Arion, Spring 1991.
Sappho and Emily Dickinson are the only woman geniuses in poetic history.
Art is a vast, ancient interconnected web-work, a fabricated tradition. Overconcentration on any one point is a distortion.
  • The truth is that Foucault knew very little about anything before the seventeenth century and, in the modern world, outside France. His familiarity with the literature and art of any period was negligible. His hostility to psychology made him incompetent to deal with sexuality, his own or anybody else’s. The elevation of Foucault to guru status by American and British academics is a tale that belongs to the history of cults.
    • p. 174
  • The more you know, the less you are impressed by Foucault.
    • p. 174
  • Many, perhaps most, very learned people prefer the company of their books to sitting in a crowd listening to history and art being mangled; furthermore, it is unlikely that the venerable scholars will stand up afterward to declare, “This lecture was a load of crap.” The more profound a professor’s distaste with the proceedings, the more likely he is to melt away at the end of the talk.
    • On academic conferences, p. 179
  • Not since the Black Panthers sailed into their Upper East Side tea party has there been so daffy an exercise in radical chic.
  • In 1974 I nearly got into a fistfight with some early academic feminists in a restaurant when I casually alluded to a hormonal element in sex differences. It was utterly unacceptable at that time to think or say such a thing. … If you have any doubts about the effect of hormones on emotion, libido and aggression, have a chat with a transexual, who must take hormones medically. He or she will set you straight.
    • p. 185
  • As a philosopher sympathetic to Foucault recently remarked to me, Foucault failed in each of his major inquiries and, in desperation, went further afield from his areas of expertise. The History of Sexuality is a disaster. Page after page is sheer fantasy, unsupported by the ancient or modern historical record.
    • p. 187
  • Foucault, like David Letterman, made smirking glibness an art form.
    • p. 187
  • The born-yesterday French-besotted faddists, addicted sniffers of wet printer’s ink, think they’re starting on the ground floor; so they’re condemned to another hundred years of trial and error. The rest of us can safely ignore them.
    • p. 202
  • Feminism, in all fields, has yet to produce a single scholar of the intellectual rank of scores of these learned men [e.g., Bruno Snell, Albin Lesky, Denys Page] in the German and British academic tradition.
    • p. 204
  • I am a passionate admire of Sappho, but that has to be one of the stupidest sentences I have ever seen in a scholarly book.
    • p. 204, on John Winkler’s claim that “Sappho’s consciousness is a larger circle enclosing the smaller one of Homer,” in Winkler’s Constraints of Desire.
  • In high school in the early Sixties, I dreamed of intellectual work by women that would match the highest male standards and set men on their ear. A lot of women have done a lot of academic work since then, but most of them fall short of that standard.
    • p. 206
  • The number one problem in academia today is not ignorant students but ignorant professors, who have substituted narrow “expertise” and “theoretical sophistication” (a preposterous term) for breadth and depth of learning in the world history of art and thought. … Art is a vast, ancient interconnected web-work, a fabricated tradition. Overconcentration on any one point is a distortion. This is one of the primary reasons for the dullness and ineptitude of so much twentieth-criticism, as compared to nineteenth-century belles-lettres.
    • p. 208
  • Hollywood movies of the Fifties, like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur, with their epic clash of pagan and Judeo-Christian cultures, tell more about art and society than the French-infatuated ideologues who have made a travesty of the “best” American higher criticism.
    • p. 208
  • The spiritual history of the Sixties has yet to be written.
    • p. 211
  • Lacan, Derrida and Foucault are the perfect prophets for the weak, anxious academic personality, trapped in verbal formulas and perennially defeated by circumstances. They offer a self-exculpating cosmic explanation for the normal professorial state of resentment, alienation, dithering passivity and inaction.
    • p. 211
  • Lacan is a tyrant who must be driven from our shores. Narrowly trained English professors who know nothing of art history or popular culture think they can just wade in with Lacan and trash everything in sight.
    • p. 213
  • I realize now how lucky I was, in the total absence of role models, to have only men to rebel against. Today's women students are meeting their oppressors in dangerously seductive new form, as successful congenial female professors who view themselves as victims of a rigid foreign ideology.
    • p. 213
The Sixties attempted a return to nature that ended in disaster.
Everyone of my generation who preached free love is responsible for AIDS.
  • The followers of Derrida are pathetic, snuffling in French pockets for bits of pieces of a deconstructive method already massively and coherently presented — and with a mature sense of the sacred — in Buddhism and Hinduism.
    • p. 214
  • Robert Caserio recently said to me, “The whole profession has become a vast mimicry. The idea that there is open debate is an absolute fiction. There is only the Foucault monologue, the Lacan monologue, the Derrida monologue. There is no room for creative disagreement. No deviation from what is approved is tolerated.” These monologues are really one, the monotonous drone of the School of Saussure, which has cast its delusional inky cloud over modern academic thought. Never have so many been wrong about so much. It is positively idiotic to imagine that there is no experience outside of language. … It has been a truism of basic science courses for decades in America that the brain has multiple areas of function and that language belongs only to specific areas, injured by trauma and restored by surgery or speech therapy.
    • p. 214
  • The Sixties attempted a return to nature that ended in disaster.
    • p. 216
  • Everyone of my generation who preached free love is responsible for AIDS.
    • p. 216
File:Michel Foucault Dibujo.jpg
Foucault is the Cagliostro of our time.
Lacan is a tyrant who must be driven from our shores.
  • The Seventies theory explosion [i.e., Literary theory, deconstruction, etc.] was a panic reaction by headlocked pedants unable to cope with the emotional and sensory flux of the Sixties. It was a desperate search for new authority, new dogma.
    • p. 218
  • The smouldering eroticism of great European actresses like Jeanne Moreau demonstrated to my generations women's archetypal mystery and glamour, completely missing from the totalitarian world-view of the misogynist Foucault. For me, the big French D is not Derrida, but Deneuve.
    • p. 218
  • Sedgwick has managed to convert pedestrian critical skills and little discernible knowledge in history, philosophy, psychology, art or even pre-modern literature into a lucrative academic career.
    • p. 222
  • The junk-bond era has also spawned something that calls itself New Historicism. This seems to be a refuge for English majors without critical talent or broad learning in history or political science. [...] To practice it, you must apparently lack all historical sense.
    • p. 223
  • There is a constant rush to judgment in Foucault. He is filled with specious generalizations, false categories, distortions, fudging, pretenses to knowledge in areas where he was ignorant. He had no ability whatsoever to distinguish among historical sources, where he makes terrible blunders.
    • p. 224
  • The most serious flaw of Foucault's system is in the area of sex. I view his hurried, compulsive writing as a massive rationalist defense-formation to avoid thinking about (a) woman, (b) nature, (c) emotion, and (d) the sexual body. His attempt to make the body passive property of male society is an evasion of the universal fact so intolerable to him: that we are all born of human mothers. By turning women into ciphers, he miniaturizes and contains them.
    • p. 230
  • It was in reading Tristam Shandy that I noticed how it is primarily men who gravitate towards the game-playing self-reflexive style. There is an alienation from emotion in it, a Nervous Nelly fear of letting go and being “exposed.” As an attitude towards life, it betrays a perpetual adolescence. Those who hurled themselves after Derrida were not the most sophisticated but the most pretentious, and least creative members of my generation of academics.
    • p. 231
  • The post-war "publish or perish" tyranny must end. The profession has become obsessed with quantity rather than quality. [...] One brilliant article should outweigh one mediocre book.
    • p. 237
  • The piddling ignoramuses who deny that there is a distinct, discernible, objective western tradition are just woozy literati.
    • p. 238
  • Imperialism and slavery are no white male monopoly, but are everywhere from Egypt, Assyria, and Persia to India, China and Japan.
    • p. 239
  • Modernization means Westernization.
    • p. 239
  • Women's studies is institutionalized sexism.
    • p. 242
  • Women's studies is a comfy, chummy morass of unchallenged groupthink. It is, with rare exception, totally unscholarly. Academic feminists have silenced men and dissenting women.
    • p. 242
  • Women's studies needed a syllabus and so invented a canon overnight. It puffed up clunky, mundane contemporary women authors into Oz-like, skywriting dirigibles. Our best women students are being force-fed an appalling diet of cant, drivel and malarkey.
    • p. 243
Every year, feminists provide more and more evidence for the old charge that women can neither think nor write.
Imperialism and slavery are no white male monopoly...
  • American feminism’s nose dive began when Kate Millet, that imploding beanbag of poisonous self-pity, declared Freud a sexist. Trying to build a sex theory without studying Freud, women have made nothing but mud pies.
    • p. 243
  • Great women scholars like Jane Harrison and Gisela Richter were produced by the intellectual discipline of the masculine classical tradition, not the wishy-washy sentimentalism of clingy, all-forgiving sisterhood, from which no first-rate book has yet emerged. Every year, feminists provide more and more evidence for the old charge that women can neither think nor write.
    • p. 244
  • Academic Marxism is a fantasy world, and unctuous compassion-sweepstakes, into which real workers or peasants never penetrate.
    • p. 246
  • The signal failure of the academic Marxists is in their obliviousness to the transformation of modern labor. In the age of mass media, power has shifted its meaning and loci. Capitalism, whatever its problems, remains the most efficient economic mechanism yet to bring the highest quality of life to the greatest number. Because I have studied the past, I know that, in America and under capitalism, I am the freest woman in history. Union blue-collar jobs now routinely pay higher salaries than are earned by most teachers. Physical labor, as a concrete skill occupation, is free of the soul-destroying office politics suffers by the Marxists' demonized managerial class, who take their jobs home with them and are in a continual funk of anxiety and neurosis. ... Unharried weekend leisure time is the center of working-class American life in ways the academic Marxists, resentfully marking papers and endlessly pressed for time, simply don't see.
    • pp. 247

