The American critic Camille Paglia is rapidly becoming my go to person for insights into the political malady that afflicts modern culture. Everything is heavily politicised these days, usually with simplistic, binary notions of gender that do not, and cannot, account for the depth and complexity of the human psyche. Particularly the female psyche. So much of contemporary gender theory portrays women as weak, defenceless victims. Not much of it (correct me if I’m wrong) addresses female aggression, which all of us, throughout our lives, have witnessed. Our mothers when, as children, we aroused their fury; bitchy girl cliques at school; and all the rivalry, jealousy and backstabbing that comes with female friendships. Women can be vicious vixens at times. Any concept of womanhood which robs us of that capacity to incite fear, loathing and even awe, denies us our full femininity and its occasional ferocity.
In this lecture, Paglia discusses this in more depth with specific reference to the “dark women” of Shakespeare. Truly enlightening. I highly recommend it.
Featured Image Credit: Lady Macbeth by Charles Soubre (1877). Source: The Knohl Collection