Friday, November 21, 2014

MUSE | Germaine Greer

"The freedom I pleaded for twenty years ago was freedom to be a person, with dignity, integrity, nobility, passion, pride that constitute personhood. Freedom to run, shout, talk loudly and sit with your knees apart. Freedom to know and love the earth and all that swims, lies, and crawls upon it...most of the women in the world are still afraid, still hungry, still mute and loaded by religion with all kinds of fetters, masked, muzzled, mutilated and beaten."

Growing up in a small country town in the Murray region, the air was thick and fraught with testosterone and misogyny as tenderly as oxygen itself. A strange girl who doesn't fit in with societies idea of what she should be and what those boys want her to be.. a ripening feminist in my teens I grasped at every book of feminist literature I could. I was struggling to understand my own feelings of inadequacy as a both a female among men and a female among females. I remember seeing a segment on a current affair program on TV talking about Germaine Greer. She was confident, fierce, funny, bold and sassy and she wasn't  some celebrity or star. 

Germaine was a writer, a brown haired Australian firecracker. I wanted that. I wanted her fire, her confidence but most of all I wanted to be whatever I wanted to be and Germaine represented exactly that. The Female Eunuch aroused a sense of camaraderie in me. In my own weird way I felt like a Eunuch, not necessarily in the exact sense Germaine meant it in her works but nonetheless it was a feeling that resonated with me for much of my life. 

"Until women themselves reject stigma and refuse to feel shame for the way others treat them, they have no hope of achieving full human stature."

"What we ought to see in the agonies of puberty is the result of the conditioning that maims the female personality in creating the feminine."

 "Puberty," The Female Eunuch (1970).

Later, in my early University years I came across much more feminist thought and writers alike. But I would always have a soft spot for Germaine. She was Aussie and she looked like a woman I might know, a woman I'd like to be. She was the rebel, she was the intellectual. The exact marrying of both was what I longed to be. The individual, unique brash feminine rebellion with brains.  Whilst working on my thesis in my final years at University, Germaine's 'The Whole Woman' was published. A book that seemingly talked directly to a new generation, one that I could identify with more personally.  This book only further solidified my interest and incited me on my own literary rebellions. 

If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your menstrual blood—if it makes you sick, you've a long way to go, baby.
 The Female Eunuch, "The Wicked Womb," (1970).

Whether you agree with all or much or some of Germaine's writings the fact remains that she is and always will be an iconic figure in literature, culture and feminism. Germain signified the importance of women finding their voice, their bodies and their sex. This woman sat in debates with middle aged male media and political muppets and never failed to deliver confidence, wit and an unrelenting sense of strength and intelligence. I cannot say there is a writer today in Australia or elsewhere that quite compares. That is, if we can look further than the smoke and mirrors of Beyonce and Taylor Swift feminism frolicking in today's pop culture to something more. Their lackluster ethos and often less relatable imagery makes it hard to feel the fire in the belly kind of feminism Germaine once stirred up. Is it that authentic feminist role models don't exist or that they aren't present? Or is it that the stage being set hasn't changed that much at all and the firecrackers like Germaine are just waiting in the wings? 

"Women live lives of continual apology. They are born and raised to take the blame for other people's behavior. If they are treated without respect, they tell themselves that they have failed to earn respect. If their husbands do not fancy them, it is because they are unattractive"