Thursday, 20 December 2012

Germaine Greer: A lesson that we have not yet learned

FEATURED ARTICLE: This is London calling, and here is a message. In fact, there are two messages in what follows. One for every mother of a son and another, quite different message, to the great and the good of our society.

In 2009, Germaine Greer began a lecture in Liverpool with the line, "What I want you to think about tonight is whether equality is what we want?" She never explicitly tells us what women should want, if not equality. What we get instead is a diatribe intended for a self-selecting audience rather than mainstream consumption—and it makes interesting viewing.

The video below contains a selection of quotes from this lecture, which she called Equality is not Enough.

Germaine Greer is the leading icon of mainstream feminism, a Professor Emerita at the University of Warwick and a Bye-Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge. She is also considered by the establishment to be an influential thinker of our time and, as such, is given prime time coverage by the BBC and others throughout the world. So if you are still clinging to the notion that "feminism is all about equality", then here's the truth in Greer's own words. At the bottom of this page, you will also find links to the full recording.

Superficially, Equality is not Enough is little more than bizarre rambling conjecture, lacking in any rational foundation or academic rigour, and she presents no tangible conclusion. She finishes the lecture with the assertion that women are socialistic because they are hard-working—just like bees. Greer is no fool, however, and she pitches the level of her content to her listeners, simultaneously appealing to their ego while rocking them, almost casually, backward and forth between the two underlying paradigms that form the real basis of the talk. And it is here that the communication takes place, and the message is this:

  • Males are sub-human (the silverback gorilla is an analogy she uses repeatedly), malign and capable only of hard-wired behaviour
  • Women are both virtuous and hard working, but are hated by men and thwarted by them at every turn

Greer's real talent lies, not in any academic prowess, but in the subliminal. I've no doubt that most of her audience believed they were party to some kind of lively intellectual debate. They were not. Instead, they were lead, all too willingly perhaps, through a series of straw man analogies and divisive connotations. Should women want equality with men, given that men are animal-like and malign? She never explicitly answers her own question, although I suspect few actually noticed.

I wonder just how many mothers in the audience of Greer's lecture actually made the connection with reality—that their boys will grow up one day and, when that happens, they will be viewed with contempt by the very women sitting next to them? Or do such women seriously believe that exceptions will be made for their own sons?

History has taught us a valuable lesson that we have not yet learned. Once we stop thinking about a group of people as human, it becomes morally acceptable to target them for aggression and for society to harm them. We like to delude ourselves that we have confined extremist ideology to the past, but we have done nothing of the sort. All we have really done is to ensure that the leading figures of next such ideology will not be instantly recognisable by a silly moustache. So here is a personal message to the great and the good of our time—the academic sycophants, career politicians and corporate sponsors who, in the hope that some prestige will rub off on them as they clink glasses with Germaine Greer at conferences and after dinner speeches, provide her a platform and a veneer of academic credibility.

The message is this:

The day will come when the toxic nature of her ideology is seen for what it is, and when it does, you will not be allowed to simply fade into the background. We intend to personally manacle you to Greer and her ideology, so that your names are remembered in connection with hers.

Further discussion: A separate video discussion, by Girl Writes What, which explores the implications of feminism's tenets is available here: Feminism, y'all gotta own this sh*t.


Full Lecture: The full video recording of "Equality is not Enough" can be found below. The lecture was recorded at the "Writing on the Wall (Rebel Rants) in Liverpool (2009).

Equality is not Enough - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6