Germaine Greer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer, 28 October 2013 (cropped).jpg
Germaine Greer at the University of Melbourne in 2013
Born (1939-01-29) 29 January 1939 (age 79)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Residence Great Chesterford, Essex, England
Nationality Australian
Other names Rose Blight (for Private Eye)
Dr. G (for Oz magazine)
Education Star of the Sea College
Alma mater
PhD thesis The Ethic of Love and Marriage in Shakespeare's Early Comedies (1968)
Occupation Writer
Years active 1970–present
Era Second-wave feminism
Notable work The Female Eunuch (1970)
Paul du Feu
(m. 1968; div. 1973)
  • Eric Reginald Greer
  • Margaret May Lafrank

Germaine Greer (/ɡrɪər/; born 29 January 1939)[1] is an Australian writer and public intellectual, regarded as one of the major voices of the second-wave feminist movement in the latter half of the 20th century.[2] She lives in the United Kingdom, where she has held academic positions, specializing in English literature, at the University of Warwick and Newnham College, Cambridge.

Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since her first book, The Female Eunuch (1970), made her a household name.[3] An international bestseller and a watershed text in the feminist movement, the book offered a systematic deconstruction of ideas such as womanhood and femininity, arguing that women are forced to assume submissive roles in society to fulfill male fantasies of what being a woman entails.[4][5]

Her work since then has focused on literature, feminism, and the environment. Later books include Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984), The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991), The Whole Woman (1999), Shakespeare's Wife (2007), and White Beech: The Rainforest Years (2013). She has been a columnist for The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator, The Independent, and The Oldie, among others.[6]

Greer is a liberation rather than equality feminist.[a] Her goal is not equality with men, which she sees as assimilation and "agreeing to live the lives of unfree men." "Women's liberation," she wrote in The Whole Woman (1999), "did not see the female's potential in terms of the male's actual." She argues instead that liberation is about asserting difference and "insisting on it as a condition of self-definition and self-determination." It is a struggle for the freedom of women to "define their own values, order their own priorities and decide their own fate."[b]

Early life and education[edit]


Elwood beach

Greer was born in Melbourne to a Catholic family, the elder of two girls, followed by a boy. Her parents, South African-born Eric Reginald ("Reg") Greer and Margaret ("Peggy") Mary Lafrank, had married in March 1937; she was a milliner and he a newspaper-advertising salesman.[9][c]

The family lived in the Melbourne suburb of Elwood, at first in a rented flat in Docker Street, near the beach, then in another rented flat on the Esplanade.[11] In January 1942 Greer's father joined the Second Australian Imperial Force; after training with the Royal Australian Air Force, he worked on ciphers for the British Royal Air Force in Egypt and Malta.[12] Greer attended St Columba's Catholic Primary School in Elwood from February 1943—the family was by then living at 57 Ormond Road, Elwood—followed by Sacred Heart Parish School, Sandringham, and Holy Redeemer School, Ripponlea.[13]

In 1952 Greer won a scholarship to Star of the Sea College in Gardenvale, a convent school run by the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; a school report called her "a bit of a mad-cap and somewhat erratic in her studies and in her personal responses."[14] She abandoned the Catholic faith a year after leaving school, as a result of finding the nuns' arguments for the existence of God unconvincing.[15][16] According to Greer, her mother had what was probably Asperger syndrome, and as a result they had a difficult relationship. Greer left home as a result of these tensions when she was 18. In 2012 she said that her brother might have forgiven her for "abandoning" them, but she was not so sure about her sister, "whom I love more than anyone else on earth."[17]


The Old Arts building, University of Melbourne

From 1956 Greer studied English and French language and literature at the University of Melbourne on a Teacher's College Scholarship, living at home for the first two years on an allowance of £8 a week.[18][19] During her first year she had some kind of breakdown as a result of depression and was briefly treated in hospital.[20] She told Clyde Packer in an interview in the 1980s that she had been raped during her second year at Melbourne, an experience she described in detail in The Guardian in March 1995.[21][22]

Just before she graduated from Melbourne in 1959, she moved to Sydney, where she became involved with the Sydney Push and the anarchist Sydney Libertarians. "[T]hese people talked about truth and only truth," she said, "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."[23] In 1963 she was awarded a first-class Master of Arts (MA) degree in romantic poetry from the University of Sydney for a thesis entitled The Development of Byron's Satiric Mode.[24]

The MA won her a Commonwealth Scholarship with which she funded further studies at the University of Cambridge, arriving in October 1964 at Newnham College, Cambridge, a women-only college. Initially joining a two-year Bachelor of Arts degree course, she switched to the PhD programme to study Shakespeare,[25][26] supervised by Anne Barton.[27] Greer received her PhD in 1969 for a thesis entitled The Ethic of Love and Marriage in Shakespeare's Early Comedies.[25] In 1986 she had a Past Masters series book, Shakespeare, published by Oxford University Press, and in 2007 Bloomsbury published her study of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare's Wife.[28]

Cambridge was a difficult environment for women. As Christine Wallace notes, one Newnham student described her husband receiving a dinner invitation in 1966 from Christ's College that allowed "Wives in for sherry only".[29] Lisa Jardine recalled the first time she encountered Greer, at a formal dinner in college. The principal had just asked for silence for 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 ... a hideous symbol of male oppression. ... [We 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.[30]

As soon as she arrived, Greer joined the student acting company, the Footlights, to play in its 1965 revue, My Girl Herbert,[31] alongside Eric Idle, John Cameron, Christie Davies and John Grillo.[32] Joining on the same day as Clive James and Russell Davies,[33] Greer was among a group of three women that year, including Sheila Buhr and Hilary Walston, who were the first to be admitted as full members.[34] There had been women before that who had been allowed to join in, but not as members.[d] It was apparently thanks to Tim Brooke-Taylor that women were finally admitted.[35]


Teaching, marriage[edit]

Greer in June 1972

From 1968 to 1972, Greer worked as an assistant lecturer at the University of Warwick, living at first in a rented bedsit in Leamington Spa. In 1968 she was married for the first and only time, a marriage that ended in divorce in 1973. She met Paul du Feu, a King's College London English graduate who was working as a builder, outside a pub in Portobello Road, London, and after a brief courtship they married at Paddington Register Office, using a ring from a pawn shop.[36][37] The relationship lasted only a few weeks; Greer wrote that she spent their wedding night in an armchair, because her husband, drunk, would not allow her in bed.[38] She said she had been unfaithful to him several times.[39] In 1972 du Feu posed for British Cosmopolitan, apparently their first almost-naked centrefold, then moved to California and in 1973 married Maya Angelou; they divorced in 1981.[38][40]

Writing and broadcasting[edit]

She began writing columns "as Dr. G" for Oz magazine, owned by Richard Neville, whom she had met at a party in Sydney.[29] The magazine's July 1970 edition, OZ 29, featured "Germaine Greer knits private parts," an article on the hand-knitted Keep it Warm Cock Sock, "a snug corner for a chilly prick".[41] As "Rose Blight", she wrote a gardening column for Private Eye.[42] She was also co-founder and editor of the Amsterdam underground magazine Suck, which published a full-page photograph of her "stripped to the buff, looking at the lens through [her] thighs".[43] Her articles for Suck included one entitled "I Am a Whore".[3]

"She was something to be seen: clad in a black fur jacket and a glamorous floor-length sleeveless dress, the thirty-two-year-old Greer was six feet tall, angular verging on bony, and in possession of a thick crown of frizzed-out black hair. Her style on stage was less performance than poised seduction."

Carmen Winant, 2015, describing Greer in Town Bloody Hall (1971)[3]

In 1968 she had lunch with Sonny Mehta, who had co-founded a new publisher, Paladin, and whom she knew from Cambridge. When he asked her for ideas for new books, she repeated a suggestion of her agent's, which she had dismissed, that she write a book about female suffrage. The very idea of it made her angry and she began "raging" about it. "That's the book I want," he said. He advanced her ₤750 and another ₤250 when she signed the contract.[44] The Female Eunuch was published in October 1970, launched at a party attended by editors from Oz.[45] Arguing that the suburban, consumerist, nuclear family represses and devitalizes women, the book became an international bestseller and a watershed text in the feminist movement.[5]

The following year Greer appeared on the cover of Life magazine, under the title "Saucy Feminist That Even Men Like".[46] In April 1971 she famously debated Norman Mailer (whose book The Prisoner of Sex had just been published) in "Dialogue on Women's Liberation" at the Town Hall in New York. Susan Sontag and Betty Friedan sat in the audience, while Greer shared the stage with Jill Johnston, Diana Trilling and Jacqueline Ceballos.[3] Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker captured the event in the documentary Town Bloody Hall (1971).

External audio
"This House Supports the Women's Liberation Movement", Greer debates William F. Buckley Jr., The Cambridge Union, 1973.[47]

Greer became a columnist The Sunday Times in June 1971. Later that year her journalism took her to Vietnam, where she wrote about "bargirls" made pregnant by American soldiers, and to Bangladesh, where she interviewed women raped by Pakistani soldiers during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.[6] After leaving Warwick in 1972, she co-presented Nice Time, a Granada Television comedy show, with Kenny Everett and Jonathan Routh, and in 1973 she debated William F. Buckley Jr. at the Cambridge Union on the motion "This House Supports the Women's Liberation Movement". "Nothing I said," Buckley wrote in 1989, "and memory reproaches me for having performed miserably, made any impression or any dent in the argument. She carried the house overwhelmingly."[48]

Return to academia[edit]

Appearing with Lewis Wolpert on tv programme After Dark in 1994

In 1979 Greer was appointed director of the Center of the Study of Women's Literature at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two years later she founded the Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, an academic journal that highlights previously unknown women writers.[49] She would spend five months a year in Tulsa and the rest in London.[50] In 1989 she became a fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, where she had completed her PhD. That year she also founded Stump Cross Books, which published the work of 17th- and 18th-century women poets.[51] and returned to the University of Warwick as Professor of English and Comparative Studies.[52]

Essex home[edit]

Greer bought The Mills in 1984, a Georgian farmhouse on three acres of land in Great Chesterford, Essex (near Cambridge), where she planted a one-acre wood—which she said made her prouder than anything else she had done—and which she tried to keep "as a refuge for as many other earthlings" as she could.[53][54] A 1994 interview with Greer in The Big Issue, in which she said she would share her home with anyone willing to follow her rules, was interpreted as an open invitation to the homeless, and led to her being swamped by reporters and low-flying aircraft. One of the journalists, an undercover Mail on Sunday reporter, managed to gain entry and avail himself of her hospitality for two days, which included Greer washing his clothes and trying to find him a job. After the newspaper published a three-page spread, the Press Complaints Commission found it guilty of subterfuge not in the public interest. Greer announced her intention to sue.[55] She put it up for sale in 2018.[53]

Writing about women[edit]

The Female Eunuch (1970)[edit]

"When a woman may walk on the open streets of our cities alone, without insult or obstacle, at any pace she chooses, there will be no further need for this book."

Germaine Greer, 1969[56]

The Female Eunuch was published by MacGibbon & Kee in London in October 1970.[57] By March 1971 it had nearly sold out its second printing and had been translated into eight languages.[58] A Paladin paperback followed, with cover art by John Holmes showing a female torso as clothing hanging from a rail, with a handle on each hip.[59] According to Greer, McGraw-Hill paid $29,000 for the American rights and Bantam $135,000 for the paperback rights.[60] The book has never been out of print.[3]

Greer argued that women do not realise how much men hate them, and how much they are taught to hate themselves. When it was first published, Wallace writes, one woman wrapped it in brown paper and kept it hidden under her shoes because her husband would not let her read it.[58]

"What more could women want? Freedom, that's what. Freedom from being the thing looked at rather than the person looking back ... You can now see the female Eunuch the world over; all the time we thought we were driving her out of her minds and hearts she was spreading herself wherever blue jeans and Coca-Cola may go. Wherever you see nail varnish, lipstick, brassieres and high heels, the Eunuch has set up her camp. You can find her triumphant even under the veil."

Germaine Greer, 1991, foreword to the 21st anniversary Paladin edition.

Women have somehow been separated from their libido, from their faculty of desire, from their sexuality. ... 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.[61]

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.[62]

Lysistrata translation (1972)[edit]

In 1972 Kenneth Tynan, artistic director of the Royal National Theatre, commissioned Greer to work on a translation of Aristophanes's Lysistrata.[63] The project was not completed. The work found belated appreciation in 1999, with the remains of the script re-worked by Phil Willmott and produced by him as Germaine Greer's Lysistrata: The Sex Strike.[64] 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, and speculates on the existence of women artists whose careers were not recorded.

Sex and Destiny (1984)[edit]

Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984) continued Greer's critique of Western attitudes toward sexuality, fertility, and family, and the imposition of those attitudes on the rest of the world. Her targets again include the nuclear family, government intervention in sexual behaviour, and the commercialisation of sexuality and women's bodies. She 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. The birth control movement had been tainted by such attitudes from its beginning, she wrote, citing Marie Stopes and others. She cautioned against condemning life styles and family values in the developing world.

The Change (1991 and 2018)[edit]

Natalie Angier, writing in The New York Times, called The Change: Women, Ageing, and the Menopause (1991) a "brilliant, gutsy, exhilarating, exasperating fury of a book ... tantalizingly close to being a potential feminist classic on a par with The Female Eunuch." In it, Greer writes of the myths about menopause—or as she prefers to call it the "climacteric", or critical period.[65] "Frightening females is fun," she wrote in The Age in 2002. "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".[66] The book, including the medical information, was updated and reissued in 2018.[67]

Slip-Shod Sibyls (1995)[edit]

"Too many of the most conspicuous figures in women's poetry of the 20th century not only destroyed themselves in a variety of ways but are valued for poetry that documents that process."

Germaine Greer, Slip-Shod Sibyls.[68]

Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet (1995) is an account of women who wrote poetry in English before 1900, and an examination of why so few have been admitted to the literary canon. Her conclusion is that women were held to lower standards than men (hence the "slip-shod" sibyls of the title, quoting Alexander Pope), and the poetic tradition discouraged good poetry from women.[69] The book includes a critique of the concept of woman as Muse, associated with Robert Graves and others; a chapter on Sappho and her use as a symbol of female poetry; a chapter on the 17th-century poet Katherine Philips; two chapters on Aphra Behn and one on Anne Wharton; and material on Anne Finch, Letitia Landon and Christina Rossetti. It includes an epilogue on 20th-century female poets and their propensity for suicide.[68]

The Whole Woman (1999)[edit]

Display in the window of a Waterstone's book store for the launch of The Whole Woman

The Whole Woman, a sequel to The Female Eunuch, was published by Doubleday in 1999. Greer argued that feminism had lost its way. Women still face the same physical realities as before, but because of changing views of gender identity and post-modernism, there is a "new silence about [women's] visceral experiences [that] is the same old rapist's hand clamped across their mouths". She wrote: "Real women are being phased out; the first step, persuading them to deny their own existence, is almost complete."[70]

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.[70]

Her comments on female genital mutilation (FGM) proved controversial, particularly that opposition to it is an "attack on cultural identity", just as outlawing male circumcision would be viewed as an attack on Jews and Muslims.[71] Greer wrote that feminists fighting to eliminate FGM in their own countries should be supported, but she explored the complexities of the issue and the double standards of the West regarding other forms of bodily mutilation, including that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended surgery at that time on baby girls with clitorises over three-eighths of an inch long. She questioned the view that FGM is imposed by men on women, rather than by women on women, or even freely chosen.[72]

On gender[edit]

