Girl talk from a feminist firebrand
Her new book is about Shakespeare's wife. But Germaine Greer
also has opinions to spare on Hillary Clinton, Carrie Bradshaw, Ian
McKellen's private parts, and what she calls 'the stupidest people on Earth'
LONDON — 'Oh, you're going to visit
her, are you?" the taxi driver says, as he drives, apparently aimlessly,
through the back roads of rural Essex. "I don't think I'd like to mention
her name." His irritation seems to have impaired his sense of direction.
He finally finds the farmhouse, where the chatelaine is waiting, not
altogether patiently, and where the feeling of scorn is clearly mutual.
"That one must be missing a synapse," says Germaine Greer as the car rumbles
back down the driveway. "He's the only taxi driver in these parts who
doesn't know where I live."
The poor man should feel honoured, in some way: He has entered the
pantheon of those who've had their paint blistered by the world's most
famous feminist. He joins the late Diana, Princess of Wales ("a devious
moron"), Salman Rushdie ("megalomaniac") and, most famously, Greer's fellow
Australian Steve Irwin, whose death, she felt, represented the justified
retribution of the animal world, a deserved punishment chased with crocodile
tears. They're still screaming mad about that one in Oz.
Now, add to that list the Shakespeare scholars who have spent entire
biographies slating Mrs. Bard, Anne Hathaway.
It is Greer's great mission, in the pages of her new book, Shakespeare's
Wife, to rescue Hathaway from the remainder bin of history. The
"Bardolators" might want to hide under their desks.
Greer is standing on the staircase of her garage office, solid and imposing,
silhouetted against the sky like Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments
- except that, where he clutched the memo from God, she is leaning on a walking
stick that she calls her "prong." She recently broke her ankle, and had to
cancel a trip to North America. "My agents wouldn't let me go," she says. "If
I'd died on the flight, they'd lose their bloody 10 per cent."
Add agents to that list, then. She advances down the stairs, and it's hard
not to think: Germaine Greer's coming at me, and she's got a weapon. But she's
not bent on violence. She's heading for a ridiculous, billowing peacock
strutting across the lawn: "Get out of here, George, you great, silly bird."
George is named for Byron; one of his family members was recently killed by a
mink that had been set free from a lab nearby by animal rights' activists.
"Those people," she says, fuming, "are some of the stupidest people on Earth."
The fierce energy is awesome to behold, like watching a fully loaded siege
engine trundling down a steep incline.
The energy isn't all fierce, however. In fact, Greer is remarkably jolly, her
insults delivered with good-humoured brio. (Wait till you hear what she thinks
of Ian McKellen's manhood.) At 69, she's a tall, shapely drink of water, her
grey-blond hair freshly highlighted, blue eyes merry behind rimless glasses.
She's a laugher, an arm-toucher, a generous employer of profanity, a woman in
love with her own ability to terrify.
"Someone will say to me, 'Do you know how much you frighten people?' " she
says, settling into a wooden bench in the farmhouse's shade. "The only thing I
can say is, 'Not enough. Nowhere near enough.' "
This brings us to Shakespeare's Wife, which is in many ways the
continuation of a feminist recipe that began simmering with The Female Eunuch,
reached a rolling boil in Sex and Destiny, and blew its menopausal lid
with The Change. The new book is Greer's attempt to stitch together a
portrait of Hathaway from history's crumbling threads, to challenge the
"Shakespeare wallahs," who seemed to think that "wife is a four-letter word."
Her rage began building on an airplane, as she read Stephen Greenblatt's
Will in the World. Greenblatt, now a professor at Harvard, had been her
fellow student at Cambridge when Greer was completing her dissertation on
Shakespeare's early comedies. Forty years later, she found him dismissing
Hathaway (who was eight years older than the Bard) and suggesting there was
"something seriously wrong with his marriage."
"I just couldn't get over it," Greer says. "Where did it come from, his idea
that Shakespeare hated his wife?" She was sitting on the plane, "frothing at the
mouth" when it occurred to her that she finally had an outlet for the mountains
of doctoral research she'd done into Elizabethan marriage: She would write about
the marriage of Shakespeare himself, long thought to be a loveless union - after
all, he left his wife nothing in his will but his second-best bed. Greer was
sure there was more to the story; she would fill the "wife-shaped hole" with a
picture of what Anne Hathaway might have been.
"Might" is the operative word here, for despite Greer's combing through
church and court records, contemporary histories and the libraries of Cambridge,
she was unable to unearth definitive evidence about Hathaway's life during and
after her marriage. Instead, she has painted a somewhat theoretical portrait:
The talented young poet may have taught his wife to read as an erotic gambit;
Hathaway may have survived Shakespeare's absences by becoming a skilled knitter
or malt-maker; she might even - oh blasphemy! - have been involved in the
publication of the First Folio.
