Feminist provocateur Camille Paglia says Hillary Clinton’s adoption of a “blame-men-first” brand of feminism that “defines women as perpetual victims” who need protection and salvation from the government could be costly to her campaign.
Writing at Salon, Paglia – the author of Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars – asserts that Clinton adopted the “second-wave” brand of feminism – propagated by the “telegenic” Gloria Steinem, who stated, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” She contrasts Steinem’s message with that of her predecessor, National Organization for Women co-founder Betty Friedan, whom Paglia explains tried to draw men as well as mainstream wives and mothers into the women’s movement.
“Hillary has unfortunately adopted the Steinem brand of blame-men-first feminism, which defines women as perpetual victims requiring government protections,” she writes. “Hillary’s sometimes impatient or patronizing tone about men, which can perhaps be traced to key aspects of her personal history, may prove costly to her current campaign.”
Paglia has expressed concern in recent years about the Democrats’ chances in 2016. In the summer of 2013, she told Salon:
As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s…It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot.
Regarding Clinton as a 2016 candidate, Paglia added:
It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.
In her current column, Paglia puts forward a psychological analysis of how Clinton’s upbringing with a harsh, domineering father may have led to her decision to remain married to her philanderer-husband, former President Bill Clinton.
“In preserving her marriage despite repeated humiliation, Hillary was embracing and reaffirming the painful decisions made by her own mother,” she writes, adding that Bill took on the ‘fraternal role’ of the ‘bad boy’ in chronic need of scolding and spanking.”
Paglia goes one step further to describe Hillary’s relationship with daughter Chelsea as a replication of her own “defensive bonding with her beleaguered mother.”
Clinton finally broke with her father’s conservatism (she had campaigned for Barry Goldwater in 1964 and was president of the Young Republican’s Club at Wellesley College while a freshman) and wrote her senior thesis on radical Chicago community organizer Saul Alinsky.
Paglia recounts that, during her address as the class speaker at Wellesley’s commencement, Clinton “went off script to rebut and rebuke the honored guest speaker, Massachusetts senator Edward Brooke, an elegant centrist Republican who was the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate by popular vote.” Paglia suggests this move on Clinton’s part could be viewed as either courageous or “an act of crass discourtesy with anti-male overtones.”
After failing her D.C. bar exam, Hillary moved to Arkansas to be with Bill, whom she helped in his political rise from state attorney general to governor. In reality, Hillary was the stereotypic “woman behind the man,” and much of her own professional life, Paglia says, was “at least partly derived from her association with him – not an ideal feminist paradigm.”
Paglia describes Hillary’s “most drastic metamorphosis” as when she dyed her hair blonde and began using blue contact lenses to change her brown eye color.
The model for this change may ironically have been Gennifer Flowers, a Little Rock singer who claimed to have been Bill Clinton’s mistress for twelve years. I had the opportunity to see Flowers perform (and briefly speak to her) at her New Orleans nightclub in 2004. Then in her mid-50s, she still radiated a stunning charisma. She had the silky, soothing manner and warm hospitality of the classic Southern woman—far from the “trailer park” realm to which Democratic consultant James Carville viciously consigned Mr. Clinton’s accusers.
Declaring Flowers to be a “ghostly twin, a lingering admonishment to Hillary of everything that second-wave feminism resentfully tried and failed to change in sexual relations,” Paglia asserts that Clinton’s brand of feminism “is narrowing her presidential chances when she privileges elite professional women at men’s expense.”