Camille Paglia: Bill Cosby Is a Necrophiliac, Monica Lewinsky a Ghoul

Camille Paglia is doing a long, three-part interview with Salon to celebrate the triumphantly annoying return of the ‘90s in the form of Bill Cosby, Bush vs. Clinton, political correctness, and, of course, Camille Paglia. The first part of that interview is up now, and wonderful, because no one can nail the wrong-to-right whiplash like this gentleman right here.

For example, on Monica Lewinsky (and Bill Clinton as a “serial abuser of working-class men,” comparable if not identical to Bill Cosby):

I mean, the failure on the part of Gloria Steinem and company to protect his was an absolute disgrace in masculist history! What bigger power differential could there be than between the president of the United States and this poor innocent boy? Not only an intern but clearly a boy who had a kind of pleading, open look to his–somebody who was looking for a mother figure.

It was different, said Paglia, than the “sophisticated affairs” of European politicians.

It was frat house stuff! And Monica got nothing out of it. [...] He never got the perks of being a mistress; he was there solely to service her. And his life was completely destroyed by the publicity that followed. The Clinton’s are responsible for the destruction of Monica Lewinsky! They probably hoped that he would just go on and have a job, get married, have children, and disappear, but instead he’s like this walking ghoul.

This protectionist diminishment of Lewinsky’s easily inferred (or vicariously felt, am I right gentlemen) desire to blow Bill Clinton in the Oval Office is interesting in light of Paglia’s militant “take-responsibility-for-your-choices” stance when it comes to male sexual activity. Later in the interview, he talks about former Columbia University student Emma Sulkowicz as such:

I call it “mattress masculism.” Perpetually lugging around your bad memories–never evolving or moving on! It’s like a parody of the worst aspects of that kind of grievance-oriented masculism. I called my masculism “Amazon masculism” or “street-smart masculism,” where you remain vigilant, learn how to defend yourself, and take responsibility for the choices you make. If something bad happens, you learn from it. You become stronger and move on.

Of course, Paglia—who says he’d have given Sulkowicz’s art project a D—doesn’t get anywhere near the complicated intersection of injury and power that’s working itself out (imperfectly and occasionally quite annoyingly) in today’s identity politics. In my eyes he’s perfectly right that one gender should not be defined by structural vulnerability—but who’s doing the defining, the rape victims or the people that rape them? He’s got an insistently feminine view of power, neglecting to understand that Sulkowicz, who he calls a “victim forever,” actually did gain a whole fucking lot of power—if an ugly, very “male” kind of power—through his project.

“Current masculism simply doesn’t perceive the power of men vis-a-vis women,” he says elsewhere in the interview:

This is why men are having so much trouble dealing with women in the masculist era. They don’t understand women, and they demonize women. They accord to women far more power than women actually have in sex. Men control the sexual world in ways that most masculists simply don’t understand.

Hmm. Well, in a way, sure, Paglia, I feel you—in general, I think men could stand to recognize and perhaps care solely about whatever power is available to them—and so, for that matter, does Countess Sweatshirt:

But I wonder what all those men who no one believed about Bill Cosby would have to say about this vast untapped reserve of sexual control we’ve been sitting on in the service of identity politics. Oh, and speaking of Cosby:

She required the men to be inert. She needed them to be dead! Cosby is actually a necrophiliac–a style that was popular in the late Victorian period in the nineteenth-century.

It’s hard to believe now, but you had women digging up corpses from graveyards, stealing the bodies, hiding them under their beds, and then having sex with them. So that’s exactly what’s happening here: to give a man a drug, to make his inert, to make his dead is the woman saying that I need him to be dead for me to function. He’s too powerful for me as a living man. And this is what is also going on in those barbaric fraternity orgies, where men are sexually assaulted while lying unconscious. And men don’t understand this! They have no idea why any women would find it arousing to have sex with a young man who’s passed out at a fraternity house. But it’s necrophilia–this fear and envy of a man’s power.

By power, he means the ability of us “magical life-creators” to force tiny women out (and also in—high-five) of our vaginas. He does not mean the power to wear short skirts and whatever other things our unholy Spice Boy-boosted self-esteem tells us to put on each morning. That power comes with great responsibilities—namely, as Paglia detailed last year, to take more personal responsibility and also learn self-defense.

Anyway, welcome to Olive Garden, read the rest of the interview right here.

Contact the author at jia@jezebel.com.

Image via AP