Stumbling Toward Enlightenment

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Remember the Ladies: Germaine Greer

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Germaine Greer (29 January 1939 – ) is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century. Greer’s ideas have created controversy ever since her book The Female Eunuch became an international best-seller in 1970, turning her into a household name and bringing her both adulation and opposition. She is also the author of many other books including, Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984); The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991) and Shakespeare’s Wife (2007). She is Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick.

Germaine Greer has defined her goal as ‘women’s liberation’ as distinct from ‘equality with men’. [Wikipedia]

The publication of her classic 1970 book The Female Eunuch, made her a household name associated with womens liberation and radical feminism. Although the book never articulates anarchism per se, it is a ground breaking liberatory text which draws upon anarchist ideas.

In a discussion between Germaine Greer, Ian Turner, and Chris Hector recorded in Melbourne, February 1972, titled Greer on Revolution; Germaine on Love, Germaine describes herself as an anarchist communist.

Later in 1972, Greer covered the US presidential Democratic Convention in Miami for Harpers Magazine. The previous Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 were marked by peaceful protests violently suppressed by the police on the orders of the Democrat Mayor Daley. In 1972 the minorities were inside the convention being incorporated and subsumed within the system:

    ‘It’s terrific, Gee,’ famed Yippie, Abbie Hoffman, told Germaine. ‘We’re inside the hall this time. All these women and blacks and young kids, it’s terrific’ Germaine, terminally jaded about the political process, looked at it all through gimlet eyes: “‘Ah, come on, Geegee,” he pleaded with me. “Don’t be so down on everything! We gotta chance this time, Geegee! ” “But Abbie,” I replied faintly, “it can’t work this way. What kind of bargaining power have these people got? Remember your Marx, man, and the nature of capitalism.” “Aw Gee, I never read Marx, but Lenin woulda liked it.” I realized with a guilty creak of the heart that Abbie was sick of trashing and being trashed. ..Besides, he loved America.’

    The convention contained the usual blend of tokenism and boosterism, sincerity and syrup, but that did not make the visible emergence of women and minority interests any less significant. It may have been a small start in terms of impact on the Democratic platform, but compared to the bloody 1968 convention in Chicago it was a minor miracle.

    For Germaine, however, it seemed a futile exercise. ‘The women’s caucus was not a caucus in any meaningful sense,’ she said. ‘They were in Miami as cards in McGovern’s hand, to be led or discarded as he wished, not as players at the table. .. Womanlike, they did not want to get tough with their man, and so, womanlike, they got screwed.’ The Latin caucus, she complained, was ‘muddled and bombastic. None of the caucuses really existed as policy-making bodies or influential entities on the convention floor. A spurious leaderism ripped them all off and masqueraded as the collective voice. Spokesman after spokesman claimed to have secured this or that, on a collateral of hot air, and the women’s caucus was no exception.’

—”Greer: Untamed Shrew” by Christine Wallace 1997 pp240. [Radical Tradition]


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