Katy Perry & Taylor Swift are killing feminism, according to Camille Paglia

Katy Perry

Camille Paglia has stepped away from her ivory tower more and more in recent days by focusing a bit more on pop culture iconography. A few years ago, she took aim at Lady Gaga for not being sexy enough and, instead, coming off “like a gangly marionette or plasticised android” that is “clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism.” I don’t think these criticisms had much effect on Gaga, who — as annoying as she can be in a famewhore sense and when it comes to her bizarre claims of “art” — doesn’t seem to be striving for sexiness at all. Oddly enough for a feminist, Paglia seems to only care about how erotic a pop star is with very little regard anything else an artist is putting out there in terms of how they live their life off the stage. Even if Gaga’s messages are often self serving, they do have a positive effect on her fans. She’s not all bad, and she’s especially not as bad as Paglia would have us believe.

Now Paglia is taking aim at Taylor Swift and Katy Perry for the Suzy Creamcheese images they project through their recorded music and live performances. Katy Perry sort of deserves the criticism after publicly denouncing feminism last week, but Paglia makes no mention of Katy’s awkward speech, so I am assuming that she either wrote this before Katy inserted foot into overglossed mouth, or she doesn’t care what comes out of Katy’s mouth. Instead, Camille is focusing on the good-girl images of both Swift and Perry as an example of what’s gone wrong with feminism or, if you will, the death of feminism. While I can’t argue much about what Paglia says about Katy’s “good-girl mask over trash and flash,” and Swift’s glitter ponies are generally annoying, there’s a certain hypocrisy that comes into play when Paglia goes on to mention how Rihanna is a stunning example of eroticism and feminism. Say what? Here are the most relevant portion of Paglia’s essay from the Hollywood Reporter:

Taylor Swift

It’s staggering that [in 2011] 22-year-old Taylor Swift earned $57 million and Katy Perry $45 million. How is it possible that such monumental fortunes could be accumulated by performers whose songs have barely escaped the hackneyed teenybopper genre? But more important, what do the rise and triumph of Swift and Perry tell us about the current image of women in entertainment?

Despite the passage of time since second-wave feminism erupted in the late 1960s, we’ve somehow been thrown back to the demure girly-girl days of the white-bread 1950s. It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest. Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee formed the national template — that trinity of blond oppressors!

As if flashed forward by some terrifying time machine, there’s Taylor Swift, America’s latest sweetheart, beaming beatifically in all her winsome 1950s glory from the cover of Parade magazine in the Thanksgiving weekend newspapers. In TV interviews, Swift affects a “golly, gee whiz” persona of cultivated blandness and self-deprecation, which is completely at odds with her shrewd glam dress sense. Indeed, without her mannequin posturing at industry events, it’s doubtful that Swift could have attained her high profile.

Beyond that, Swift has a monotonous vocal style, pitched in a characterless keening soprano and tarted up with snarky spin that is evidently taken for hip by vast multitudes of impressionable young women worldwide. Her themes are mainly complaints about boyfriends, faceless louts who blur in her mind as well as ours. Swift’s meandering, snippy songs make 16-year-old Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit “It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry if I Want to)” seem like a towering masterpiece of social commentary, psychological drama and shapely concision.

Although now 28, Katy Perry is still stuck in wide-eyed teen-queen mode. Especially after the train wreck of her brief marriage to epicene roue Russell Brand, her dazzling smiles are starting to look as artificial as those of the aging, hard-bitten Joan Crawford. Perry’s prolific hit songs, saturating mainstream radio, hammer and yammer mercilessly. She’s like a manic cyborg cheerleader, obliviously whooping it up while her team gets pounded into the mud.

Most striking about Perry, however, is the yawning chasm between her fresh, flawless 1950s girliness, bedecked in cartoonish floral colors, and the overt raunch of her lyrics, with their dissipated party scenes. Perry’s enormous commercial success actually reflects the tensions and anxieties that are afflicting her base audience: nice white girls from comfortable bourgeois homes. The sexual revolution launched by my baby-boom generation has been a mixed blessing for those who came after us. Katy Perry’s schizophrenia — good-girl mask over trash and flash — is a symptom of what has gone wrong.

Authentic sizzling eroticism does appear among the strata of high-earning female celebrities. Rihanna, who earned $53 million last year, was born and raised on Barbados, and her music — even with its chilly overuse of Auto-Tune — has an elemental erotic intensity, a sensuality inspired by the beauty of the Caribbean sun and sea. The stylish Rihanna’s enigmatic dominatrix pose has thrown some critics off. Anyone who follows tabloids like the Daily Mail online, however, has vicariously enjoyed Rihanna’s indolent vacations, where she lustily imbibes, gambols in the waves and lolls with friends of all available genders. She is the pleasure principle incarnate.

The insipid, bleached-out personas of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry cannot be blamed on some eternal law of “bubblegum” music. Connie Francis, with her powerhouse blend of country music and operatic Italian belting, was between 19 and 21 when she made her mammoth hits like “Lipstick on Your Collar” and “Stupid Cupid.” Middle-class white girls will never escape the cookie-cutter tyranny of their airless gh*ttos until the entertainment industry looks into its soul and starts giving them powerful models of mature womanliness.

[From Hollywood Reporter]

Soooo. There’s a lot here that’s worthy of discussion, but why on earth does Paglia find Rihanna to be a stellar example of feminism today? I mean, she’s obviously a fan of RiRi’s boozed-up vacation photos posted to various social media networks. Presumably, Paglia also approves of Rihanna screaming “Don’t you know who I am?” while security threatens to eject her out of nightclubs. Further, Paglia must also know that Rihanna has recently (or not-so recently) returned to the abusive relationship that she shares with Chris Brown. But sure, let’s just let all of that slide since Rihanna displays “authentic sizzling eroticism,” which is way more important to the survival of feminism than, say, refusing to reconcile with a very bad man who punches the hell out of you for sport. Paglia really doesn’t know what she’s talking about anymore, does she?



Katy Perry

Taylor Swift

Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet

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124 Responses to “Katy Perry & Taylor Swift are killing feminism, according to Camille Paglia”

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  1. Hannah says:

    “Paglia really doesn’t know what she’s talking about anymore, does she?”
    That’s what I thought when I first read it. It’s remarkably out-of-touch and ill-observed.
    I agree with everything you wrote, Bedhead. And as annoying as I find Taylor Swift, overall I find her to be a good role model. Even though her ‘interaction’ with the opposite gender is rather immature and, uh, weird, she does write her own songs. She wanted to do be a musician from an early age and she certainly worked hard at it and is very ambitious. That’s a good role model for young girls. You’re never gonna get anyone who does everything right (or can be all things to all people, obviously) but she’s still young.