Vamps and Tramps (1994)[edit]

  • I want a revamped feminism. Putting the vamp back means the lady must be a tramp. My generation of Sixties rebels wanted to smash the bourgeois codes that had become the authoritarian totems of the Fifties. The 'nice' girl with her soft, sanitized speech and decorous manners had to go. Thirty years later, we're still stuck with her — in the official spokesmen and the anointed heiresses of the feminist establishment... Equal opportunity feminism, which I espouse, demands the removal of all barriers to woman's advance in the political and professional world — but not at the price of special protections for women which are infantilizing and anti-democratic.
    • p. ix
  • Women will never succeed at the level or in the numbers they deserve until they get over their genteel reluctance to take abuse in the attack and counterattack of territorial warfare. The recent trend in feminism, notably in sexual harassment policy, has been to overrely on regulation and legislation rather than to promote personal responsibility. Women must not become wards and supplicants of authority figures. Freedom means rejecting dependency.
    • p. x
  • I admire hard-bitten, wisecracking realism of Ida Lupino and the film noir heroines. I’m sick of simpering white girls with their princess fantasies.
    • p. x
  • Just released in 1994 is Christina Hoff Sommers’s landmark study, Who Stole Feminism?, which uses ingenious detective work to unmask the shocking fraud and propaganda of establishment feminism and the servility of American media and academe to Machiavellian feminist manipulation. This bracingly precise, fact-based book should be required reading for every journalist. Sommers is a courageous academic philosopher who was one of the very first to systematically critique current feminist ideology and who took tremendous abuse for it. … Sommers has done a great service for women and for feminism, whose fundamental precepts she has clarified and strengthened.
    • p. xvi
  • Economic analysis is the first principle of Marxism. Professors who were genuine leftists would have challenged the entire economics-driven machinery of American academe — the wasteful multidepartmental structure, the divisive pedantry of overspecialization, the cronyism and sycophancy in recruitment and promotion, the boondoggling ostentation of pointless conferences, the exploitation of graduate students and part-time teachers, the subservience of faculty to overpaid administrators, the mediocrity and folly of the ruling cliques of the Modern Language Association.
    • p. xix
  • Most professors know that American higher education in the humanities is in a deplorable state. Yet many remain silent, perhaps through prudent self-preservation, which is starting to look a lot like moral cowardice. They have put loyalty to their colleagues before loyalty to their students, ostensibly the raison d'être for educational institutions. How many more minds must be distorted or destroyed before the faculty decides to defend the Western intellectual values of free inquiry and orderly acquisition of knowledge?
    • p. xix
  • The venerable emeritus professors still at Yale when I entered graduate school [in the 1960s] may have been reserved, puritanical WASPs, but they were men of honor who had given their lives to scholarship. Today in the elite schools, honor and ethics are gone.
    • p. xx
  • I do not believe in God, but I believe God is man’s greatest idea. Those incapable of religious feeling or those (like hard-core gay activists) who profane sacred ground do not have the imagination to educate the young. … Until the left comes to its senses about the cultural power of religion, the right will continue to broaden its appeal.
    • p. xx
  • Is there intellectual life in America? At present, the answer is no.
    • p. 97
  • I hate dogma in any form. I hated it in the Catholic Church and Girl Scout troops of the 1950s, and I hate in in gay activism and established feminism today.
    • p. 104
  • In the summer camp mentality of American universities, the ferocity of genuine intellectual debate would just seem like spoiling everyone’s fun. Ambitious humanities professors go about the business behind a brick wall of “theory,” which they imagine is the dernier cri, but which has long been out of fashion, even in Paris. Drab, uncultivated philistines, without broad knowledge of the arts, have seized the top jobs in the Ivy League, simply because they have the right opinions and know the right people. In the past twenty years, conferences became the infernal engine driving the academic profession. The conference crowd, an international party circuit of literary luminaries ever on the move, was put together by the new humanities centers. These programs had the initially laudable aim of fostering interdisciplinary exchanges outside the repressive framework of the conservative, static and over-tenured university departments. But the epidemic of French theory was abroad in the world. The humanities centers quickly became careerist stockyards, where greedy speculation and insider trading were as much the rules of the game as on Wall Street.
    • p. 101

