As a feminist squarely on the political left, Katha Pollitt has been pushing buttons in her column for The Nation since 1994. Though she’s a longtime advocate of social justice, equality for women, and upright political character, Pollitt sometimes sparks a backlash from those she critiques. Not all feminists think alike, and her outspoken ripostes against divergent philosophies of women’s sexuality and stay-at-home mommyhood can fall upon bristling ears. In perhaps the most notorious instance, Camille Paglia served Pollitt some major flak, denouncing her review of Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After as “a lying piece of defamatory prose that I hope [Pollitt] burns in hell for.” This feud is proudly featured in Pollitt’s bio on The Nation’s Web site.
Pollitt’s latest book, Virginity or Death! And Other Social and Political Issues of Our Time, is the sequel to her earlier anthology of Nation writings, Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture (2001). Virginity or Death!covers expansive recent historical ground, examining the discourse surrounding 9/11, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2004 presidential election, the current brouhaha over abortion rights, and other milestones. “Put Out No Flags,” one of its more controversial essays, describes Pollitt’s reticence to hang a flag out her window after 9/11. Amused that it scored her the 74th spot in conservative journalist Bernard Goldberg’s book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America, she dryly notes, “Memo to self: must try harder.”
Pollitt is also an astute poet and essayist whose musings have appeared in publications including the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly. Her 1982 collection of poems, Antarctic Traveller, won the National Book Critics Circle Award. On a summery Saturday morning, she spoke frankly about sex, death, and the future of the female body. Continued.
Interview With Pollitt From Venus Zine: "Read The Nation, Then Watch Jon Stewart at 11"
From the interview by Kelly Shindler: