Germaine, oh Germaine!

Germaine Greer … A name that’s synonymous with feminism, English literature and Shakespeare scholarship … and brain farts 🙁

Germaine Greer on QandA (11/4/16). Photo by ABC.
Germaine Greer on QandA (11/4/16). Photo by ABC.

Her comments on ABC’s QandA, broadcast yesterday April 11 from their Sydney studio, left me wondering … I could only find a link from News.com.au, which will have to do for now, given that there’s no YouTube link that I can easily embed.

GG was hell reasonable most of the time. She made a number of valid points on refugees, terrorism, the Panama Papers and Shakespeare. At some stage she expressed a firm disagreement with Dr Theodore Dalrymple, psychiatrist and author. He said that in his years of experience as a psychiatrist, he found that the underlying reason why men treat women violently is jealousy. GG replied that she thought it had everything to do with misogyny.

Germaine, Germaine, have you ever heard of pathological jealousy? By the way, it can also affect women …

Someone like her, who I’m sure can analyse Shakespeare’s Othello like no other, should know better.  I’m not saying that misogyny isn’t part of the problem, but disqualifying a psychiatrist’s well founded observation wasn’t precisely a brilliant idea. First brain fart of the evening.

The best was yet to come, though … Stay tuned.

Questioner Steph D’Souza said, ‘When I was younger I found your work a great source of strength and inspiration. It helped me resist the limitations that society or even misogynists could place on me, but I find really confusing views you’ve expressed that transgender women are not real women. Why do you believe there is such a thing as a real woman? Isn’t that the kind of essentialism that you and I are trying to resist and escape?’

‘This is so difficult,’ Germaine responded. ‘The interesting thing to me is this, that if you decide, because you’re uncomfortable in the masculine system, which turns boys into men often at great cost to themselves — if you’re unhappy with that it doesn’t mean that you belong at the other end of the spectrum, that by expressing it that way.’

At this stage, I began wondering whether I’d had too much Verdelho with dinner …

GG continued, ‘We’ve got a problem now with the word “know” and we could spend a lot of time discussing what that means philosophically, is believe the same as “know”? Is true belief the same as knowing? None of this is easy. The difficulty for me, that women are constantly being told that they are not satisfactory as women, that other people make better women than they do and that the woman of the year may be Caitlin Jenner which makes the rest of the female population of the world feel slightly wry.’

Hang on a minute, Germaine. It doesn’t make me wry. How would you know? You don’t speak for me. Are you “all women,” m’dear?

‘I don’t believe that a man who has lived for 40 years as a man and had children with a woman and enjoyed the services, the unpaid services of a wife, then decides that the whole time he’s been a woman and at that point I’d like to say, “Hang on a minute, you believed you were a woman but you married another woman. That wasn’t fair, was it?”‘

You thought that was the whole brain fart? There’s more.

Wisecracking Germaine finished her comment saying to the host, Tony Jones, ‘I belong in this hole.’

And effin’ stay there, Germaine. In the hole.

Last year she uttered fiery claims that transgender women are ‘not real women’ and accused Caitlyn Jenner of misogyny for attempting to steal the limelight from the females in the Kardashian clan. That’s a very lazy point of view. Apparently she didn’t bother to inform herself on what it is to be transgender. The Internet is full of quality resources like this one published by the American Psychological Association (.org and .edu online resources are the quality ones… I’m sure Germaine knows that). My good friend Dr Vek Lewis is a Sydney Uni academic who is also an advocate and activist in the field of sexual minorities in Latin America, and he’s my go-to person when I have doubts on this topic. I bet that Germaine will surely benefit from a frank and robust conversation with Vek.

I look forward to a debate between Vek and Germaine …

What most surprises me is that as different sciences move fast and elegantly, and do research on gender that go beyond capricious beliefs, Germaine Greer sticks to “her guns” (whatever those guns are). She used to be a feminist hero of mine. She opened my eyes to different possibilities, beyond those of being a wife and mother. Now she appears to be slamming the door shut in the face of transgender people, bordering on vilification.

Nobody can deny that a contrarian and provocateur like Germaine Greer has enormous entertainment value on television. However, her manner of entertainment isn’t helpful at all. QandA now owes us, faithful audience, some quality feminism. Bring Eva Cox, Anne Summers, Raewyn Conell, Naomi Wolf, Isabel Allende, Susan Faludi, Rigoberta Menchú and Tara Moss. Bring others. Let Germaine stay in her “hole”.

Catcha later, a glass of Verdelho is calling me. FFJ 🙂

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