Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Who says Feminists aren't Funny?

"Who is Germaine Sodding Greer, actually?" Michael asked me this morning from underneath a bath towel as he wiped shaving cream out of his ear.

He wasn't being emphatic; that's the only way we refer to Ms. Greer, thanks to Helen Fielding. In the original Bridget Jones' Diary, Bridget's Mum defensively RSVPs in the negative to lunch at Bridget's flat saying, "I'll be alright on my bloody own. I'll just clean the house like Germaine sodding Greer and the Invisible Woman," leading Bridget to conjecture, "Could she possibly, conceivably, have been drunk?" Without going on a tangent about how they normalized that character when making the movie, this is a small but apt example of the genius of Fielding's humor. We've been making jokes about Germaine Sodding Greer for five years now without either of us pausing to consider that, strictly, we didn't know Germaine Greer from Jermaine Jackson. I only reluctantly admitted she was not the same person as Greer Garson.

To find the answer to Michael's question, we turned to Wikipedia, everyone's favorite source of disreputable information. Once I realized Ms. Greer was the author of The Female Eunuch I was pretty well oriented, but the article on her was exquisite. A few highlights:

The Guardian reported that the writer Angela Carter described Greer as "a clever fool", while former British MP Edwina Currie called her "a great big hard-boiled prat". Christine Wallace used the terms "grooviness personified", "anachronistic passivity", and "hegemonic heterosexuality" to describe her subject, to which Greer replied that Wallace was a "dung-beetle" and "a flesh-eating bacterium".

In 2003, The Beautiful Boy was published, an art history book about the beauty of teenage boys, richly illustrated with 200 photographs of what The Guardian called "succulent teenage male beauty", alleging that Greer had reinvented herself as a "middle-aged pederast." [7] Greer described the book as an attempt to address 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).

On April 23, 2000, Greer was taken hostage by Karen Burke, a nineteen-year-old student from the University of Bath who had been writing to Greer, and who eventually broke into her home in Essex, tied Greer up in the kitchen, and proceeded to smash up the contents of the house with a poker and rip the telephone from the wall. Dinner guests eventually found Greer lying in a distressed state on the floor, with Burke hanging onto her legs, shouting "Mummy, mummy".

In the course of my research, I also ran a Google search for "Germaine Sodding Greer." That led me, somehow, here. Apparently scanned off a library book from the University of Bergen, this pdf called "Kvinner til besvær: Feministiske diskusjoner og identifikasjons--potensialer i Bridget Jones og Ally McBeal" is just what you'd get if the Swedish Chef went back to Grad School for Women's Studies.

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