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Happy 80th Birthday, Germaine Greer!
"The difference with Greer is that she doesn’t get into trouble occasionally or inadvertently, but consistently and with the attitude of a tank rolling directly into a crowd of infantry." - Sarah Ditum
This week, the acclaimed Australian author, academic and public intellectual, Germaine Greer, celebrated her 80th birthday, and love her or hate her (and it's rarely anything in between), her legacy to the women's movement remains unsurpassed. Associate Professor Mary Walsh takes a look.
On 29 January 2019, Germaine Greer turned 80. Greer has an intellectual energy that exceeds age. As a highly renowned Australian second wave feminist, she stands out for her longevity and relevance on political, social and feminist issues into the twenty-first century.
She stands out for her longevity and relevance on political, social and feminist issues
Although she has written over twenty books, including Sex and Destiny (1984), The Change (1991), The Whole Woman (1999) amongst others, it is her first book, The Female Eunuch (1970) that remains one of her major legacies and in the same iconic feminist genre as de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949), Kate Manne’s Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny (2018) and Clementine Ford’s Boys will be Boys (2018).
When Greer first wrote The Female Eunuch she thought it “would quickly date and disappear.” And yet, years later she was writing the forward for the 21st anniversary edition.
Her analysis of sex oppression in the developed world in the second half of the twentieth century remains as relevant as ever and clearly articulates “that the rejection of the concept of female libido as merely responsive is essential to female liberation.”
Greer remains an enigma. She is known for being controversial. Many were horrified when she said "Gillard had a big arse." Yet, upon reflection it provides an example of how we don't expect women to speak their mind or say what they really think. We want women to be fearless, yet castigate them when they are.
We want women to be fearless, yet castigate them when they are
We want them to speak but be agreeable, yet Greer is not and she doesn't care what you think. Her recent book On Rape (2018) is a case in point, sparking massive controversy based on the fact that she argued that “rape itself need involve no violence at all.” Her argument related to the reality endured by many contemporary women who ‘give in’ to their husbands' or significant others' sexual demands because it’s easier than the alternatives that include being punished, bashed or ignored.
We can certainly expect that she will continue to be controversial and rage against the constraints imposed by patriarchal societies upon the female sex
Greer describes herself as a teacher and her role is to get people to think. She is not afraid to call it as she sees it and as people get older they do this more and more, so we can certainly expect that she will continue to be controversial and rage against the constraints imposed by patriarchal societies upon the female sex.
Happy Birthday, Germaine Greer.