the (non)sense of anti-feminists: germaine greer
It is only a week till the Melbourne Writers Festival and I can’t wait!! I’m excited not only because I will be close to bakeries that make delicious cupcakes but also because I am going to see Germaine Greer. I find her fascinating not only as a person but also because no matter what anyone says, she still has a fierce feminist determination.
In many ways, Germaine Greer is the popular face of feminism, particularly in Australia. In fact in a recent edition of The Big Issue it was said ‘her influence on generations of women is incalculable.’ Her most known book, I believe, would still have to be her first book titled The Female Eunuch. Even I remember reading this and thinking why some of the things in her book were still happening despite the difference in time between when it was published and when I was reading it. For me, this was a seminal moment and really cemented my courage in saying I am a feminist.
The influence of The Female Eunuch and Germaine Greer’s activism has seen her described as ‘the birth mother of 1960s feminism’, ‘a feminist icon’ and a ‘feminist goddess’. But in receiving such posterity and acclaim, very virulent and hateful comments have also been directed towards her. The descriptions of Greer at the beginning of this paragraph come from a Herald Sun article and are nothing more than veiled comments to set Greer up for criticism, suggesting her feminist philosophy is a “sham”.
The infamous comment about feminists hating men has also been directed at Greer, however this is not surprising considering how outspoken she is, the number of anti-feminists and the fact that this is just about the first question any feminist is asked. “James”, in the comments section for the Herald Sun article above, believes that Germaine Greer has backward, man-hating ideas. But a comment such as this is further used to make spiteful and hateful comments. In an article titled ‘Germaine Greer is a cunt’, the author not only suggests that feminism is backwards but that it ‘has put power into the hands of a small amount of people who have no idea what they’re doing ever … that’s women.’ It seems that Germaine Greer is used as an excuse for misogynistic and ignorant comments not only to criticise her but also to criticise feminism and insult all women. In the same article, more common anti-feminist thoughts are also expressed. The author believes ‘all feminists are insensitive cunts who have no family for that exact reason’. The reality is that many feminists have families, some traditional and some not traditional, and most of us are caring and loving people. What anti-feminists really object to is the analysis of the family that started to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s purely from a feminist perspective. This feminist perspective started to acknowledge the feelings of women who were dissatisfied and frustrated with the restrictions they felt within families. In Australia, one of the women given much credit for doing this was Germaine Greer.
The accusation that Germaine Greer and all of feminism is backwards fails to recognise how influential and important she has been for feminism and for women. Germaine Greer and many other feminists refused to be silent at a time that was a defining period for feminism. Whether or not you agree with what Greer has said, as feminists, and as women, we do have a lot to thank her for.