Ardent contrarian, academic, and self-described feminist Camille Paglia has handed conservatives the type of fodder they will choose to feast on when they should focus on Donald Trump’s questionable timing of the firing of FBI director James Comey and his sharing of classified information with the Russians. In an interview with the conservative site The Washington Free Beacon she once again took aim at Hillary Clinton, a woman she appears to pathologically despise, judging from the litany of articles she’s written about Clinton criticizing her clothes, her cough, and occasionally her career.
In an interview with the conservative site to promote her new book Free Women, Free Men, which lambastes feminists for tearing down masculinity, Paglia responded to a question about whether misogyny played a role in the 2016 election by saying, “Misogyny played no significant role whatever in Hillary Clinton’s two defeats as a presidential candidate. This claim is such a crock! What a gross exploitation of feminism — in the service of an unaccomplished woman whose entire career was spent attached to her husband’s coat tails.”
To Google Paglia’s and Clinton’s names is to stumble upon a trove of loathing written about the former secretary of State by a so-called feminist who’s torn other women down for decades since she rose to fame with her book Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. And the editors at The Washington Free Beacon, which favors conservative viewpoints, certainly knew that when they interviewed Paglia, knowing the right would seize on her hateful anti-Clinton rhetoric like Trump grasping for a phone from which to tweet at “fake news” outlets.
In her excoriation of Clinton for the right, Paglia went on to say, “Hillary was handed job after job but produced no tangible results in any of them — except of course for her destabilization of North Africa during her rocky tenure as secretary of state. And for all her lip service to women and children, what program serving their needs did Hillary ever conceive and promote?” Which means that Paglia has either never heard that Clinton (during her tenure as first lady) was a key figure in pushing through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which helped provide insurance to 8 million children in the 1990s.
Also, either Paglia never heard of or ignored the several pieces of legislation to help expand women’s access to reproductive and health care that Clinton pushed through, and likewise overlooked that she introduced the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2005, 2007, and 2009.
It’s as easy as pressing a button to Google Clinton's history, but like so many voters who pulled the lever for Trump or Stein or wrote in Sanders or Harambe in the voting booth rather than do the least harm to people who aren’t privileged white elitist academics, Paglia bought into the tactics Republicans have been using against Clinton for 30 years. At the end of the day, her instincts were all she needed to form an opinion, as she did in a Salon article in which musings about Clinton’s clothing and health occupied several paragraphs in a story in which she questioned "Hillary's cult." In the piece, Paglia, a devoted Bernie Sanders acolyte and eventual Jill Stein supporter, swiped at New York Times opinion writer Jessica Friedman, who dared favor Clinton in her debate with Sanders in an article titled “Hillary’s Message in a Jacket,” in which Friedman discussed the power of Clinton choosing to wear a stylish belted white coat.
“My first thought was: “Why is Hillary wearing a lab coat?” Paglia wrote in response to Friedman’s piece. “My second was: “Isn’t this a major gaffe — reminding people of abortion clinics?” And while Paglia surely thought she was clever with her second thought, it didn’t take her long to devolve into some good old GOP/right-wing shredding of Clinton’s looks, as if that hadn’t been going on since the early ’90s.
“My third was: “The big belted look is not recommended for those broad in the beam,” Paglia churlishly wrote. She then went on to bizarrely bemoan how poor Sanders and men in general couldn’t afford to look as “glam” as Clinton.
“For all the complaints about an alleged higher scrutiny suffered by women candidates, affluent politicians like Hillary can afford glam squads of stylists and an infinite range of clothing choices, hairstyles, and cosmetic aids,” Paglia wrote. “Male candidates with their boring cropped hair and sober suits fade into the woodwork when the queen bee flies in.”
Still, Paglia wasn't finished with her paranoid dissecting of Clinton in ways that smack of misogyny in that one piece out of many she wrote for Salon. She moved on to assail Clinton’s health, which Trump had done ad nauseam throughout the campaign.
“I’m just a Ph.D., not an M.D., but I’ll put my Miss Marple hat on here,” Paglia wrote, reminding her readers of her perspicacity before delivering her medical assessment.
“Am I the only one who noticed Hillary’s high-wrap collar, pallid, puffy face, and bulging eyes during her choleric New Hampshire primary concession speech in February? (Another unusually high collar followed the next morning.) My tentative theory is that Hillary may have sporadic flare-ups of goiter, worsened under stress. Coughing is a symptom. High collars mask a swollen throat. In serious cases, an operation may be necessary. Is this chronic thyroid condition disqualifying in a presidential candidate? Certainly not in my view, but I don’t like being lied to—by candidates, campaign staffs, or their media sycophants.”
As the maelstrom in the White House ramps up, Paglia continues to focus on tearing Clinton down for her looks and perceived weaknesses, feeding the right just what it wants as was reflected in the Washington Free Beacon headline “Prominent Democratic Feminist Camille Paglia Says Hillary Clinton 'Exploits Feminism.'” Meanwhile, a man she has continually praised for his “id,” whom she’s failed to fault for his admission of grabbing women without consent while simultaneously blaming Clinton for remaining mum about her husband’s transgressions, stomps around the White House like a tiny-handed tyrannosaurus rex tweeting dangerous, aggressive lies out to the world and leaking classified information, but hey, that's masculinity at work.
“Trump is his own man, with a steely ‘damn the torpedoes’ attitude. He has a swaggering retro machismo that will give hives to the Steinem cabal,” Paglia wrote in Salon last year. “He lives large, with the urban flash and bling of a Frank Sinatra.” While Paglia sings the praises of Trump’s masculine energy, remember that the woman she asserted has accomplished nothing was the one person who tried to warn the country about Trump’s ties with Russia and Vladimir Putin. Who’s the puppet now, Paglia?