I wasn’t sure I’d draw attention to this rather odd episode, but here goes… In the past few weeks Melinda Tankard Reist posted a piece by Matthew Holloway which quotes Germaine Greer, on her blog. I’m surprised because Germaine Greer is hardly an ally of her cause.
I think this is worth a brief comment because it points to something in Melinda’s character, especially given her recent attempts to control her image. She is desperate to be taken seriously as a feminist.
The Greer thing began when she and Melinda appeared on the ABC’s Q&A together. A post by Melinda suggests she expected Germaine to rip her apart. I saw the episode and to tell the truth, I was hoping that Germaine would have cause to cut Melinda down to size. It didn’t quite work out that way. In fact they ‘seemed’ to agree. Of course it all depends on the question asked. I even agree with Melinda on some things. However I think that the more likely scenario is that Germaine just didn’t know who Melinda was.
Personally I think it is intellectually dishonest of Melinda to use Germaine in this way. It is a perfect example of cherry picking, of selectively quoting someone to make it seem they support your cause. A more honest person would represent a person as they would represent themselves.
Germaine’s view is far more nuanced than either Matthew Holloway or Melinda seem to understand, but then I’m not sure they know all that much about her, let alone have the intellect…
Germaine has described herself as an anarcho-communist and a libertarian. Her criticism of pornography is a view that many libertarians actually share, that ‘porn’ as it is currently presented, is a false representation of human sexuality and that anyone who thinks it is real will have a distorted view of sex and of both men and women.
However, unlike Melinda, Germaine does not support censorship and fully supports an open and uncensored exploration of sexuality in the media and the arts. She certainly would not countenance any restrictions on women openly exploring and expressing their sexuality. How could she when she was one of the pioneers of this right in the 60’s and 70’s? Let’s not forget that Germaine was a part of the Australian ex-pat scene in London which included the notorious Oz magazine obscenity scandal. Germaine even posed nude for Keith Morris – and again later as an older woman.
Melinda is on the record as criticising the photographer Bill Henson. Germaine is on the record as supporting him and calling his critics ignorant. I wonder if Melinda has ever read The Beautiful Boy in which Germaine explores the homoerotic allure of the ephebe.
I know that the only people who are supposed to like looking at pictures of boys are a subgroup of gay men. Well, I’d like to reclaim for women the right to appreciate the short-lived beauty of boys, real boys, not simpering 30-year-olds with shaved chests.
Melinda has also criticised ‘raunch’ culture, yet Germaine was a pioneer of the equivalent concept of women’s sexual liberation in the 60’s and 70’s. When she was in Sydney in the 60’s she was a part of The Sydney Push – a loose anarchist group that advocated the theories of Wilhelm Reich. In London she was promiscuous and sexually confrontational, in fact she was something of a groupie, hanging out with some of the rock and roll bad boys of the era.
Of course there is more outrage from Germaine that would make Melinda squirm, but I think you get the idea.
However, I don’t think this will stop Melinda ‘dropping’ Germaine’s name when it suits her agenda, after all, they are now best buddies didn’t you know.
Personally I think Germs would be mortified…
Btw, I was chuffed to find out that Germaine grew up in Mentone, the suburb in which I now reside.