Silenced by feminazis: The disturbing (and bitterly ironic) story of how Germaine Greer is having her voice snatched away by feminist students
Since I read The Female Eunuch in 1970, when the feminist bestseller was published, I’ve been an irritated admirer of Germaine Greer.
Irritated, because she has tiresome political views (a Marxist anarchist Liberal Democrat is hard to warm to), frequently changes her mind but is always sure she is right and can be guilty of sweeping unfairness to whole sections of society, especially men.
But there is much more reason to admire Greer, for she has an original mind, challenges her followers with everything she writes and says, is never dull and has tremendous guts.
She infuriated, inspired, energised and helped liberate generations of women and we all owe her a great debt of gratitude.
Any Cardiff students with an interest in social history should have been tweeting joyously when they learned that this icon of the feminist struggle would be soon giving a lecture at their university on ‘Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century’.
Instead, some of them decided their delicate sensibilities should not be assailed by someone who had views of which they disapproved.
Issues of sexual identity and orientation are very fashionable among the young at present. Being ‘cisgender’, is, in plain English, thinking you have the same gender identity you were given at birth, and straight is totally uncool. Non-binary or gender queer, i.e. being not exclusively male or female, is what’s currently trendy.
But what is really exciting in today’s society is to be transgender, famously exemplified by Olympic gold medallist Bruce Jenner, who married into the reality TV Kardashian family, announced he’d had surgery to acquire breasts, was now called Caitlyn and began appearing glamorously on magazine covers.
So when it emerged that Professor Greer had written in the past that even if a man had himself castrated, he would not look, sound or behave like a woman, she was condemned as an appalling heretic who ‘misgenders trans women’. If the shocked Cardiff students knew about smelling salts, they would have been sending out for truckloads.
Back in 1970, Greer’s mission was to shake up women’s complacency with their limited horizons, upbraid them for allowing themselves to be infantilised and dare them to enter the big world and show it what they were capable of.
Many in my generation subsequently did so and, with the help of many men, barriers to womens’ opportunities were torn down. After 1979 Margaret Thatcher, who had not expected a female prime minister in her lifetime, showed the world that femininity should not be confused with weakness.
As a young woman, I was happy to describe myself as a feminist, but it’s a label I have reluctantly come to reject.
Like the majority of my female friends, young and old, I find those who now call themselves feminist a spineless, whingeing lot seemingly bent on claiming the very status of victims that Greer fought so hard to liberate us from.
Greer (pictured) is seen by many as one of the leaders of the feminist movement but she faced widespread condemnation when she claimed transphobia does not exist at a Cambridge University lecture earlier this year
Greer let loose alleging that Jenner only wanted to be a woman so that she could revel in the attention
She believes she wants to be in the limelight like daughter Kim Kardashian
Most young men and women today take it for granted that they will have equal career opportunities and have better things to do than look for reasons to take offence.
However, sadly, many of today’s self-declared feminists do not. Typical of their nonsense was the petition initiated by Rachael Melhuish, the Women’s Officer at Cardiff University Students’ Union.
We all did silly things at her age and hopefully she’ll grow out of it but if anyone ever needed a good robust dose of Germaine Greer it is Ms Melhuish, whose elders have been filling her head with rubbish.
Greer, who has dedicated her academic life to opening doors and fighting for women to be heard in society, is having the door slammed and her voice snatched away by feminist students. An irony no doubt lost on the Women’s Officer.
On her Twitter account, Ms Melhuish describes herself as a ‘lover of intersectional feminism and food’.
Intersectional feminism was a term invented in 1989 by Professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American enemy of free speech whose publications include Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory And Assaultive Speech And The First Amendment. Its purpose is to explain that feminists are too white, middle class, able-bodied, straight, cisgendered and so on, thus must adapt accordingly.
Rachael Melhuish, the Women’s Officer at Cardiff University Students’ Union, who initiated the petition
Most of us would accept that we should listen to each other sympathetically and give the disadvantaged a leg up where we can, but ideological followers of the likes of Professor Crenshaw operate according to stringent rules. Hence the term ‘check your privilege’, which you use to silence others.
It operates a bit like a game of bridge: you can use your blackness, poverty, disability, homosexuality, discontent with your sexual organs or anything else that’s bugging you to trump those you perceive to be less oppressed and tell them to shut up.
There’s an even more sinister development in American schools and universities — and no doubt creeping in here — where teachers are required to give students ‘trigger warnings’ if introducing them in a book or lecture to an account of anything that might upset them.
For example, students should be warned that Things Fall Apart, a famous African novel by Chinua Achebe, might ‘trigger readers who have experienced racism, colonialism, religious persecution, violence, suicide, and more’.
Rachael Melhuish has clearly been industriously absorbing this kind of nonsense, as evident in her gobbledygook-laden plea to Cardiff University to cancel Greer’s talk. ‘Greer has demonstrated time and time again her misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.’
Since ‘trans-exclusionary views should have no place in feminism or society’, she continues, universities ‘should prioritise the voices of the most vulnerable on their campuses, not invite speakers who seek to further marginalise’.
While people die under repressive regimes around much of the world for uttering criticisms of their rulers, ignorant and spoiled young people in the West declare themselves the judge of who can and cannot be heard on their campuses.
There were always Left-wing students who tried to bar or shout down speakers from the Right, and they are still with us yelling about fascists and Zionists and climate-change deniers and Islamophobia.
But contemporary feminists have taken such protests to a level of lunacy that would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous to themselves and to society.
Of course, this ludicrous outcry against Greer is the latest in a long-line of perceived injustices for ‘feminazis’ to rage about. Heads must roll.
Greer asks Bishop if she'd go topless to save Bali Nine duo
Remember Nobel-prize winning scientist Sir Tim Hunt being hounded out of his job for making a crass joke? Or the barrister who was publicly humiliated for complimenting barrister Charlotte Proudman’s photo on a networking website?
Ironically, they show the truth of Greer’s assertion in The Female Eunuch: ‘The fear of freedom is strong in us.’
Thankfully, there is a voice of reason at Cardiff University. Although he covered his back by stressing the university’s ‘commitment to our LGBT+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] students and staff members’, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Riordan had the courage to say his institution was committed to freedom of speech and open debate: ‘Our events include speakers with a range of views, all of which are rigorously challenged and debated.’
It’s a pity that Greer has had enough of this kind of ignorant, arrogant stupidity and says she can’t now be bothered going to Cardiff. But she put in a magnificently bloody-minded performance on BBC2’s Newsnight, reiterating her views on trangendering and suggesting that Caitlyn Jenner had looked for ‘the limelight that the other female members of the family were enjoying’ and had acquired it ‘just like that’.
Hurrah for Germaine Greer! Now will someone give Rachael Melhuish some George Orwell to read?