As folks around here know, I work hard to be kind and civil to everyone even vaguely feminist or possibly sympathetic to feminism. But I’m going to make an exception for Germaine Greer. Stoat’s criticisms are spot-on, but, well, too polite for my taste.
The Feminist Blogosphere has been filled with discussions of whether Amanda Marcotte’s and SEAL Press’s apologies and promises to change are an adequate response to criticisms. Greer, as Stoat notes, belittled the injustices faced by Muslims and racial minorities while at the same time demonstrating her view that the only women (who count) are white and secular. AND SHE IS COMPLETELY UNREPENTANT. As far as I know, she has never in her life apologised for anything, or conceded that she has anything to learn from those who are not her. As Laura Miller from Salon said 9 years ago, Greer’s method is “inflating her own personal trials into theories about the condition of women”. Sounds almost precisely like what Elizabeth Spelman calls the method of White Solipsism. She is totally uninterested in women’s health, as shown by her opposition to PAP smears and the HPV vaccine, and her support for FGM; and she has a long history of transphobia.* Why the hell are we are all being so tolerant of her? Because she wrote an important book a long time ago? Well, a lot has happened since then and she should have made an effort to keep up.
For a much funnier, better-written take on Greer from roughly the same perspective, check out Natalia Antonova. And for another excellent post by someone just as annoyed as me by the FEM 08 talk, go here.
*In general, I think that feminism is enriched by a diversity of views, when these views are backed up by well-reasoned arguments. But Greer’s are not. Instead, they’re based on ignoring the perspectives of those who are unlike her. This does not enrich feminism.