    Plus, I doubt that TWO women can kill feminism single-handedly.

    • Tasha says:

      Work hard by what dating and slepping with guy’s for materials for her albums? All the while throwing pitty parties for herself about how it’s always the guys falt and never hers.

      Besides not showing her T and A she a bad role model.

      • TorontoE says:

        Well she writes her own material, and as evidenced by your post, writing obviously isn’t the easiest task.

      • flutters says:

        I don’t believe in celebrity role models.

        I think when she was starting out Taylor was an inspiration because she showed her very young female fans that they can pick up a guitar and write their own songs about their lives and that had value.

        But things have changed. I can’t see how somebody who’s sold out her personal life to the PR machine is a good inspiration for anybody. I also have a problem with Taylor’s perpetual victimhood when it comes to guys. There’s also the hypocrisy in how it was OK for her to write a song implying Camille Belle sleeps around but if anybody dares criticize her, he’s “mean.”

        Good for Taylor for being a powerful woman but, I think it’s pretty sad how she’s using that power lately.

      • anna says:

        Taylor does take responsibility for her own flaws in relationships, particularly on her new album Red. And why should we care how many people she sleeps with?!

      • Hakura says:

        @TorontoE – *SNORT* Buuuuurrrnnn… (Just couldn’t help myself).

        Personally, I find Taylor’s ‘cutesy crap’ theme to be very irritating. She always sounds like she’s writing from the perspective of a pre-teen, helpless & vulnerable, as opposed to a strong, intelligent, emotionally-in-control young woman.

    • Jules says:

      Swift is no role model. Her cutesy crap is all created by her handlers. She may write her crappy songs, so what? She’s 22 and was dating a high school JUNIOR? Sick.

  2. Emma says:

    I am not sure this Camille person should be paid any attention to..

    While Taylor’s stupid girly crap is fake and irritating, it is nice to see a wildly popular and successful pop star these days who does not need to flash her T and A at every performance. She can be covered to the knee but still sell records. Fancy that, Rihanna?

  3. Skipper says:

    So now women have to fit into some bad girl mold or else it’s insulting?

    • jacquie109 says:

      Thank you!! That is exactly what I was thinking. Is there something wrong with looking classy or girly? I much prefer girly to raunchy!

    • MerryHappy says:

      I know, right? Over sexualize ourselves and act, dare i say, trashy? A woman who goes back to an abuser and seems to dull the pain with drugs and alcohol sounds very 50′s to me. Rihanna is the last person on my role model list.
      I recently got into a fight with my gay best friends fem-nazi friend. She said that I was killing everything they–feminists–had worked for. Because i wear makeup. And dresses. And am vintage inspired, like Zooey Deschanel and Swifty. Feminism doesn’t get to choose what type of woman I am–it lets me choose what woman I want to be and express myself as a woman in a way I see fit. I can be interested in foreign policy, art, culture, technology, and philosophy all while wearing a dress and lipstick. I believe in the rights of other women, and respect them as women. I want to be treated equally. Is there much more to being a feminist these days? Is there a dress code/code of behavioral conduct I was not made aware of?

      • oivey says:

        Wholeheartedly agree! I’m a self proclaimed girly girly. I love makeup, nail polish, dresses and yep, I listen to Taylor Swift. lol. But what I wear does not make me any less of a feminist than what someone else wears.

        Also, I have to question why Taylor’s sexual behaviour has anything to do with feminism. Why can’t she sleep with a bunch of guys one after the other? If men do it, they’re awesome and have proven their manliness. If a woman does it, she’s a slut.

        To me, this is the problem with a lot of self proclaimed feminists, they have this tendency to act as though it’s about pulling down men, or making women more masculine etc. It’s about equality. Not about boys vs girls.

        If we we’re going to go down that road, why not go after women like Katie Price? If that’s not objectifying women and “killing feminism”…I don’t know what is.

      • Skipper says:

        Yes. Freedom to choose your path is what I understood to be the goal of feminism. Apparently I’m doing it wrong. If I have to devote my whole life to projecting a certain image, that’s not very liberating. Maybe this is where a lot of the pushback towards feminism is originating.

      • paranormalgirl says:


        Awesome post, MerryHappy.

      • MerryHappy says:

        This post just really resonated with me today. isn’t the tyranny of another woman as unjust as the tyranny of a male? The point of feminism is that we are real people, too. Not to be over infantilized, sexualized, or forced to be in a box someone said we should be in. We’re all different, and combat boots of Mary Janes, we choose them for ourselves. We can be feminine or masculine. No one gets to tell anyone–male or female–how to conduct themselves in their gender role.

      • Laura says:

        Rock on! I actually don’t ever wear makeup (I never even learned how to apply as a tomboy, hate the feeling of it on my skin, and am blessed with amazing ivory skin), but it bugs the crap out of me when ‘feminists’ tell women that they shouldn’t, or only do it for men. Women are empowered and entitled to do whatever makes them feel beautiful (short of bathing in virgin blood of course ;) ).

    • Kasey says:

      My thoughts almost exactly!
      @ Skipper, it seems that Pagloa sees “proper” feminism as pushing the limits for liberated and extreme raunchiness and oversexualization.

      @Merry “Feminism doesn’t get to choose what type of woman I am–it lets me choose what woman I want to be and express myself as a woman in a way I see fit.” As many issues that I have with feminism I always thought one virtue was a woman being free to express herself and identity however SHE wants. I guess Paglia sees it as expressing herself in the opposite of what she thinks men want and only in line with what she approves.

      @Oivey. This is it. feminism was supposed to bring equality not competition. The funny thing is with changing times feminists will have to acknowledge and accept that what they once pushed against is not so “normal” anymore and what they’ve strived for means a woman has freedom to be on equal footing with a man and/or embrace and identify herself in some or all (if she chooses) the ways she once thought were restrictive/conformist but today are just another option for women.

      This Paglia woman needs to chill and let these women be who/what they want to be. Who died and made her identity distributor?

    • Sapphire says:

      Camille has spent decades trying to convince any/everyone that she is the oracle of feminism. And she’s done her share of good ‘ol fameho-ing too. Yawn.

      I was irritated at Katy Perry-believe what you like, but acknowlege that your name on the royalty check is damn empowering.

