Some people will find this book’s unavoidable repetition of anecdotes and slights irritating, akin to listening to someone tell you, at length, about “the weird dream they had last night.”
And I forgot to include my lines about Paglia being “Milo and Russell Kirk’s baby,” and didn’t have space for comments on her (misplaced) adoration of Katherine Hepburn and Amelia Earhart.
Which meant I also had to leave out “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”
I see some other things I’d like to tweak now, too.
Rather than serving to settle old scores, in the great tradition of all aging polemicists, Free Women, Free Men seems calibrated to shaking them awake.
And why not? Contra Sayre’s law, the stakes of these particular academic feuds were, in fact, the highest imaginable: The minds of college students—future parents, citizens, bosses, leaders—were being poisoned. Paglia clearly saw her role as that of stomach pump, and still does.
But the same clarion quality that means every fresh Paglia piece is Drudge-worthy news to this day makes reading a compendium like Free Women enervating rather than energizing. As the dates at the bottom of these pages remind us, her earliest acidic denunciations of political correctness, campus speech codes, and “rape culture” are almost thirty years old. Any real-world impact they had was clearly fleeting.