Camille Paglia, the outspoken and controversial humanities scholar, delivered a scathing criticism of the feminist movement and repeated her call for the abolition of Women's Studies during a speech at Wellesley College last night.
Paglia, who sprang to national prominence after the 1990 publication of her book Sexual Personae, spoke on academic reform for nearly two hours before an capacity audience of about 1,200.
Defining feminism as the quest for "full political and legal equality of women," Paglia argued that "the real revolution has been lost." She attacked the current "cashmere sweater and pearls--yuppie genteel" feminism.
Paglia called women's studies mediocre and scandalous. "It is absolutely necessary to mount a challenge against [it] for diluting feminism," she said.
She said American colleges should try to emulate the British educational system. "[British women are] witty and with it--because women's studies hasn't penetrated," she said. "They are getting the same education as men--they haven't asked for a dilution of their education."
In place of women's studies and gay studies, Paglia said she would advocate "Sex Studies," a field combining "men and women, gay and straight, with science as the keystone."
"The departmental structure of American colleges and universities must be really looked at," said Paglia. "The present system has driven out from it all the creative people."
As an alternative to excessive specialization, Paglia said she supports "world education," which would include a comprehensive study of world religions, archaeology and ancient history.
Paglia also criticized academic career tracking and the subsidized conference circuit, where "ambitious faculty cozy up to the powers that be."
She urged the vigorous defense of free speech throughout her talk. "One person can move mountains," Paglia said. "All it takes is one person to go out and be courageous and speak the truth."