Camille Paglia

She brandishes many badges: vocal anti-feminist feminist, lesbian libertarian, acrid critic, passionate pop-culturist, and a damn good educator. As an example of 69-year-old Camille Paglia’s wit and fearless skewering, consider this quote: “Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.” The Syracuse native attended Nottingham High School and then Binghamton University before continuing her education at Yale University, where she studied the classics. Throughout her career as a writer and professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Paglia’s Freud-friendly outlook on Western art and popular culture has made her a popular and controversial critic. Recent works include Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, Vamps & Tramps: New Essays, and Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars.

With titles as snappy as the content inside, these works showcase Paglia’s ability to comment on popular culture and its effects on society and art. Mouthy and brilliant, Paglia enjoys deflating cultural icons (especially those who share her gender) — calling out Hillary Clinton and her “blame men first” feminism and “restless bitterness” and T-Swift for being an “obnoxious Nazi Barbie” and for her role in #GirlSquad culture.

In an essay for The Hollywood Reporter, Paglia writes:
“Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video ‘Please Welcome to the Stage.’ Girl squads ought to be about mentoring, exchanging advice and experience and launching exciting and innovative joint projects. Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history. With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism, and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.”

— Megan Callahan