"No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality"[edit]

Ancient mythology, with its sinister archetypes of vampire and Gorgon, is more accurate than feminism about the power and terror of female sexuality.
Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free contemporary women than feminism itself.
  • Even the most morbid of the rape ranters have a childlike faith in the perfectibility of the universe, which they see as blighted solely by nasty men. They simplistically project outward onto a mythical "patriarchy" their own inner conflicts and moral ambiguities.
    • p. 25
  • What feminism calls patriarchy is simply civilization, an abstract system designed by men but augmented and now co-owned by women.
    • p. 26
  • White middle-class girls at the elite colleges and universities seem to want the world handed to them on a platter. They have been sheltered, coddled and flattered. Having taught at a wide variety of institutions over my ill-starred career, I have observed that working-class or lower-middle-class girls, who are from financially struggling families and must take a patchwork of menial jobs to stay in school, are usually the least hospitable to feminist rhetoric. They see life as it is and have fewer illusions about sex. It is affluent, upper-middle class students who most spout the party line — as if the grisly hyperemotionalism of feminist jargon satisfies their hunger for meaningful experiences outside their eventless upbringing. In the absence of war, invent one.
    • p. 28
  • Women are not in control of their bodies; nature is. Ancient mythology, with its sinister archetypes of vampire and Gorgon, is more accurate than feminism about the power and terror of female sexuality.
    • p. 30
  • Man has traditionally ruled the social sphere; feminism tells him to move over and share his power. But woman rules the sexual and emotional sphere, and there she has no rival. Victim ideology, a caricature of social history, blocks women from recognition of their dominance in the deepest, most important realm. 

    • p. 31
  • Ambitious young women today are taught to ignore or suppress every natural instinct, if it conflicts with the feminist agenda posed on them. All literary and artistic works, no matter how great, that document the ambivalence of female sexuality they are trained to dismiss as “misogynous.” In other words, their minds are being programmed to secede from their bodies … there is a huge gap between feminist rhetoric and women’s actual sex lives, where feminism is of little help except with a certain stratum of deferential, malleable, white middle-class men.
    • p. 31
  • All men — even, I have written, Jesus Christ — began as flecks of tissue inside a woman's womb. Every boy must stagger out of the shadow of a mother goddess, whom he never fully escapes.
    • p. 32
  • The dishonesty and speciousness of the feminist rape analysis are demonstrated by its failure to explore, or even mention, man-on-man sex crimes. If rape were really just a process of intimidation of women by men, why do men rape and kill other men? The deceptively demure persona of the soft-spoken, homosexual serial-murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, like that of the handsome, charming Ted Bundy, should warn everyone that we still live in a sexual jungle.

    • p. 33
  • When feminist discourse is unable to discriminate the drunken fraternity brother from the homicidal maniac, women are in trouble.
  • Following the sexual revolution of the Sixties, dating has become a form of Russian roulette. Some girls have traditional religious values and mean to remain virgins until marriage. Others are leery of AIDS, unsure of what they want, but can be convinced. For others, anything goes: they’ll jump into bed on the first date. What’s a guy to do?
    • p. 35
  • Films of the mating behavior of most other species — a staple of public television of America — demonstrate that the female chooses. Males pursue, show off, brawl, scuffle, and make general fools of themselves for love. A major failing of most feminist ideology is its dumb, ungenerous stereotyping of men as tyrants and abusers, when in fact — as I know full well from my own mortifying lesbian experience — men are tormented by women’s flirtatiousness and hemming and hawing, their manipulations and changeableness, their humiliating rejections. Cock teasing is a universal reality. It is part of women’s merciless testing and cold-eyed comparison shopping for potential mates. Men will do anything to win the favor of women.
    • p. 35
  • As a teacher, I have seen time and again a certain kind of American middle-class girl who projects winsome malleability, a soft, unfocused help-me-please persona that, in adult life, is a recipe for disaster. These are the ones who end up with a string of abusive boyfriends or in sticky situations with overfamiliar male authority figures who call them “honey.”
    • p. 36
  • Shocked disbelief greets suggestions that many women may take pleasure in rape fantasies, established long ago by Nancy Friday in her pioneering 1973 study, My Secret Garden, and dramatized today by the staggering mass-market popularity of Harlequin Romances, where heroines are overwhelmed by passionate, impetuous men. 

    • p. 37
  • Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free contemporary women than feminism itself.
    • p. 38
  • With their propagandistic frame of mind, feminist leaders never admitted that their opponents could be equally motivated by ethics.
    • p. 39
  • We must philosophically strengthen feminist theory so that it can admit that abortion is an aggressive act, that it is a form of extermination. Modern woman has become an agent of Darwinian triage. It is or should be ethically troubling: abortion pits the stronger against the weaker, and only one survives. The feminist coat-hanger symbol, prophesying the return of back-alley butchery if abortion is regulated or banned, is dishonest. A small number of women may die in botched procedures, but in successful abortions, the fetus death rate is 100 percent.
    • p. 40
  • Feminists had an astoundingly naive view of the mutual exclusiveness of sex and aggression, which, Freud demonstrates, are fused in the amoral unconscious, as revealed to us through dreams. That rape is simply what used to be called “unbridled lust,” like gluttony a sin of insufficient self-restraint, seems to be beyond the feminist ken.
    • p. 41
  • In the Seventies, women runners, developing amenorrhea and calcium-related shin splints, were the first to realize that nature is hovering over us, ready to shut down our systems if our fetus-feeding fat reserve drops below a certain percentage of body weight. In other words, in nature's eyes we are nothing but milk sacs and fat deposits.
    • p. 41
  • The Bobbit case, which brought to life the ancient mythic archetype of woman as castrator, demonstrated that women are as aggressive as men and that sex is a dark, dangerous force of nature. But of course the feminist establishment, stuck in its battered-woman blinders, learned nothing as usual from this lurid refutation of its normal views. Classic art works like Bizet’s Carmen tell us more about the irrationality of love, jealousy and revenge than do all the pat formulas of the counseling industry.
    • p. 42
  • The polemical tactic of exhibiting garish mugshot photos of women’s bruised faces evades the real issue. What led up to that moment in the emergency room? A video camera recording episode before and after the assault would upset the received black-and-white view of male ogres and female martyrs. This is not to excuse men for their scurrilous behavior; it is to awaken women their equal responsibility in dispute and confrontation.
    • p. 43
  • Any woman who stays with her abuser beyond the first incident is complicitous with him.
    • p. 43
  • In pondering why a battered woman does not leave, we must remember that gay men with a taste for violent “rough trade” have always paid for this kind of sex. Are women so perfect and angelic that we cannot imagine them having sadomasochistic impulses? When they are genuinely victimized, women deserve our pity. But victimization alone cannot explain everything in the tragicomedy of love.
    • p. 44
  • Much violence against women originates in emotional territory that they already command. By midlife and early old age, as the hormones of both genders change, women are in total, despotic control of their marriages.
    • p. 46
  • [W]earisome as it may seem, women must realize that, in making a commitment to a man, they have merged in his unconscious with his mother and have therefore inherited the ambivalence of that relationship.
    • p. 46.
Masculine identity is embattled and fragile.
Classic art works like Bizet’s Carmen tell us more about the irrationality of love, jealousy and revenge than do all the pat formulas of the counseling industry.
  • What I see is not a world of male oppression and female victimization but an international conspiracy by women to keep from men the knowledge of men's own frailty. A strange maternal protectiveness is at work.
    • p. 47
  • In negotiating with rejected lovers or husbands, women must stop thinking they can make everyone happy. In many cases of harassment and stalking, it is clear that the woman never learned how to terminate the fantasy — which requires resolution and decisiveness on their part. Wavering, dithering, or passive hysterical fear will only intensify or prolong pursuit.
    • p. 47
  • The [sexual harassment] situation has gotten so out of hand that, in 1993, in one of the first British cases, a plumber was fired for continuing to use the traditional term "ballcock" for the toilet flotation unit, instead of the new politically correct term, sanitized of sexual suggestiveness. This is insane. We are back to the Victorian era, when table legs had to be draped lest they put the thought of ladies' legs into someone's dirty mind.
    • p. 50
  • Campus speech codes, that folly of the navel-gazing left, have increased the appeal of the right. Ideas must confront ideas. When hurt feelings and bruised egos are more important than the unfettered life of the mind, the universities have committed suicide.
    • p. 51
  • Woman's sexuality is disruptive of the dully mechanical workaday world, in which efficiency means uniformity. The problems of woman's entrance into the career system spring from more than male chauvinism. She brings nature into the social realm, which may be too small to contain it.
    • p. 52
  • In America, the best model yet for the first woman president can be found among the Texas feminists, notably Governor Ann Richards. East Coast feminists, like Gloria Steinem, who created the smug, superior feminist smirk (done to an unctuous turn by NOW president Patricia Ireland), have failed to produce a credible persona for national leadership, partly because of their juvenile, jeering attitude towards men. The irony is that the legal and media world inhabited by Steinem and her cronies is filled with bookish white-collar men who are the only ones in the world who actually listen to feminists rhetoric and can be guilt-tripped into trying to obey it. … In Texas, unlike the urban Northeast, men are men. Women politicians in that state have the toughness and grit to handle men at their most macho. Southern women, particularly those of the plantation-belt, “iron magnolia” school, are able to get what they want and still retain their graceful femininity. 