In The Whole Woman, Greer argued that, while sex is a biological given, gender roles are cultural constructs. Femininity is not femaleness. "Genuine femaleness remains grotesque to the point of obscenity," she wrote.[73] Girls and women are taught femininity—learning to speak softly, wear certain clothes, remove body hair to please men, and so on—a process of conditioning that begins at birth and continues throughout the entire life span.[74] "There is nothing feminine about being pregnant," she told Krishnan Guru-Murthy in 2018. "It's almost the antithesis of that. There's nothing feminine about giving birth. It's a bloody struggle, and you've got to be strong and brave. There's nothing feminine about breastfeeding. God knows it drives everybody mad; they want to see nice big pumped-up tits, but they don't want to see them doing their job."[75]

Greer's writing on gender brought her into opposition with the transgender community. In a chapter in The Whole Woman entitled "Pantomime Dames", she wrote: "Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognise 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."[76] Her position first attracted controversy in 1997, when she unsuccessfully opposed the offer of a Newnham College fellowship to physicist Rachael Padman, arguing that, because Padman had been born male, she should not be admitted to a women-only college.[77] She reiterated her views several times over the following years,[e] including in 2015 when students at Cardiff University tried unsuccessfully to "no platform" her to stop her from speaking on "Women & Power: The Lessons of the 20th Century".[80] Greer responded by reaffirming, during an interview with Kirsty Wark for BBC Newsnight, that she did not regard transgender women as women; she argued that the nomination of Caitlyn Jenner for Glamour Woman of the Year had been misogynist.[81]

On rape[edit]


"If we adopt a female-centred view of the offence, can we really argue that a raped woman is ruined or undone? She may be outraged and humiliated, but she cannot be damaged in any essential way by the simple fact of the presence of an unwelcome penis in her vagina."

Germaine Greer, The Guardian, 6 March 1995.[82]

Greer has argued that the criminal justice system's approach to rape is male-centered, treating female victims as evidence rather than as complainants and reflecting that women were once regarded as male property. "Historically, the crime of rape was committed not against the woman but against the man with an interest in her, her father or her husband," she wrote. "What had to be established beyond doubt was that she had not collaborated with the man who usurped another's right. If she had, the penalty, which might have been stoning or pressing to death, was paid by her."[82]

Rape is not, in fact, the worst thing that can happen to a woman, she wrote in The Guardian in March 1995; if a woman allows a man to have sex with her to avoid a beating, then arguably she fears the beating more. A woman who has been raped has no reason to feel shame (and therefore no need for anonymity), and a female-centred view of rape will not fashion it as something that can "ruin" a woman. "She may be outraged and humiliated," Greer wrote, "but she cannot be damaged in any essential way by the simple fact of the presence of an unwelcome penis in her vagina."[82] If a woman feels she has been destroyed by such an attack, "it is because you've been told lies about who and what you are," she argued in 2018.[83] She suggested in 1995 that the crime of rape be replaced by one of sexual assault with varying degrees of seriousness and swifter outcomes.[82] In 2018 she said she had changed her mind about calling rape "sexual assault", because most rape (in particular, sex without consent within marriage) is not accompanied by physical violence.[84] "There is no way that the law of rape fits the reality of women's lives," she said in 2018.[85] Her forthcoming book, On Rape, will be published by Melbourne University Press in September 2018.[86]

Personal experience[edit]

During an interview in the 1980s, Greer told Clyde Packer that she had been raped while she was a student at the University of Melbourne.[87] Two weeks after her March 1995 Guardian column about rape provoked controversy, she again recalled her own experience, which took place in January 1958, when she was 19.[22] A rugby player she had met at a barbecue dragged her into a car, punched her several times in the head, forced her to repeat what he wanted her to say, then raped her. Afterwards, he walked back to the party as though nothing had happened. Her male flatmates found her at home hours later, bruised, swollen and semi-conscious. She believed that reporting it would be pointless; she had danced with him at the party, had left with him voluntarily, and he was a pillar of the community. The flatmates brought the man to the flat days later and warned him in front of her that they would break his legs if they saw him at any of the places they frequented.[22]

She argued, in two columns, that it was not the rapist's penis that had hurt her, but his fists and "vicious mind",[22] and the loss of control, invasion of self, and "being made to speak the rapist's script".[88] "To insist", she wrote, "that outrage by penis is worse than outrage by any other means is to glorify and magnify that tag of flesh beyond reason." She suggested that perhaps women should "out" their rapists rather than take a chance with a legal system that does not work for them.[22] Her views were strongly criticized by Women Against Rape, which at the time was campaigning for more prosecutions.[89]

Me Too movement[edit]

Greer has made several remarks about the Me Too movement. In November 2017 she called for women to show solidarity when other women are sexually harassed.[90] Just before she was named Australian of the Year in Britain in January 2018, she said she had always wanted to see women react immediately to sexual harassment, as it occurs. "What makes it different is when the man has economic power, as Harvey Weinstein has. But if you spread your legs because he said 'be nice to me and I'll give you a job in a movie' then I'm afraid that's tantamount to consent, and it's too late now to start whingeing about that."[91] In May that year, she argued—of the high-profile cases—that disclosure was "dishonorable" because women who "claim to have been outraged 20 years ago" had been paid to sign non-disclosure agreements, then had spoken out once the statute of limitations had lapsed and they had nothing to lose.[92]

Other work[edit]

Daddy, We Hardly Knew You (1989)[edit]

Greer's Oxford Past Masters series book, Shakespeare, and The Madwoman's Underclothes: Essays and Occasional Writings, a collection of articles written between 1968 and 1985, both appeared in 1986. In 1989 came Daddy, We Hardly Knew You, a diary and travelogue about her father, whom she portrayed as distant, weak and unaffectionate, which led to the inevitable claim that in her writing she was projecting her relationship with him onto all other men.

