Monday, October 6, 2014

Camille Paglia and Our Cultural Delusion

Camille Paglia is no conservative but neither has she any patience with the shibboleths of much of the left and their sundry delusions about sexuality and human nature. A recent article by Paglia in Time is worth reading in its entirety, but I've included the most pungent excerpts here. She's a voice worth heeding, at least on this topic.

The springboard for her critique of leftist delusions about human sexuality and male/female difference is the recent disappearance of a UVA sophomore named Hannah Graham and the arrest of a hulking 32 year-old who is also suspected in another such disappearance:
Too many young middle class women, raised far from the urban streets, seem to expect adult life to be an extension of their comfortable, overprotected homes. But the world remains a wilderness. The price of women’s modern freedoms is personal responsibility for vigilance and self-defense.

Current educational codes, tracking liberal-Left, are perpetuating illusions about sex and gender. The basic Leftist premise, descending from Marxism, is that all problems in human life stem from an unjust society and that corrections and fine-tunings of that social mechanism will eventually bring utopia. Progressives have unquestioned faith in the perfectibility of mankind.

Liberalism lacks a profound sense of evil .... The gender ideology dominating academe denies that sex differences are rooted in biology and sees them instead as malleable fictions that can be revised at will. The assumption is that complaints and protests, enforced by sympathetic campus bureaucrats and government regulators, can and will fundamentally alter all men.

There is a ritualistic symbolism at work in sex crime that most women do not grasp and therefore cannot arm themselves against. It is well-established that the visual faculties play a bigger role in male sexuality, which accounts for the greater male interest in pornography. The sexual stalker, who is often an alienated loser consumed with his own failures, is motivated by an atavistic hunting reflex. He is called a predator precisely because he turns his victims into prey.

Misled by the naive optimism and “You go, girl!” boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature.
It's hard to disagree with any of this. From female naivete about men to the feckless delusions among liberals that sexual assaults can be meliorated by speech codes and absurd protocols for male/female interactions, the left seems to think that we can immerse young males in a highly sexualized, even pornographic culture, but yet keep them from acting out their fantasies on relatively helpless and trusting young women by wearing ribbons and wagging our fingers in their faces when they cross some line of "inappropriate" conduct.

Where I do disagree with Paglia is in labeling men who commit such crimes as psychotic or aberrational. These men are not abnormal. They're not mentally deranged. They are the inevitable products of a pornographic culture which has embraced the notion that moral judgment is an anachronism. A society which can no longer teach its young men that sexual predation is evil, that it is a crime against God's law, is inevitably opening the door to a "might-makes-right" view of life which justifies any transgression as the prerogative of the strong over the weak in the Darwinian struggle.

Some men use women and then kill them. This is evil, but the modern world is averse to using that word because evil is a term laden with moral import. When society insisted on secularizing morality it forfeited the ability to use moral terms altogether. It abandoned the traditional categories by which rape and murder had formerly been judged. Add to this the insistence that man is just an animal and that there's nothing about him that's transcendent, that he's just a flesh and bone machine, and the only surprise in men acting consistently with the assumptions they've all their lives absorbed from the cultural voices with which they've been surrounded is that we are shocked and horrified by this completely predictable behavior.

This is pretty much the theme of my book In the Absence of God. I hope that if you haven't read it you will.