    • p. 55
  • My prescription for women entering the war zone of the professions: study football. . . . Women who want to remake the future should look for guidance not to substitute parent figures but to the brash assertions of pagan sport.
    • p. 56
  • Men, gay or straight, can get beauty and lewdness into one image. Women are forever softening, censoring, politicizing. 

    • p. 65
  • Idiotic statements like “porn degrades women” or “pornography is the subordination of women” are only credible if you never look at pornography. Preachers, senators and feminist zealots carry on about material they have no direct contact with. They usually rely on a few selectively culled inflammatory examples that bear little resemblance to the porn market as a whole. Most pornography shows women in as many dominant as subordinate positions, with the latter usually steamily consensual.
    • p. 65
  • Despite hundreds of studies, cause-and-effect relationship between pornography and violence has never been satisfactorily proved. 

    • p. 65
  • Feminist anti-porn discourse virtually always ignores the gigantic gay male porn industry, since any mention of the latter would bring crashing to the ground the absurd argument that pornography is by definition the subordination of women.
    • p. 65
  • Far from poisoning the mind, pornography shows the deepest truth about sexuality, stripped of romantic veneer.
    • p. 66
  • From Stonewall to the first AIDS alert was only twelve short years. In the Eighties and early Nineties, displaced anxiety over the horror of AIDS turned gay activists into raging nihilists and monomaniacs, who dishonestly blamed the disease on the government and trampled on the rights of the gay majority, and whose errors of judgement materially aided the rise and consolidation of the far right. AIDS did not appear out of nowhere. It was a direct result of the sexual revolution, which my generation unleashed with the best intentions, but whose worst effects were to be suffered primarily by gay men.
    • p. 68
  • The gargantuan promiscuity of the Seventies gay male world was a pagan phenomenon, unequaled in scale since the Roman empire.
    • p. 68
  • I believe that the shocking toll of AIDS on gay men in the West was partly due to their Seventies delusionism that a world without women was possible. All-male energies, unbalanced and ravenous, literally tore the body apart.
    • p. 69
  • Pornography is art, sometimes harmonious, sometimes dissonant. Its glut and glitter are a Babylonian excess. Modern middle-class women cannot bear the thought that their hard-won professional achievements can be outweighed in an instant by a young hussy flashing a little tits and ass. But the gods have given her power, and we must welcome it. Pornography forces a radical reassessment of sexual value, nature’s bequest of our tarnished treasure.
    • p. 67
  • Homosexuality is not “normal.” On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein resides its eternally revolutionary character. Note I do not call it a challenge to the idea of a norm. Queer theorists — that wizened crew of flimflamming free-loaders — have tried to take the poststructuralist tack of claiming that there is no norm, since everything is relative and contingent. This is the kind of silly bind that word-obsessed people get into when they are deaf, dumb and blind to the outside world. Nature exists, whether academics like it or not. And in nature, procreation is the single, relentless rule. That is the norm. Our sexual bodies were designed for reproduction. Penis fits vagina: no fancy linguistic game-playing can change that biologic fact.
    • p. 70
  • There is no gay leader anywhere near the stature of Martin Luther King, because black activism drew on the profound spiritual tradition of the church, to which gay political rhetoric is childishly hostile.
    • p. 70
  • No one is “born gay.” The idea is ridiculous, but it is symptomatic of our overpoliticized climate that such assertions are given instant credence by gay activists and their media partisans. I think what gay men are remembering is that they were born different.
    • p. 71
  • I have found few lesbians with whom I can discourse for more than five minutes without hitting some tiresome barrier of resentment or ideology. … Again and again over the decades, as I did my time, in frustrated boredom, in lesbian bars, trying with spectacular lack of success to make friends or just converse, I would end up gabbing for hours with some stray gay man. He might have dropped out of school at fourteen, but he had opinions, tastes, energy, wit. Is there something innately different about the gay male brain? 

    • p. 74
  • When I meet gay men anywhere in the world, there is a spontaneity and a spirit of fun and mischief that lesbians seem incapable of.
    • p. 78
  • Men who shrink from penetration of the female body are paralyzed by justifiable apprehension, since they are returning to our uncanny site of origin.
    • p. 79
  • It is not male hatred of women but male fear of women that is the great universal.
    • p. 79
  • Lesbian feminists, for all their ideals of sisterhood and solidarity, can treat each other with a fickleness, a parasitic exploitativeness, and vicious spite that have to be seen to be believed.
    • p. 80
  • One of the most startling discoveries of my career was when I realized that the strongest women in the world are not lesbians but heterosexual women, who know how to handle men.
    • p. 80
  • The real butches are straight ... dealing with and controlling men makes you stronger.
    • p. 81
  • I want to cry out to these young girls: Stop! Think! . . . For heaven's sake, don't fall down the rabbit hole of the lesbian scene. You will never escape, and your talent will wither on the vine. Your energy will be wasted and absorbed in repetition without progression. Women alone are Spenser's Bower of Bliss, enclosed, comfortable, and dangerous. 

