Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Germaine can't stop her own revolution

Germaine Greer has been criticised for comments she made about transsexualism on Australian TV:
Controversial feminist and author Germaine Greer has come under fire after saying it is not fair for a man who has enjoyed the 'unpaid services' of a wife for years to decide he is now a woman.

Social media erupted following Greer's comments with many labelling her as 'transphobic', while others said her lack of empathy was 'appalling'.

The criticisms were framed in the usual liberal terms:
Stephanie: Someone please tell Germaine it's 2016. My gender is not up to you to decide Germaine.

Cass: Germaine, you're telling women how to be women and that's not OK.

It must be odd for Germaine to find herself subject to these criticisms. After all, she herself was once at the cutting edge of the liberal belief that the highest good is a freedom to self-define and self-determine. Here is a quote from her 1999 book The Whole Woman in which she argues in favour of a "liberation" version of feminism rather than an "equality" one:
Liberation struggles are not about assimilation but about asserting difference...insisting on it as a condition of self-definition and self-determination...the visionary feminists of the late sixties and early seventies knew that women could never find freedom by agreeing to live the lives of unfree men. Seekers after equality clamoured to be admitted to smoke-filled male haunts. Liberationists sought the world over for clues to what women's lives could be if they were free to define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate...

It's a variant of liberal autonomy theory in which the overriding good is a freedom to self-define and self-determine. It's an interesting variant, as Greer does not emphasise the idea that men are privileged and that women should therefore seek to ape men. She looks at the lives men lead and doesn't see it as free at all; she logically concludes that women should try for something different.

However, what Greer didn't foresee was that once you place a freedom to self-define as the core good in a society, that the women's movement itself would eventually lose some of its status. After all, if it is oppressive to be defined by anything I don't choose for myself, then it is oppressive to be defined by my sex. Therefore, the cutting-edge freedom is to choose my own sex according to my will ("My gender is not up to you decide Germaine"). Therefore, transsexuals are the new heroes of a liberal social order - they are the ones leading the revolution. Which means that real women (i.e. biological women) aren't as important as they once were. Anyone who chooses to be so can now be a woman.

Consider this comment made by Greer in her TV discussion:
If you're a 50-year-old truck driver who's had four children with a wife and you've decided the whole time you've been a woman, I think you're probably wrong

Most people reading this post will agree with Greer on this (as do I). But in terms of the logic of liberalism, it is exactly this kind of scenario that represents peak liberation. Greer's example presents the most seemingly entrenched male throwing off a sex stereotype to declare himself to be female. What could be a more revolutionary act of self-definition than that?


  1. Greer has used this exactly rhetoric to push her interests for 50 years. So when it works against her, she gets what she deserves.

    Truth never had anything to do with it.

    'Liberal struggles about asserting difference'

    Hah. So now its about differences?? I thought it was about 'equality'?. The coercive dishonest is disgusting. In the same sentence too.

    1. "she gets what she deserves"

      Yes, the older generation of liberals will often find themselves being discomfited by a more radical implementation of their own politics.

  2. Greer has just been left behind by the forest fire of nihilism she helped instigate which has now moved on to new frontiers. I understand her bewilderment but don't have much sympathy for her.

    Ironically, if it had not been for Greer and the "sisters", women would not have lost a genuine opportunity for truly increasing their freedom, and in a genuine and creative way. When all the new machines for reducing the workload of the housewife came on-stream, the possibility of large amounts of free time arose for these women. What happened? As far as I can see, corporate business saw the feminists coming and, although Greer may have hoped for a different road, women were encouraged to out to work, doubling the work-force almost overnight. Economics being what they are, this doubled supply has led to a halving of the cost and the consequence has been the imperative of both partners having to work to make ends meet. Now, women are wage slaves like men and working harder than ever. The forest fire of nihilism leaves naught but ashes in its wake.

    1. Michael, that's well put. In Australia the banks have been one of the chief beneficiaries of feminism, as the two income household has increased the amount couples can borrow, which then contributed to a rapid rise in housing costs, which then meant a life of repaying mortgages to the banks. In all of these ways, feminism wasn't well planned to really liberate women (or men) - the greatest benefit, as you point out, has gone to the corporate world.

