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Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer at the "Humber Mouth" Hull literature festival 2006
Born 29 January 1939 (1939-01-29) (age 71)
Melbourne, Australia
Occupation Academic writer
Nationality Australian
Ethnicity White
Education University of Melbourne (B.A.)
University of Sydney (M.A.)
University of Cambridge (Ph.D.)
Period 1970–present
Subjects Art history, English literature, feminism
Notable work(s) The Female Eunuch

Germaine Greer (born 29 January 1939) is an Australian-born writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century.[1][2][3]

Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since her book The Female Eunuch became an international best-seller in 1970, turning her into a household name and bringing her both adulation and opposition. She is also the author of many other books including, Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984); The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991) and Shakespeare's Wife (2007). She currently serves as Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick.

Germaine Greer has defined her goal as 'women's liberation' as distinct from 'equality with men'. [4]



Early life

Greer was born in Melbourne in 1939, growing up in the bayside suburb of Mentone. Her father was a leading Australian insurance executive, who served as a Wing Commander in the wartime RAAF. After attending a private convent school, Star of the Sea College, in Gardenvale, she won a teaching scholarship in 1956 and enrolled at the University of Melbourne. After graduating with a degree in English and French language and literature, she moved to Sydney, where she became involved with the Sydney Push social milieu and the anarchist Sydney Libertarians at its centre. Christine Wallace, in her unauthorised biography, describes Greer at this time:

For Germaine, [the Push] provided a philosophy to underpin the attitude and lifestyle she had already acquired in Melbourne. She walked into the Royal George Hotel, into the throng talking themselves hoarse in a room stinking of stale beer and thick with cigarette smoke, and set out to follow the Push way of life — 'an intolerably difficult discipline which I forced myself to learn'. The Push struck her as completely different from the Melbourne intelligentsia she had engaged with in the Drift, 'who always talked about art and truth and beauty and argument ad hominem; instead, these people talked about truth and only truth, insisting that most of what we were exposed to during the day was ideology, which was a synonym for lies — or bullshit, as they called it.' Her Damascus turned out to be the Royal George, and the Hume Highway was the road linking it. 'I was already an anarchist,' she says. 'I just didn't know why I was an anarchist. They put me in touch with the basic texts and I found out what the internal logic was about how I felt and thought.[5]

By 1972 Greer would identify as an anarchist communist, close to Marxism.[6]

In her first teaching post, Greer lectured at the University of Sydney, where she also earned a first class M.A. in romantic poetry in 1963 with a thesis titled The Development of Byron's Satiric Mode. A year later, the thesis won her a Commonwealth Scholarship, which she used to fund her doctorate at the University of Cambridge in England, where she became a member of the all-women's Newnham College.

Professor Lisa Jardine, who was at Newnham at the same time, recalled the first time she met Greer, at a formal dinner in college:

The principal called us to order for the speeches. As a hush descended, one person continued to speak, too engrossed in her conversation to notice, her strong Australian accent reverberating around the room. At the graduates' table, Germaine was explaining that there could be no liberation for women, no matter how highly educated, as long as we were required to cram our breasts into bras constructed like mini-Vesuviuses, two stitched white cantilevered cones which bore no resemblance to the female anatomy. The willingly suffered discomfort of the Sixties bra, she opined vigorously, was a hideous symbol of male oppression ... [W]e were ... astonished at the very idea that a woman could speak so loudly and out of turn and that words such as "bra" and "breasts' — or maybe she said "tits" — could be uttered amid the pseudo-masculine solemnity of a college dinner.[7]

Greer joined the student amateur acting company, the Cambridge Footlights, which launched her into the London arts and media scene. Using the pen name Rose Blight, she also wrote a gardening column for the satirical magazine Private Eye, and as Dr. G, became a regular contributor to the underground London magazine Oz, owned by the Australian writer Richard Neville.[8] The 29 July 1970 edition was guest-edited by Greer, and featured an article of hers on the hand-knitted Cock Sock, "a snug corner for a chilly prick." She also posed nude for Oz on the understanding that the male editors would do likewise: they did not. Greer was also editor of the Amsterdam underground magazine Suck, which published a full-page photograph of Greer: "stripped to the buff, looking at the lens through my thighs."Germaine Greer has said that ""Cunt" is one of the few remaining words in the English language with a genuine power to shock."[2] [9][10]

In 1968 she received her Ph.D. on the topic of Elizabethan drama with a thesis titled The Ethic of Love and Marriage in Shakespeare's early comedies, and accepted a lectureship in English at the University of Warwick in Coventry. The same year, in London, she married Australian journalist Paul du Feu, but the marriage lasted only three weeks, during which, as she later admitted, Greer was unfaithful several times.[11] The marriage finally ended in divorce in 1973.

Early career

Following her success with the publication in 1970 of The Female Eunuch, Greer resigned her post at Warwick University in 1972 after travelling the world to promote her book. She co-presented a Granada Television comedy show called Nice Time with Kenny Everett and Jonathan Routh, bought a house in Italy, wrote a column for The Sunday Times, then spent the next few years travelling through Africa and Asia, which included a visit to Bangladesh to investigate the situation of women who had been raped during the conflict with Pakistan. On the New Zealand leg of her tour in 1972, Greer was arrested for using the words "bullshit" and "fuck" during her speech, which attracted major rallies in her support.[1][2][3][12][13][14][15][16][17]

In the mid-1970s, Greer appeared on conservative William F. Buckley's Firing Line. In his memoir, Buckley recalled that Greer had "trounced him" during the debate. He wrote, "Nothing I said, and memory reproaches me for having performed miserably, made any impression or any dent in the argument. She carried the house overwhelmingly."[18]