    • p. 82
  • Lesbians, said a lesbian friend wearily to me, are "program heads": "They need the structure. They have all the answers." Hence lesbians' omnipresence in the social welfare industry. Rejecting the father's competitive system, they substitute another that they imagine is based on female "caring" and "compassion" but is, in dismal effect, repressive, totalitarian, and hostile to art and dissent. The same friend memorably said to me long ago that lesbianism is caused by either "too much tit or not enough." 

    • p. 85
  • Because boys lack a biological marker like menstruation, to be man is to be not female. Contemporary feminism called this "misogyny," but it was wrong. Masculine identity is embattled and fragile. In the absence of opportunity for heroic physical action, as in the modern office world, women's goodwill is crucial for preserving the male ego, which requires, alas, daily maintenance. It is in the best interests of the human race, and of women themselves, for men to be strong.
    • p. 85
  • The unhappy truth is that male homosexuality will never be fully accepted by the heterosexual majority, who are obeying the dictates not of bigoted society or religion but of procreative nature.
    • p. 85
  • Gay activism has been naive in its belligerent confidence that “homophobia” will eventually disappear with proper “education” of the benighted. Reeducation of fractious young boys on the scale required would mean fascist obliteration of all individual freedoms. Furthermore, no truly masculine father would ever welcome an feminine or artistic son at the start, since the son’s lack of virility not only threatens but liquidates that father’s identity, dissolving husband into wife. Later there may be public rituals of acceptance, but the damage will already have been done. Gay men are aliens, cursed and gifted, the shamans of our time.
    • p. 86
  • It would be ridiculous to claim that gay men are interested only on other gay men and would never ogle straight men in barracks showers. When I heard this one on TV, I burst out laughing. Anyone who belongs to a health club knows better. Sexual tension and appraisal are constants, above all among gay men, who never stop cruising everything in sight. Seduction of straight studs is a highly erotic motif in gay porn.
    • p. 87
  • Middle-class men, neutered by office life and daunted by feminist rhetoric, are shrinking. Lesbianism is increasing, since anxious, unmasculine men have little to offer. Women are simply more interesting to them. Male homosexuality is increasing, because masculinity is in crisis and because maternal consciousness, severed from the support network of the extended family, has become a psychotic system, forcing the young to struggle for life against clinging personal fantasy.
    • p. 90
Homosexuality is not “normal.” On the contrary, it is a challenge to the norm; therein resides its eternally revolutionary character.
Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.
  • A pagan education would sharpen the mind, steel the will, and seduce the senses. Our philosophy should be both contemplative and pugilistic, admitting aggression (as Christianity does not) as central to our mythology. The beasts of passion must be confronted, and the laws of nature understood. Conflict cannot be avoided, but perhaps it can be confined to a mental theater.
    • p. 94
  • My own proposals for reform [in academia] include the abolition of all literary conferences and the replacement of women's studies with sex studies, based on the rigorous study of world history, anthropology, psychology, and science. Today, in politically correct America, questions of quality, learning, and intellectual distinction are out of style.
    • p. 102
  • MacKinnon is a totalitarian. She wants a risk-free, state controlled world. She believes rules and regulations will solve every human ill and straighten out all those irksome problems between the sexes that have been going on for five thousand years. As a lawyer, MacKinnon is deft and pragmatic. But as a political thinker, cultural historian or commentator on sex, she is incompetent. For a woman of her obvious intelligence, her frame of reference is shockingly small.
    • p. 108
  • Pornography does not cause rape or violence, which predate pornography by thousands of years. Rape and violence occur not because of patriarchal conditioning but because of the opposite, a breakdown of social controls.
    • p. 111
  • [Feminism] is alienating women from their own bodies … because they don’t understand that they have something that men want, okay? So they’re encouraged to interpret all male lust as oppressive and victimizing and negative, instead of seeing that it is up to them to husband this flame. They have a flame, and it’s enormously powerful…
    • p. 259
  • Our feminist culture at the present moment is completely dependent on capitalism. My grandmother was sill scrubbing clothes on the back porch on a washboard!
    • p. 260
  • I’m saying that men go from control by their mothers to control by their wives, and this is the horror men’s lives. And feminism refuses to see this.
  • p. 265
  • The two deepest thinkers on sex in the twentieth century are Sigmund Freud and D. H. Lawrence. Their reputations as radical liberators were so universally acknowledged that brooding images of Freud and Lawrence in poster form adorned the walls of students in the Sixties. Yet the voluminous and complex works of both men were swept away by the current women's movement, when it burst out in the late Sixties and consolidated its ideology in the Seventies. Whatever their motives, the first feminist theorists acted as vandals and Bolsheviks. The damage they did to culture has in the long run damaged the cause of feminism. 

    • p. 328
  • Men have sacrificed and crippled themselves physically and emotionally to feed, house, and protect women and children. None of their pain or achievement is registered in feminist rhetoric, which portrays men as oppressive and callous exploiters.

"The New Sexism: Liberating Art and Beauty"[edit]

  • Feminism, for all its boasts, has not found a single major female painter or sculptor to add to the canon. It did revive the reputations of many minor women, like Frida Kahlo or Romaine Brooks. Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Helen Frankenthaler were already known and did not need rediscovery. Artemisia Gentileschi was simply a polished, competent painter in a Baroque style created by men.
    • p. 115

Playboy interview (May 1995)[edit]

