Germaine Greer: once provocative and progressive, now misguided and embarrassing
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When talking about Germaine Greer, it is impossible to think of anything other than her rallying cry to women still unable to get a mortgage alone, to challenge their social conditioning and “taste [their] own menstrual blood” in the ever polemical The Female Eunuch. Greer is embedded onto the social fabric of twentieth century feminism; she is both a household name and a synonym of the roaring, raging feminist wave of the 70s. However, it is important to consider and read Greer in context. While she exploded the nuclear family and ripped through the bondage of femininity with a fierce intelligence and searing wit, she is certainly not a product of contemporary feminism and its drive towards intersectionality and inclusion: to put it bluntly, Greer’s contemporary work reeks of an uncomfortable transphobia. Greer’s offensive comments about the transgender community are well known and have often been the cause of heated debate. In her 1999 book The Whole Woman, Greer makes references to "men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated" and more recently, called transgender women “ghastly parodies” of “real” women. Greer has again sparked controversy in a contentious appearance at Cambridge University Students' Union on Monday evening. During the debate, she was critical of contemporary feminism, arguing that the "hordes of feminist journalists" were often "too stupid" to grasp wider debates. She also claimed that the Everyday Sexism campaign made misogyny sexy. The discussion quickly veered towards her polemical views on transgender identity and experience and Greer became defensive, arguing: "I didn’t know there was such a thing [as transphobia]. Arachnaphobia, yes. Transphobia, no.” Such comments sent shockwaves through the feminist community, and the wider student body. Cambridge University Students’ Union’s Women Campaign had already distanced itself from Greer's appearance and went as far as to say: "Greer does not represent feminism, and she does not represent us." Cambridge University's LGBT+ also boycotted the event, promising to “no longer hold events at the Union until such time as the Union introduces a policy of not inviting those with a history of hate speech."
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