In 1979 Greer was appointed to a post in the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma as the director for the Center of the Study of Women's Literature. She was also the founding editor of Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, an academic journal, during 1981–82.[19]

Later career

In 1989, Greer was appointed as a special lecturer and fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge, but resigned after attracting negative publicity in 1996 for her actions regarding Dr. Rachael Padman, a transsexual colleague. Greer unsuccessfully opposed Padman's election to a fellowship, on the grounds that Padman had been born male, and Newnham was a women's college. A 25 June 1997 article by Clare Longrigg in The Guardian about the incident, entitled "A Sister with No Fellow Feeling", disappeared from websites on the instruction of the newspaper's lawyers.[20][21][22]

Over the years Greer has continued to self-identify as an anarchist or a Marxist. In her books she has dealt very little with political labels of this type, but has reaffirmed her position in interviews. For example, she stated on ABC Television in 2008 that "I ought to confess I suppose that I'm a Marxist. I think that reality comes first and ideology comes second," and elaborated later in the program to a question on whether feminism was the only successful revolution of the 20th century saying:

"The difficulty for me is that I believe in permanent revolution. I believe that once you change the power structure and you get an oligarchy that is trying to keep itself in power, you have all the illiberal features of the previous regime. What has to keep on happening is a constant process of criticism, renewal, protest and so forth."[23]

Speaking on an interview for 3CR (an Australian community radio), also in 2008, she described herself as "an old anarchist" and reaffirmed that opposition to "hierarchy and capitalism" were at the centre of her politics.[24]

Greer is now retired but retains her position as Professor Emeritus in the Department of English Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick, Coventry.


The Female Eunuch

The 1971 paperback edition of The Female Eunuch featuring John Holmes's iconic cover art

Greer argued in her book, The Female Eunuch, that women do not realise how much men hate them, and how much they are taught to hate themselves. Christine Wallace writes that, when The Female Eunuch was first published, one woman had to keep it wrapped in brown paper because her husband wouldn't let her read it; arguments and fights broke out over dinner tables and copies of it were thrown across rooms at unsuspecting husbands (Wallace 1997). It arrived in the stores in London in October 1970. By March 1971, it had nearly sold out its second printing and had been translated into eight languages.

"The title is an indication of the problem," Greer told the New York Times in 1971, "Women have somehow been separated from their libido, from their faculty of desire, from their sexuality. They've become suspicious about it. Like beasts, for example, who are castrated in farming in order to serve their master's ulterior motives — to be fattened or made docile — women have been cut off from their capacity for action. It's a process that sacrifices vigour for delicacy and succulence, and one that's got to be changed."[25]

Two of the book's themes already pointed the way to Sex and Destiny 14 years later, namely that the nuclear family is a bad environment for women and for the raising of children; and that the manufacture of women's sexuality by Western society was demeaning and confining. Girls are feminised from childhood by being taught rules that subjugate them, she argued. Later, when women embrace the stereotypical version of adult femininity, they develop a sense of shame about their own bodies, and lose their natural and political autonomy. The result is powerlessness, isolation, a diminished sexuality, and a lack of joy:

The ignorance and isolation of most women mean that they are incapable of making conversation: most of their communication with their spouses is a continuation of the power struggle. The result is that when wives come along to dinner parties they pervert civilised conversation about real issues into personal quarrels. The number of hostesses who wish they did not have to invite wives is legion.

Greer argued that women should get to know and come to accept their own bodies, taste their own menstrual blood, and give up celibacy and monogamy. But they should not burn their bras. "Bras are a ludicrous invention," she wrote, "but if you make bralessness a rule, you're just subjecting yourself to yet another repression."

While being interviewed about the book in 1971, she told the New York Times that she had been a "supergroupie." "Supergroupies don't have to hang around hotel corridors," she said. "When you are one, as I have been, you get invited backstage. I think groupies are important because they demystify sex; they accept it as physical, and they aren't possessive about their conquests."

Publications in the 1970s and 1980s

Greer's second book, The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work (1979) covers its subject until the end of the nineteenth century. It also speculates on the existence of women artists whose careers are not recorded by posterity. Greer translated Aristophanes's Lysistrata in 1972.

Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility, published in 1984, continued Greer's critique of Western attitudes toward sexuality, fertility, family, and the imposition of those attitudes on the rest of the world. Greer's target again is the nuclear family, government intervention in sexual behaviour, and the commercialisation of sexuality and women's bodies. Germaine Greer argued that the Western promotion of birth control in the Third World was in large part driven not by concern for human welfare but by the traditional fear and envy of the rich towards the fertility of the poor. She argued that the birth control movement had been tainted by such attitudes from its beginning, citing Marie Stopes and others. She cautioned against condemning life styles and family values in the developing world.

In 1986, Greer published Shakespeare, a work of literary criticism, and The Madwoman's Underclothes: Essays and Occasional Writings, a collection of newspaper and magazine articles written between 1968 and 1985. In 1989 came Daddy, We Hardly Knew You, a diary and travelogue about her father, whom she described as distant, weak and unaffectionate, which led to claims — which she characterized as inevitable in an interview with The Guardian — that in her writing she was projecting her relationship with him onto all other men.

Publications since 1990

The Beautiful Boy, 2003

In 1991, The Change: Women, Ageing, and the Menopause, which the New York Times called a "brilliant, gutsy, exhilarating, exasperating fury of a book" became another influential book in the women's movement. In it, Greer wrote of the various myths concerning menopause, advising against the use of hormone replacement therapy. "Frightening females is fun," she wrote in The Age. "Women were frightened into using hormone replacement therapy by dire predictions of crumbling bones, heart disease, loss of libido, depression, despair, disease and death if they let nature take its course." She argues that scaring women is "big business and hugely profitable." It is fear, she wrote, that "makes women comply with schemes and policies that work against their interest". Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet followed in 1995.