The Beautiful Boy (2003)[edit]

Björn Andrésen featured on the cover of The Beautiful Boy.

A book of art history, The Beautiful Boy (2003), was illustrated with 200 photographs of what The Observer called "succulent teenage male beauty".[93] 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".[94] The cover photograph, by David Bailey, was of 15-year-old Björn Andrésen in his character of Tadzio in the film Death in Venice (1971). The actor complained about Greer's use of the photograph.[95]

Whitefella Jump Up (2003)[edit]

Greer has published several essays on Aboriginal issues, including "Whitefella Jump Up: The Shortest Way to Nationhood" (2003). According to her own account, she understood little about Aboriginal issues during her early years in Australia, but in England she saw from the perspective of distance that "what was operating in Australia was apartheid". On returning to Australia in late 1971 she made an effort "to see as much as I could of what had been hidden from me" travelling through the Northern Territory with activist Bobbi Sykes.[96]

In Whitefella Jump Up, Greer argued that Australians should re-imagine the country as an Aboriginal nation. "Jump up" in Australian creole can, she wrote, mean "to be resurrected or reborn"; the title refers to occasions when Aborigines apparently accepted whites as reincarnated relatives. Greer suggested that whites were mistaken in understanding this literally, and that the Aborigines were in fact offering whites terms on which they could be accepted into the Aboriginal kinship system. The essay argues that it may not be too late for Australia as a nation to root itself in Aboriginal history and culture. She wrote:

Though I can claim no drop of Aboriginal blood, twenty years ago Kulin women from Fitzroy adopted me. There are whitefellas who insist that blackfellas don't practise adoption; all I can say is that when I asked about the possibility of assuming Aboriginality, the Kulin women said at once 'We'll adopt you.' 'How do you do that?' I asked, hoping I wouldn't be required to camp in some bleak spot for a month or two, and be painted or smoked and cut about. 'That's it,' they said. 'It's done. We've adopted you.' Since then I have sat on the ground with black women and been assigned a skin and been taught how to hunt and how to cook shellfish and witchetty grubs, with no worse punishment for getting it wrong than being laughed at.[97]

Greer's essay "On Rage" (2008) dealt with the widespread rage of indigenous men.[98] Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton argued that Greer was making excuses for bad behaviour.[99]

White Beech (2013)[edit]

In 2001 Greer bought 60 hectares (150 acres) of land in Australia for $500,000 at Cave Creek in the Numinbah Valley, South East Queensland, near the Springbrook National Park. The land had been used as a dairy farm, banana plantation and timber source. In 2013 she published White Beech: The Rainforest Years about her Cave Creek Rainforest Rehabilitation Scheme, her effort to restore the land to its pre-European-settler state.[100][101] She set up a charity in 2011 registered in the UK, Friends of Gondwana Rainforest, to fund the project.[102] She writes about how she discovered an uncommon White Beech (Gmelina leichhardtii) tree, and that the chemical 2,4,5-T (one of the ingredients of Agent Orange) had been sprayed in the area for years to thin the hardwood and control the weeds.[103][104]


Greer was named in 2016 on the Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4) annual "Power List". She was placed fourth on the list of seven women judged to have had the biggest impact on women's lives over the previous 70 years, alongside (in order) Margaret Thatcher, Helen Brook, Barbara Castle, Jayaben Desai, Bridget Jones, and Beyoncé.[105]

Greer makes regular celebrity appearances on television in Australia and the UK. She appeared on the BBC's Have I Got News for You several times from 1990. In 1998 she wrote an episode, "Make Love not War", for the television documentary series Cold War, and sat for a nude photograph by the Australian photographer Polly Borland.[106] In 2005 she entered the Celebrity Big Brother house in the UK to compete in the third series but left voluntarily on day six because, she wrote in The Sunday Times, it was a squalid "fascist prison camp".[107]

In September 2006 her Guardian column on the death of Australian Steve Irwin was criticized as insensitive for concluding that the animal world had "finally taken its revenge on Irwin", and that she hoped "exploitative nature documentaries" would now end.[108] A month later she presented a BBC Radio 4 documentary on American composer and rock guitarist Frank Zappa, a friend of hers since the early 1970s. She said that his orchestral work "G-Spot Tornado" would be played at her funeral.[109]


Greer's archive is housed at the University of Melbourne. As of June 2018 it covers the period 1959–2010, filling 487 archive boxes on 82 metres of shelf space.[110][111] The transfer of the archive (150 filing-cabinet drawers) from Greer's home in England began in July 2014; the university announced that it was raising A$3 million to fund the purchase, shipping, housing, cataloguing and digitising. Greer said that her fee would be donated to her charity, Friends of Gondwana Rainforest.[112]

Selected works[edit]

