I have been an admirer of controversial Camille Paglia ever since I read her books back in the “olden days,” and this interview with her has some elemental points about women and their sexuality that I think are, unfortunately, ignored by most. She says:
Too many of today’s young feminists seem to want hovering, paternalistic authority figures to protect and soothe them, an attitude I regard as servile, reactionary and glaringly bourgeois. The world can never be made totally safe for anyone, male or female: there will always be sociopaths and psychotics impervious to social controls. I call my system ‘street-smart feminism’; there is no substitute for wary vigilance and personal responsibility.
Wary vigilance and personal responsibility as fundamental to street smart feminism. Yes.
What I find missing from the preparation of girls/young women to deal with unwanted male attention is the absence of an understanding that sexuality is a powerful, (to use Paglia’s word) chthonic force — a primal power that they need to get to appreciate and control. Yes, males need to understand this concept as well, and while they “get it” on a subconscious level, they need to understand it intellectually as well. But that’s a whole other discussion.
For the moment, I’m focused on young women, especially teenagers, who are not guided to reach any fundamental appreciation and understanding of the power of their sexuality (over themselves and others) and so are seduced by the advertising industry to flaunt it, while staying totally unaware of the psychology of sexuality and its complex, subconscious, Dionysian impulses. Instead, they are taught to INTERNALLY deny and repress them WHILE AT THE SAME TIME EXTERNALLY ANNOUNCING THEM.
It becomes confusing to them, as well as to the males who only see the external signals.
There is a lot of education that has has to be done before what has been termed this “rape culture” can be brought under control. Because it is a matter of awareness and control — SELF AWARENESS AND SELF CONTROL on the part of each individual.
Does this not unintentionally open the door for “blame the victim” behavior?
No because the perpetrators need to be held responsible and punished. BUT, at the same time, I believe that girls need to be become familiar with the power of their sexuality, so that they don’t abuse that power. At the same time, they need to be comfortable with it, so they are capable of admitting to themselves if they want to have sex and can say “yes” without guilt. It’s teaching girls not to be victims, including the suppression of their own sexuality. If they’re going to flaunt it, they should do so with the full knowledge that they are taking a risk (unless they would like to have sex) and better be prepared to handle whatever they attract. American culture demonizes sexuality and therefore girls are conflicted about their own feelings and desires. Males, on the other hand, need to be taught that they can’t act on any impulse they might have, and that flirting does not mean YES. Consent is crucial and NO means NO. While both sexes have responsibility for their behavior, the buck stops with the guys.