She has not said dumb shit about rape, but she has said things about rape that, regardless of how many caveats she's used, are willfully taken out of context by pearl-clutching fraus: for example, something along the lines of while sheltered suburbian girls may cry and faint at things like cat-calling, black or Latina or Irish or Italian working class girls will just whistle back. They are stronger and more sophisticated. Which is true. Rich kids are so out of touch, with everything, but especially out of touch with the non-rich.
On Bill Maher's old show in the 90s (find it on YouTube) Paglia said working class girls knew that if you went home drunk with a guy from a bar, that was essentially consent. Today they would jail her for thinking that, never mind expressing it. I think times have changed and America like Times Square has been Disneyfied. Few would argue by that. But what's the cost?
You have to understand that Paglia looks at the longer view of history, the larger tapestry. Look at Big History, a new field that's filling the vacuum left by the absence of a true liberal arts education. It's amazing. Let's not think small. Paglia looks at culture and she looks at it from a broad perspective and she connects dots. Often in an acerbic and politically incorrect style. What's not to like?
She's a good complement to Hitchins. They're both erudite, sharp, funny, and principled. (Which is probably why they're both liberals who've riled regressive lefties.) I think Paglia could have been as big a public persona as Hitch had she not been acerbic and politically incorrect while talking frankly about sex at a time when not many people were doing it.
Today she has interesting things to say about big history, modern dogma including feminism, and how atheists and liberals can learn a lot from religion. I hope she comes out with a new book. Yes, she's occasionally said crazy things. Have you ever heard her talk? She speaks a thousand words a minute. But she's always interesting regardless whether she offends you or not.
I took a look at some of her biggest so-called gaffes, since these days people just throw terms like homophobic and racist and sexist around without evidence when often they don't remotely apply, knowing most people won't bother looking anything up.
"In the Eighties and early Nineties, displaced anxiety over the horror of AIDS turned gay activists into rampaging nihilists and monomaniacs, who dishonestly blamed the disease on the government...AIDS did not appear out of nowhere. It was a direct result of the sexual revolution, which my generation unleashed with the best of intentions, but whose worst effects were to be suffered primarily by gay men. In the West, despite much propaganda to the contrary. AIDS is a gay disease and will remain one for the foreseeable future."
That's not so bad and I don't think so wrong. Except for the "dishonestly" blaming the government part. More like taking them to task for not acting. Is it a gay disease? Of course not. But in the West, at the time the above was written, 1994, it largely was a gay problem and it largely still is. According to the CDC: "Although MSM (men who have sex with men) represent about 4% of the male population in the United States, in 2010, MSM accounted for 78% of new HIV infections among males and 63% of all new infections. MSM accounted for 54% of all people living with HIV infection in 2011, the most recent year these data are available."
(Who else always sees Married Straight Male when they see MSM?)
Paglia also said that post-Stonewall discussion about homosexuality became too polarized. You were either pro- or anti-gay. Sound familiar? Today you're either pro- or anti-trans. You're either pro- or anti-Islam. Shit, you're either pro- or anti-Israel. These days everything's a zero-sum game. Look at what happened with Alice Dreger and other sex researchers who ran afoul of trans activists.