Germaine? You lost me at ‘big arse’ …

At 9.47 pm last night while I was feeding my six-week-old son, checking my emails and wondering at what point my three-year-old daughter had decided I was on her payroll … my head exploded.

You see I was watching Germaine Greer on Q and A.

An Australian feminist icon, a woman who is rightly described as an academic, an intellectual, a trail-blazer, a woman who has spent decades fighting and arguing and agitating for the rights of women goes on national TV and mocks the size of our Prime Minister’s arse.

Oh yes she did.

Are you X&*$%# kidding me?

The fact that Greer had some interesting points to make about Gillard and the media’s role in the dumbing down (and fabrication of) news in this country before she went on to criticise the weight and size of our Prime Minister is irrelevant.

Why? Because that one comment, that one cheap shot, that one moment when Greer decided that it was okay to criticise a woman based on her size, saw everything Greer has fought for over the past thirty years unravel like the yarn of an ill-fated scarf. [ She has spent decades pointing out that a woman’s physicality is irrelevant. Her comment last night essentially gave everyone permission to bring ‘arse size’ back into the conversation.]

Germaine Greer

Last night, Greer took the easy pot shot and feminism paid the price.

And now I’m left wondering what the hell Greer stands for?  That’s not rhetorical, I’m asking you. Because clearly supporting and nurturing other women isn’t in Greer’s feminism hand book.

It pains me in part to write this post. Germaine Greer has done much for which I can be grateful.  But the truth is that, for me anyway, she is now officially irrelevant. She’s like this crazy aunt who needs to say shocking things in order to get media attention.  She’s verging on being all sound bite and no substance.  And the Germaine Greer that I have known  (through the media and her writings) in recent years has frequently spoken with a nastiness that doesn’t sit well with me.

It just doesn’t.

Not last night. Not when she showed such a lack of compassion in criticising Steve Irwin just days after his death in 2006.  Not when she so openly mocks and ridicules those around her.

We get that you’re smart, Germaine.  We get it.  So stop trying so hard to remind us of your superiority.

To me feminism is all about the fact that women don’t have to behave like Carol Brady (if we don’t want to). That we should feel free to be bold and opinionated and argumentative.  That ruffling feathers and standing strong and voicing opinions (even if unpopular) is our right. And thank God for that.

But feminism is also about judging a woman on her ideas, beliefs and behaviours. Not the size of her arse. Isn’t it? ISN’T IT? As for behaving with decency, integrity and compassion … well that’s not feminist. That’s called being a decent human being.

I’d like to say that what unfolded last night saw me handing in my Germaine Greer Fan Club badge. But it didn’t. That’s because I tossed my badge away years ago.

This post first appeared on Mamamia.


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About Bec

Over the past 25 years Rebecca Sparrow has earned a living as a travel writer, a television publicist, a marketing executive, a magazine editor, a TV scriptwriter, a radio producer, a newspaper columnist and as an author.

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