Greer’s 2018 book ‘On Rape’ was met with abject criticism. I didn’t read it, but this is a reflection on her recent talk on the same subject to an intimate audience, which (by my understanding anyway) aimed to dispel the misunderstandings of her opinions on rape and re-assert her views on what should be done to rehabilitate the offenders.
I’ve been a fan of Greer since stumbling across The Female Eunuch in my late teens. Her observations and writing have long been famed for their deeply critical and starkly self-reflective view of what it means to be female. She writes with such an addictive lucidity that it makes you wonder why you never acknowledged the blindingly obvious, yourself. As if offering you the opposite of rose tinted glasses which which to view women’s place in the world.
It can, after a while, get tiring. A constantly negative view point of anything becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I felt like this when listening to her last weekend. I do agree with her idea of adopting a more proactive and holistic way to deal with rape offenders. (Make them face their victims and answer to them personally.) But her view of women as the eternally suffering weaker sex that will continue to fall foul to male aggression no matter what we do, is wearing a little thin.
Motherhood, it seemed, among other biologically binding factors such as the female propensity to prioritise housework over R&R, are the shackles to which we’re tethered and the reasons for our needs and desires playing second fiddle to those of our male counterparts.
This is one idea of Greer’s that I resent. In our house, I do less than 50% of the home making and the child rearing and even if I didn’t, I could hardly blame anyone but myself if being a housewife became my vocation. Someone has to do it. In my mind, biological functions aside – neither male nor female is more predisposed to looking after a child, cleaning a house or cooking a meal.
Women are responsible for their own lives and happiness and it’s always been missing from Greer’s rhetoric. I admire how over the years she has picked apart every subtle and obvious method of male subjugation and in micro-fine detail, examined every single aspect of their co-existence with women and called them out for their blatant hypocrisy, disrespect and unwillingness to acknowledge that there is no arguable reason why they deserve better than women, in anything.
BUT – times are changing and women have a joint responsibility to ensure they keep changing. If women are prepared to co-habit with chauvinistic fools, then that’s their problem. On the other hand, if women refused to spend any amount of time these neolithic, sexually-selfish and entitled morons, they’d stop behaving like pricks a whole lot quicker.
The responsibility of women to play their part in this change, is what’s missing from what Germaine Greer and most other feminists ever talk about. To give credit where it’s due, I don’t know how many 80 year olds could hold a stage by themselves for an hour and a half to talk about a subject as contentious as rape to a potentially disagreeable audience; but her words seemed tired, her arguments weak, almost apologetic and her message depressing but clear – women can’t seem to win.
I disagree but I still love Germaine Greer. We owe her a huge debt for the work she’s done in bringing these issues to light and helping us to understand the complexity of the problem. But we’ve known about the problem for a while. It’s time to think more proactively, about the solution. That includes how we speak up for ourselves in the face of sexual assault, not just to a judge but to the perpetrator.