Saturday, September 09, 2006

Greer a victim of ... the patriarchy?

Germaine Greer provoked a storm of criticism in Australia for writing a mocking, jokey, critical article about Steve Irwin soon after his death.

Now Age journalist Tracee Hutchison has leapt to her defence. According to Tracee, the attacks on Germaine Greer can be best explained thus:

It had everything to do with a dominant male power-base telling women to be seen and not heard. Of marginalising a particular kind of woman and reducing us to condition and circumstance. Of reminding those of us who like to speak our mind to watch our step, to remember our place and to shut up and agree with the menfolk.

This take on things only goes to show that Tracee is as far removed from grassroots Australia as Germaine - and Germaine at least has the excuse of being an expat.

In my workplace and in my family it was the women who grieved most about Steve Irwin's death and who were angriest about Greer's comments. In fact, I took it to be one of those occasions which reveals the profound differences between men and women.

I admired Steve Irwin and was shocked to hear of his death, but I continued on as usual. My wife, though, really did experience sorrow for several days, both for Steve Irwin himself and his wife and children.

We ended up watching some of Steve Irwin's wildlife videos together, including one recording his life story. The videos only reinforced my admiration for the man: for his courage, his energy and enthusiasm and his direct, unmediated appreciation of life - so much in contrast to the ironic, post-modernist tone of Greer's own writings.

And I think that Tracee Hutchison has things the wrong way round. What we have seen is not a patriarchy trying to cut down uppity feminists. It is feminists reacting badly to a man who was never cut down in size, not even in a feminist age.


  1. Greer is a victim of only one thing, Her own tactless insensitivity. There were two articles in the Australian yesterday that both raised some doubts about Irwin's style with wildlife, BUT they were both written with tact and understanding. I put it down to her never having had any children. Because the one thing that having a child does for anyone is make him or her realize that they are not the center of the universe. Greer is Just a Fame whore these days trading on her notoriety from the past.
    While the likes of "MrLefty"* have been having fits lampooning the media (and attacking Irwin by proxy) Just about every person I know has been positive about the man.
    When it comes down to it I believe that there is a right time to criticize any public figure that has an untimely end and frankly the time between their death and their funeral is NOT it
    *Check out my critique of his position at my blog Boltwatch-watch If you wish.

  2. Bobby, you're right about Greer initially being a free love advocate. She even wrote at one stage that group sex was "the highest ritual expression of our faith".

    Not surprisingly this didn't work out too well and she later wrote that sexual love was "riddled with hostility and insecurity" and that she was beginning to think that "sex was really disgusting and that we shouldn't have anything to do with it".