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Published 16 April 2012 07:33, Updated 18 April 2012 08:47
We’ve come to expect that we can no longer rely on “feminist intellectual” and author Germaine Greer to take a consistent or coherent position on matters that once would have been at the very core of her beliefs.
In her article headlined “Ladies First”, which appeared in The Australian Financial Review on April 5, Greer made an observation that would be recognised as vintage Greer – the angry, implacable feminist:
“[T]he first generation of Australian female political leaders continues to be hounded out of office amid a storm of unnecessarily nasty sneers and recriminations …”
However, it is impossible to reconcile that more predictable feminist perspective with Greer’s infamous outburst, just a few weeks earlier, on Q&A on ABC1 on March 19, 2012:
“What I want her to do is get rid of those bloody jackets. They don’t fit. Every time she turns around you’ve got that strange horizontal crease which means they’re cut too narrow in the hips. You’ve got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it.”
The two comments are intrinsically and intellectually at odds. Greer cannot take umbrage that women leaders are being subjected to “unnecessarily nasty sneers and recriminations” and then take a swipe at Julia Gillard’s appearance. Thus my response on brw.com.au on March 26, 2012:
“It was not the substance of Greer’s comments that offended me but her hypocrisy and the absolute certainty that had a man uttered the same comments he would have been excoriated as an unreconstructed sexist pig. … With her “feminist icon” hardhat on, Greer would in normal circumstances argue that whatever the pretext … comments about a woman’s appearance are demeaning, objectifying and based on double standards.”
I was not alone in my views – the torrent of white-hot letters to the editor made that abundantly clear. But the reality is that a man’s view on matters of feminism are automatically discounted.
My views were not so different from Kristina Karter of Paddington whose letter appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald of March 31, 2012:
“Germaine Greer has engaged in the kind of behaviour women have been fighting against, and what Greer used to fight against: that of reducing the worth of women to what they wear and their body size. You talked the Prime Minister up and then slapped her down, behaviour usually reserved for the predictably misogynist blokes in this country. How can such an intelligent woman ally herself with the propagation of such rubbish?”
So what has led me to revisit Greer’s moment of inglory? She came instantly to mind when I read Melbourne broadcaster Derryn Hinch’s blog on his website, HumanHeadline.com.au, on Thursday April 12.
The blog had nothing to do with Greer; he was writing about Melbourne’s Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, and in particular, his “chutzpah”.
“I guess I have to remind you again about what the word ‘chutzpah’ means,” Hinch wrote. “The best definition I’ve heard came from the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir. She said: ‘Chutzpah is when the Jewish kid kills his parents then pleads for mercy on the grounds that he’s an orphan’. That’s chutzpah.”
And that’s Germaine Greer.