Germaine Greer – The Feminist Who Won’t Back Down (Nor Should She)

Feminist and author Germaine Greer kicked up a shitstorm when she said she does not believe a transgendered woman is a real woman. She makes clear that this view is her personal view and it’s an opinion, her own opinion, which last she checked, she was still allowed to have one, even if it runs contrary to political correctness.

I am not here to debate whether her statement is correct or not. I am not a gender expert and I’ve had the privilege of being a heterosexual cisgender woman. As Ms. Greer said said, it’s an opinion, her own opinion, derived of her own mind and she’s free to have this opinion without apologizing or being abused by the public for it. Ms. Greer is an easy target. She made her name on being a radical feminist and is equally unapologetic about that as well. Her views are left of crazy at times but she is using hyperbole to illustrate the everyday misogyny a woman faces, where a woman doesn’t even know she’s being misogynized. In her view, fighting for equal rights starts with the small trifles everyday. The catcalls, the snide remarks a woman gets (from both sexes) when she’s near that time of month. The assumptions made about a woman when she’s on her period, when she’s pregnant or menopausal are all unacceptable. After all we don’t discuss men and their personalities with respect to their receding hairline, their expanding waistline, the age where certain functions south of the border loses its agility or any other physical changes. So why is it acceptable to make assumptions about women at certain transitions in their lives? Why is it acceptable to make fun of women and their physical appearance as they age, after they have children or any other naturally occurring changes?

Germaine Greer didn’t state her opinion on transgendered women out of bigotry. She made her opinion based on what she thinks makes a woman which includes her life lived from birth to adulthood as a woman. It’s her belief that one cannot be a ‘man’ for most of his life, enjoy the benefits and privileges of being a ‘man’; granted he may be tortured inside due to gender identity crisis, but as far as society is concerned he is still a man and is afforded the respect a man gets and the minute he transitions into a woman she gets to enjoy some sort of hero status for being ‘authentic’ or ‘brave’ and overshadow all the other women who were born women and lived their whole lives as women and suffered the misogyny that comes with being a woman. This is not an unreasonable point to argue. It’s not a popular view given today’s intellectually challenged and emotionally incontinent population, but it’s valid and worthy of debate.

Greer was to give a lecture at Cardiff University about women and power but due to the uproar her comments about transgendered women caused, there is a petition going around demanding her lecture be canceled. The BBC made a rather misguided attempt to interview her to get her to apologized for her comments, not only did she not apologize, she didn’t back down and no matter how the interviewer reframed the question to bait her, she never bit.

The trend these days is when people have too much to drink or is having a particularly opinionated day, they tweet, blog or say something on their mind, their truth but perhaps not totally politically correct. The other twits on Twitter or elsewhere have nothing better to do and attack the position of the ‘offensive’ tweet, comment or blog, all assumed identities hidden behind a computer screen. And the person that made the original statement goes into overdrive to backtrack, clarify and elaborate what they really meant to begin with and then followed with an apology: ‘If anyone was offended, it was not my intention, I am sorry’. It’s like a pathetic bad Hollywood script. If that’s how you feel about something, then own it. If it’s not palatable to be said out loud then don’t get loose fingers or lips and tweet, blog or say it. If you said it and you did not misspeak and that’s your truth then own it too. In other words, grow a pair, own your thoughts, own your beliefs. Since when did people become so soft spined, where they worry about the opinion of the twits that are tweeting?

Ms. Greer basically told everyone they can fuck off. She won’t be giving the lecture after all, since all everyone wants to talk about is transgendered issues (not an area she’s ever talked or written much about) and Caitlyn Jenner, which she has choice words for. Bravo to her. She told the BBC reporter, she’s 76 years old, she doesn’t need this shit, to be abused by the public for expressing her opinion. She stated clearly she’s not transphobic, nor is she encouraging or spreading transphobia by stating her opinion that a transgendered woman in her view isn’t a real woman. For those that say she’s inciting transphobic hatred and violence, she told them to get a life. She has total respect for transgender people and will always address them with the correct pronouns.