  4. vvvoid says:

    I think it’s absurd to hold Rihanna up as an example of “feminism” considering her relationship with Chris Brown, but contrarians like Paglia could argue that her refusal to abandon that relationship despite public pressure and expectation are an indication of True Feminism. I don’t even know what an indication of True Feminism is anymore.
    However, I will say, Rihanna’s sexuality is authentic and undeniable, whereas Katy Perry’s sexuality in dress and performance is…ridiculous. She’s about as sexy as present day Madonna in her cheerleading outfit. Stupid. So perhaps it annoys Paglia to see someone who is just not naturally sexual and enticing try to affect the air of sex kitten because it suggests that she feels it is compulsory of her to do so, being that she’s a female celebrity?
    In other words, Rihanna is sexual by nature and brims with it without being contrived, while Katy is annoying and awkward and even with her breasts and curves seems like she’s trying to imitate a sexy woman, and doing it wrong, which means she’s striving for something unnatural to her in order to appeal to the masses, and of course since she’s female, it has to be sex appeal?
    Swift, I dunno. I think she is out of place in this article.

  5. Amelia says:

    She completely destroys her own argument by bringing up Rihanna.
    Oh yeah. Because returning to an abusive relationship is of course, a shining example for others to follow. Now, had she told Brown to f*ck off and pressed charges, then that would be a different matter.
    The problem with Swifty’s music (I’m not going to bother with Katy, I only know one song of hers) is that it seems to constantly reiterate that you are nothing without a boy/boys are the only things in life that matter.
    Similar to Twilight, all I’m getting from it is that your intrinsic self-worth is only measured by how much others value you.
    I’m just waiting for the day a Tween idol starts spreading the message that you matter because you are *you*, not because you’re boyfriend is so and so on the athletics team and the world is full of sparkles and rainbows.

  6. littlemissnaughty says:

    Mother of gawd.

    I don’t know who this woman is, I’m more familiar with European feminists but from what I understand, she’s one of the women who fought for the rights we enjoy today. I will always respect those women for what they did.
    Having said that …. Rihanna? Example of feminism? Her lyrics are horrifying, they’re of no better quality than Swifty’s or Perry’s. Rude Boy anyone? Ugh. And there’s a difference between “sizzling eroticism” and shaking your a** to sell records. And between “pleasure principle incarnate” and a troubled young woman. I’m not even touching the boyfriend situation.

    I wish people would stop looking to entertainers in order to find role models, it’s never a good idea. You know what though? Swifty seems to inadvertently be the most feminist of the three. The girl does whatever she wants, dates whomever she wants without paying attention to the people who think she’s lost her mind (I’m one of them), she makes tons of money and she’s a very smart business woman. Or at least she knows how to surround herself with smart business people. None of that “aww shucks” bs comes out of her mouth by accident. She’s mentioned how much attention she pays to the way she dresses. Every single day. The girl might be boy crazy but she’s living the life. And now I’ve defended Swifty. Great.
    Rihanna? Well, I hope she’ll be fine. Perry? I … really don’t care.

    • Tasha says:

      “The girl does whatever she wants, dates whomever she wants without paying attention to the people who think she’s lost her mind (I’m one of them), she makes tons of money and she’s a very smart business woman. Or at least she knows how to surround herself with smart business people”

      You can say the same thing about the other two as well, both RiRi and Katy also can’t sing but are making tons of money because they have business people and they date who ever they won’t paying attention to the people who think they lost their mind. So your whole argument lose its credibility there.

      • littlemissnaughty says:

        I really had no opinion on Katy Perry until she denounced feminism. She’s either doing that whole “feminism is not sexy so I better stay away from it” routine or she’s an idiot who has no idea what feminism is. But for that fact alone, she really does not count as a feminist in my opinion.

        Rihanna does what she wants? The woman has massive issues, I really don’t think she knows what she wants. She definitely does not have a firm grip on reality. She went back to the guy who beat her up and you’re saying she’s the same as Swifty?
        I said Swifty is the most feminist “of the three”. That doesn’t mean I would call her the next Gloria Steinem. But until she says or does something as dumb as Perry or as unhealthy as Rihanna, I’ll stick with “most feminist of the three”.

    • Emily says:

      Exactly. In my opinion, Taylor Swift is easily the most “empowered” out of the three.

      I don’t even buy Swifty’s supposed “romantic neediness” for one second. She only ever seems to have “relationships” whenever she has an album coming out, and at least half the guys she’s dated are gay. In my opinion, she’s calculating, very career-focused, and doesn’t have time for a real relationship. And despite the persona that she puts on, I suspect that she’s probably surprisingly okay with that.

  7. poppy says:

    what else they are killing:

  8. shelley says:

    This Paglia woman is cray and needs to sit down. Who is she anyway? Rihanna is as sexy as an sti. She is too try hard and her blatant lack of self esteem is off-putting.
    Agreed that Swift is annoying but she has more talent in her perfect red lips than Perry and Rihanna put together.

  9. Justyna says:

    It’s hard to even add something as I don’t think I follow this woman’s logic. Shouldn’t feminism be all about being able to make our own choices, being heard and treated like a man would be under the same circumstances and not about being as erotic as possible? Rihanna made a desicion to sexualise herself, pose naked all the time, wear very tiny little clothes onstage and to date a skechiest guy she could find, while Swift chose to wear her grandma’s dresses, date highschoolers and pose as an innocent little princess. Perry somehow combined both. Those were their choices to make, they all earn big money and have careers that wouldn’t be possible pre-feminism, so what are the criteria to judge which one is more feminist than the other? We can discuss their questionable skills, but their contribution to the feminist movement? Like I said, I don’t get it.

    • Diana says:

      My thoughts exactly. Rihana borders on trashy more than sexy but it’s ultmately her choice to wear what little close she likes. The same goes for the other two, whether they cover a lot or too little. If one of these women were saying things against other women’s right to choose how to live and all that implicates, then I would agree they are killing feminism. As it is not the case, Paglia just needs to shut up.

  10. Riana says:

    Sigh, this is depressing.

    Feminism is about the strength and upliftment of women, it shouldn’t be “I don’t like what you do so you’re out of the feminist club. You have to say what I want said and do what I want done.” I’d like to believe even disagreeing with someone (as I so often do with Rihanna) you don’t get to call them slut, whore and embrace misogyny and ignorance.

    I don’t always agree with Swift or Perry but whatever their motivation I don’t like seeing people diss them for being too girly or liking glitter because it suggests there’s something wrong with that. Immaturity, cruelty, working against feminism – all that is wrong. But glitters and ponies? That’s not the end of the world.

    • j.eyre says:

      And to add to your point, what makes it further depressing is denouncing someone on behalf of feminism or kicking them out of the club as you suggest, make people like Katy Perry and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy not want to be in the club in the first place.

