Wednesday, October 10, 2007

When Were You Ever In That Mens' Room?

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During my round of daily blog hopping, I noticed a new Camille Paglia post at Usually, I only read her to see how many paragraphs I can get into it before I'm shouting "horse shit." Today's post is her regularly scheduled "Camille Deigns to Answer Your Letters and Prove She's Smarter Than You" column (unless of course the letter is fawning, then she congratulates them on their good taste.)

So I found this:

Yes, some women do seek sexual relief and excitement in the public bathrooms. During my four years in the Marine Corps, it was well understood that women Marines, bi and lesbian, sought out sexual encounters in the bathrooms on Marine Corps bases and military airports. Especially airports because of the enticement of different women coming through and it being a one-time event. Meanwhile, the gay male marines kept their sexuality pretty concealed and secret. It goes without saying the Marines have a long tradition of a gay-bisexual subculture that involves many career Marines.

Kasmir J. Zaratkiewicz
Richmond, Calif.

I appreciate this diverting glimpse of subterranean military life!

Naturally, I accept your testimony about uniformed gals gone wild in the loo. But it seems as if such behavior is a temporary, makeshift measure, predicated on soldiers' distance from their own homes. It doesn't totally parallel the lifelong cruising style of so many gay men who haunt public toilets as an active erotic choice or preference.

With its acrid hormonal smells, brisk traffic and mundane ritual of furtive self-touch, the men's john stimulates gay lust -- while the ladies' room is just another place to jabber and powder your nose!

Now--I'm not going to paint with a broad brush here...but what frigging "acrid hormonal smells" does she believe we encounter in restrooms? Does she think they pipe in the smell of poppers? (Granted some places do--and for that I have been grateful.) And the histrionic "furtive self-touch"?? It's a mens' room--you unzip your pants, you release your cock, you piss. There's nothing furtive about it. Jesus. And if anyone (not on drugs) can imagine Paglia "jabbering" with one of the girls and "powdering" her nose I'd like to live in their heads for a bit.

This is probably the second single most wrong-headed thing I've ever read by her (which is saying something.) The first? Her use of the phrase "arc of urinary transcendence."


anything but poetry said...

She will say something like "so many gay men," which means not all. But then she uses (all) "gay lust" so generally. Many gay men I know just find bathrooms unsanitary and not very sexual. She's just another one trying to be edgy and provocative. When really she seems a little pathetic and dated (at least from what you excerpted here). I mean, does she still think edgy discourse is gay men in public bathrooms? For the general population, maybe, but scholars and theorists should be past this, or at least saying something new about it.

RJGibson said...

Exactly. It was fun during the Clinton administration...but now it's just sad.

Anne said...

I can't freaking stand her. She sets my teeth on edge so much I can't even say anything coherent about her.

Radish King said...

Arc of urinary transcendence

Book title, anyone?

Poet with a Day Job said...

RJ - every lesbian I know gets in gets out and gets on with it. The ladies room is not a safe place for lesbians - there's no jabbering, no nose powdering. She's rolling in stereotypes. How boring.

RJGibson said...

Hm...there's an angle I didn't think of. I was aware of the "gay men" as horndog stereotype and sort of aware of the "girls powdering their noses" idea (because frankly, I don't have clue one what goes on in ladies' rooms) but your point is interesting...and ultimately that makes her that much more infuriating.