Playboy interview (May 1995)
  • I'm absolutely a feminist. The reason other feminists don't like me is that I criticize the movement, explaining that it needs a correction. Feminism has betrayed women, alienated men and women, replaced dialogue with political correctness. PC feminism has boxed women in. The idea that feminism — that liberation from domestic prison — is going to bring happiness is just wrong. Women have advanced a great deal, but they are no happier. The happiest women I know are not those who are balancing their careers and families, like a lot of my friends are. The happiest people I know are the women — like my cousins — who have a high school education, got married immediately graduating and never went to college. They are very religious and they never question their Catholicism. They do not regard the house as a prison. … I look at my friends who are on the fast track. They are desperate, frenzied and frazzled, the most unhappy women who have ever existed. They work nights and weekends and have no lives. Some of them have children who are raised by nannies. … The entire feminist culture says that the most important woman is the woman with an attache case. I want to empower the woman who wants to say, "I'm tired of this and I want to go home." The far right is correct when it says the price of women's liberation is being paid by the children.
  • We have allowed the sexual debate to be defined by women, and that's not right. Men must speak, and speak in their own voices, not voices coerced by feminist moralists.
  • The women's movement is rooted in the belief that we don't even need men. All it will take is one natural disaster to prove how wrong that is. Then, the only thing holding this culture together will be masculine men of the working class. The cultural elite — women and men — will be pleading for the plumbers and the construction workers. We are such a parasitic class.
  • At Bennington, I would go to a faculty meeting and be aware that everyone hated me. The men were appalled by a strong, loud woman. But I went to this auto shop and the men there thought I was cute. "Oh, there's that Professor Paglia from the college." The real men, men who work on cars, find me cute. They are not frightened by me, no matter how loud I am. But the men at the college were terrified because they are eunuchs, and I threatened every goddamned one of them.
  • The problem with America is that there's too little sex, not too much. The more our instincts are repressed, the more we need sex, pornography and all that. The problem is that feminists have taken over with their attempts to inhibit sex. We have a serious testosterone problem in this country. … It's a mess out there. Men are suspicious of women's intentions. Feminism has crippled them. They don't know when to make a pass. If they do make a pass, they don't know if they're going to end up in court.
  • I believe in moderate sexual harassment guidelines. But you can't the Stalinist situation we have in America right now, where any neurotic woman can make any stupid charge and destroy a man's reputation. If there is evidence of false accusation, the accuser should be expelled. Similarly, a woman who falsely accuses a man of rape should be sent to jail. My definition of sexual harassment is specific. It is only sexual harassment — by a man or a woman — if it is quid pro quo. That is, if someone says, "You must do this or I'm going to do that" — for instance, fire you. And whereas touching is sexual harassment, speech is not. I am militant on this. Words must remain free. The solution to speech is that women must signal the level of their tolerance — women are all different. Some are very bawdy. … You must develop the verbal tools to counter offensive language. That s life. Feminism has created a privileged, white middle class of girls who claim they're victims because they want to preserve their bourgeois decorum and passivity.
  • We must examine the degree to which we coddle middle-class girls. There is something sick about it. The girls I see on campuses are often innocuous, with completely homogenized personalities, miserable, anorexic and bulimic. The feminist movement teaches them that it's men's fault, but it isn't. These girls go out into the world as heiresses of all the affluence in the universe. They are the most pampered and most affluent girls on the globe. So stop complaining about men. You're getting all the rewards that come with the nice-girl persona you've chosen. When you get into trouble and you're batting your eyes and someone is offending you and you are too nice to deal with it, that's a choice. Assess your persona. Realize the degree to which your niceness may invoke people to say lewd and pornographic things to you — sometimes to violate your niceness. The more you blush, the more people want to do it. Understand your part of it and learn to parry. Sex talk is a game. The girls in the Sixties loved it. If you don't want some professor to call you honey, tell him.
  • I have lesbian impulses, so I understand how a man looks at a woman. … When I was growing up, it wasn't possible for me to do anything about my attraction to women. Lesbianism didn't exist in that time, as far as I knew.
  • I understand when men complain about women giving mixed messages, because women have given me a lot of mixed messages. I understand the rage that this can cause. ... A woman I'm talking with at some event says, "Let's leave here and go to this bar," which is a lesbian bar. We go to the bar and we're talking and then she says, "Let's go have coffee," and we go to this coffee shop and end up, at three in the morning, half a block from her apartment. Finally, she says, "All right, well, goodnight." She's ready to go home alone and I look at her, like, "What do you mean? Aren't we going to go back to your apartment?" "No." "What?" And she says, "Do you think I was leading you on?" Un-fucking-believable. I can't tell you the rage. I am, at that point, looking at her and.... All I can say is, if I had been an 18-year-old street kid instead of a 45-year-old woman, I would have stabbed her. I was completely humiliated and furious. If I had been a guy with a hard-on, I would have hit her.
I collected 599 pictures of Elizabeth Taylor — some people find that obsessive. I collected 599. Not 600, but 599.
I like Liz Phair, but there were these stupid women reviewers who said she's surpassing the Stones. Dream on.
  • Most people aren't sure what's going to happen on a first date. Given that ambiguity, every woman must be totally aware at every moment that she is responsible for every choice she makes. … protect yourselves. See trouble coming.
  • I collected 599 pictures of Elizabeth Taylor — some people find that obsessive. I collected 599. Not 600, but 599. I feel that genius and obsession be the same thing. It is rare when a woman is driven by obsession. Similarly, it is rare when a woman is a genius. That's why I said one of my most notorious sentences, that there is no woman Mozart because there is no woman Jack the Ripper. Men are more prone to obsession because they are fleeing domination by women. They flee to a chess game or to a computer or to fixing a car, or whatever, to attempt to complete their identities, because they always feel incomplete.
  • The fact is, you get great art only from mutilated egos. Only mutilated egos are obsessive enough. When I entered graduate school in 1968, 1 thought women were going to have all these enormous achievements, that they would redo everything. Then I saw every one of my female friends — these great minds who were going to transform the world — get married, move because their husbands moved and have babies. I screamed at them: What are you doing? Finish your great book! But they all read me the riot act. They said, "Camille, we are not you." They said, "We want life. We want love. We want happiness. We are not happy — like you are — just living off ideas." I am weird.
  • She is so deluded that she genuinely believes she speaks for all women. She's a victim of her own success. I liked the early Steinem. There was once a survey conducted for Time about who would make a good candidate for the first female president, and I wrote in Gloria Steinem. But now? Gloria Steinem is dissing men and dissing fashion and she's out having her hair streaked at Kenneth's. She became a socialite with a coterie. A lot of middle-aged white ladies still love her, but the media have been negligent regarding her.
  • After the Sixties there was a collapse in almost everything we believed in. It culminated in the biological disaster of AIDS — an answer to every one of us who preached free love. … AIDS is a price paid for sins committed in the Sixties, and by gay men who took free love to extremes throughout the Seventies and had unrestrained, decadent, pagan sex. I support paganism in all its forms, but a price must be paid. I believed in free love, too, but we were wrong. It wasn't the Pope who was the problem. It wasn't the struggle with old-fashioned moral codes that was the problem. It was nature. Nature said, "Guess what? If you're going to be that promiscuous, I will off you." … I believe that nature rewards things that are in its best interest and punishes things that are not.
  • My point is that you cannot force social change at a speed that it cannot go. Social change is evolutionary, not revolutionary. Deep social change takes time. And slowly the culture is changing. The MTV generation is far more tolerant, and that tolerance is growing.
  • Clinton is in trouble and she (Joycelyn Elders) opens her mouth about masturbation. Can't she control herself? She was in the wrong job. In some ways she's like me — she says what she thinks. But then you shouldn't be part of politics. I would like Joycelyn Elders to be in a position to speak her mind and not worry about political consequences. You cannot have a nondiplomatic figure in a political appointment.
    • On Joycelyn Elders and Clinton's firing of her
  • The Democratic Party has to return to its populist base, to rediscover the party of FDR, the one that appealed to my grandfather and the factory workers and others. To do this, there must be a period of self-criticism. We must face this head-on or continue to be governed by the Republicans. We must examine how we set up the rise of Republicans on campuses, where the dissent should be coming from. It is explained by the lack of energy; and ideas from the other side. As a result, campuses are the most depressing places, devoid of passion.
  • The left constantly identifies the pro-life advocates as misogynists and fanatics, but that doesn't represent most of those people. They are deeply religious and they truly believe that taking a life is wrong. If the left were to show respect for that position and acknowledge the moral conundrum of unwanted pregnancy, the opposition to abortion would lessen. We must acknowledge that people should be a little troubled by abortion. Not to acknowledge that this is a difficult decision is wrong. The procedure snuffs out a potential personality. … You have a stronger case if you give due respect to the other side. An abortion should be something that is wrestled with. And herein is the point. Though most people agree that abortion should be an option, there is something attractive about the deeply moral position of those against abortion, particularly when the other side is in a spiritual vacuum. There is nothing in kids' education anymore that tells them to revere anything. Traditional religions, with all their moral codes, are becoming increasingly attractive in light of the alternatives: the Prozac nation, or heroin, which has come back with a vengeance.
  • Millions of kids are being maimed right now on Ritalin. I would have been given Ritalin. And there would have been no Sexual Personae, no nothing. We are castrating a whole generation of kids.
  • The only problem I have with computers and television is that when all cultures on earth reach the stage we are at it will lead to a kind of homogenization.
  • In the real world, very smart people fail and mediocre people rise. Part of what makes people fail or succeed are skills that have nothing to do with IQ. Also, the idea that intelligence can be gauged by an IQ test is erroneous.
  • I loathe Meryl Streep. She was good in Silkwood, but she began to take herself very seriously. I'm reacting to the horrendous overpraise she has received. She is a calculated actress, a victim of her own WASP culture. I find her totally unconvincing. She has no passion. She has no deep elemental vibration. Jodie Foster is overpraised, too. I thought she was good in The Silence of the Lambs, and The Accused, but she's getting on my nerves.
  • I am reverential to great stars. I don't want sexual congress with them. The writer in me reveres the artist in them.
  • He was a revealing symbol. He called himself passive-aggressive. There was self-pity, whining. There was a diminishment, a diminution. He was sitting there in his sweater, hunched over his guitar, looking like a little lost boy. Compare that with the great figures of my generation: Jimi Hendrix. Pete Townshend. Keith Richards.
She is so deluded that she genuinely believes she speaks for all women. She's a victim of her own success.
Men are looking for maternal solace in women, and that's the nature of heterosexuality. Now you tell me, who really has all the power?
  • I like Liz Phair, but there were these stupid women reviewers who said she's surpassing the Stones. Dream on.
  • I had crushes on women — actually I loved charismatic, extreme people, women or men. By high school I was saying I must be a lesbian, because if you are attracted to women, you're a lesbian. I was also attracted to men, but I didn't get along with men.
  • From early on, my father talked to me like an adult. One of the earliest things he did was teach me the Latin names of the parts of the body. He was very analytic. We had no money, but intellectual curiosity was encouraged, and my parents constantly talked with each other. This develops the brain. I remember listening and thinking, listening to voices talking, talking, talking. … My father died of cancer but lived long enough to see me famous, though not long enough to read my book fully. If he were alive I wouldn't be quite so outrageous, speaking about my sex life, for instance. I don't believe in embarrassing my family.
  • I think intellectuals should be fascinated by my rise, what it reveals about the time. My critics are irrelevant, though. It tells how much I'm getting to them by how vitriolic they are. They refuse to deal with the ideas. But reviews don't reflect anything; the books are selling. A friend told me, "The attacks make you."
  • I am popular with certain people, but I'm still blocked out of the establishment. I hate that incestuous world. It makes me sick. It's impossible for anything truly original to get done. Thinking is not allowed. It's all PC. It is so horrible because it is a fossilized, parasitic version of Sixties philosophy.
  • Because of the nature of the penis, men have performance anxiety, whereas no woman ever has to prove herself in this way. So men's egos are totally involved in performance, in doing, achieving. An erection is a kind of achievement. So is peeing. As I've said, a boy has to learn to aim in order to no longer be infantile. So it's an accomplishment. The male orgasm is short-lived and transient — and that's the irony of men's sexuality. It's ironic that feminism looks at the penis as power and violence when in fact it is very weak.
  • It took most of my life to realize that men are not tyrants or egomaniacs. I had an epiphany in a shopping mall recently that put it all in perspective. I was having a piece of pizza and I saw all these teenage boys running around in the mall. They were wild. I looked at them and saw this desperation. When I was their age I hated those kinds of boys because they were so obnoxious. They are so involved in their status, gaining it, afraid of losing it. I'm glad I don't have to be that age again. So they sat down near me and they didn't notice me. I didn't exist on their radar map. I was thinking, This is great. I was watching. They were full of energy and life. And I suddenly realized, My God, the reason they are so loud, the reason they are so uncontrolled, the reason I hated them at that age is that they bond with each other against women. It was the first time they were able to be away from the control of a woman — their mothers. They were on their own and for this period they're very dangerous. Women have to watch out when they go to fraternity parties, because the men are all trying to up their status among one another and there is all this testosterone. And then some girl will snag them. And that's it. It's over for them. They get married and they're under the control of their wives forever. You hear these women all the time, on, like, Ricki Lake, saying, "You know, I have two children, but actually I have three children" about the husband, and it's true: The husband becomes a child again. Even when men are doing their share, taking out the garbage, doing the mopping, whatever, women are still running the household. They are in control and the men become subordinate again. So that's what the feminists are so worried about? Men who are subordinated by their mothers and then by their wives? Men are looking for maternal solace in women, and that's the nature of heterosexuality. Now you tell me, who really has all the power?