      I just feel like the discussion of feminism got so derailed – on all sides.

    • Kate says:

      Actively alienating comments like Paglia’s are the reason so many women shy away from calling themselves feminists. In pop music, you pays your money and you takes your choice : fine if you don’t like Katy Perry or Taylor Swift, and prefer Rihanna … but imagine this same argument applied to male counterparts, suggesting their existence is an abomination. There’s a place for all sorts of entertainers, with different aesthetics. Expressions of sexuality drawn from pornography don’t represent everyone’s taste.

  11. Annie says:

    I think she’s just annoyed with the 50′s pin up look that Katy has, and the 50′s goody goody humble nice girl image of Swift which bring her bad memories from her youth back when women had to be one or the other: a Marilyn or a Jackie, and nothing else. Both are men pleasing ideals: the pin up or the housewife. And she likes Rihanna because her sexuality is her own, it’s aggressive, it’s not man pleasing, she can be dominating onstage and it’s more independent and real. This is what women fought for during the sexual revolution. This is what she’s discussing here. And while yes, Rihanna is back with Chris, this is her personal life. the point of this essay is how the >>industry<< is bringing back man pleasing sexual role models that are inspired on what men wanted to see in the 50's: empty, bubbly, sugary women with robotic stepfordy personalities singing about banalities and stuck in a slutty teenage phase even if these are women in their twenties, sending a bad message to white women in the middle class. I think she's totally right here. Katy and Swift are everything that was wrong with that era. The way men wanted women to be was messed up. This is why a sexual revolution happened. Why is this making a comeback? And Kaiser: great job picking the pictures you did. They illustrate this point perfectly!

    • Flim says:

      You make interesting points here. But doesn’t Rhianna’s “bad girl,” rebellious image another known character, just as the housewife and pin-up you describe? Pop music is based on attraction and image; it sells caricature, not substance. And it’s young women who buy the records and validate the act; they’re the ones driving the sales.

    • Chordy says:

      ITA that Paglia was discussing industry standards, and not their personal lives, but I have to agree with Flim that Rihanna seems to being playing another character to me. Her in your face sexuality still plays into male pleasing (ooo, I’m the bad girl you can take to strip clubs). There are far better examples in pop music of women taking ownership of their sexuality, ie: Ke$ha or Pink. You get even more of it with the work of women like Kathleen Hanna & JD Sampson, although they’re decidedly less mainstream.

    • Lee says:

      you do make some very valid points. I think my issue with these quotes and what I see as the out-dated feminist positions it takes is that while the imagery may harken back to the 1950s, the context has changed. Third wave feminism exists for a reason; old school feminism had some rather problematic views because it was propagated by a select group of women who were primarily white and upper-middle class. They may have been oppressed due to their gender, but they also had many privileges that informed their opinions. With the third wave movement, we started to recognize that being a housewife or wearing a hijab wasn’t inherently anti-feminist. If a woman chooses a given lifestyle for herself freely, we have no right to tell her that she’s being the wrong kind of woman.

      I think I’d be far more convinced by Paglia’s argument if she focused it on the comments both Katy and Taylor have made recently about their lack of appreciation for feminism. But instead, she is distilling their entire personas down to fit an antiquated idea of women’s roles and fetishizing Rihanna’s cultural background as proof of a female sexuality that better jives with her idea of feminism. It seems to me that her arguments are more detrimental to feminism than any of these pop stars.

      • BeesKnees says:

        Thank you Lee!! I decided to stay at home when my daughter was born and I am still home 18 months later. I had enough money saved and my husband has a great job so I decided that I wanted to make the sacrifice. I don’t like being labeled anti-feminist for my choice.

    • Diana says:

      Also, one could argue Rihana is one of those man-pleasing sexual role models only for the contemporary man and that would be totally true.

  12. ella says:

    Where does she say Rihanna is a great example of feminism?! Did I miss something? I think she’s only talking about Rihanna’s eroticism in contrast to the other ladies bubblegum pop image. She’s not calling Rihanna a feminist hero in any other sense.

  13. Emily says:

    Urgh. This garbage is exactly why fewer and fewer girls are willing to describe themselves as “feminists”.

  14. elceibeno08 says:

    This is by far my favorite celebrity gossip website. The writers here sound very educated and well-informed. The stuff I read here is equivalent of reading a college paper. I sort of feel that Camille Paglia is becoming a cranky old woman and she is over dissecting the new wave of pop music artists.

  15. stellalovejoydiver says:

    Camille Paglia is an idiot. Rihanna as an example of feminism, haha.

  16. mln76 says:

    Paglia is a hack not a feminist….I don’t think she is wrong about Swift or Perry though. As for Rihanna as Jezebel pointed out she has a bit of fetish-racism she’s just objectifying Rihanna according to very dated stereotypes and then calling it ‘feminism’.

    • mimifarrow says:

      Omg THIS^^ a hundred times over. Paglia drives me ’round the effn bend with her bullsh-t.

      • Really? says:

        Wow, i consider myself pretty fly for a white gal, but i do not at ALL get your gist here on “racism fetish???” Sooooo weird. Of course, you’re entitled to your opionion and interpretation, so i won’t waste my carpal energy trying to shoot you down.

        For my take, when she mentions Rihanna, i think back to the glory days of Tina Turner. She, too, shook her ass in a sexy sequin micro-mini, singing Proud Mary, for example. She, like Ri, took massive sh!t from Ike, before she finally kicked him to the curb. If Chris is anything like Ike, i’m sure Ri will do the same. She just needs to be reminded, like she needs another knock in the head. Sad, but true.

        Before y’all go psycho on my a$$, i am NOT comparing Tina to Rihanna, but there are similarities there, nonetheless, Rihanna is just the x-rated version, like most of our young female counterparts currently parading and exposing themselves at much more shocking levels.

        I was surprised that Camille didn’t mention Madanna’s freaking cheerleading uniform. While Katy and Swifty annoy me, Madunno just downright irritates me, providing much more fodder for the feminist crap shoot in my opinion.

  17. pfeiffer87 says:

    Surely someone like P!nk would be a better example of feminism within the music industry? Though why we’re looking for such examples within the entertainment world is bewildering to me.

  18. Talie says:

    I think her point is that Rihanna isn’t hiding behind a persona…she really is that much of a mess. Whereas Katy and Taylor hide their true selves to sell more records.

  19. Flim says:

    She’s not suggesting who is or isn’t a good role model; she’s bemoaning the “current image of women in entertainment.” And she has chosen an odd and impossibly small collection of women by which to judge. A full study of these three women could make for an analysis of gender in current pop music, but that is hardly a strong gauge of feminism’s relevance to our society or entertainment as a whole.

