The Meaningful Disappearance of Germaine Greer

Cabinet_winant3Carmen Winant at Cabinet Magazine:

Greer was, in some important ways, always out of step with herself and her party. She chastised women who allowed men to define their image, but posed nude herself in the pages of sex-positive magazines. She plucked her eyebrows to oblivion despite calling upon women not to spend worthwhile energy “keeping themselves pretty [as it] reflects a dissatisfaction with the body as it is,” and generally self-presented as a sex icon. (Her sexiness was, undoubtedly, part of her charismatic appeal.) Greer supposedly had an affair with Norman Mailer, who was notoriously anti-contraception, anti-abortion, homophobic, and, according to many, anti-feminist; nicknamed “a male chauvinist pig” by the writer Kate Millett, was he not in some sense the very man that Greer was talking about when she wrote that “men hate women”? And, despite her loathing of publicity outside of her control—Greer does not grant interviews under any circumstances and described her unauthorized biographer as “flesh eating bacteria” (what she would think of this piece I can only imagine)—in 2005, after having published twelve other books and taught in various universities, Greer appeared as a cast member on Australia’s edition of Big Brother, a lowbrow reality television show that constrains contestants to a house and films round the clock. If the personal is indeed political, as the second-wave feminists of her era championed, it’s hard to reconcile Greer‘s decisions with her credo.

Most importantly, there are real philosophical contradictions within Greer’s own inveterate dogma. In her 1984 book Sex and Destiny, Greer—a woman who made the persuasive case that women had been alienated from their potential sexuality as a source of independence—suggested chastity as a desirable method of preventing unwanted births and “conserving energy.”

more here.