A limelight thief at the arse end of feminism
I realised, watching Germaine Greer reduce herself to the point of ridicule on Q and A last night, why she became the most famous feminist of her age. She speaks a type of feminism palatable to the fellas; body and sex centric; trivial and titillating.
There are so many first wave Australian feminists who have made a difference for women. Unlike Greer, Eva Cox, Anne Summers and the recently deceased Joan Bielski stuck around Down Under to see their ideas manifest into reality. They weren’t in feminism just to make a name for themselves on the publishing circuit. They have devoted their lives to women-centred policy jobs, committees and NGO’s whose sole purpose has been to improve the lives of women and men in Australia and beyond.
Feminism is so much more work than the shock and awe we saw last night; it’s more than an excuse to say labia majora and clitoris on free to air TV. I don’t have a problem with that – don’t get me wrong. But the whole point of feminism was to rescue women from being diminished to sexy bit parts. Greer didn’t do the movement any favours last night.
Women across the country were agog when Greer, given a chance to make amends for her previous attack on the Prime Ministerial arse, simply repeated her belief that a substantial derrière is a disability for women in public life.
Has Greer checked out Oprah’s lovely lady humps lately? Or Hillary’s? Angela Merkel’s, perhaps?
Feminism, said the Prime Minister in her speech to the EMILY’s List, Labor sisterhood last year, has not only outlasted all the big political ideologies of fascism, socialism and modernism, but also surpassed them all in what it has achieved for humanity.
It’s still a movement with momentum behind it. That is what was so depressing about Greer’s performance last night. She locks it into stasis.
It’s not all her fault, of course. Tony Jones seemed to relish Greer’s attack on the PM and did very little last night to allow, Sefi Atta, a new voice in the feminist literature landscape, to have her say. It’s was hard not to be left with the impression that the lads like it when Greer chokes oxygen from other feminist narratives.
And there are so many Australian feminist voices out there, with quite thoughtful things to say about women, the Prime Minister and the current socio-political landscape: Like femme media heroes Mia Freedman and Wendy Harmer, top commentators Tracey Spicer and Catherine Deveny, writers turning the Australian literary landscape on its head like Monica Dux, founder of The Stella Prize, or social entrepreneur, Carol Schwartz.
Or how about the wonderful women academics working on the Work and Family Roundtable - a policy forum trying to deliver work-life balance for women and men to Australia. Shout out to Professor Barb Pocock, Professor Marian Baird, and Associate Professor Sara Charlesworth and the other wonderful women who think and write without fanfare for the benefit of women.
Why is Greer given a repeat performance on QandA, but none of these women get a look in?
The conclusion I came to last night is that Greer is a famous feminist because she is the one fellas in the mainstream press permit us to have.
No wonder MammaMia, The Hoopla and The Women’s Agenda are developing into such highly successful online forums for women.
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