  20. Flim says:

    She’s not suggesting who is or isn’t a good role model; she’s bemoaning the “current image of women in entertainment.” And she has chosen an odd and impossibly small collection of women by which to judge. A full study of these three women could make for an analysis of gender in current pop music, but that is hardly a strong gauge of feminism’s relevance to our society or entertainment as a whole

  21. Micki says:

    I can’t argue with Paglia’s points concidering Swift’s and Perry’s music but find her conclusions wanting.
    Why not taking Adele as a role-model?
    Why Rihanna? Is that a sort of paid PR?

    • Ann says:

      Adele is a great example. She has undeniable talent and hasn’t had to resort to a cheerleader persona.

      I can’t believe she would mention Rihanna. Her horrible taste in men aside, she totally flaunts her sexuality. And sings about how whips and chains excite her. Sure, a girl who seems to like being abused and whipped is a GREAT example of feminism. Please.

    • LAK says:

      I had to scratch my head about this one but then i thought about the era of Camilla Paglia. When she was at full powers so to speak.

      Most women then couldn’t talk about sexuality let alone prance around on a stage in a bra and knickers.

      That’s the era of Madonna and Camilla. Prancing around a stage and daring you to make something of it. Which is where i think Rihanna is being given as an example.

      Clearly Camilla hasn’t taken into consideration the other aspects of Rihanna’s life that are so negative that they diminish her argument.

      With regards Swift and Perry, again you look at it through the prism of manufactured bubblegum pop of the 60s/70s where all these girl groups had to project a sweet, lovely, good girl image or were molded to fit a particular market. That’s where i think Camilla’s objection lies. Again, i will say that she hasn’t taken into consideration other aspects of the three women which makes all of them inathentic because Rihanna is as manufactured as Perry and Swift.

      And yet on the other hand, it really was shocking and a dare to be a woman so publicly free with your sexuality and sensuality and presumably instead of projecting a butter wouldn’t melt image at all costs.

      Although, if she is holding up Rihana as a ‘bad girl’ then rest of Rihana’s life actually goes with that image because her life off and on stage is ‘bad’ and she dares you to make something of it whereas Swifty and Perry are sweet/cute/demure on stage and we all know their off stage life is less than perfect and very messy. So in many wasy Rihanna is authentic whereas the other two are not.

      BTW: i complete agree that Lady Gaga is sexless. I totally see that what she is doing is performance art which renders her and it completely sexless. She could be standing naked and i still would not see anything sexual in her art.

  22. Louise says:

    Perry, swift, rhianna etc all cult puppets. Got no time for any of them. None of them are their own boss, they all sold their souls. They try to hide it, but it’s true.

  23. NerdMomma says:

    I don’t know who Paglia is, and expected to disagree with her based on the headline, but ended up totally getting where she’s coming from. She’s not holding up Rihanna as a feminist. What she’s saying is that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift’s public personas are encouraging girls to get back into a box from which feminists fought to break free. We don’t want to have to be wide-eyed cheerful man-pleasers. I do agree with @pfeiffer87 that Pink would have been a better example than Rihanna, but her point is that in terms of our sexuality, we should be free and equal to men.

    • Red32 says:

      Rihanna goes back to the douchebag who beat her and was screwing around with Karrueche and Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are the hopeless man-pleasers? At least they are able to pull the trigger on bad relationships.

      Like someone else said, now I’ve just defended Katy & Swifty. Ugh lol

      • NerdMomma says:

        Okay, but she’s not talking about their personal lives or their personal decisions. She’s talking about their music and style of dress and the persona that they are intentionally putting out there. Believe me, I agree wholeheartedly that overall Katy Perry and Taylor Swift are much better role models than Rihanna, if that’s what you’re looking for. All I am saying is that I get Paglia’s point, which she chose to make in an unfortunate way by bringing Rihanna into it.

      • Riana says:

        Except Rihanna multiple times has included Chris in her business and music.

        There are multiple references to him in both lyrics and videos, not to mention including him on two of her songs AFTER the abuse incident. There is the constant mention of him on Twitter and entangling her brand with his.

        I’d say Rihanna is much more lethal to that message to female viewers than Katy or Taylor ever could be. Katy is quite obviously cartoonish about her persona and changes it at will while Taylor likely believes the majority of what she puts out, neither one however actively encourages girls to enmesh men in their lives to the detriment of their mental or physical health hurting their own business.

    • Cirque28 says:

      Yes! Thank you for this. Paglia’s point is larger and far more nuanced than Rihanna = good feminist. Taylor = bad feminist.

  24. Sarah says:

    Anyone who has dated or slept with John Mayer should lose all rights to the phrase feminist

  25. anna says:

    Paglia is nothing but a reactionary blowhard and her argument here is completely illogical. Taylor Swift can’t be self-deprecating because she wears glamorous clothes?!

    Feminism is not an exclusive club for bad-ass girls. ‘Nice’, demure girls have as much right to be there as anyone else. Prude-shaming is as bad as slut-shaming.

  26. Faye says:

    I’m not really a fan, musically speaking, of any of these women, but Paglia is a joke. They’re all doing the same thing, really — projecting a certain image and leveraging it to make money. And they’ve all established successful careers and become financially self-sufficent in doing so, which is a sort of feminist triumph.

    But holding up Rihanna –Rihanna?– as a more successful feminist icon because of her sexed-out look and act? Really? Rihanna, who can’t seem to focus on anything in her music *but* sex and violence? Most importantly, Rihanna, who is making a very public stand on reuniting with her violently abusive ex? She’s supposed to be a shining example of feminism? Oookkaaay . . .

    Also, does anybody else find her comments on Rihanna kind of racist? This was before my time, but didn’t the press and popular culture used to portray Carribbean and African-American women as inherently, biologically more sexual than white women? And I don’t think that was meant as a compliment. I’m a first-generation American white woman, so maybe I shouldn’t comment on it, but I’d be pretty offended by something like that.

    • jinni says:

      “Also, does anybody else find her comments on Rihanna kind of racist? This was before my time, but didn’t the press and popular culture used to portray Carribbean and African-American women as inherently, biologically more sexual than white women? And I don’t think that was meant as a compliment. I’m a first-generation American white woman, so maybe I shouldn’t comment on it, but I’d be pretty offended by something like that.”

      Not just the media, the idea that black women are inherently more sexual was created during slavery. It was used than and continued to be used well after slavery as a reason why white men forcing themselves on black women was acceptable. This created the belief that black women couldn’t be raped.

