I can’t resisit posting Encounters With Germaine Greer, a compilation by Dana Cook (of our fave-site ifeminists) of excerpts from writers’ encounters with the once-gorgeous, now skanky Aussie ur-feminist. And some of those encounters were close indeed! Here are my faves from the trip down Greer memory lane back to the days when man-hating was as hot as the Charleston was in the 1920s:
From journalist Richard Neville:
“At a party I met a striking young woman whose hair escaped in a shock of dark anarchic curls. Tall and voluble, she flashed her IQ like a searchlight. My Hawaiian shirt, all the rage, was fetchingly unbuttoned to show off a tan.
“‘Aha, a male nipple.’ She took hold of it between thumb and forefinger. ‘See how it grows? Just like a d—.’
“‘Ouch,’ I said.
“‘Nipples are a mass of erectile tissues,’ she continued, as I tried to ignore the glances of onlookers. ‘You should learn to masturbate all your male parts.'”
From Susan Brownmiller:
“Germaine was an improbable, self-made creation, a woman with a steel-trap mind and a self-professed lust who spun curious appellations for herself such as ‘Supergroupie’ and ‘Intellectual Superwhore.’ A decade earlier she had migrated from Melbourne to Sydney in search of kindred spirits among the Push, a small counterculture movement devoted to libertarian sex, anarchist politics, and hoisting a glass at dockside pubs. Almost immediately she became one of the Push’s leading female figures, admired for her quick mind and eccentric exhibitionism. ‘The thing about Germaine,’ a young Push woman once remarked, ‘is that she never menstruates. She hemorrhages once a month and gives you a drip-by-drip description.'”
From William F. Buckley, Jr.:
“My…debate…with Germaine Greer…at the height of the feminist fever in the mid-seventies. There was a period of progressive suspense as Ms. Greer refused one after another resolution as suggested by the Cambridge Union. In desperation, the president of the Union called me in New York and asked me to suggest a formulation. I said, Why not ‘Resolved, The women’s rights movement is at the expense of women.’ I received a telegram from Ms. Greer: She found my resolution ‘preposterous.’ This was followed by a second telephone call from the desperate president, asking me please to try again, as the Union was close by an urgent journalistic deadline: the BBC, which had undertaken to co-host the debate with Firing Line, absolutely needed the actual resolution for the newspapers.
“I remember tapping out on my typewriter a telegram to the president: ‘How about “Resolved, Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile”?’ But good sense intervened: I could not, in any debate involving a double entendre, prevail against the formidable Ms. Greer, who during the period was giving interview after interview to various journals, describing her (myriad) sexual experiences. In desperation, I suggested–knowing that the formulation was suicidal–‘Resolved, This house supports the Women’s Liberation Movement.’ That proved eminently satisfactory to Miss Greer. 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. She could have won on ‘Resolved, Man should be abolished.'”
Wild stuff, no? But the 1970s are long past, and Germaine has turned that steel-trap mind of hers to new strange interests: under-age boys and persuading everyone in Australia to become an aborigine. But dontcha miss that crazy Germaine of yore?