The Magic of Images: Word and Picture in a Media Age (2004)[edit]

Published in Arion Vol. 11, no 3, Spring 2004

  • Interest in and patience with long, complex books and poems have alarmingly diminished not only among college students but college faculty in the US. It is difficult to imagine American students today, even at elite universities, gathering impromptu at midnight for a passionate discussion of big, challenging literary works like Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov -- a scene I witnessed in a recreation room strewn with rock albums at my college dormitory in upstate New York in 1965.
  • As a classroom teacher for over thirty years, I have become increasingly concerned about evidence of, if not cultural decline, then cultural dissipation since the 1960s, a decade that seemed to hold such heady promise of artistic and intellectual innovation. Young people today are flooded with disconnected images but lack a sympathetic instrument to analyze them as well as a historical frame of reference in which to situate them. I am reminded of an unnerving scene in Stanley Kubrick's epic film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, where an astronaut, his air hose cut by the master computer gone amok, spins helplessly off into space. The new generation, raised on TV and the personal computer but deprived of a solid primary education, has become unmoored from the mother ship of culture. Technology, like Kubrick's rogue computer, Hal, is the companionable servant turned ruthless master. The ironically self-referential or overtly politicized and jargon-ridden paradigms of higher education, far from helping the young to cope or develop, have worsened their vertigo and free fall. Today's students require not subversion of rationalist assumptions -- the childhood legacy of intellectuals born in Europe between the two World Wars -- but the most basic introduction to structure and chronology. With out that, they are riding the tail of a comet in a media starscape of explosive but evanescent images.
  • The computer, with its multiplying forums for spontaneous free expression from e-mail to listservs and blogs, has increased facility and fluency of language but degraded sensitivity to the individual word and reduced respect for organized argument, the process of deductive reasoning. The jump and jitter of us commercial television have demonstrably reduced attention span in the young.
  • In a media age where books are no longer the primary medium for information storage and exchange, language must be reclaimed from the hucksters and the pedants and imaginatively reinforced. To save literature, educators must take command of the pre-rational world of images. The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words.