In 1999, the whole woman, which was intended as a sequel to The Female Eunuch was released. In this book she discussed what she saw as the lack of fundamental progress in the feminist movement, and criticized some sections of the women's movement for illusions on that score:[4]

Even if it had been real, equality would have been a poor substitute for liberation; fake equality is leading women into double jeopardy. The rhetoric of equality is being used in the name of political correctness to mask the hammering that women are taking. When The Female Eunuch was written our daughters were not cutting or starving themselves. On every side speechless women endure endless hardship, grief and pain, in a world system that creates billions of losers for every handful of winners.

It's time to get angry again.

Chapter titles reveal the themes, including: "Food," "Breast," "Pantomime Dames (about transsexual women)," "Shopping," "Estrogen," "Testosterone," "Wives," "Loathing," "Girlpower" and "Mutilation" (including a discussion of female genital mutilation in the Third World and the West). Her comments about female genital mutilation proved especially controversial in some quarters, for example a United Kingdom House of Commons Committee described her viewpoint as "simplistic and offensive."[26][27] In fact Greer was opposed to the practice and that feminists fighting to eliminate female genital mutilation in their own countries "must be supported",[4] but had explored some of the complexities of the issue, and the double standards of the West, and warned against using the issue to "reinforce our notions of cultural superiority".[4] She had pointed out that the term "female genital mutilation" was itself simplistic being used to describe practices varying from "nicking the prepuce of the clitoris to provoke ritual bleeding",[4] to the extreme mutilation of infibulation. She questioned the perhaps simplistic view that that female genital mutilation was necessarily imposed by men on women rather than by women on women, or even freely chosen, adducing some anecdotal evidence to the contrary[4] and discussed the issue in relation to some of the forms of genital and other bodily mutilations carried out in the West on men and women. She notes for example that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends female genital mutilation of baby girls with "over long" clitorides and that five such procedures are in fact carried out every day in the United States, without being included in "female genital mutilation" statistics[4] In particular she compared female genital mutilation to the practice of male genital mutilation[4]:

Any suggestion that male genital mutilation should be outlawed would be understood to be a frontal attack on the cultural identity of Jews and Muslims.

The same issues are raised by female genital mutilation. As a practical note for activists:[4]

As UN workers in East Uganda found, women would not abandon female circumcision until some similarly significant procedure could take its place.

Other controversial points in this book include Germaine Greer's opposition to accepting transsexual women as women:[4]

Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognize as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex. No so-called sex-change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant; if uterus-and-ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.

In 2003, The Beautiful Boy was published, an art history book about the beauty of teenage boys, which is illustrated with 200 photographs of what The Guardian disparagingly called "succulent teenage male beauty".[28] Greer described the book as an attempt to address modern women's apparent indifference to the teenage boy as a sexual object and to "advance women's reclamation of their capacity for, and right to, visual pleasure" (Greer 2003). The photograph on the cover was of Björn Andrésen in his character of Tadzio in the film Death in Venice (1971). The actor has been quoted by journalists as complaining about the picture's use.[29][30]

In 2007, Greer contributed an essay to the book Stella Vine: Paintings[31] which accompanied the major solo exhibition of British painter Stella Vine at Modern Art Oxford museum in England. In May 2007, Greer and Vine took part in a public talk Gender & Culture[32] as part of the Women's International Arts Festival.[33] On 18 September 2007, Greer gave a talk about Vine's art with gallery director Andrew Nairne.[34] Also in 2007, Greer published a biography of Anne Hathaway entitled Shakespeare's Wife, one of the few books to deal with this subject.

In 2008, she wrote the essay On Rage about the widespread rage of indigenous men, published in the series "Little Books on Big Themes" by Melbourne University Publishing, launched by Bob Carr on 15 August 2008.[35]

Other media

Greer responded to Christine Wallace's biography, Germaine Greer: The Untamed Shrew (1997), by claiming that biographies of living persons are morbid and worthless, as they can only be incomplete. She said: "I don't write about any living women ... because I think that's invidious; there is no point in limiting her by the achievements of the past because she's in a completely different situation, and I figure she can break the moulds and start again."[36]

In 1999, she sat for a nude photograph by the Australian photographer Polly Borland.[37] The photo was part of an exhibition at the UK's National Portrait Gallery in 2000. It later appeared in a book titled Polly Borland: Australians.[38]

She has made frequent appearances on the BBC's satirical television panel show Have I Got News For You, including one in the program's very first series in 1990. Her nine appearances as a panellist is the show's current record for a female guest (beaten only in the all-time list by comedians Alexander Armstrong, and Jack Dee), with the most recent occasion being in November 2008. Her most memorable appearance was in 1995 when Ian Hislop quoted Greer's spat with a fellow broadsheet columnist, Suzanne Moore, which included a reference to Moore wearing "fuck me shoes".

Greer was one of nine contestants in the 2005 series of Celebrity Big Brother UK. She had previously said that the show was "as civilised as looking through the keyhole in your teenager's bedroom door". She walked out of the show after five days inside the 'Big Brother house', citing the psychological cruelty and bullying of the show's producers, the dirt of the house, and the publicity-seeking behaviour of her fellow contestants. However since then she has appeared on spin-off shows Big Brother's Little Brother and Big Brother's Big Mouth.[39]

In September 2006, Greer's column in The Guardian about the death of Australian Steve Irwin attracted much criticism and some support. Greer said that "The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin". In an interview with the Nine Network's A Current Affair about her comments, Greer said "I really found the whole Steve Irwin phenomenon embarrassing and I'm not the only person who did" and that she hoped that "exploitative nature documentaries" would now end. [40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47]

In October 2006, Greer appeared twice in an episode of Ricky Gervais' Extras playing herself.

