There’s probably a long German word for that feeling of creeping existential disappointment you experience when a public figure you have long admired reveals themselves to be a twat.
While you’d expect nothing better of Kanye West, bigging up the orange Cheezus in the White House as his missus flogs appetite supressant lollies — in fact, it’s exactly what you’d expect — that slow spread of dismay once reserved for Morrissey has now fully wrapped itself around the pedestal on which you had previously placed Germaine Greer. (Well, okay, mantelpiece — only David Bowie ever got an actual pedestal — but still. He deserved it. Not just his body of work, but all the testaments about his genuine good egg status.)
So is Germaine Greer a bad egg, or a cracked egg, or do her current spate of pronoucements — that heterosexual rape is just bad sex and women need to get over it — mean that she is merely a skilled self-publicist, adept at media manipulation? Her next book, On Rape, is published by Melbourne University Press this September. It’s uncanny.
Apart from the likes of Margaret Thatcher or Ivanka Trump, I am loathe to put the boot in to any woman. We have enough to contend with out there in the world without sticking it to each other; women attacking women always reeks of internalised misogyny and the Daily Mail.
Hence the long imaginary German word that is seeping through me like a cold puddle slowly filling my shoes, as the ferocious, fearless intellect of a peerless feminist icon turns on the very people she has always championed. Us. The people who are not men. Come on, lady, are you high?
The women assaulted by Harvey Weinstein are “career rapees”? “Most rape is just bad sex”? Transsexuals should not be allowed to call themselves women? What are you now, Professor Greer, a shock-jock?
Or is minimising rape a thing that happens to staunch feminists as they age? I only ask because 20 years ago, the novelist Fay Weldon — most famously known for her delicious revenge allegory, Lives and Loves Of A She-Devil — popped her head above the feminist parapet by stating that rape “isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a woman.”
Well, no, of course it isn’t. Watching your kids being eaten feet first by sharks would definitely be worse, but why did Weldon call for rape charges to be reduced to aggravated assault? And why, two decades later, is one of the greatest feminist thinkers of all time, calling for similar? WTF, sistas?
Or does feminism, unlike wine, not get better with age? As each generation arrives with flurries of new movements to shift old parameters - MeToo, TimesUp, Everyday Sexism, HeForShe – how do Second Wave feminists react? Badly? Or is this just about Germaine Greer?
Let’s hope so. Feminism evolves alongside society. So while Greer’s Female Eunuch remains a cornerstone of the movement, alongside the work of Mary Wollstonecraft and Betty Friedan, in 2018 is she still relevant? Or should she just shut up?
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