Germaine Greer is a professional shit-stirrer. She wasn’t the only feminist in the 70s (and onwards) yelling loudly about the need to treat women like real people, but she was one of the loudest. And for that, Australian women owe a lot to her. (Even those who think feminism is bad.)
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call her on it when she body-shames someone. We should always call people on that shit.
Here’s the footage from Monday’s QandA. Everything she said up until 1.16 was great. And then, well, that’s what this post is about:
(Miranda Devine illogically says that Greer’s comments mean ALL FEMINISM IS A SHAM. But that’s what News Ltd pays her for, and I don’t pay very much attention to her. Check out Clementine Ford on that one.)
Greer is not a perfect feminist. I don’t think there are perfect feminists and we shouldn’t hold someone up and say, “See! This one’s perfect!”. I’m certainly not a perfect feminist. The other day, when Lady A told me she was having a little boy, I said that her (very active) partner must be happy about that since he’ll have someone to be all fit and active with. And then corrected myself, because seriously, what a dumb thing to say. And when I walk down the street, for all my talk about body acceptance, I still secretly compare my body to other bodies and feel better when I decide that some body part of mine is better than some body part of someone else’s. It’s stupid. The size of my arse hasn’t stopped me getting a degree and a masters, doing a doctorate, having loads of wonderful funny smart friends, and having a fabulous relationship with The Most Awesome Man In The World. The power of popular culture is a hard one to fight. But every time I catch myself doing these things, I make an effort to correct it and to not do it again. To be a better feminist.
I’m not excusing what Greer said. Not at all. It is completely unacceptable to use a public forum to make negative comments about someone else’s body. It is even more unacceptable when you’re adding those negative comments to a discussion about their professional life. And it is worse for a celebrated feminist to make such a comment than it is for Joe Douchebag to make it. None of us are perfect feminists but that doesn’t mean feminism is faulty. Nor does it mean that when a feminist says something stupid, other feminists should just say, “oh, it’s ok, she’s a feminist, we’ll let that one go”. And that is how we all get a little bit better*.
* and take down the patriarchy