In the same month she presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on the life of American composer and rock guitarist Frank Zappa. She confirmed that she had been a friend of Zappa's since the early 1970s and that his orchestral work "G-Spot Tornado" would be played at her funeral.[48] Germaine Greer has received much media attention for her writings against intersexed people. In 'The Whole Woman', Greer denies that women with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome are women at all. AIS women are included in her chapter called 'Pantomime Dames'. The media attention that this received caused her to receive letters from sexologist Dr. Milton Diamond of Hawaii as well as members and families of the international AIS community. Greer believes that even patients with complete AIS should be considered 'defective males'.[49] Greer believes that transsexual men who desire to be women are doing so by their own free will. In 'The Whole Woman' she blames illnesses such as polycystic ovarian disease for causes of women who become transmen. She makes the claim that women with Complete AIS must take large doses of estrogens to control facial hair. Both the polycystic ovarian disease claim and the AIS/facial hair claim have no basis in medical science.

Aboriginal Australians

In early 2000, Greer claimed at a press gathering in London that she never set foot in Australia before receiving the permission of the "traditional owners of the land" at Sydney Airport. New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council spokesman Paul Molloy later claimed that she had never asked permission, despite visiting Sydney several times in recent years, and in any case there was no single group of elders that could give such permission to enter Australia.[50]

In 2001, she attracted publicity again for a proposed treaty with Aboriginal Australia. In 2004, Australian Prime Minister John Howard called her "elitist" and "condescending" after she criticised Australians as "too relaxed to give a damn" and derided her native country as being "defined by suburban mediocrity." Howard called her comments "pathetic".[51]

In July 2007, Greer attacked Howard again over his indigenous intervention policy, saying the crisis would be turned into "proliferating catastrophe".[citation needed]

Personal assault

On 23 April 2000, Greer was assaulted in her home by a 19-year-old female student from the University of Bath who had been writing to her. The student broke into her home in Essex, tied Greer up in the kitchen, and caused damage to Greer's home. Friends Greer was to have met for dinner elsewhere eventually found Greer lying in a distressed state on the floor, with the student hanging onto her legs. BBC News reported that the student was originally charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm and with false imprisonment, but those charges were dropped and replaced with the harassment charge. She admitted harassing Greer and was sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. Greer was not hurt and told reporters: "I am not angry, I am not upset, I am not hurt. I am fine. I haven't lost my sense of humour. I am not the victim here."[52][53]