  • (1970). The Female Eunuch. London: MacGibbon & Kee.
  • (1979). The Obstacle Race: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work. London: Martin Secker and Warburg.
  • (1984). Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility. London: Harpercollins.
  • (1986). Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Past Masters series).
  • (1986). The Madwoman's Underclothes: Essays and Occasional Writings. London: Picador.
  • (1988) (ed.). Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth Century Women’s Verse. London: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • (1989). Daddy, We Hardly Knew You. New York: Fawcett Columbine.
  • (1989) with Susan Hastings, Jeslyn Medoff, Melinda Sansone (eds.). Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth Century Women's Verse. London: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  • (1989) (ed.). The Uncollected Verse of Aphra Behn. London: Stump Cross Books.
  • (1990) with Ruth Little (eds.). The Collected Works of Katherine Philips: The Matchless Orinda, Volume III, The Translations. London: Stump Cross Books.
  • (1991). "The Offstage Mob: Shakespeare's Proletariat", in Tetsuo Kishi, Roger Pringle, and Stanley Wells (eds.). Shakespeare and Cultural Traditions. Newark: University of Delaware Press, pp. 54–75.
  • (1991). The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause.
  • (1994). "Macbeth: Sin and Action of Grace", in J.Wain (ed.). Shakespeare: Macbeth. London: Macmillan, pp. 263–270.
  • (1995). Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet.
  • (1997). with Susan Hastings (eds.). The Surviving Works of Anne Wharton. London: Stump Cross Books.
  • (1999). The Whole Woman. London: Doubleday.
  • (2000). John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. London: Northcote House Publishers.
  • (2001) (ed.). 101 Poems by 101 Women. London: Faber & Faber.
  • (2003). The Beautiful Boy. New York: Rizzoli.
  • (2003). Poems for Gardeners. London: Virago.
  • (2004). Whitefella Jump Up: The Shortest Way to Nationhood. London: Profile Books (first published 2003 in Quarterly Essay).
  • (2007). Shakespeare's Wife. London: Bloomsbury.
  • (2008). "Shakespeare and the Marriage Contract", in Paul Raffield, Gary Watt (eds.). Shakespeare and the Law. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 51–64.
  • (2008). On Rage. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
  • (2013). White Beech: The Rainforest Years. London: Bloomsbury.
  • (2018) (forthcoming). On Rape. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.


  1. ^ Germaine Greer, "All About Women" (2015): "I've always been a liberation feminist. I'm not an equality feminist. I think that's a profoundly conservative aim, and it wouldn't change anything. It would just mean that women were implicated."[7]
  2. ^ Germaine Greer (The Whole Woman, 1999): "In 1970 the movement was called 'Women's Liberation' or, contemptuously, '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. Liberationists 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."[8]
  3. ^ Greer's maternal grandparents were Alida (Liddy) Lafrank, née Jensen, and Albert Lafrank.[10]
  4. ^ Christine Wallace (1999): "A former Newnham student had paved the way: the actress Eleanor Bron, who appeared in Footlights in the late 1950s.[31]
  5. ^ Greer repeated her views in 2016 on an episode of Australia's Q&A,[78] and in 2018 on Channel 4's Genderquake debate in the UK.[79]


  1. ^ Wallace, Christine (1999). Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew. London: Faber and Faber. p. 3. 
  2. ^ Magarey, Susan (2008). "Germaine Greer", in Bonnie G. Smith (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Women in World History. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 402–403.
    Medoff, Jeslyn (2010). "Germaine Greer". In Wallace, Elizabeth Kowaleski. Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory. New York: Routledge. p. 263. 
    Standish, Ann (2014). "Greer, Germaine (1939–)", The Encyclopedia of Women & Leadership in Twentieth-Century Australia, Australian Women's Archives Project.

    "Germaine Greer", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015.

  3. ^ a b c d e Winant, Carmen (Spring 2015). "The Meaningful Disappearance of Germaine Greer", Cabinet magazine, 57.
  4. ^ Saracoglu, Melody (12 May 2014). "Melody Saracoglu on Germaine Greer: One Woman Against the World", New Statesman.
  5. ^ a b Reilly, Susan P. (2010). "Female Eunuch", in Kowaleski Wallace, p. 213.
  6. ^ a b Buchanan, Rachel (January 7, 2018). "Why it's time to acknowledge Germaine Greer, journalist". The Conversation. 
  7. ^ "How to be a feminist", All About Women festival, Sydney Opera House, 8 March 2015, 01:06:04.
  8. ^ Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman, Transworld Publishers Ltd, 1999, p. 2.
  9. ^ Wallace 1999, pp. 1–3.
  10. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 2.
  11. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 4.
  12. ^ Packer 1984, p. 86; Wallace 1999, pp. 4, 72; "Record Search". National Archives of Australia. Retrieved 25 June 2017. 
  13. ^ Wallace 1999, pp. 4, 11, 13.
  14. ^ Wallace 1999, pp. 11, 13.
  15. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 16.
  16. ^ "Germaine Bloody Greer". BBC. 
  17. ^ "Interview with Germaine Greer", Festival of Dangerous Ideas 2012, Sydney Opera House, 00:01:00–00:03:42.
  18. ^ Packer, Clyde (1984). No Return Ticket. Angus & Robertson. p. 89. 
  19. ^ Wallace 1999, pp. 27, 49.
  20. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 33.
  21. ^ Packer 1984, pp. 92–93.
  22. ^ a b c d e Greer, Germaine (20 March 1995). "The refusal to be bowed by brutality". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 74.
  24. ^ Geer, Germaine (1963). The development of Byron's satiric mode (MA). University of Sydney. 
  25. ^ a b Greer, Germaine (1968). The Ethic of Love and Marriage in Shakespeare's Early Comedies. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/CAM.567. OCLC 221288543. EThOS  Free to read
  26. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 109; Packer 1984, p. 95.
  27. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 111.
  28. ^ Yalom, Marilyn (2009). "Review: The Second-Best Bed and Other Conundrums"], The Women's Review of Books, 26(1), January–February, pp. 29–30. JSTOR 20476813
  29. ^ a b Wallace 1999, p. 112.
  30. ^ Jardine, Lisa (7 March 1999). "Growing up with Greer", The Guardian.
  31. ^ a b Wallace 1999, p. 123–124.
  32. ^ "Cambridge Footlights: Year ending 1965". Archived from the original on 4 January 2006. Retrieved 16 June 2006. 
  33. ^ "Pete & Clive", BBC Radio 4, 9 November 2015, from 00:06:43.
  34. ^ "Women admitted to make Footlights even brighter", Cambridge News, November 1964.
  35. ^ Boston, Richard (3 June 2013). "From the archive, 3 June 1983: Cambridge Footlights celebrate 100 years of comedy", The Guardian.
  36. ^ Wallace 1999, pp. 126–130.
  37. ^ Brooks, Richard (10 July 2011). "Greer reveals her triple trauma of rape, miscarriage and IVF". The Sunday Times. (Subscription required (help)). 
  38. ^ a b Germaine Greer (29 May 2004). "Country notebook: drunken ex-husband". The Daily Telegraph. 
  39. ^ "Germaine Greer", Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, ABC Television, 15 September 2003.
  40. ^ Angelou, Maya (1998). Even the Stars Look Lonesome. Bantam Books, pp. 3–8.