  27. MrsB says:

    I find it insulting that Paglia is trying to inform us all what the picture of feminism should look like. Everybody is different,some girls only dream is to grow up, get married and have babies; and that’s okay. There will be some girls who dream of bigger and better things, and that is also okay. That’s what makes the world interesting, that we’re all different right?

    • aims says:

      Im glad you said this. My idea of feminism is about choice. We as women have options now like never before. If someone wants to marry and do the stay at home thing,awsome! If someone wants to never to marry and have kids, awsome! We all have our own paths and, we should all be given the chance to follow it.

  28. snappyfish says:

    i stopped listening to camille paglia when she wrote that “if civilization had been left to women we would still be living in grass huts.”

  29. WickedSteppMom says:

    Here’s my .02, for whatever it’s worth: Katy Perry annoys the crap out of me, and I hadn’t even heard about her denouncing feminism. My daughter will be 8 next month & ADORES Taylor Swift…Last week, I signed up on the Taylor Swift website so I can get the presale code for the concert tickets when they go on sale tomorrow, because even though *I* think she’s kinda’ nutbar, I’ll take her for someone for my daughter to admire over Rihanna (dress, attitude & example of how you should be treated in a relationship) ANY day of the week!

  30. Anne says:

    What is so amazing to me is that I read these posts by people who so obviously did not read the article, or Paglia’s words, very carefully. Frankly, I think Paglia’s writing is a bit too subtle for most posters here.
    First of all, what she’s talking about is these performers IMAGES and their actual MUSIC, and how that impacts feminism. Not whether this or that one is a smarter, better (whatever) person. She is also not saying that Rihanna as a person is a “good feminist role model” (geez, read the actual article!!), she is saying that the image Rihanna projects is a more dynamic-and modern-female sexuality than someone like Taylor Swift who – Paglia thinks-is more of a cliched and outdated image of what women are.
    If you disagree with Paglia’s opinions, at least do it with some intelligence, starting by figuring out what she is actually saying.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      And you are the only intelligent one here, able to figure out what she is saying? Well then we’re so very glad you decided to educate us.
      Nobody here honestly thinks they know these women, we’re all doing exactly what you said Paglia is doing. Judging their images. I wasn’t aware that this needed to be mentioned explicitly.

      As for their images impacting feminism, well that really is a matter of opinion and I’ve stated mine already. The music? How in the world is their music impacting feminism at all??? Who even really listens to the lyrics? They all sing about the same sh*t, we’ve heard a million versions of these songs. I think Paglia just hates 21st-century-pop-music because this music is no worse than pop music was 25 years ago.
      And Rihanna … well, of course she does not call her a feminist role model. But she implies, strongly, that Rihanna is somehow a free spirit, a woman who is not afraid to “throw some critics off” by posing as a stylish dominatrix I guess. The entire paragraph on Rihanna reads like a round of applause, while “insipid and bleached-out” Swifty and Perry are clearly throwing us back to the 50′s. Which is not good, apparently. Because “Middle-class white girls will never escape the cookie-cutter tyranny of their airless gh*ttos until the entertainment industry looks into its soul and starts giving them powerful models of mature womanliness.”

      So if she’s talking about Rihanna, Swifty, and Perry in connection to feminism, then applauds Rihanna and trashes the other two, I think we are back where most of us have been all along. She thinks sexy Riri is better for feminism than the bubblegum chicks.

      So, what exactly is your point?

    • Moore says:

      She isn’t just talking about their music she mentioned Rihanna’s vacation photos. And Rihanna’s relationship is part of her image and not purely private.

    • NerdMomma says:

      Sigh. I am with you Anne, I don’t think anyone is getting Paglia’s point. This could be a really interesting discussion but everyone is making it about something else, Rihanna’s dumb decisions. Again, if she had only used some other example, this conversation could be much different.

      • marie says:

        so.. in regards to Rhianna, let me ask you a question.. I get that she embraces her sexuality, she doesn’t hide it nor deny it but in a lot of her songs and interviews she talks about being dominated by a man, how does that fit into modern day feminism? while she admits to liking sex, her body and pleasure is still wrapped up in what her man can/will do for/to her..

      • NerdMomma says:

        It doesn’t. Rihanna was a horrible example and should never have been a part of this discussion. I’m not at all in agreement with that part of the essay, I’m just defending the larger point that Paglia was trying to make. Or at least wanting to focus on it as a point of discussion.

      • LAK says:

        @nerdmomma – i agree with all your points.

        However, after some thought i think Rihanna, bad personal decisions and all is a good illustration of Camilla’s point. Rihanna doesn”t hide her image. The bad decisions are all in service of her image. I don’t have to agree with it, but it illustrates an attitude that dares us to stand in judgement over her decisions because we don’t accept them or we think women should behave in a particular way.

        The other women project a cookie cutter retro image that we thought we had burned with our bras [pun intended] back in the day. That image was about projecting a good girl image at all costs. Perry may be as little dressed as Rihanna, but her brand of ranch is still cookie cutter throwback.

        In terms of music, neither of these women is to my taste so i can’t argue for or against.

      • marie says:

        I don’t really disagree with you NerdMomma or LAK, I totally get what you guys are saying and Rhianna does what she wants, others be damned..it just annoys me that she was used as an example I think..

      • marie says:

        actually, what I wanted to say but couldn’t figure the words till now is that I think Paglia is doing a disservice to feminism by tying it all back to how Rhianna embraces her sexuality. I thought we were past that, I thought we wanted to move the glass ceiling using our minds not our bodies-that’s not feminism to me..

    • BangBang says:

      Thank you Annie!! I was going to blow a gasket reading all these comments but you got it. I agree 100%

  31. giddy says:

    …it’s interesting that Paglia still writes about feminism at all…she actually seems more humanist than feminist these days… natural evolution of humanities for thinkers… feminism is a rather limited stage…

  32. Madriani's Girl says:

    I think one point that Paglia completely missed is that Katy Perry dresses the way she does because she has no actual talent other than a banging body and a willingness to exploit it. Sadly, all of the ridiculous constumes in the world can’t hide the fact that she can’t sing.

  33. Hakura says:

    Call me crazy, but I just *can’t* see how a young woman who returns to her abuser, & surrounds her identity with *only* ‘sexual’ references, can be looked upon as a good example.. of anything. Some would argue that her comfort in being so openly sexual is to be admired. But it’s what’s *behind* said sexuality that needs to be addressed…

    She doesn’t project the ‘tough’ dominant, raunchy lyrics/clothing/body language/actions, because she’s a strong/independant woman being ‘herself’. She does it entirely for validation from others, to be seen as ‘cool’ & ‘sexy’. To be something other than herself purely because of what others will think.

