Legendary Nutjob Gives Horrible Sex Advice


Camille Paglia doesn’t think the female Viagra is going to rescue women’s (supposedly) flagging libidos. She has another solution for America’s sex problems: people of color.

Ostensibly pegged to the FDA’s rejection of the “female Viagra” flibanserin, Paglia’s weird screed tries to blame libido problems on white middle-class mores. These apparently include delaying childbirth (professional women without kids are androgynous) and having kids (soccer moms are emasculating robot-women). Incoherent as all of Paglia’s piece is (don’t miss the part about America’s “careerist technocracy” apparently being run by gender-studies majors), the real fun comes when Paglia starts posing alternatives to her made-up desexualized culture. For instance, did you know that black and Latino people like big butts and they cannot lie?

Furthermore, thanks to a bourgeois white culture that values efficient bodies over voluptuous ones, American actresses have desexualized themselves, confusing sterile athleticism with female power. Their current Pilates-honed look is taut and tense – a boy’s thin limbs and narrow hips combined with amplified breasts. Contrast that with Latino and African-American taste, which runs toward the healthy silhouette of the bootylicious Beyoncé.

Decrying Hollywood’s body-snarking by snarking on Hollywood bodies isn’t new — nor is making hypersexualizing generalizations about the bodies of women of color. But it sure is fun to see both traditions brought together! Paglia continues,

A class issue in sexual energy may be suggested by the apparent striking popularity of Victoria’s Secret and its racy lingerie among multiracial lower-middle-class and working-class patrons, even in suburban shopping malls, which otherwise trend toward the white middle class.

This white girl doesn’t shop at Victoria’s Secret anymore because the underwires cut into my tits. I’d be curious to see Paglia’s data on the racial makeup of VS customers, but regardless, when did a corporate chain that advertises overpriced lingerie on the bodies of airbrushed (and often thin, and usually white) models become a symbol of unbridled “sexual energy?” Paglia doesn’t address this question, instead moving on to music:

[R]ock music, once sexually pioneering, is in the dumps. Black rhythm and blues, born in the Mississippi Delta, was the driving force behind the great hard rock bands of the ’60s, whose cover versions of blues songs were filled with electrifying sexual imagery. The Rolling Stones’ hypnotic recording of Willie Dixon’s “Little Red Rooster,” with its titillating phallic exhibitionism, throbs and shimmers with sultry heat.

It’s a little weird that Paglia focuses on white cover versions of black music, rather than black music itself, but this is of a piece with her argument: that white culture needs black culture as a sexifying tool. It’s possible to talk about issues of race and beauty, or of artistic appropriation, in a nuanced way, but Paglia’s argument comes perilously close to the all-too-common cultural trope in which people of color are supposed to spice up white people’s lives. It’s almost like she’s saying people of color are the real female Viagra — stereotypical, bootylicious sexpots dancing through a world that bears little relation to reality.

No Sex Please, We’re Middle Class [NYT]

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