In popular culture


  1. ^ a b Jardine, Lisa. Growing up with Greer, The Guardian, 7 March 1999.
  2. ^ a b Bone, Pamela. "Western sisters failing the fight", The Australian, 8 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Germaine Greer," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Greer, Germaine, (1999), the whole woman, Transworld Publishers Ltd, 1999, ISBN 0-385-60016-X, pp.1-2, "In 1970 the movement was called 'Women's Liberation' or, contemptously, 'Women's Lib'. When the name 'Libbers' was dropped for 'Feminists' we were all relieved. What none of us noticed was that the ideal of liberation was fading out with the word. We were settling for equality. Liberation struggles are not about assimilation but about asserting difference, endowing that difference with dignity and prestige, and insisting on it as a condition of self-definition and self-determination. The aim of women's liberation is to do as much for female people as has been done for colonized nations. Women's liberation did not see the female's potential in terms of the male's actual; 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. Liberationsits sought the world over for clues as to what women's lives could be like if they were free to define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate.
    The Female Eunuch was one feminist text that did not argue for equality."
  5. ^ Wallace, Christine, (1997), Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew, Faber & Faber, 1999, ISBN 0-571-19934-8
  6. ^ "Greer on Revolution Germaine on Love". Overland 50/51 Autumn 1972. Recorded February 1972. Retrieved 16 August 2007. ""I am much more political now than I was then [i.e. than when a Sydney Libertarian] — I'm an anarchist still, but I'd say now I am an anarchist communist which I wasn't then .....The libertarians may have a good deal of intellectual prestige in Sydney, but seeing that they speak in self-evident truths and tautologies most of the time it's not difficult for them to get intellectual recognition. What disappoints me most about all the radical groups in Australia is that they have not yet managed to make the Marxist dialogue a part of the cultural life of the country as a whole, which it is say for example in India — it's something you expect to see discussed in the daily papers."" 
  7. ^ Stephanie Merritt. Danger Mouth, The Guardian, 5 October 2003
  8. ^ Oz magazine
  9. ^ Greer, Germaine (31 May 2007). "Well done, Beth Ditto. Now let it all hang out". Guardian.,,2091764,00.html. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  10. ^ Cook (compiled), Dana; Richard Neville, Clive James, Kenneth Tynan, & many others (15 December 2004). "Encounters with Germaine Greer". The Independent Institute / ifeminists. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  11. ^ Enough Rope Andrew Denton, ABC TV, 15 September 2003, Retrieved on 8 February 2007.
  12. ^ "Why does everyone hate me?". 17 January 2007.,,1992029,00.html. 
  13. ^ Gibson, Owen. "Greer walks out of 'bullying' Big Brother", The Guardian, 12 January 2005
  14. ^ Greer, Germaine. "Filth!", The Sunday Times, 16 January 2005
  15. ^ Pickering, Charlie. "Nasty Creatures Invading Our Habitat; When a recently deceased crocodile hunter meets a reptile of the press, it's hardly a fair contest.", City Weekly, 14 September 2006
  16. ^ Shukor, Steven. "From feminist sister to Big Brother housemate", The Guardian, 7 January 2005
  17. ^ Weintraub, Judith. "Germaine Greer — Opinions That May Shock the Faithful", New York Times, 22 March 1971
  18. ^ Buckley, William F. On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures. New York: Random House, 1989. "Encounters with Germaine Greer"
  19. ^ "Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature" — About
  20. ^ In the news:1997 Press For
  21. ^ "Brilliant Careers — Germaine Greer". 1999-06-22. Retrieved 2009-07-25. 
  22. ^ The genius of Madonna
  23. ^ Germaine Greer, Writing Politics, Q&A, ABC Television, Broadcast 14 August, 2008. The first quote is from 26min 10 sec, and the second is from 29 min 30sec into the vodcast
  24. ^ Interview on 3CR's Radio Mama, broadcast Thursday 28 August, quoted comments made about 10:05 am EST
  25. ^ New York Times, 22 March 1971
  26. ^ Michiko Kakutani: "The Female Condition, Re-explored 30 Years Later", 18 May 1999, The New York Times
  27. ^ "MPs attack Greer on female circumcision". BBC. 1999-11-25. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  28. ^ Danger mouth 5 October 2003
  29. ^ 'I feel used' 16 October 2003
  30. ^ I'm not Germaine's toy, says cover boy 18 October 2003
  31. ^ Stella Vine: Paintings. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  32. ^ Stella Vine at Modern Art Oxford. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  33. ^ "Visual Arts: Women's Arts International Festival: Kendal, Cumbria, England" 06 May 2007. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  34. ^ Deedes, Henry. Artist Stella misses brush with her adoring public, The Independent, 18 September 2007. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  35. ^ Wilson, Lauren (15 August 2008). "Bob Carr pierced by Germaine Greer's 'ferocious logic'". The Australian.,25197,24183660-16947,00.html. Retrieved 15 August 2008. 
  36. ^ Four Corners, ABC, September 1979.
  37. ^ Germaine Greer by Polly Borland NPG x88457 , October 1999
  38. ^ Polly Borland: Australians
  39. ^ "Germaine Greer: Filth!", The Sunday Times, 16 January 2005. Retrieved on 1 November 2006.
  40. ^ Greer, Germaine (5 September 2006). "That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a real Aussie larrikin". Guardian.,,1865124,00.html. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  41. ^ Hudson, Fiona (6 September 2006). "Feminist Greer slams Steve's antics". News Limited.,23599,20362163-2,00.html. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  42. ^ "Greer draws anger over Irwin comments". The Age. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  43. ^ "Australian feminist Greer attacks Croc Hunter". Daily News & Analysis. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  44. ^ "Greer not surprised Irwin "came to grief"". Reuters. 6 September 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2006. 
  45. ^ Holloway, Grant; John Vause (7 September 2006). "Storm breaks over attack on Irwin". CNN. Retrieved 7 June 2006. 
  46. ^ McGuinness, Padraic Pearse (7 September 2006). "Germaine Greer is right, Irwin took silly risks". Crikey. Retrieved 10 September 2006. 
  47. ^ Irwin portrait looks unmanly: Greer 20 February 2007
  48. ^ Freak Out! The Frank Zappa Story, BBC Radio 4, 7 October 2006. Retrieved on 1 November 2006.
  49. ^ Diamond, Milton. "Prof. Milton Diamond Writes to Greer". MedHelp. Retrieved 2009-10-28. 
  50. ^ 'Germaine, try this on for size' 08 September 2006
  51. ^ "Outrage as Greer brands Australians dull as Neighbours", The Scotsman, 28 January 2004. Retrieved on 1 November 2006.
  52. ^ Sapsted, David. "Stalker jumped on Greer crying 'Mummy, Mummy'", The Daily Telegraph, 5 July 2000.
  53. ^ 'Infatuated' student harassed Greer, BBC News, 4 July 2000. Retrieved on 1 November 2006.
  54. ^ Mother Greer
  55. ^ Greer, Germaine. "Hippie Hippie Shake is back, and the flesh-eating bacteria turn to me", The Guardian, 16 July 2007. Retrieved on 27 September 2007.
  56. ^ "Black Swan: The Female of the Species". Black Swan Theatre Company. 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  57. ^ Ball, Martin (1 September 2006). "The Female of the Species". The Age. Retrieved 17 March 2008. 
  58. ^ "Greer mad at 'insane' writer's play". The Australian. 2008-07-14.,25197,24014950-15089,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 
  59. ^ "Review : The Female of the Species". The Telegraph. 2008-07-17. Retrieved 2009-07-06. 

Further reading

  • Kearney, Kay (2008), "The liberation of Germaine Greer", The Australian Women's Weekly: celebrating 75 years as an Australian icon, Sydney, NSW: ACP Books, pp. 164–167, ISBN 9781876624040 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

It's better to print and be damned, because you'll be damned anyway.

Germaine Greer (born 1939-01-29) is an Australian author, academic, critic and journalist.

Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves; when that right is pre-empted it is called brain-washing.



Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.
The fear of freedom is strong in us. We call it chaos or anarchy, and the words are threatening...
  • Women have somehow been separated from their libido, from their faculty of desire, from their sexuality. They've become suspicious about it. Like beasts, for example, who are castrated in farming in order to serve their master's ulterior motives — to be fattened or made docile — women have been cut off from their capacity for action. It's a process that sacrifices vigour for delicacy and succulence, and one that's got to be changed.
  • The term eunuchs was used by Eldridge Cleaver to describe blacks. It occurred to me that women were in a somewhat similar position. Blacks had been emancipated from slavery but never given any kind of meaningful freedom, while women were given the vote but denied sexual freedom. In the final analysis, women aren't really free until their libidos are recognized as separate entities. Some of the suffragettes understood this. They could see the connection among the vote, political power, independence and being able to express their sexuality according to their own experience, instead of in reference to a demand by somebody else. But they were regarded as crazy and were virtually crucified. Thinking about them, I suddenly realized, Christ, we've been castrated and that's what it's all about. You see, it's all very well to let a bullock out into the field when you've already cut his balls off, because you know he's not going to do anything. That's exactly what happened to women.
    • On how she chose the title for The Female Eunuch, in an interview by Nat Lehrman in Playboy (January 1972)
  • Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves; when that right is pre-empted it is called brain-washing.
  • No one goes to the toilet in novels. You'd think none of us had bladders.

The Female Eunuch (1970)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-52762-8
We could only fear chaos if we imagined that it was unknown to us, but in fact we know it very well...
  • Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.
  • The fear of freedom is strong in us. We call it chaos or anarchy, and the words are threatening. We live in a true chaos of contradicting authorities, an age of conformism without community, of proximity without communication. We could only fear chaos if we imagined that it was unknown to us, but in fact we know it very well. It is unlikely that the techniques of liberation spontaneously adopted by women will be in such fierce conflict as exists between warring self-interests and conflicting dogmas, for they will not seek to eliminate all systems but their own. However diverse they may be, they need not be utterly irreconcilable, because they will not be conquistatorial.
    • Introduction
  • If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your own menstrual blood - if it makes you sick, you've got a long way to go, baby.
    • The Wicked Womb (p. 57)
  • Nobody wants a girl whose beauty is imperceptible to all but him...
    • The Stereotype (p. 67)
  • Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It had no mother.
    • The Psychological Sell (p. 104)
  • Even crushed against his brother in the Tube the average Englishman pretends desperately that he is alone.
    • Womanpower (p. 128)
Women have always been in closer contact with reality than men: it would seem to be the just recompense for being deprived of idealism.
  • Women have been charged with deviousness and duplicity since the dawn of civilization so they have never been able to pretend that their masks were anything but masks. It is a slender case but perhaps it does mean that women have always been in closer contact with reality than men: it would seem to be the just recompense for being deprived of idealism.
    • Womanpower (p. 129)
  • The principle of the brotherhood of man is that narcissistic one, for the grounds for that love have always been the assumption that we ought to realize that we are the same the whole world over.
    • The Ideal (p. 159)
  • Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.
    • Security (p. 274)
  • They still say "fuck you" as a venomous insult; they still find "cunt" the most degrading epithet outside the dictionary.
    • On men, in Hate (p. 287)
  • The surest guide to the correctness of the path that women take is joy in the struggle. Revolution is the festival of the oppressed.
    • Revolution

The Obstacle Race (1979)

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, ISBN 0-374-22412-9
Great artists are products of their own time: they do not spring forth fully equipped from the head of Jove, but are formed by the circumstances acting upon them since birth.
  • Great art, for those who insist upon this rather philistine concept (as if un-great art were unworthy of even their most casual and ill-informed attention), makes us stand back and admire. It rushes upon us pell-mell like the work of Rubens or Tintoretto or Delacroix, or towers above us. There is of course another aesthetic: the art of a Vermeer or a Braque seeks not to amaze and appal but to invite the observer to come closer, to close with the painting, peer into it, become intimate with it. Such art reinforces human dignity.
    • Chapter V: Dimension (p. 105)
  • The element of heroic maleness had always been present in the concept of the artist as one who rides the winged horse above the clouds beyond the sight of lesser men, a concept seldom applied to those who worked with colours until the nineteenth century. When the inevitable question is asked, "Why are there no great women artists?" it is this dimension of art that is implied. The askers know little of art, but they know the seven wonders of the painting world.
    • Chapter V: Dimension (p. 105)
  • Great artists are products of their own time: they do not spring forth fully equipped from the head of Jove, but are formed by the circumstances acting upon them since birth. These circumstances include the ambiance created by the other, lesser artists of their own time, who have all done their part in creating the pressure that forces up an exceptional talent. Unjustly, but unavoidably, the very closeness of a great artist to his colleagues and contemporaries leads to their eclipse.
    • Chapter VII: The Disappearing Oeuvre (p. 134)
At no time did anyone throw his cap in the air and rejoice that another painter, capable of equalling Hals at his best, had been discovered.
  • By 1627 Judith Leyster was famous enough to be mentioned in Ampzing's description of the city of Haarlem; by 1661 she had been so far forgotten that De Bie does not mention her in his Golden Cabinet. Her eclipse by Frans Hals may have begun in her own lifetime, as a consequence of her marriage to Molenaer perhaps, for Sir Luke Schaub acquired the painting now known as The Jolly Companions as a Hals in Haarlem in the seventeenth century.
    If Judith Leyster had not been in the habit of signing her work with the monogram JL attached to a star, a pun on the name her father had taken from his brewery, Leyster or Lodestar, her works might never have been reattributed to her: few paintings can boast of a provenance as clear as that of The Jolly Companions. As a result of the discovery that The Jolly Companions bore Leyster's monogram, the English firm which had sold the painting to Baron Schlichting in Paris as a Hals attempted to rescind their own purchase and get their money back from the dealer, Wertheimer, who had sold it to them for £4500 not only as a Hals but "one of the finest he ever painted." Sir John Millars agreed with Wertheimer about the authenticity and value of the painting. The special jury and the Lord Chief Justice never did get to hear the case, which was settled in court on 31st May 1893, with the plaintiffs agreeing to keep the painting for £3500 plus £500 costs. The gentlemen of the press made merry at the experts' expense, for all they had succeeded in doing was in destroying the value of the painting. Better, they opined, to have asked no questions. At no time did anyone throw his cap in the air and rejoice that another painter, capable of equalling Hals at his best, had been discovered.
    • Chapter VII: The Disappearing Oeuvre (p. 136)