    She’s made it obvious that her true self opinion is a very unpleasant, sad thing. This is the very reason she tolerates & even seeks out the abuse in her relationships.

  34. dcypher1 says:

    Ita with u bed. Paglias got this feminism thing twisted. I agree with paglia on owning ur sexuality but u dont have to act like a whore in the process. And u dont put with any crap from a man. And u dont have to act like a classless jerk. be a strong women is none of those things. I think camile should have picked kelly clarckson instead of riri.

  35. orange says:

    I thought the point of feminism was that women have the right to choose to be whatever, or whoever, they please? I certainly don’t make my life decisions wondering “Is this feminist enough?” because that’s stupid. Not every woman is going to want to be a bad girl or flaunt their T and A, some women want to be sweet, demure and make cookies and please their men. If it’s not YOUR choice, then cool but who the hell is this woman to judge? And more importantly, how does another person’s life choices affect you, especially something like this?

    I know Taylor is a fake packaged PR product (they all are) but it is refreshing to see a young woman acting like a lady and not posing naked, getting wasted in public and being a skank. I’d rather my daughter look up to someone like Taylor than someone like Rihanna. Because honestly, who wants their daughter to be promiscuous, do drugs and get naked on the cover of magazines?

    One more thing…why do women judge other women so harshly? Not just this Paglia person but women in general seem to love to cut down any woman that doesn’t conform to whatever the current expectations are. Why? The cattiness and spite of many women are what keeps me from wanting anything to do with feminism and “women’s issues” despite being one. It’s just not worth it!

    • Hakura says:

      @Orange – “One more thing…why do women judge other women so harshly?”

      I’ve often wondered this, myself. Nowhere do you see this truth played out more clearly than in HS. I can only assume it’s because of overwhelming insecurity, & our society’s absolute habit (throughout history) of convincing women that they needed to compete with eachother, in order to ‘get’ or ‘win’ a man, who is so obviously a prize to be fought for.

      Defeating someone else, or stepping on/insulting them, creates the appearance of making oneself appear ‘better’ somehow. It’s a throwback to the times when we women were second class citizens, property & pretty much ‘livestock’ in the eyes of society. It’s sickening that we’re all guilty of it, at some point.

      If anything, we women should be openly supportive of eachother, understanding of the things we all share & deal with every day.

      • Lulu says:

        Maybe Paglia was right about that one thing she said then. That if civilization had been left up to women.we WOULD all still be living in grass huts. Because we’re all too busy cutting each other down to be able to build something together. Too busy fighting over men. Again, Riri is Camilla’s to go girl!

      • Hakura says:

        Maybe wishful thinking, but if, like you say, civilization had been left to the women (from the very start), there’s a chance it wouldn’t have turned out that way…

        Society’s rules, a result of history, is what’s responsible for women being made to think they need to ‘compete’ with each other in the *first* place. That somehow *had* to be influenced by the fact that men called all the shots from the start.

  36. kay says:

    What makes you think rihanna is more promiscuous than taylor swift?

  37. Jay says:

    If she objects to conformism, she should not be suggesting what people should and shouldn’t be doing. Demanding one conform to a particular feminist ideal is still conformism. Proper sexual equality and liberation should permit individual choice without restrictions, and that includes choosing to be a bubblegum throwback. As long as there’s a variety out there, no particular style should be off limits.

  38. TheOneAndOnly says:

    Camilia Paglia is a well-known scholar her recent book was well reviewed in the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times; personally, I believe she’s wasting too much time on junk pop culture;
    I agree Jules with all you say about Shifty McVeneer – She isn’t a role model no celebrity is;Swifty is a talentless hack for tone deaf tweeners and soccer moms and she’s a fake corporate gimmick Lets see – Target, Walmart, Macy’s, Sony, Papa John and Covergirl all sponsors – If you can’t see she’s part of the corporate money machine,you’re blind. Talking about the fake little product in terms of feminism is absolutely silly.
    I agree littlemissnaughty who really listens to the lyrics mostly background noise at the club or workout – Now the Beatles or Jimi,etc. yes for their lyrics – Pop music 25 yrs. ago overall was better than today Go on youtube and watch some of the music vids that were popular.

    • Trillion says:

      I’ve read all Paglia’s books and used to be a big fan back in my college days, but she is stuck in the past. As a feminist pop culture fanatic, her heyday was the 60′s and 70′s when female musicians were lauded for talent alone. The MTV era shifted the focus. Would Joni Mitchell and Carole King be at the top of the heap by today’s standards? It doesn’t seem likely. There are tons of amazing and interesting female musicians out there. They’re just eclipsed by all the Perry’s, Swift’s etc. Those are the ones who are making money and getting attention.

      • TheOneAndOnly says:

        I’m in general agreement with you trillion, Ms. Paglia still has interesting things to say, you just have to skim past her slumming in today’s ephermeral vapid pop culture; RIght, Mtv the corporate takeover of music as Jules stated, and the general decline in live musicianship, actual songwriting and performing without gimmicks have all contributed; but there are still great female musicians out there ignored Esperanza Spalding for starters.

  39. skuddles says:

    Apparently Camille has never heard of Chris Brown…

  40. AphraB says:

    Ugh, just ugh. Other posters have articulated better than I can some of the problems here. But can we talk about this statement: “Rihanna,…. was born and raised on Barbados, and her music …has an elemental erotic intensity, a sensuality inspired by the beauty of the Caribbean sun and sea.”

    The fetishistic sexualisation of non-white women is just as anti-feminist as any of the other statements she has made in this excerpt, AND has the added element of racism. Feminism is about the advancement and validation of ALL women’s lives and experiences, not just the white women. (I say ideally because it still has a long way to go in practice.) Paglia’s inference that Caribbean women are more naturally overtly sexual therefore Rihanna’s image is less manufactured and hence more ‘feminist’ and ‘natural’ than either Perry’s or Swift’s pushes racial and sexual equality back to the 1950s, if not the 1850s.

    • vvvoid says:


      But I will say, Rihanna’s sexuality really DOES seem more authentic than many other pop stars, as does her vulnerability and her self-destruction. She’s raw. That’s what’s so frustrating for me. She’s not full of sh*t, she’s just so very maladjusted. She’s such a little Pisces.

  41. gabe says:

    Not a big fan of Paglia, Swift, Perry, or Rihanna, but I feel inclined to say that Paglia should just stay out of pop culture. It’s obviously something she looks down on and therefore cannot be bothered enough with to do some decent research. Pop culture has grown and evolved in ways she no longer understands. It’s not even that she doesn’t understand the dynamics of the culture, she doesn’t even really know who the players are. Please, someone hook her up with some wifi.