In her opinion, to be a woman, one must experience the highs and lows of being a woman from birth to adulthood. You don’t get to enjoy your status as a privileged male, getting glory, accolades awards in sports as a male (paging the former Bruce Jenner) and then you transition to a woman and you are suddenly inundated with awards for ‘being a woman’, when she’s only been a woman for ten minutes. What about all the other women who’ve been women their whole lives, doing work on behalf of other women or humanity for most of their lives. Where are her awards for bravery and authenticity? Where are her accolades?

This Caitlyn Jenner thing, it’s getting fucking old. She gets more comments about her surgically enhanced looks than anything she’s really accomplished as a woman. Besides bringing transgender awareness to the public, which is very noble and very important, but again, she’s doing it for ten minutes, her achievements as a woman still remains to be seen. It’s not so easy to become a ‘woman’ as I am sure Caitlyn Jenner is all too aware now. All those surgeries she underwent was probably the easy part.

There are scores of men and women who do the difficult work of bringing transgender awareness to the public, educating parents and family members, providing counseling and guidance to transgendered children, what are their names? Where are their awards? Where are their accolades and magazine covers?

17 thoughts on “Germaine Greer – The Feminist Who Won’t Back Down (Nor Should She)

  1. The issue of feminism and transgender identity is so remote from me I barely follow it.

    But I do have opinions on the practice of “no platform.” For the most part, I’d rather take the focus off ideas and concentrate on whether or not a speaker is getting paid. Speaker’s fees are an important way the corporatocracy launders money to ex politicians.

    On the other hand, there are speakers I would “no platform.” David Irving would be a good example. So where do you draw the line?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, in this instance, I am strictly focusing on the fact just because Germaine Greer expressed a view which is not the politically correct mainstream view, she’s being excoriated for it. As for ‘platform’, Greer most definitely has one. She most likely was getting paid for her lecture at Cardiff University, there’s no reason why she wouldn’t be. Greer is not a politician and she never was. She was always an academic and very left wing feminist. She’s not my cup of tea even, though I identify as a feminist. But she’s allowed her views without being called terrible names.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m actually for banning speakers fees (at least in the US and at least for politicians). It’s such transparent bribery by the corporations for “services rendered” that I’m shocked it’s still going on.

        The Clintons, for example, are worth at least 200 million dollars, which is odd considering how they’ve both been in public life for most of their careers Most of that money has come from speakers fees.

        Greer or course isn’t either of the Clintons. As I said, the issue of transgender identity is just so remote from me I’ve barely thought about it. I have gotten on the wrong side of some “Swerfs” (sex worker exclusionary feminists) simply because I defended the idea of prostitution being legal. They were pretty vicious about smearing me as a “brocialist” and a sexist.

        Part of my argument was that making prostitution illegal hurts transgender and gay sex workers. My guess would be that the objections to Greer come from people on the margins to the kind of upper-middle-class thinking I got hit with vis a vis prostitution. Once again, I can’t really be sure. But I would guess that she’s seen as trying to further marginalize transgender people (who are almost always the victims and rarely the victimizers when it comes to sexual harassment and violence).

        Would I deny her the right to speak? I don’t think so. Are her opponents sometimes closed minded. Definitely. I remember when they tried to silence Mary Beard (the classical scholar) for arguing for her right to speak. But would I platform *some* people? I probably would. David Irving? Certainly.

