Germaine Greer, Australian writer and public intellectual, has been regarded as a major second-wave feminist voice for the past decades. Yesterday, on May 30, she got a lot of attention due to her controversial speech at the Hay Festival in Wales, which is a Literature Festival, where readers and writers share their stories and ideas.
The term feminist has been used and interpreted in miscellaneous ways ever since it was first coined in 1848. Often, people believe that feminists are short-haired women who hate men for being treated as the superior sex of our society. Although recent feminist marches and calls such as the #MeToo movement have demonstrated what the actual values are for many, and that men and women can equally be called feminists, there definitely are different types of feminists with distinct opinions and views.
But the message Germaine Greer conveyed yesterday certainly made many people doubt how she can be called a feminist with such a radical point of view. Greer openly shared her perspective towards rape, saying that “most rape is just lazy, careless and sensitive.” She believes that the sentence for rapists should be reduced to only 200 hours of community service and maybe a tattoo of an “r” on the offender’s hand or cheek.
She further believes that rape is not really an act of violence in most cases, but an issue of consent and miscommunication. Greer argued that women might want to believe that the penis is a “lethal weapon”, but she says “a man can’t kill you with his penis.” Her focus on violence being the rare companion of rape is rather shocking, since Greer believes that rape without violence is annoying for women, but not destructive. Moreover, she calls most rape is actually just bad sex.
It is easily understandable that some women could not take Greer’s speech and walked out before the end. Also, it could be said that Greer ignored the point of what rape can do to a woman’s life, her self-esteem and self-worth, by merely focusing on whether violence is involved. Which comes as a surprise, because Greer has been a victim of rape herself when she was a young woman.
This September, Greer’s full argument on rape will come out in a new book in Australia.
Written by Laura Kabelka