    • Trillion says:

      Paglia’s entire teaching and writing career is pretty much based on pop culture. That’s her bag. FWIW.

      • gabe says:

        Sorry, I should have been more clear. She should stay out of today’s pop culture if she’s not going to bother looking up what she’s talking about. The nature of pop culture has changed since she started writing about social paradigms–it’s gotten even cheaper, sleazier, more repetitive and yet so, so much bigger, and I think that’s why she just can’t be bothered to look into it, all of it, anymore. It’s actually more industry than culture now.

        From what she’s been saying in the last few years, it’s obvious that she’s looking at today’s pop culture from a rather superficial point of view (phoning it in, if you will, since she’s the expert right?), and that’s off-putting for someone who’s supposed to know about this kind of stuff. If she’s too old/tired to look into things now, should just stick to a more historical perspective.

  42. Issa says:

    Think Feminism is already dead if Swift and Perry can kill it. No way they’re killing Feminism. It’s a little more powerful force then being took down by whiny pop stars.

  43. Even saying that these women go against feminism/represent feminism is totally invalid. They are simply PRODUCTS created by a team of producers who tell them what to say, dress and sing. Rihanna is the worst of the three. Total mindless robot. Swifty maybe a little less because she writes her own music, but lately she’s been pulling the lovesick card a little too much to be considered credible.

  44. Holden says:

    God, those high wasted things have got to go.

  45. Riana says:

    On a different note, and since this has opened the discussion, can we stop saying ‘X’ is a product of producers/music tool?

    It goes along the same lines of Paglia’s ignorance about the current state of music. You make music to be heard, depending on the type of music your audience may differ greatly.

    What I’m noticing is people are disappointed in these girls for the way in which they are marketed and seem to think they have no say in it. Even Rihanna, the most controlled of all, has great say in the direction and perception of her career and herself.

    These women are products because they realize their music is a product. None of them had especially strong messages or unique styles of music (though Swift tends to do better of the three on songwriting alone) before, and the current state of the music world is the strongest survive. Katy, Rihanna, and Taylor have all managed to find a niche and passionately exploit it that serves them well on the money-making front.

    What’s admirable is women lately have been making consistently more money in the pop industry (let’s say the most accessible though not always most talented) than men for years. Women have made advancements so many of the men haven’t in terms of marketability and success (and it’s not because the men aren’t bein marketed towards the same audience with the same amount of money).

    I think it just tries once again to remove women from a position of power and control by claiming they’re only marketing tools when they’re truly not. Unless any of us getting up and going to work makes us a marketing tool.

  46. emma says:

    I’m guessing it mainly has to do with their stage acts. Katy Perry is sexy and in the same skintight outfits, but acting innocent & girly, while Rihanna acts like a badass. As for Taylor Swift, I guess it’s just her sweetsy pie attitude & outfits? Pagilia really likes badassery or some form of raunchiness, ie the Rolling Stones are better than the Beatles essay.
    Also, if she is aware of the Chris Brown sitch, which I’m sure she is, she probably thinks it’s just an expression of intense feeling & owning it. Going back to him even though R had the power & still has the power to not be with him?…blah blah blah

  47. oivey says:

    It should also be added, if it hasn’t already…Paglia routinely insults other feminists and their beliefs if they don’t suit hers. Ironic, non? She called Gloria Steinem “the Stalin of Feminism” and also compared her to Hitler.

  48. ashes says:

    I don’t like Perry and I don’t like Swift. Their music sucks. But hey, I really hate Paglia!


    “Paglia really doesn’t know what she’s talking about anymore, does she?”

    Did she ever?

  49. busy ramone says:

    I actually think the most offensive part of her article was where she used “aging” as a pejorative towards Joan Crawford and Katy Perry.

  50. Susanna fisher says:

    Camille Paglia is a long time outspoken out of touch feminist. She hates girly girls and it has nothing to do with feminism. I think it’s refreshing to have a young woman pop star who is not selling a pornographic vision of women. Here’s what Paglia said about Madonna in 1990:

    Madonna is the true feminist. She exposes the puritanism and suffocating ideology of American feminism, which is stuck in an adolescent whining mode. Madonna has taught young women to be fully female and sexual while still exercising total control over their lives. She shows girls how to be attractive, sensual, energetic, ambitious, aggressive and funny — all at the same time.

    She is as much as a star worshipper as anyone else.

  51. eiaboca says:

    The thing that kills me the most is that some women just are perky and bubbly and cheerful and modest. Feminism needs its radicals and its boundary breakers, but that doesn’t mean every woman has to be that way. And Rhianna’s music is as lifeless as any animatronic pop star’s is. Has Paglia ever listened to her singing live? She sounds like she’d rather be somewhere else, every single time.

  52. Tuxedo Cat says:

    Camille Paglia has always been a little bitch.

  53. Meanchick says:

    Nah. I’d be more worried about these dumb bitches who use surgery and
    makeup to look like Barbie dolls or Anime characters.

  54. deehunny says:

    Talk about holy foundation in that second pic

  55. muppet_barbershop says:

    I’m a 38-year-old who was successfully raised to be a male-positive (or, on bad days, at least male-tolerant) feminist. My mom and I have always been irritated by Paglia. And honestly, she’s never been in touch, and this is one of the less annoying things I’ve read from her in the past 15 to 20 years. She shouldn’t really be getting published at all, but this could be much, much worse.

    It looks to me as though she is presenting her personal views and taste about famous women’s self-expression as if it is academically important. To her credit, though, she never calls Rih a feminist; nor does she really say, in your excerpt, that Swifty and Katy Perry are bad for feminism. She says that Swifty and Katy are poor role models, and then she says Rih is more honest-appearing in her sexual self-presentation than they are, and doesn’t even claim Rih is a ~good~ role model.

    I happen to personally agree with these points, but Paglia completely ignores what to me should be the main concern of any modern feminist in this context: Do these performers who happen to be female possess artistic merit? Is it at least somewhat reasonable that they get airplay and visual time, for reasons ~other than~ their appearance? For all three, the answer is basically yes. Regardless of the auto-tune and the image kerfuffles, each of these women is a highly talented singer and stage performer. Swifty is even a songwriter to boot.

    As @Meanchick says 2 comments up: why doesn’t Paglia dissect the horrible ongoing fame of so many women with mass-marketable beautiful and/or bizarre appearance but ~no~ actual talent, if she wants to be useful?