Is Dalia Grybaukaite a feminist

Feminist Camille Paglia: "Merkel is an important role model for mature women"

Since her first book "Sexual Personae" from 1990, Camille Paglia has been contentious and her theses are controversial. The bestseller earned her the reputation of an "anti-feminist feminist" and led suffragette Gloria Steinem to believe: "When she describes herself as a feminist, it is as if a Nazi were to say he was not an anti-Semite."

In her current, now seventh book "Free Women, Free Men" (2017), Paglia argues that modern feminism would patronize and overprotect women and prevent them from taking responsibility for their sex life. The title is just as direct, radical, and thought-provoking as her previous publications.

Camille Paglia, professor at the University of Arts in Philadelphia, spoke to DW about three political actors who are currently the focus of the debates: Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Angela Merkel.

DW: In one of your essays for "Time" magazine, you described Angela Merkel as the "best role model for aspiring women politicians". How did you get there?

Merkel: Germany should no longer make itself dependent on the USA and Great Britain

Camille Paglia: What I value about Angela Merkel is her ability to handle her leadership decisions confidently while at the same time remaining natural and spontaneous, a real person with a rich private life. She gardens, cooks, and enjoys both sports and opera.

The contrast to Hillary Clinton is enormous. Hillary acts like a brooding Marie Antoinette, barricaded behind her wealth and the guards. She obviously has no hobbies and only a few interests beyond her pursuit of profit and power. Each of her performances is meticulously prepared, she is unable to improvise. That is why there was in principle no real press conference during the election campaign. Everything she says is thoroughly researched beforehand and tested in surveys by an army of creeps.

In return, I really like how Angela Merkel has no problem looking just as old as she is. She is relaxed, comfortable in her own skin without all those extravagant cosmetics, elaborate hairstyles and expensive designer clothes. I see Merkel not only as an important role model for women politicians, but also for mature women around the world in general.

It is important for me to emphasize that this is not about evaluating Angela Merkel's policy, where there are certainly points of criticism, such as questions about immigration. Nonetheless, for me Merkel is representative of a modern politician: indomitable and combative in conflicts, with simultaneous warmth, humor and relaxation with regard to normal everyday life.

Despite the current social climate, Hillary Clinton lost the US elections. Why didn't you succeed in winning over more women voters?

Hillary Clinton had many female supporters who wanted to elect the first woman president in US history. At the same time, however, she was also a horrific candidate with a lack of experience as a public figure. Although I admired her in the early nineties, when I also voted twice for her husband, Bill Clinton, I now realized that Hillary has many weaknesses.

Clinton is building her career on her husband's back, criticizes Paglia

Hillary's alleged feminism is a mirage. All of her prominence is built on the fact that she is in the shadow of a man - her husband, a very charming and talented politician. She even owed her previous job at a prestigious Arkansas law firm to her marriage to Bill, who was then governor of the state.

Although she always states that she wants to support women and children, she has not been responsible for such a program in any of her offices. Hillary got nothing as a senator and not really as foreign minister either - except botch up Benghazi, destabilize Libya and thereby worsen the North African refugee crisis. The corrupt influence on the Democrats led Senator Bernie Sanders to lose a nomination for the presidential election, whom I supported and voted in the primaries.

Although you are a member of the Democrats, you voted for Jill Stein and the Greens. What do you think of Trump?

I've had a very negative opinion of Donald Trump for decades. To me, he's been an art vandal since he destroyed the Art Deco relief of the former Bonwit Teller department store on Fifth Avenue in 1980, which even the Metropolitan Museum of Art had requested. The building from 1929 had to make way for the Trump Tower, Trump was in a hurry and demolished it without further ado.

When Trump started his presidential mission, I thought he was a barker, completely unprepared for US politics. In August 2015, I first saw myself forced to take him seriously when I saw the powerful and hilarious video online of Diamond and Silk, two African-American sisters from North Carolina who made a case for Trump. Suddenly I recognized Trump's populism with crystal clarity. That was also when I noticed the shift towards Trump in the US.

  • Women in power

    Angela Merkel

    The 62-year-old was elected Chancellor in 2005, making her the first woman to head a German government. She is now in her third term, and a fourth could follow in September 2017. Many consider Merkel to be the most powerful woman in the world. The US magazine "Time" chose the Protestant pastor's daughter, who grew up in the GDR, for "Person of the Year" in 2015.

