There’s a reason the text version of Camille Paglia’s opening statement at the Munk Debate, “Resolved: Men Are Obsolete” garnered 10K likes on Facebook and received more than one thousand comments at Time.com: it hit a nerve.
It was a nerve that needed to be hit, and Paglia did it beautifully.
Not only was her choice of words fitting, she delivered them with the perfect amount of exasperation.
America must revisit its distorted view of gender equality, implored Paglia, and start being fair to the other half of the human race.
It’s time to stop pretending men are oppressors and to start recognizing the extraordinary contributions men have made to society.
Paglia says, “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 laborsaving appliances, invented by men and spread by capitalism, that liberated women from daily drudgery.”
She adds, “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.”
It is a truth rarely acknowledged: Men’s success in fields such as medicine, engineering and technology have done more to liberate women from the constraints of their former lives than a busload of feminists could ever hope to do.
In almost every era, it was a male invention that provided women with the means to an easier life.
- In the 1940s, it was the washing machine.
- In the 1960s, it was the birth control pill.
- In the 1990s, it was the Internet. Other inventions include electric lighting, the sewing machine, the frozen food process, and the automobile. Such inventions changed everything.
In the past, just getting through the day was a full-time job. Those days are now gone -- because of men.
It is their ingenuity and hard work that provided women, mothers in particular, with what they’ve always craved: time. It gave them the kind of cushy lives our grandmothers could only dream about.
If men are born Neanderthals, as the culture suggests, why would they create products that ease women’s burden? Only those who carry a grudge as a result of personal biases would ignore this fact and instead blame society for their woes.
Paglia understands this temptation. “I discovered through a long process of search as a dissident personality…I did not identify at all with my gender role as a child and blamed society completely for everything…But through the course of study and research, I began to understand that it’s actually Mother Nature who is, at this point in history, women’s greatest obstacle,” she tells interviewer Rudyard Griffiths about women’s interminable quest to “have it all.”
Unfortunately, most elite feminists, such as those who opposed Paglia at the Munk Debate, haven’t made this discovery, and they’re not likely to do so.
This group needs something to do with their “putative leftism,” or “implicit privileging of bourgeois values and culture,” notes Paglia.
The irony is that it’s because of the sweet life men created that these women even have time to ruminate over their place in the world -- and demonize the very group to whom they should be indebted.
“A peevish, grudging rancor against men has been one of the most unpalatable and unjust features of second- and third-wave feminism. Men’s faults, failings and foibles have been seized on and magnified into gruesome bills of indictment. Ideologue professors at our leading universities indoctrinate impressionable undergraduates with carelessly fact-free theories alleging that gender is an arbitrary, oppressive fiction with no basis in biology.”
It is precisely this propaganda -- the idea that biology isn’t real, and that men are prone to oppress women -- that’s caused women so much anguish.
“Is it any wonder,” asks Paglia, “that so many high-achieving young women find themselves in the early stages of their careers in chronic uncertainty or anxiety about their prospects for an emotionally fulfilled private life?”
Suzanne Venker is an author, a cultural critic. She tackles a range of subjects surrounding marriage and the family, including the infamous gender wars. Her most recent book is "The Two-Income Trap: Why Parents Are Choosing to Stay Home." To learn more about Suzanne, visit her website. Follow her on Twitter@SuzanneVenker.com.