“A ghastly parody” – of an academic (my take on Greer’s transphobia)

So, a few quick thoughts on Germaine Greer’s latest attempts to defend her transphobic hate speech and hold herself unaccountable for her despicable views. (I’ve used the Guardian article for this)

She claimed a month ago, “It strikes me as a bit of a put-up job really because I am not even going to talk about the issue that they are on about.” If that’s the case, then how come the article says, “During the lecture at Cardiff University, Greer insisted in the bluntest of terms that she did not accept that post-operative men were women.”? (The article explains it was in the Q&A afterwards, but even so, it seems she was very happy to spout more of her hate speech.)

When it comes to “free speech” (my views on free speech versus no-platforming are summarised here), apparently for Greer this only goes one way:

She paused when she spotted a microphone in the audience and demanded to know if the woman holding it was recording the lecture. The woman told her she was a helper and the microphone was to ensure that people could be heard during the question-and-answer session.

Greer explained that she had asked because she said she was being “pursued” by the Guardian over the revelation that in the 1970s she wrote a 30,000-word love letter to the writer Martin Amis.

If you don’t want to be recorded at a free lecture, then don’t give a free lecture. If you claim “free speech”, people are pretty much free to judge you by what you do with it. That’s the whole issue of why there is no-platforming campaigning going on – people have heard what you have to say, and hold you accountable for it.

The bit I really wanted to think about was this soundbite:

If you didn’t find your pants full of blood when you were 13 there’s something important about being a woman you don’t know.

So… does the same logic apply to men?

“If you didn’t suffer from facial hair growth aged 13 [and cut yourself shaving every morning]…”

“If you didn’t have wet dreams when you were 13, or involuntary erections on the bus…”

“If you never had your voice break [and have to completely relearn your singing voice]…”

You might say that none of those are as bad as going through menstruation, but that’s not the point I’m making. The point is, does Greer believe gender is defined by one’s experience of puberty? (I’ve read several accounts of trans men and women that either explicitly compare, or else just make transition sound like perpetual puberty…)

It is quite a reductive (and curiously essentialist) definition of womanhood, and perhaps hints that for a certain brand of feminist womanhood is not simply socially defined, but it is also a club with rules for membership. Sort of like how traditional masculinity is enforced by men against other men.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there. The flip side of it is that trans women are somehow, “people who think they are women, have women’s names, and feminine clothes and lots of eyeshadow, who seem to us to be some kind of ghastly parody” (quoted from previous articles written by Greer) – to which this comic offers the best rebuttal (and a trans friend told me exactly the same thing, and you can find similar stories of being forced to perform stereotypical femininity in order to be accepted by medical and legal gatekeepers).

My final point is made with a heavy heart, because violence against trans women has today been in the news again. Greer claims that, when trans women are murdered, “We have two women a week being murdered in England by their partners. They are not my fault and the transexuals in America aren’t my fault either” – but her hate speech gives succour to the murderers of trans women, and I haven’t heard her giving hate speech against women in England.

She also claimed:

Greer said five women had approached her as she travelled to Cardiff to back her stance on trans women. “They said: ‘I’m so glad that someone is saying what we think. We don’t think that post-operative male transexuals are women but we are not allowed to say so’. I will say so because I don’t believe they are women. That’s not tantamount to calling them names. I also happen to believe that the surgery is unethical.”

No, it’s not “calling them names”. It’s providing the emotive and intellectual groundwork of permissiveness towards violence against them. Those women are the thin end of the wedge that ends with murders.

I could write more, but it is enough to link the article posted today at UnCommon Sense.

I will close with one final retort to Greer’s hate speech.

When Greer says things like, “I don’t accept post-operative males as females,” or that remark about “a ghastly parody” – well, maybe we don’t accept Greer as an academic. Instead, she seems to have become a ghastly parody with her lectures, books, and newspaper articles.


About ValeryNorth

I overthink everything.
This entry was posted in Gender, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “A ghastly parody” – of an academic (my take on Greer’s transphobia)

  1. Pingback: Freedom of speech and discrimination: #JustPray and other issues | Valery North – Writer

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