Friday, 7 March 2008

The Germaine Greer Tan

I went to see her at the 2008 Adelaide Writer's Week on a hot March afternoon. As I sat on the bus to go to the Pioneer Women's Memorial Gardens in the city, the venue for Greer and other writerly speakers, I pondered over the coincidental occurrence of my menstrual cramps with a speech that was very likely to have strong feminist overtones. I realised that I have recently become uncomfortable with the 'feminist' tag, and hold Barack Obama, Hanif Kureishi and Sam de Brito (a blogger for The Age) responsible for my growing modern-male empathy. Why was I, then, going to pay my 'homage' to Greer when it would have been more feasible (and relaxing) to have a Sunday siesta? Who was I intereted in listening to and learning from - Greer, the Steve-Irwin hater and synonym of controversy; or Greer, the author of the bestselling women's movement tome, The Female Eunuch; or Greer, the academic and polemicist? Perhaps I was/am interested in all of these facets of the well-known woman, but aware that she is not the sum of these parts; rather she is probably an icon of feminism (for better or worse) for a significant cross-section of people living in the western world. I was/am fascinated by what she represents - a legacy of struggle that women of my generation often fail to understand and appreciate.
Germaine's little speech on her new book about Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, was a hit despite the heat. I filmed the first fifteen minutes and the Q&A, holding my camera steady while battling the sun and my abdominal pains. When her opinion on the use of gender-negatives by the Church was sought by a member of the audience, she unequivocally announced, "If God exists, I'm against him". And that one-liner, somehow, clinched the deal, justified the cramps. I was now sporting the Germaine Greer Tan.


Anonymous said...

I reached this site from the AMAL blog and your comment on 11 April. I understand your discomfort with the 'feminist' tag. However, being in sympathy with the modern male shouldn't mean you can't be a feminist. It's too easy to make feminism into a us (women) against them (men) argument, where understanding the other side of the argument demolishs your own case.

Discussing the name 'feminism' with another feminist, we agreed that in some ways, feminism may need a new name, because at the heart of feminism is a questioning of gendered expectations and boundaries that affects men as much as women. Though women are the most disenfranchised globally by the practices which these assumptions underlie, men lose out as well.

Sukhmani Khorana said...

I agree with you that 'feminism' may be in need of an overhaul - both in terms of needing a new name and more importantly, a broader definition. Speaking to young men and women my age makes me realise that they feel alienated from the 70s-style of revolutionarly gender politics. Personally, I think it would also help if women stopped whinging about their disenfranchisement (and about men), and started asserting themselves in their everyday lives and situations.

Vincent said...

Good for you. I couldn't care less about her feminism, which I understand has gone through numerous revisions over her published life. I admire her for gutsy originality.

A quality which is noticeable in your blog too, if I am not mistaken. I got here from a link in a cached defunct post of Jack in his Winter Comes First blog.

Sukhmani Khorana said...

Do you mean I display 'gutsy originality' on this blog? If so, I'll take that as a HUGE compliment.