Camille Paglia has claimed that she has the right to call a woman who was date raped a "stupid idiot," and she gushes about Sarah Palin like she's an Ayn Rand heroine ("So she doesn't speak the King's English - big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes"). In short, Camille Paglia is as crazy as a sack of ferrets, and she is worried about you, Middle-Class White Girl. She articulated these concerns in an alarmist piece about The Youngs' Devil-Music for The Hollywood Reporter:
Despite the passage of time since second-wave feminism erupted in the late 1960s, we've somehow been thrown back to the demure girly-girl days of the white-bread 1950s. It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest.
Paglia cites Doris Day, Sandra Dee and Debbie Reynolds as the triumvirate of female oppression in pop culture that's come around the bend again, but conveniently fails to acknowledge that back in the '60s those women were trapped in the studio system, which basically meant that if you didn't feel like giving your grody director a handjob, he could blackball you from working in Hollywood ever again (see: Tippi Hedren). Perry and Swift, meanwhile, are #9 and #3 on Forbes' list of highest-paid musicians because, behind their carefully-cultivated images, they're businesswomen and they run their shit. So things are actually... kind of pretty different? Theoretically? But sure, go on.
In TV interviews, [Taylor] Swift affects a "golly, gee whiz" persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense.
After slamming Swift's vocals ("a monotonous soprano tarted up with snarky spin"), she lays into Katy Perry even harder:
Although now 28, Katy Perry is still stuck in wide-eyed teen-queen mode. Especially after the train wreck of her brief marriage to epicene roué Russell Brand, her dazzling smiles are starting to look as artificial as those of the aging, hard-bitten Joan Crawford. Perry's prolific hit songs, saturating mainstream radio, hammer and yammer mercilessly. She's like a manic cyborg cheerleader, obliviously whooping it up while her team gets pounded into the mud.
Look, I guess I see what she's aiming at, and these performers are ripe for intelligent feminist criticism, but this ain't it. Just to recap: Taylor Swift can't act a certain way because she dresses a certain way. And Katy Perry's public persona is under fire here, not for wearing a fucking whipped-cream-gun bra or writing a song about an ambiguous sexual encounter, but because she was married to a certain dude and it didn't work out? Fail. Please try again.
Fortunately, to contrast Middle Class White Girls, there are those "Bootylicious, Confident Urban Women" Paglia's always uncomfortably going on about, starting with Jennifer Lopez ("born to Puerto Rican parents in New York, [she] will go down in history for a revolutionary full-page photo in a 1998 Vanity Fair where she fetchingly turned her ample, lingerie-clad buttocks to the camera." Not for any other reason. For her butt, you guys.) and inevitably arriving at:
With her multicultural roots (a Bahamian father and a Louisiana Creole mother), Beyonce draws on the emotional depths of black gospel as well as the brazen street sass of hip-hop, which produced her formidable persona of Sasha Fierce. Urban rappers' notorious sexism seems to have made black female performers stronger and more defiant. But middle-class white girls, told that every career is open to them and encouraged to excel at athletics, are faced with slacker white boys nagged by the PC thought police into suppressing their masculinity — which gets diverted instead into video games and the flourishing genre of online pornography.
As ever, Paglia's reallllly toeing the line of ethnic fetishism, and, in only focusing on the repercussions of the misogynistic rap culture to "strengthen" urban women, ignores Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks, Dominique Young Unique, Njena Redd Foxx or any other young women who have been changing the face of rap in their own right. She praises Rihanna for her "elemental erotic intensity, a sensuality inspired by the beauty of the Caribbean sun and sea" (haha—DUDE), except, by her own logic, Paglia would no doubt buy Breezy a drink for imbuing Ri-Ri with the powers of Strong, Defiant and Erotic. Et cetera. Whereas Middle Class White Girls have to make do with... white dude slackers? Instead of... "urban males" who are apparently all involved in "misogynistic rap culture"? Or—actually, don't bother trying to unravel it, because NONE OF IT MAKES SENSE, 0.0000%, of it, and my eyeballs hurt.
In conclusion, writes Paglia:
Middle-class white girls will never escape the cookie-cutter tyranny of their airless ghettos until the entertainment industry looks into its soul and starts giving them powerful models of mature womanliness.
I nominate that Paglia herself jumps into the Top 40 fray with a hook-laden single, featuring a rap verse from former disciple Katie Roiphe. That's sure to crack some ghetto windows and let some hot 'n' fresh air in, amirite?