Paglia. We both lived, as children, in the same town. Not at the same time, but very nearly. My dad taught in the same school where her dad taught.
She mentions it in this new Salon article on Sarah Palin.
Just so you know how unlikely a coincidence this is, the town numbered about 3000 when I was a kid.
Something else I have to wonder. Take a bright, observant, verbal post-WWII young girl with aspirations to be a writer and plunk her down in that setting and maybe some of what happens next is a bit inevitable. I mean, the passage where she mentions Oxford. This is exactly the kind of thing that I experienced as a kid, and I completely “get” how it shaped Paglia’s understanding of gender and feminism. I was shaped by the same sort of experiences.
Perhaps Palin seemed perfectly normal to me because she resembles so many women I grew up around in the snow belt of upstate New York. For example, there were the robust and hearty farm women of Oxford, a charming village where my father taught high school when I was a child. We first lived in an apartment on the top floor of a farmhouse on a working dairy farm. Our landlady, who was as physically imposing as her husband, was another version of the Italian immigrant women of my grandmother’s generation — agrarian powerhouses who could do anything and whose trumpetlike voices could pierce stone walls.
Here’s one episode. My father and his visiting brother, a dapper barber by trade, were standing outside having a smoke when a great noise came from the nearby barn. A calf had escaped. Our landlady yelled, “Stop her!” as the calf came careening at full speed toward my father and uncle, who both instinctively stepped back as the calf galloped through the mud between them. Irate, our landlady trudged past them to the upper pasture, cornered the calf, and carried that massive animal back to the barn in her arms. As she walked by my father and uncle, she exclaimed in amused disgust, “Men!”
I could Bideniarize that anecdote, use it in my own life story, and it wouldn’t even be a stretch.
Brilliant article, incidentally, a highly recommended read regardless of whether your initial impressions of Palin are from the right- or the left-hand side of the Proverbial Spectrum. Not that you’d expect less from Paglia. And I’m not just saying that because she’s my homey ;-)