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.