When does feminism cross the line? This is a debate that I see argued about on Twitter day in, day out, in yet another pitching of the age-old ‘us vs. them’ world we exist in. Personally, I don’t think we need to look that far to find the answer to this question. We simply need to look towards Germaine Greer.
Greer’s latest comments about the “lazy” viewpoint that society takes on rape, as recently reported in The Guardian, are nothing short of spectacular self-sabotage via projection. She’s no stranger to controversial statements; divisive as she may be her voice and work are arguably among the most well-recognised in the field of feminism. And yet, where once her ideas were radically eye-opening – food for thought and fuel for change – of late they seem to be travelling faster down the roads of vitriol and careless sweeping statements.
To assert the idea that “most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever,” and referring to them instead as merely ‘bad sex’ would incite disbelief amongst scores of people at surface level alone, but to dig deeper into Greer’s publicly acknowledged experiences shines a brighter light on what’s driving these statements.
She’s discussed her own experience of rape as an 18 year-old, where she was beaten violently and subsequently did not make a report to the police. This latest outburst, which at the outset does appear to be another in a latest string of anti-feminist remarks, actually smacks of a gigantic two fingers up to her own attacker.
What better way to say, ‘you didn’t hurt me, you’re just a crap shag,’ than to stamp your feet like a child and make such wild claims? I don’t believe that Germaine Greer has suddenly decided these things, or has suddenly become anti-women. Yet it appears she is making the error of assuming she has the right to speak sweepingly, and for all women.
She does not.
I think she’s lost perspective. She’s fallen off the pedestal that she co-built and perhaps feels that notoriety will reinstate her. It’s very easy to see her comments about transgender women being anti-feminist. In fact, they’re almost the extreme opposite. Greer appears to be so embittered by her experiences and feelings about men that she seemingly can’t tolerate the idea that they have the right to be female.
Or perhaps she can, and is once again trying to provoke a public reaction; the kind that propelled her to public knowledge in the first place.
There’s a huge difference between being intelligent and being insightful. Greer’s recent slew of commentary regarding rape and her stance on transgender women, in particular, are her own views alone, and as an intelligent woman, she should know that to use her platform to air these views will undoubtedly court controversy. Which as an insightful woman she knows will allow her to remain relevant.
A wise person once told me that once you start to become personal in order to win an argument, then you’ve lost it, no matter what you say. If Greer is basing the arguments for this new thesis of hers on her own experiential perspective, then she’s lost sight entirely of what she’s meant to stand for.
In abusing the power her position as an academic and public figure affords her, she has become the antagonist of her own ideas.
Whatever happened to Germaine Greer? Whatever happens to us all over time – life, bitterness and the idea that as we get older, we can just say whatever we like and not be held to account. I’m all for liberated womanhood and for defining your own values, but when proclaiming those values publicly begins to sound hateful and dangerous, then we’re going to have a problem, no matter how old you are.
Try to be more careful of what you’re saying please, Germaine – it’s not all about you.