  3. "two income household has increased the amount couples can borrow, which then contributed to a rapid rise in housing costs"

    House prices are determined by supply and demand and not by income. Demand was stimulated by mass immigration which drove up prices for the limited housing stock. The dual income household still lives in one house and by itself does not increase demand for housing.

    Feminism was created by the men who control the corporate big business world as a means of enriching their own wealth and monopolising control of most sectors of the economy. The weak family and deracinated individual who has no identity and no values is easily manipulated and controlled.

    Germaine Greer is not a creator of feminism. She was just a useful mouthpiece for the owners of the corporate main stream media to push their ideology. She is handsomely paid to do this like many others. But at the end of the day, she is a sock puppet who would have been marginalised and ignored if the corporate world did not need her.

    1. House prices are not just a function of supply and demand of houses. Increased supply of money, or rather a perception of more money being available, will lead to demand for, if not more houses, certainly bigger ones. Here in Ireland, a single-income household traditionally was offered a mortgage of a factor of two-and-a-half times income, but during our famous "Celtic Tiger" boom dual-income couples were offered factors of up to six or seven times income, despite those incomes being of only slightly greater real value than single incomes of two or three decades earlier.

      The entire business of getting women 'out to work' has certainly been one gigantic scam, a monumental shake-down.

  4. Greer argues in that panel discussion that there are more than "just two sexes". She says to argue otherwise is essentialist and "it's just wrong". She says that "you can't know that" you we born with the wrong sex, but that you should find comfort somewhere on the intersex spectrum. She explains about intersex babies that IT should be left, without interference, until such time as IT felt that IT wished to make a decision, observing that there may be a decision to be made.

    Jones challenges what he misunderstood Greer to say: that if someone "wanted to transition into a woman, your saying [that] you can't be a woman.(?)"

    Greer: "No, no. I'm not saying that at all."

    I think that there were two different discussions going on at that [sic]. Each person who was party to one, wasn't party to the other.

    Greer was talking past everyone but Dalyrumple (I think), who at the end, sort of summed up what Germaine meant: "Well, I think for Germaine, it is a question of truth, and not a question of what you feel, if I've got it right, it's a question of fact."

    The others were on their modern liberal magic carpets, off to the land where males become females, and females can change into males and boys can be women...

    Greer was talking about visible defects at birth, and what she referred to as the "broad area of intersex", in which she postions those medical and perhaps suspected chromosone anomolies. That is a serious and often tragic condition, and is a situation in which only the parents and doctors belong. It is not the same kind of sad and pathetic sexual confusion in which someone like Bruce Jenner makes bizarre dysfunctional choices late in his adult life.

    Greer is talking about what is known to be wrong at birth. The rest had no idea what she was talking about. Had anyone of them been listening, that discussion could have gone somewhere sensible.

  5. Greer deserves it.

  6. I'm inclined to be a little bit more sympathetic to Greer than most people here. Feminists generally reject reality out of hand when it conflicts with their precious theories. To her credit Greer tends to be more inclined at least to take the claims of reality into consideration. She had been an enthusiastic proponent of the sexual revolution but she later backed away from that quite a bit when it became obvious that the sexual revolution had been a disaster for women. So she does have some capacity for admitting mistakes.

    She's often wrong, sometimes catastrophically wrong, but I do get the feeling that she's not a mere ideologue. She has actually given her positions some thought and she is even prepared to consider evidence that she might regard as unpalatable. She's still often wrong but she's one of the few feminists who seems capable of rational argument. And she does have the ability to recognise complete nonsense when she sees it.

  7. transsexuals are the new heroes of a liberal social order - they are the ones leading the revolution. Which means that real women (i.e. biological women) aren't as important as they once were.

    Yep. If being a woman is merely a lifestyle choice then being a woman is about as meaningful as being a fan of Thai food or being a tennis fan. Greer understands that this is an attitude that is fundamentally hostile to and demeaning towards women. It trivialises women.

    It also means the end of the line for feminism. Ordinarily I'd say that that would be a very good thing indeed but in this case the new ideologies are even more dangerous and destructive than feminism.