  • Women in power

    Theresa May

    After Margaret Thatcher who ruled in the 1980s, May is the second British Prime Minister. The 60-year-old former Home Secretary moved into Downing Street in July this year, shortly after the British vote for Brexit. She is now faced with the difficult task of leading her country out of the European Union on the most favorable terms possible.

  • Women in power

    Tsai Ing-wen

    Tsai Ing-wen is the first woman to serve as President of Taiwan. With the inauguration of the new president, who is critical of China, in May of this year, Beijing froze relations with the island of Taiwan. According to Beijing's reading, the US's close ally will never be an independent state. Tsai Ing-wen has said she will "not bow to pressure" on the issue of sovereignty.

  • Women in power

    Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

    The now 78-year-old was not only the first democratically elected woman to head Liberia in 2006, but also the entire African continent. In 2011 she and two other activists from Liberia and Yemen received the Nobel Peace Prize "for her non-violent struggle for the security of women and for the rights of women to fully participate in peace-making work".

  • Women in power

    Dalia Grybauskaitė

    Dalia Grybauskaitėist is the first head of government in small Lithuania. Like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Grybauskaitė is often called the "Iron Lady". She has a black belt in karate, held several government offices and was EU budget commissioner before being elected President of Lithuania in 2009 and re-elected in 2014.

  • Women in power

    Erna Solberg

    Norway is also ruled by a woman, but for the second time after Gro Harlem Brundtland in the 1980s and 1990s. Erna Solberg, now 56, became Prime Minister in 2013. Because of her tough stance on asylum policy, she also has a nickname - that of the "Iron Erna".

  • Women in power

    Beata Szydło

    Poland's third woman to head the government has been in office for almost a year. In her first programmatic speech in front of parliament, the politician of the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) said that the government's priority was "to ensure the security of Poles and contribute to the security of the EU". The 54-year-old Szydło is a devout Catholic.

  • Women in power

    Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila

    The 49-year-old has been the first woman to head Namibia's government since 2015. As a teenager, Kuugongelwa-Amadhila went into exile in Sierra Leone, and later studied in the USA. In 1994 she returned to Namibia with a degree in economics and went into politics.

  • Women in power

    Michelle Bachelet

    Michelle Bachelet has been President of Chile since 2014. It is her second term in office. From 2006 to 2010 she was the country's first female president at the time. As a young woman, she was imprisoned and tortured during the dictatorship. Later, in exile in Australia and the GDR, she studied medicine.

  • Women in power

    Hasina Wajed

    In 2016, the incumbent Prime Minister of Bangladesh was also on the "Forbes" list of the 100 most powerful women in the world. "Sheikh Hasina Wajed rules the country with the eighth largest population in the world - 162 million people - and she has held this office since 2009," wrote Forbes about the 69-year-old, who has been in politics for decades.

  • Women in power

    Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

    The 49-year-old held various government offices and represented Croatia as ambassador to Washington before she was elected Croatia's first female president in 2015. Grabar-Kitarović was also the first woman to hold the post of Deputy Secretary General of NATO with responsibility for public diplomacy.

    Author: Dagmar Breitenbach


You have already said several times that Trump will win the 2020 elections. Why do you think that?

Feminist and social critic Camille Paglia

But both Democrats and the media ignore, underestimate and misinterpret the current problems in the country such as jobs, immigration and terrorism - topics that ultimately helped Trump win. Instead, they fanatically focus on Trump - not a good strategy for moving into the White House. Of course, it is also very possible that Trump will make a capital mistake that could lead to his impeachment. But right now, the Democrats are more preoccupied with sabotaging themselves.

After the surprise defeat, it is urgent time for the Democrats and the mass media to self-critically examine what exactly went wrong in the presidential election. How could they lose touch with the rest of the nation like that? If the Democrats are to win in 2020, they urgently need to work on it and on their strategy.

You describe yourself as a feminist - but you are also one of the most critical voices in the movement. Why?

I stand for equal opportunities and the removal of all political and professional barriers for women. However, I am against the quota. Everyone should be equal before the law. In my opinion, any protective measures lead to an infantilization of women.