Camile Paglia is a noted feminist who has strayed off the progressive reservation when it comes to the latest college curricula.

She has has reviewed three academic books on fetish-based sex for The Chronicle for Higher Education: Her analysis gives new meaning to the phrase “cutting edge”.

Three books from university presses dramatize the degree to which once taboo sexual subjects have gained academic legitimacy. …

These books embody the dramatic changes in American academe over the past 40 years, propelled by social movements such as the sexual revolution, second-wave feminism, and gay liberation. It seems like centuries ago that, as a graduate student in 1970, I was vainly searching for a faculty sponsor for my doctoral dissertation, later titled Sexual Personae, which was—hard to imagine now—the only project on sex being proposed or pursued at the Yale Graduate School. …

Today’s market for sex topics is wide open. Major university presses balk at little these days, short of apologias for pedophilia or bestiality, and even those may be looming. However, despite the refreshing candor displayed by the three books under review, a startling prudery remains in the way their provocative subjects have been buried in a sludge of opaque theorizing, which will inevitably prevent these books from reaching a wider audience.

Her conclusion is most striking:

What is to be done about the low scholarly standards in the analysis of sex? A map of reform is desperately needed. Current discourse in gender theory is amateurishly shot through with the logical fallacy of the appeal to authority, as if we have been flung back to medieval theology. For all their putative leftism, gender theorists routinely mimic and flatter academic power with the unctuous obsequiousness of flunk­ies in the Vatican Curia.

First of all, every gender studies curriculum must build biology into its program; without knowledge of biology, gender studies slides into propaganda. Second, the study of ancient tribal and agrarian cultures is crucial to end the present narrow focus on modern capitalist society. Third, the cynical disdain for religion that permeates high-level academe must end. (I am speaking as an atheist.) It is precisely the blindness to spiritual quest patterns that has most disabled the three books under review.

The exhausted poststructuralism pervading American universities is abject philistinism masquerading as advanced thought. Everywhere, young scholars labor in bondage to a corrupt and incestuous academic establishment. But these “mind-forg’d manacles” (in William Blake’s phrase) can be broken in an instant. All it takes is the will to be free.