A reader writes:
You wrote, "Gender is at bottom biological, based on different hormones at different stages of development. There's no social constructionism in the womb. After that, social norms obviously have their say - but within the boundaries of biology." I'm thinking you're confusing sex with gender.
Replace the word gender with sex in the above sentence and I would totally agree with you. But my years of work as a psychotherapist with transgender folks have utterly convinced me that there is indeed a difference between biological sex and subjectively understood and experienced (as well as socially constructed) gender. It's a small point, but one I thought worth making.
I think, in discussing Paglia's misguided critique of modern sexuality (Hollywood doesn't like big breasts and asses, really?), you may have stumbled upon a real issue in modern femininity. It is no coincidence, I don't think, that Paglia chose two older actresses to point out the supposed waif-like ideals of modern sexuality. However easy it is for her to ignore the Christina Hendricks and Scarlett Johansens of the modern world, she does have point - the actresses she mentions are skinny. Even the once-plump Julianne Moore is now thinner than she ever has been.
The reason seems to be that as an actress gets older, starvation is one of the primary ways she's able to keep herself "acceptable" to mass audiences. Angelina Jolie, once the queen of voluptuousity, is now thinner than a deck rail. And who could forget the now-infamous Madonna arm photos? This is what has become of "aging gracefully," and it is indeed a cause for concern.