    Innes, Lyn (28 May 2014). "Maya Angelou obituary", The Guardian.

  41. ^ OZ 29, July 1970.
  42. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 266.
  43. ^ Germaine Greer (31 May 2007). "Well done, Beth Ditto. Now let it all hang out". The Guardian. 
    Dana Cook (15 December 2004). "Encounters with Germaine Greer". 
  44. ^ Packer 1984, p. 98.
  45. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 176.
  46. ^ Smith, Philippa Mein (2012) [2005]. A Concise History of New Zealand. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 309. ISBN 9781107402171. 
  47. ^ Greer speaks from 00:13:40; Buckley from 00:20:15.
  48. ^ William F. Buckley, On the Firing Line: The Public Life of Our Public Figures, New York: Random House, 1989; "Encounters with Germaine Greer",
  49. ^ Medoff 2010; "Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature", University of Tulsa.
  50. ^ Packer 1984, p. 85.
  51. ^ Medoff 2010, p. 263; Stump Cross Books.
  52. ^ "Germaine Greer" Archived 24 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine., Anglia Ruskin University.
  53. ^ a b Greer, Germaine (11 March 2018). "Germaine Greer offers advice for the next owner of her Essex home". The Sunday Times.

    "The Mills" (PDF). Savills. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2 June 2018. 

  54. ^ For being proud of the wood, see Greer, Germaine (2013). White Beech: The Rainforest Years. London: Bloomsbury, p. 1.
  55. ^ "Newspaper breached code", The Independent, 30 March 1994; "Greer to sue journalist who posed as a homeless man", UPI, 7 February 1994.
  56. ^ Opening line of the dedication, "The Female Eunuch first draft", University Library, The University of Melbourne.
  57. ^ Wallace 1999, p. 161.
  58. ^ a b Wallace 1999, p. 299.
  59. ^ Russell, Marlowe (18 October 2011). "John Holmes obituary", The Guardian.
  60. ^ Greenfield, Robert (7 January 1971). "Germaine Greer, A Groupie in Women's Lib", Rolling Stone.
  61. ^ Weintraub, Judith (22 March 1971). "Germaine Greer – Opinions That May Shock the Faithful", The New York Times.
  62. ^ Pollard, Stephen (2009). Ten Days that Changed the Nation: The Making of Modern Britain. London: Simon and Schuster, p. 204.
  63. ^ Germaine Greer, Lysistrata: The Sex Strike: After Aristophanes, Samuel French Limited, 2011.

    Katrina Dean, "Why Germaine Greer's life in letters is one for the archives", The Conversation, 1 November 2013.

  64. ^ Michael Billington,"What a carry on", The Guardian, 9 July 1999.
  65. ^ Angier, Natalie (11 October 1992). "The Transit of Woman", The New York Times.
  66. ^ Greer, Germaine (13 July 2002). "The Female Used". The Age.
  67. ^ "The Change", Bloomsbury Publishing.
  68. ^ a b Greer 1995, p. 390.
  69. ^ Greer, Germaine (1995). Slip-Shod Sibyls: Recognition, Rejection and the Woman Poet. London: Viking Press. p. xxiii. 
  70. ^ a b Greer, Germaine (1999). The Whole Woman. London: Doubleday. p. 3. 
  71. ^ Greer 1999, p. 120; Michiko Kakutani, "The Female Condition, Re-explored 30 Years Later", The New York Times, 18 May 1999.

    "MPs attack Greer on female circumcision". BBC News. 25 November 1999. 

