Postcard from London: Greer blamed for British ladettes
Not since Carrie Bradshaw tapped away at her laptop has a column started with a dafter question, but here goes: Could Germaine Greer be single-handedly responsible for the complete destruction of a society and its culture?
And not just any old society, the one that has exported its language, manners and mores to the rest of the world more than any other. The British.
As ridiculous as it sounds, our expat Sheila-in-chief has been accused of bringing Britain to its knees by one of the country’s most widely-read commentators.
I’ve always quite liked the outspoken Germaine, even after she did a jig on Steve Irwin’s grave.
I haven’t read the Female Eunuch but I have read her columns in The Guardian and other newspapers and often admire them for their forthrightness.
Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail has a different opinion.
For those not familiar, Letts is kind of like Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman and Tim Blair all tied together and hit with a stick. He’s right wing, reactionary and excitable.
Like his newspaper, Letts’ believes that Britain is irrevocably “broken” and that the emancipation of women has actually made life worse for everyone.
In his new book he writes:
The native British girls have become fat-faced ‘ladettes’, goose pimples rising on the skin of their exposed thighs as they clack-clack-clack along the pavement en route to the weekend disco, destination bonk.
Older generations would call these women ‘slappers’ - and they would be right. Before the night is out, some of them will be bending over a storm drain, puking, weeping, wailing “e don’t love me!” before passing out under some sulphurous street lamp.
In a century we have gone from an over-genteel society which covered table legs to the other extreme in which girls publicise their sexual availability by wearing T-shirts baring their flab-mottled bellies. Marriage has gone down the khazi, discarded by scowling intellectuals as a form of religio-sexual bondage, institutional sexism minted at the altar of a male-run religion.
And so women have been denied the financial and romantic security which came with marital vows. Women’s lib gave men an excuse not to make a commitment and many of them promptly took it.
And who, according to Quentin Letts, is to blame for this shambles?
Germaine Greer, the freckled Sheila who came to Britain in the early 1960s in search of fame, fortune and most of all headlines.
To her, feminism was about a declaration of sexual power and she began arguing that case in newspapers, books and on the airwaves. Women had to assert their sexual hunger in order to claim their rightful place alongside the hump-and-dump men.
To prove her point, Miss Greer set about the traditionalists of 1960s Cambridge rather as the brown-shorted, cork-hatted settlers of Tasmania once loaded their hunting rifles and went after the short-eared possum and the Aborigine. Bang bang. That was Germaine’s tactic. Wham bam bang.
This dinkum thinker posed in fields in her underwear, sometimes less, to plug her books. She seized up and discarded men like a tramp investigating old sandwich wrappers in a municipal rubbish bin. It was her prerogative as a woman so to do. Women had the right to misbehave.
Miss Greer by flaunting her bosoms and spitting out men as disposable sex objects, may have created a lucrative career for herself. She may have enabled women to cast aside horridly uncomfortable 1960s brassieres, instruments of near medieval torture. There was, though, a price to pay.
One consequence of her convention-shattering ways was a destruction of modesty and decency. Hedonistic? Exciting? Novel? Daring? Germaine Greer’s glory days were all of those. But the loss of dignity they entailed meant that the standing of women deteriorated.
With that, the conduct of men worsened. They no longer felt they owed their female acquaintances any sort of behavioural discount.
Statistics suggest that violent behaviour against women - and even by women against men - has risen. If women were to be treated equally, as Miss Greer demanded, surely it became no worse to hit a woman than a geezer. So certain cavemen seemed to think.
The very notion of being a gent became redundant if men and women were the same.
He’s right about one thing, Britain is nothing like the genteel society that many people around the world still imagine.
I’ve only seen a rougher charge for the door of a bus in Bombay as I do most mornings on the Old Kent Road.
And I haven’t seen women drink more since the Edinburgh Hotel in Bathurst in 1998.
But laying all of societies failings at the feet of one person is, obviously, ridiculous.
It’s time that Australian blokes sent Quentin Letts a message: Our women can say whatever they want.
But it’s also your God-given right not to listen to them if you choose.
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