        I think the key is where you’d draw the line. Being outside of “political correctness” or not caring what people think isn’t admirable in and of itself IMHO. Trump would be a good example of both.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. “Swerfs”? – I learn something new everyday.
      I am no ‘expert’ in gender identity either, but the PC way is now to view people as fluid and we are allowed to be who (gender wise) we say we want to be and how (sexuality) we want to be. The now old fashioned belief (this makes me feel old LOL) that you can be what you like but pick a team and stay on it, is now considered ‘bigoted’. This is my very amatuer take.
      The point of my piece is not what Greer says is true or not, she said in the BBC clip, it’s an ‘opinion, not a prohibition’ and it’s HER opinion and it’s an opinion she arrived at based on her beliefs of feminism and what a woman is (as opposed to being transphobic), based on HER life’s work. You may not like that work, you can hate it (lots of people do), but it’s her work and she’s allowed to express that opinion unharassed.
      I lean liberal, obviously, and I believe in the slippery slope. Free speech and free thought is just what it says, except in extreme extenuating circumstances (yelling fire in a crowded theater). I don’t like Trump and his ilk, but I also don’t think he should be silenced because he’s a racist and bigot, he’s allowed to be as horrid as that sounds. We, as the informed public (irony noted) also have the right to not listen to his crap. I never do. I never have, never watched The Apprentice. He resembles a clown to me. I don’t believe his ‘business’ acumen is real. My point is there is all kinds of people saying all kinds of shit out there. They have the right to say it and I have the prerogative to not listen. I strongly believe free speech and free thought is the bedrock democracy and civilization. Especially more so today with corporate greed, politicians/politics and corporations intermingling their interests and all other types of corruption, the only thing we (the 99%) is the power of our pen and keyboard. And for this same reason, Donald Trump and the Westboro Baptist Church can have their say too.
      About speaking fees of former politicians, another gray area. Not all politicians make out like bandits, not all politicians were rich to begin with, the Clintons being one and Obama too. Is speaking on college campuses so bad? I am not sure. I quite liked all of my college speakers, I learned a lot from them (more than I thought I would) and I am aware my university paid an obscene amount to get them to come, but I enjoyed it, so I can’t say it’s good or bad. As for corporations hiring speakers, again, they can do what like and the rest of us can boycott in any way we can. I don’t like to deal in absolutes. That’s another way of being inflexible and rigid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. She has total respect for transgender people and will always address them with the correct pronouns.

    Err, no she doesn’t.
    For example she routinely refers to Jenner as “he/she” and claims she only took up transgenderism to cash in on the celebrity of the rest of the Kardashian clan.

    And to claim she doesn’t incite transphobic hatred and violence ignores the fact that most of it is rooted in the same delegitimisation of transgender people and their account of themselves that Greer promotes. Bigoted public figures – even those of far less intellectual stature than Greer – are very skilled at inciting hatred and violence without explicitly calling for it. Otherwise they’d not just be no-platformed; they’d be imprisoned.

    Personally I don’t see a problem with speaker’s fees. Simply raising your profile by speaking at such an event is probably worth more to most ‘public intellectuals’ than any cash reimbursement they might receive. But I think no-platforming has gone way beyond its original intention – which was to exclude speakers with a record of deliberately disrupting entire conferences – and has become merely a mechanism for censoring those with uncomfortable views. I think, as srogouski hints, transphobia, whorephobia and Islamophobia have become very dirty skeletons in the closet of contemporary Western feminism and many would prefer to keep the door firmly locked in order to present feminism as one big happy intersectionalist family.

    BTW, I’ve a lot of respect for Greer and greatly appreciate many of her controversial statements in support of Australian Aborigines (of which I am one). I’m also even further to ‘the left of crazy’ than she is. But I can still call her out for bigotry when I see it and that’s what I’m doing now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hello from Australia. I love all different viewpoints. I am an unsure Greer fan. I appreciate the messages she’s trying to convey in her books, essays and lectures. I appreciate what she’s trying to do for the feminist cause and I think that’s also her mental block. She seems very proprietary about the feminist cause, it’s her life’s work, her ‘baby’ if you will, it’s the cause of her life and I think it’s skewed her thinking on transgender women. I am not debating whether she’s correct in her views or not, I am saying she’s allowed to have them and express them and express them unharassed even if they run contrary to what’s popular out there today (which could change next week, who could keep up?’ It is just as bigoted to silence her views because they may cause offense than a real bigot saying hateful things about transgender and LGBTQ people.
      Her real ‘problem’ with transgender women, in my humble opinion, is you don’t get to be a ‘man’ for half of your life or more, enjoy the privileges and benefits of being a man, get the respect from society as a man then transition into a woman and all of a sudden you are a ‘brave’ woman, an ‘authentic’ woman, but what of the people who’ve been women their whole lives?