Sex and Destiny : The Politics of Human Fertility (1984)

Olympic Marketing, ISBN 0-06091-250-2
  • The blind conviction that we have to do something about other people’s reproductive behaviour, and that we may have to do it whether they like it or not, derives from the assumption that the world belongs to us, who have so expertly depleted its resources, rather than to them, who have not.
    • Chapter 14

The Madwoman's Underclothes (1986)

Little, Brown and Company, ISBN 0-87113-308-3
When the burning and shivering stopped and I could see again only what was there, I stayed enthralled by clarity.
I hated being out of touch, isolated by the solipsism of delirium, unable to communicate or comprehend.
Consensus politics means that you cannot afford to give the many-headed beast, the public, anything to vote against, for voting against is what gargantuan pseudodemocracy has to come down to...
Most people die in improvised circumstances of harassment and confusion, whether in hospital or out of it.
  • While young fools of my generation produced terrifying symptoms by ingesting poisons of various synthetic kinds, I was taken to extraordinary realms by a bacillus carried from human excrement by a fly's foot. I swelled to the size of a mountain and shrank to the size of a pin, flew and sang and fell through exotic configurations, in the intervals between agonizing convulsions on the heavy earthenware vaso, whose lethal contents I had to dispose of in the fields when the fever subsided. When the burning and shivering stopped and I could see again only what was there, I stayed enthralled by clarity. There was nothing to me in biochemical mindbending or bullshit psychedelia that did not have the slimy scent of death about it. I hated being out of touch, isolated by the solipsism of delirium, unable to communicate or comprehend.
    • "Introduction," p. xxii
  • Kinkiness comes from low energy. It's the substitution of lechery for lust.
    • "A groupie's vision" (October 1969), p. 10
  • Once a paper admits any principle of censorship for survival, the we-don't-want-to-do-it-but-we-don't-want-to-lose-the-printer kind of censorship, it jeopardizes the integrity of its editorial principle. It's better to print and be damned, because you'll be damned anyway.
    • "The million-dollar Underground" (July 1969), p. 15
  • The treatment for jaded sensibilities is not to shatter them, after all.
    • "The Wet Dream Film Festival" (1971), p. 57
  • The pain of sexual frustration, of repressed tenderness, of denied curiosity, of isolation in the ego, of greed, suppressed rebellion, of hatred poisoning all love and generosity, permeates our sexuality. What we love we destroy.
    • "The Wet Dream Film Festival" (1971), p. 57
  • As Angelo discovered in Measure for Measure, nothing corrupts like virtue.
    • "A needle for your pornograph" (22 July 1971), p. 67
  • Next time round Hitler will be a machine.
    • "My Mailer problem" (September 1971), 83
  • Compulsory motherhood is not ennobling, although the friends of the foetus are at pains to point out that most women denied abortions end up loving their issue just the same. Whether they love them just the same as they would have if they had wanted them is of course unverifiable; most women are not so perverse and unjust as to punish their children for the crimes of society (their fathers), but the oppression of their circumstances is real notwithstanding. For the oppressors themselves to take credit for the women's magnanimity is sickeningly smug. The compelled mother loves her child as the caged bird sings. The song does not justify the cage nor the love the enforcement.
    • "Abortion ii" (21 May 1972), p. 115
  • Consensus politics means that you cannot afford to give the many-headed beast, the public, anything to vote against, for voting against is what gargantuan pseudodemocracy has to come down to.
    • "The Big Tease" (October 1972), p. 138
  • Most people die in improvised circumstances of harassment and confusion, whether in hospital or out of it.
    • "Not a time to die" (3 December 1972), p. 147
  • Doctors, lawyers and even accountants have always understood that they would have to stand firm, functioning as a solid group protecting its own expertise and hence its earning capacity, from the tendency of all merchants to buy cheap and sell dear. They made of their special knowledge a rare and valuable commodity, insisted on a mystique and protected each other by an immovable professional code. They were cynical enough to know that if they were once cast in the role of public martyrs, working harder and more generously than most other groups of workers, they would be left with nothing but masochism, exhaustion and despair to show for it. Like successful trade unions, who have always worked on the principle that the job is worth whatever you can force the employer to pay for it and not a penny more or less, they understood that nobody was going to pay them their fees out of gratitude, that if they left it to the man whose life they had saved to pay them what he thought fit, they would wind up with half an old penny.
    • "'Unhelpful to the workers' cause'" [undated], p. 175
  • The most unpardonable privilege that men enjoy is their magnanimity.
    • "Eternal war: Strindberg's view of sex" (3 June 1978), p. 207
  • In the nuclear family the child is confronted by only two adults contrasted by sex. The tendency towards polarization is unavoidable. The duplication of effort in the nuclear family is directly connected to the family's role as the principal unit of consumption in consumer society. Each household is destined to acquire a complete set of all the consumer durables considered necessary for the good life and per caput consumption is therefore maintained at its highest level. In sex, as in consumption, the nuclear family emphasizes possession and exclusivity at the expense of the kinds of emotional relationships that work for co-operation and solidarity.
    • "Women and power in Cuba" (1985), p. 271

