Paglia on Liz Taylor: The Power of a Woman

Camille Paglia, who admits to being obsessed with Elizabeth Taylor, puts the just-deceased actress in cultural perspective:

To me, Elizabeth Taylor’s importance as an actress was that she represented a kind of womanliness that is now completely impossible to find on the U.S. or U.K. screen. It was rooted in hormonal reality — the vitality of nature. She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct…
Elizabeth Taylor’s maternal quality is central to her heterosexual power. Elizabeth Taylor could control men. She liked men. And men liked her. There was a chemistry between her and men, coming from her own maternal instincts. I’ve been writing about this for years, and it was partly inspired by watching Taylor operate on-screen and off. The happy and successful heterosexual woman feels tender and maternal toward men — but this has been completely lost in our feminist era. Now women tell men, you have to be my companion and be just like a woman; be my best friend, and listen to me chatter. In other words, women don’t really like men anymore — they want men to be like women. But Elizabeth Taylor liked men, and men loved to be around her because they sensed that.
But she was no pushover! She gave as good as she got. There were those famous knock-down, drag-out fights with Burton, and she loved it. No man ever ruled her. Not for a second. But at the same time her men weren’t henpecked. She liked strong men.

Plus, she was hot.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
13 years ago

Before selecting Taylor, over various others, for Cleopatra, Spyrous Skouras demanded “Cleopatra must have a chest. A chest will mean $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 extra dollars for us.”
I admit partiality to the “boys with breasts” now in fashion. Of course, they cannot maintain that look into midle age. Taylor’s looks could be maintained.

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