  72. ^ Greer 1999, p. 119.
  73. ^ Greer 1999, p. 2.
  74. ^ Greer 1999, pp. 369-370.
  75. ^ "Germaine Greer on women's liberation, the trans community and her rape", Channel 4 News, 23 May 2018, 00:29:54.
  76. ^ Greer 1999, p. 64.
  77. ^ Clare Garner (25 June 1997). "Fellows divided over don who breached last bastion". The Independent. 
  78. ^ "Q&A: Germaine Greer revives an old controversy about what constitutes a real woman". ABC News. 11 April 2016. 
  79. ^ Ditum, Sarah (13 May 2018). "Genderquake failed. Now for a proper trans debate", The Guardian.
  80. ^ Morris, Steven (18 November 2015). "Germaine Greer gives university lecture despite campaign to silence her", The Guardian.
  81. ^ "Germaine Greer: Transgender women are 'not women'", BBC News, 24 October 2015.
    De Freytas-Tamura, Kimiko (24 October 2015). "Cardiff University Rejects Bid to Bar Germaine Greer", The New York Times.

    Lehmann, Claire (27 October 2015). "Germaine Greer and the scourge of 'no-platforming'". ABC News. 

  82. ^ a b c d Greer, Germaine (6 March 1995). "Call rape by another name". The Guardian.
  83. ^ "Germaine Greer on women's liberation, the trans community and her rape", Channel 4 News, 23 May 2018, 00:13:00.
  84. ^ "Germaine Greer on tackling rape and the gender pay gap", The Wright Stuff, Channel 5, UK, 6 April 2018.
  85. ^ Germaine Greer et al. (24 March 2018). Debate: Has the #MeToo Movement Gone Too Far? (video). YouTube: How to:Academy and The New York Times. Event occurs at 00:05:20. 
  86. ^ "On Rape", Melbourne University Press.
  87. ^ Packer 1984, pp. 92–93; Wallace 1999, p. 287.
  88. ^ Greer, Germaine (3 April 1995). "A phallocentric view of sexual violence". The Guardian.
  89. ^ Ellingsen, Peter (22 March 1995). "Feminists' anger as Greer calls for 'outing' of rapists". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  90. ^ Germaine Greer et al. (6 November 2017). Germaine Greer: Australian politician did a Weinstein on me (video). YouTube: Sam Delaney's News Thing, RT UK. Event occurs at 00:03:14. 
  91. ^ Miller, Nick (21 January 2018). "Germaine Greer challenges #MeToo campaign", The Sydney Morning Herald.
  92. ^ "Germaine Greer on women's liberation, the trans community and her rape", Channel 4 News, 23 May 2018, 00:08:12.
  93. ^ Stephanie Merritt, "Danger mouth", The Observer, 5 October 2003.
  94. ^ Greer, Germaine (2003). The Beautiful Boy, New York: Rizzoli. Quoted in Deslandes, Paul R. (2013). "Exposing, Adorning, and Dressing in the Modern Era", in Sarah Toulalan, Kate Fisher (eds.), The Routledge History of Sex and the Body, 1500 to the Present. Routledge, p. 186.
  95. ^ Seaton, Matt (16 October 2003). "I feel used", The Guardian; "I'm not Germaine's toy, says cover boy", Australian Associated Press, 18 October 2003.
  96. ^ Greer, Germaine (2004). Whitefella Jump Up. London: Profile Books, p. 22; first published in Quarterly Essay, 11, 2003.
  97. ^ Greer 2004, p. 23.
  98. ^ Lauren Wilson (15 August 2008). "Bob Carr pierced by Germaine Greer's 'ferocious logic'". The Australian. 
  99. ^ Langton, Marcia (15 August 2008). "Greer maintains rage of racists". The Australian. 
  100. ^ Lowry, Elizabeth (22 January 2014). "White Beech: The Rainforest Years by Germaine Greer – review", The Guardian.
  101. ^ Giblett, Rod (2014). "Rod Giblett reviews White Beech by Germaine Greer", Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics 1(2).
  102. ^ "Friends of Gondwana Rainforest",; Greer, Germaine (29 January 2014). "Germaine Greer: I'm staging a rainforest rescue", The Daily Telegraph.
  103. ^ Greer, Germaine (2013). White Beech: The Rainforest Years. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 8–9.
  104. ^ Greer, Germaine (19 October 2013). "The greening of Greer", The Australian, 19 October 2013 (edited extract from White Beech).

    Greer, Germaine (3 October 2012). "Germaine Greer's rainforest: a carnival of wild creatures in Cave Creek", The Daily Telegraph.

  105. ^ "Margaret Thatcher tops Woman's Hour Power List", BBC News, 14 December 2016.
  106. ^ Germaine Greer by Polly Borland, National Portrait Gallery, London, October 1999.
  107. ^ Greer, Germaine (16 January 2005). "Filth!" The Sunday Times; Lyall, Sarah (20 January 2005). "Germaine Greer's Orwellian Ordeal on Big Brother", The New York Times.
  108. ^ Germaine Greer (5 September 2006). "That sort of self-delusion is what it takes to be a real Aussie larrikin". The Guardian. 

    "Greer draws anger over Irwin comments". The Age. 6 September 2006. 

  109. ^ "Freak Out! The Frank Zappa Story". BBC Radio 4. 7 October 2006. 
  110. ^ "The Germaine Greer Collection", University of Melbourne.
  111. ^ Gulliver, Penny (23 March 2017). "Friday essay: reading Germaine Greer’s mail", The Conversation.
  112. ^ "University to house Germaine Greer archive". University of Melbourne. 28 October 2013. Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]