Daddy, We Hardly Knew You (1989)

Ballantine, ISBN 0-449-90561-6
In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still, and absorbed.
  • Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace, and wit, reminders of order, calm, and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, unorgastic, reliable, deep, and long-lasting. In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still, and absorbed.
    • "Still in Melbourne, January 1987"

The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause (1991)

Ballantine Books, ISBN 0-44990-853-4
  • Women over fifty already form one of the largest groups in the population structure of the western world. As long as they like themselves, they will not be an oppressed minority. In order to like themselves they must reject trivialization by others of who and what they are. A grown woman should not have to masquerade as a girl in order to remain in the land of the living.
    • Introduction

The Whole Woman (1999)

Doubleday, ISBN 0385 60016X
  • This sequel to The Female Eunuch is the book I said I would never write.
    • "Recantation"
  • A woman's pleasure is not dependent upon the presence of a penis in the vagina; neither is a man's.
    • Abortion (pg. 95)
  • Men have still not realized that letting women do so much of the work for so little reward makes a man in the house an expensive luxury rather than a necessity.
    • Work (pg. 136)
If the next time our governments propose to make war on a helpless civilian population we were to uncover our grief and guilt instead of our anger, how much difference might we make?
  • The few men who do a hand's turn around the house expect gratitude and recognition, so sure are they that, though it is their dirt, it is not their job.
    • Housework (pg. 141)
  • How you answer the question, whether individuals should be persuaded to live their whole lives in a state of chemical dependency, first upon contraceptive steroids and then on replacement therapy, depends upon your regard for the autonomy of the individual. If men would not live their lives this way, why should women?
    • Estrogen (pg. 160)
  • We can put women on Prozac and they will think they are happy, even though they are not. Disturbed animals in the zoo are given Prozac too, which rather suggests that misery is a response to unbearable circumstances rather than constitutional.
    • Sorrow (pg. 183)
  • If the next time our governments propose to make war on a helpless civilian population we were to uncover our grief and guilt instead of our anger, how much difference might we make?
    • Sorrow (pg. 189)
  • In a sane society no woman would be left to struggle on her own with the huge transformation that is motherhood, when a single individual finds herself joined by an invisible umbilical cord to another person from whom she will never be separated, even by death.
    • Mothers (pg. 209)
  • Regardless of the dutiful pushing of condoms in the girls' press, the exposure of baby vaginas and cervixes to the penis is more likely to result in pregnancy and infection than orgasm.
    • Girlpower (pg. 332)
  • The most powerful entities on earth are not governments but the multi-national corporations that see women as their territory, indoctrinating them with their versions of beauty, health and hygiene, medicating them and cultivating their dependency in order to medicate them some more.
    • Liberation (pg. 336)

Quotes about Greer

  • She has been in the business of shaking up a complacent establishment for nearly 40 years now and was employing the most elemental shock tactic of getting naked in public both long before and long after it ever crossed Madonna's mind. She has repeatedly written about her own experiences of lesbian sex, rape, abortion, infertility, failed marriage (she was married for three weeks to a construction worker in the 1960s) and menopause, thereby leaving herself open to claims that she shamelessly extrapolates from her own condition to the rest of womankind and calls it a theory ... In part, her ability to remain so prominently in the public consciousness comes from an astute understanding and well-established symbiotic relationship with a media as eager to be shocked as she is to shock.
  • "The Female Eunuch" is a fitful, passionate, scattered text, not cohesive enough to qualify as a manifesto. It's all over the place, impulsive and fatally naive — which is to say it is the quintessential product of its time.
    So was Greer. ... If Greer were a bit more honest and had a bit more perspective, she'd have a useful message to relay to young women about the perils of confusing sexual autonomy with the real but ephemeral ability to manipulate men. She could elucidate the difference between a sexual freedom that abuses body and soul and a sexual freedom that cherishes and respects them. But Greer has always spoken directly from the tangles of her personal experience, shamelessly extrapolating from her own condition to the rest of womankind and seemingly unaware of her presumption. ... In the '70s, she admonished women who lacked her confidence, stylishness and libido for their timorousness. Today, feeling betrayed, she's become grim and hectoring, a feminist more cartoonishly man-hating than the ones she supposedly defied in the '70s, nattering on about body hair and bras.
  • Women who were housewives, who were pretty miserable ... felt inspired by her book and their life changed. They didn't become megastars, but they became a librarian or something. I've heard women say again and again when the subject of Germaine comes up: 'Well, her book changed my life for the better.' And they'll be modest women living pretty ordinary lives, but better lives.

External links

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Simple English

Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer (born 29 January 1939) is an Australian writer, journalist and scholar of English literature. A lot of people think she is one of the most important feminists of the late 20th century.[1][2][3] She has written books like The Female Eunuch, Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility, The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause and Shakespeare's Wife.

Early life

Greer was born in 1939 in Melbourne, Australia. She went to a convent school, and later went to the University of Melbourne. She got a degree in English and French language and literature. She moved to Sydney, and became a lecturer at the University of Sydney. She got a Master's degree there, and then moved to Cambridge, England. She studied for a doctorate degree (PhD) at Newnham College, Cambridge.


  1. Jardine, Lisa. Growing up with Greer, The Guardian, 7 March 1999.
  2. Bone, Pamela. "Western sisters failing the fight", The Australian, 8 March 2007.
  3. "Germaine Greer," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2007.

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