Obama Surfs Through (2008)[edit]

"Obama Surfs Through" at Salon.com (12 November 2008)
  • How dare Palin not embrace abortion as the ultimate civilized ideal of modern culture? How tacky that she speaks in a vivacious regional accent indistinguishable from that of Western Canada! How risible that she graduated from the University of Idaho and not one of those plush, pampered commodes of received opinion whose graduates, in their rush to believe the worst about her, have demonstrated that, when it comes to sifting evidence, they don't know their asses from their elbows.
  • Liberal Democrats are going to wake up from their sadomasochistic, anti-Palin orgy with a very big hangover. The evil genie released during this sorry episode will not so easily go back into its bottle. A shocking level of irrational emotionalism and at times infantile rage was exposed at the heart of current Democratic ideology — contradicting Democratic core principles of compassion, tolerance and independent thought. One would have to look back to the Eisenhower 1950s for parallels to this grotesque lock-step parade of bourgeois provincialism, shallow groupthink and blind prejudice.
  • I like Sarah Palin, and I’ve heartily enjoyed her arrival on the national stage. As a career classroom teacher, I can see how smart she is — and quite frankly, I think the people who don’t see it are the stupid ones, wrapped in the fuzzy mummy-gauze of their own worn-out partisan dogma. So she doesn’t speak the King’s English — big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist. I stand on what I said (as a staunch pro-choice advocate) in my last two columns — that Palin as a pro-life wife, mother and ambitious professional represents the next big shift in feminism. Pro-life women will save feminism by expanding it, particularly into the more traditional Third World.

Quotes about Paglia[edit]

Alphabetized by author
  • The 1990s brought a widespread backlash against this rigid feminist orthodoxy [in American academia]. For many, it was personified by Camille Paglia, a professor at an obscure university in Philadelphia, who, in her 1990 book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, as well as in scores of essays and interviews, dismissed women’s contributions to Western culture (“There are no female Mozarts”) and mocked the “weepy, whiny, white middle-class ideology” of the “Stalinist” feminist movement under Gloria Steinem, which Paglia reviled for its intellectual vacuity, sexual puritanism, and hostility to men -- not to mention its obsessive victim mentality, which, in her view, only served to reinforce Victorian stereotypes. For Paglia, women, far from being the weaker sex, were gifted by nature with an innate power over men -- the power of sex. […] The feminist establishment, however, chose not to learn from but to vilify Paglia and company. And Women’s Studies, unable to answer them, all but ignored them.
    • Bruce Bawer (2012), The Victim’s Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind. NY: Broadside Books, pp. 78-79
  • The person that made this newfound pursuit of intellectual engagement invigorating and sexy was Camille Paglia. Her book, Sexual Personae, made me realize how little I really had learned in college. Her articles and assorted writings began to open my mind to the fraud that is higher education in America.
  • The literary critic Camille Paglia argues that sexuality is by nature aggressive. “My theory,” she says [on page 3 of Sexual Personae] “is that whenever sexual freedom is sought or achieved, sadomasochism will not be far behind.” She attacks feminists who believe that sex is all sugar and spice and that it is patriarchal society that makes sex violent. Sex, for Paglia, is about power; society is not the source of sexual violence; sex, the irrepressible natural force, is. If anything, society is the force that inhibits the natural violence of sex. Paglia is certainly more accurate than those who deny that perversion is rife with aggression. But in assuming that sex is fundamentally aggressive, and sadomasochistic, she doesn’t allow for the plasticity of human sexuality. Just because sex and aggression can unite in a plastic brain, and appear “natural,” doesn’t mean that that is their only possible expression.
    • Norman Doidge (2007) The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science. NY:Viking, p. 350
  • Examples [of censorship and intolerance from self-described 'liberals'] are well-known. When Camille Paglia was invited to speak at Brown, campus feminists were outraged, though their voices greatly outnumbered hers...
    • John M. Ellis (1997), Literature Lost: Social Agendas and the Corruption of the Humanities, New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 223
  • How can you take her seriously? She is an exhibitionist, and she takes the most extreme elements of the women's movement and tries to make the whole movement antisexual, antilife, antijoy. And neither I nor most of the women I know are that way.
    • Betty Friedan, Interview of Friedan by David Sheff Playboy September 1992, pp. 51-54, 56, 58, 60, 62, 149; reprinted in full in Interviews with Betty Friedan, Janann Sherman, ed. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2002, ISBN 1578064805.
  • 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.
  • [T]he most threatening thing about her, from the American viewpoint, is that she refuses to treat the arts as an instrument of civil rights. Without talent, no entitlement.
    • Clive James, reviewing Paglia’s Break, Blow, Burn in the New York Times. [1]
  • When pro-choice social commentator Camille Paglia wrote that she sanctions "murder" when it is called "abortion," pro-lifers were horrified. They should have cheered. […] Almost every pro-abortion activist lives in a zone where they conceal what abortion really is -- though they know that the procedure involves killing a person each and every time. The difference between them and Paglia is that they don't come out and say it.
    • Andrea Mrozek, “Thank You, Camille Paglia”. National Post [Canada], 23 September 2008
  • When I mentioned to friends that I was heading to Philadelphia to meet Camille Paglia, I realized the degree of animosity she provokes. She was contemptuously dismissed, often by people who had never read her work. Others seemed torn by her … Some praised her as fresh and profound, but even more dismissed her as outrageous and repugnant. … Despite such opinions, in person and in context instead of in sound bites, Paglia is often reasonable, witty and likable … She is also correct in at least one of her assessments — that she, like such loudmouths as Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern and Ross Perot, helps to encourage discourse and free speech in a country that needs all it can get.
  • It is very rare these days to hear anyone praising masculinity. The dissident feminist writer Camille Paglia is a refreshing example. Her observations are effective antidotes to the surfeit of disparagements.
    • Christina Hoff Sommers (2000), The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men, NY: Simon & Schuster, p. 63
  • Scholars who refuse to toe the feminist line are also ignored... The iconoclastic Camille Paglia appears [only] once [...], in Women’s Realities, Women’s Choices, and is described as someone who “assails feminists for what she regards as dull rhetoric.”

External links[edit]

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