Petition to 'No Platform' leading feminist, Germaine Greer.
Plastered like an activist flung duck egg, over the incendiary walls of the twitterati and ‘thought carriers’ everywhere, is the news that Germaine Greer is no longer a feminist. Yes. The contrarian maverick behind the feminist, paragonic polemic The Female Eunuch has been confronted by a petition to ‘No Platform’ her from speaking at Cardiff University, because – broadly speaking – she is no longer considered to be feminist enough. We have finally gone through the looking glass people, and things have gotten considerably wobbly.
The contention has arrived as a result of Greer’s thoughts surrounding the issue of transgenderism. To summarise, she suggests that having a sex change operation does not fundamentally change the actual biological sex of a person, and that male to female operations are a form of castration and female imitation.
To counter, many trans activists believe this view to be a form a transphobia and trans misogyny. Many argue that if Greer does not accept male to female trans people as fundamentally women, then she does not stand for all women and thusly she is not an acceptable feminist. As a result some activists at Cardiff University have begun a petition pushing the university to disallow Greer to speak on the subject of Women and Power in the 20th century.
It turns out the ‘activists’ needn’t bother kicking up too much of a stink as, despite such a low number of signatories (quickly over taken by a counter petition), the 76 year old academic has decided that She is Too Old For This Shit. During an interview with Kirsty Wark at Newsnight, Greer argued that she hasn’t spoken on the subject of trans issues for many years (such as in her book The Whole Woman) and after being glitter bombed in the past, she didn’t really feel like having stuff flung at her anymore. She did indeed look uncharacteristically exasperated.
Seemingly, so too have many corners of the political spectrum. Anyone who has followed so called Identity Politics issues for a while, wont be surprised at the attempt to No Platform Greer as a result of her purported trans misogyny . This stuff has been humming around the hollow caverns of Twitter for a while now, and other feminists such as Julie Bindel and Kate Smurthwaite have come under similarly flickered fires. The label TERF (or trans exclusionary radical feminist) has become a Right On terminology and with it a promulgation of cultural McCarthyism that fears off (with the threat of being labelled a bigot) any dissent on the new trans politics. Indeed, an article in the New York Times recently outlined the ferocity of pummelling metered out in the face of such dissent.
However, Greer’s position as a household name has thrust more populist presses into the debate, as though the trans activists have finally snipped the right colour wire. One wonders if that will result in more feminists, critical of the concept of a Gendered Brain, to amplify the tenor of their back alley whisperings. Although my breathe is not too bated. The New Yorker article aside, many journos have been decidedly tentative on the subject even when they do bring it up.
Needless to say, the idea that you can bludgeon the whole world into your own vision of intellectual utopia is at the very best, foolhardy. At worst it is the dangerous trickle of fascism. Whatever else one could say about Greer, she has never been one for censorship or thought control, and maybe therein lies the real nature of the exasperation. I will say this carefully. I feel it too.