      As for ‘bigot’, srouguski and I are Americans, we’ve got Donald fucking Trump running for president, and he’s a lead contender, the rest the Republican presidential candidates are country yokels where they point to the Bible as their ultimate authority, those in my view are the backwoods, willfully ignorant racists and bigots.
      For Caitlyn Jenner, I don’t agree she transitioned just for publicity to match her fame with her family members, her life’s struggle is real, but I am quite sick of hearing about her and the press generated ‘phenomenon’ that is her (not the real ‘her’ per se). She’s been a woman for 10 minutes and the stupid press here treats her like the second coming. She’s doing excellent work on behalf of transgender people and I applaud that, but she’s got a few more years to go before she really deserves all these accolades. Thank you for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Republicans are so extreme these days I think Hillary Clinton is going to win fairly easily. Her only real challenge seems to be coming from the left (Sanders). But we’ll see.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I think feminists, just like anybody else, don’t lose all of their societal baggage when they become feminists.

      There are people I think most of us can agree should be “no platformed.” Holocaust deniers would be a good example. But I think like anything it involves a lot of subjectivity.

      I supported the students at Rutgers (where I went to college) when they drove Condoleeza Rice off campus. She’s a major war criminal. But you could probably make the same argument about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

      Would I want Republicans disrupting a Clinton this this election cycle over Benghazi? I don’t think so. But once you open that door, you open the way to anybody being banned.

      On the other hand, pay for Clinton out of student fees? Oh hell no.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The bottom line is, along with privilege free speech, free expression and free thought, we will be subjected to good and bad speech, thoughts and expression. Usually more crap than not, it’s just price we pay. Once we start censoring or banning, it defeats the whole purpose. But again, as intelligent humans, it’s our duty to filter out the shit. If we don’t want our kids watching stuff we don’t approve of, you don’t blame the media, you take action to prevent it.
        The GOP are losers, my dad was a GOP, and I respected him and his opinions, though it’s different to mine, he passed in 2008, but today’s GOP would consider him too ‘liberal’, which he was not, I can guarantee that, LOL. He’s pro-choice, anti-Bible beating, probably anti gay marriage but not anti-gays in the biblical bigoted way, and everything else, he’s pretty conservative. He was a New England GOP, which in today’s GOP scene doesn’t even register. How sad is that.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. re: “The bottom line is, along with privilege free speech, free expression and free thought, we will be subjected to good and bad speech, thoughts and expression. Usually more crap than not, it’s just price we pay. ”

    But is there a line? Is there *anybody* who should be no platformed?

    Should a white supremacist student group be allowed to use student fees to pay to bring David Irving, or another Holocaust denier to campus?

    Like

    1. That would depend on the opposing side wouldn’t it? One would hope to God that the decent people on campus would so strongly oppose this that it wouldn’t even make the light of day, just like how Condoleeza Rice was chased off Rutgers, I’d think a Holocaust denier is far far worse than Condoleezza Rice speaking. If any Holocaust Denier or anything remotely sounding like one came into the space I am in, I’d chase them out with my own bare hands like a crazy woman shouting. Well, I’d ask nicely first, but I doubt that works. But that’s me.

      Like

  4. re: “He was a New England GOP, which in today’s GOP scene doesn’t even register. How sad is that.”

    I’m a little less sentimental about the Republicans of the past.

    Eisenhower deported over a million Mexican Americans (not all of whom were even immigrants) and used the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments in Iran and Guatemala.

    The Republicans used to be a little less openly white supremacist, but that changed in 1968 when Nixon developed his “southern strategy” to pick up those George Wallace votes who left the Democrats after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Like

    1. I am not sentimental, not at all, I am pointing to the lack of inclusion even amongst their own GOP ranks. We have Blue Dog Democrats, which are accepted in the Democratic caucus etc., In GOP there’s no such thing.
      I didn’t even think so far back as Eisenhower. LOL.

      Like

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