Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Real Feminism

Social critic, unorthodox feminist, and leading American intellectual, Camile Paglia in her opening statement from a recent debate in Toronto, Canada:
History must be seen clearly and fairly: obstructive traditions arose not from men’s hatred or enslavement of women but from the natural division of labor that had developed over thousands of years during the agrarian period and that once immensely benefited and protected women, permitting them to remain at the hearth to care for helpless infants and children. Over the past century, it was labor-saving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.

Indeed, men are absolutely indispensable right now, invisible as it is to most feminists, who seem blind to the infrastructure that makes their own work lives possible. It is overwhelmingly men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lines, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments. It is men who heft and weld the giant steel beams that frame our office buildings, and it is men who do the hair-raising work of insetting and sealing the finely tempered plate-glass windows of skyscrapers 50 stories tall. Every day along the Delaware River in Philadelphia, one can watch the passage of vast oil tankers and towering cargo ships arriving from all over the world. These stately colossi are loaded, steered, and off-loaded by men. The modern economy, with its vast production and distribution network, is a male epic, in which women have found a productive role–but women were not its author.  Surely, modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!
Note: The above excerpt was taken from Mark Perry's coverage on Paglia's talk at his blog Carpe Diem.  The above emphasized sections in Paglia's comments are his, though I second them completely.  Perry's post also has a fascinating graph and short discussion on another, related aspect of the theme Paglia was hammering home in her talk.  He also provides a link to a full copy of her comments.