Not surprisingly, she has a theory about why great men's wives are vilified
or ignored through history, and it has to do with the keepers of the great men's
flames: "They want to believe that wives are menial and don't occupy the psychic
space of their subject because they're jealous, I think.
"They want to think that if they'd been around drinking in the Mermaid
Tavern, Shakespeare would have found them very interesting and then they would
have been best buddies. But Shakespeare was tough on sycophants. He would have
disliked them to a man."
At this, she smiles the contented smile of a cat that's just swallowed a
biographer, or at least a canary. You couldn't tell her that, though, because
she despises cats as soulless killing machines. You'd probably get a swat with
She wanted to write the book, in part, to rescue her own sense of her beloved
Shakespeare - she couldn't respect a man who had coldly abandoned his wife. She
managed to maintain her affection for his plays, although she no longer goes to
see them performed. "It's all that ... acting. Stop acting! Just say the bloody
words." Her voice becomes more Australian by the minute. She loathes Stratford,
home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
"The last thing I saw was Lear, in which the great Ian McKellen hung
his cock in the face of these American schoolgirls. I was absolutely disgusted!
And then I found that he had hung his cock out when he played Edgar," in an
earlier Lear production. "Obviously, the challenge is to keep his cock in
his pants - great, pale, rubbery thing it was. Ugh!"
Well, then. There's not much to add to that. She sits for a minute in peace,
her wonky ankle out in front of her, looking out over her menagerie: the snowy
geese, the doves in their dovecote, the peacock, the poodle and the greyhound.
Maybe she likes living with animals because they're less disappointing than
After a minute Greer answers. "No, I wouldn't say that. I don't like much
company, though. Like most writers, I'm fairly solitary. I never feel lonelier
than when I'm with people discussing Sex and the City or something."
Don't expect to find her in line at the multiplex; some commentators might
vainly scramble to turn Carrie Bradshaw's story into a feminist parable, but
Greer has never been able to sit through an episode: "I always found myself
covered in self-loathing before I got to the end."
Earlier this year, on a trip home to Australia, where the locals can't decide
whether to tie her to a stake or put her face on their money, she addressed a
crowd of would-be acolytes: "Don't follow my flag," she told them. "I'm not a
She spoke in vain, of course. Feminism may be as popular in current discourse
as rain at a picnic, but for those who want to believe and fight for change, she
is a totemic figure. As far as she's concerned, "feminism has yet to begin. We
haven't even worked out who the enemy is."
Her writing has always represented the ballsy (womby?), slightly loony face
of women's struggle in the late 20th century. ("Women have very little idea of
how much men hate them," she wrote in The Female Eunuch). So the requests
pour in, to join committees (she hates committees) or stump for a candidate
(ditto for politics). Sometimes, the requests are hallucinatory in their
strangeness. One woman recently asked her to support a campaign to get men to
give up their seats on London's Underground, in return for a badge. "And the
badges say" - she begins to roar with laughter, so that she can barely get to
the best part - " 'Only women bleed!' "
After a moment or so, the laughter peters out. Hillary Clinton, she thinks,
is ineffectual; Condoleezza Rice, terrifying. "I think if I were involved in
feminist politics, I'd be terribly, terribly disheartened. Miserable."
What keeps her sane is her land. She has a piece of forest in Australia where
she has a crew replanting trees, and this converted mill in the lush fields of
Essex, an hour outside London, where she makes cider from the apples in her
orchard. It's a jarringly domestic picture; she's more closely associated with
her flamethrower attacks or for storming off the set of Celebrity Big Brother,
where she was a contestant in 2005.
That public image is soon to be augmented by two more fictional accounts: In
Beeban Kidron's upcoming film, Hippie Hippie Shake, about the wild
Australian expatriates in London in the late 1960s, she'll be played by Emma
Booth. This thought does not make her happy, to say the least. At the time
filming was announced, she wrote: "You used to have to die before assorted hacks
started munching your remains and modelling a new version of you out of their
But perhaps vanity has more to do with it than disgust at her life being
mined for comedy gold: "This Emma Booth girl has no tits, I hear," she says,
contrary to the last. "She's certainly got a lot less ass than me."
If anything, Greer is more upset about a play, soon to be staged in London,
that's a very thinly disguised account about an upsetting event from her life.
Eight years ago, the peace of Greer's farm was destroyed when she was held
captive in her house for a few hours by a disturbed woman who kept calling her
"mummy." The woman was sent to jail, even though Greer protested that she needed
medical treatment. These events have been turned into a comic play called The
Female of the Species, with the great English actress Eileen Atkins playing
a loud, egomaniacal feminist icon. Greer views this even more sourly than she
does poor, flat-chested Emma Booth.
"I thought it was bloody cheeky to make up a story using an event like that."
Her words sink in and, perhaps realizing the irony that lies in her accusing
anyone else of gratuitous provocation, she smiles. "I regard it all as very
CommentaryNormal men & women want real equality. For
decades, men have also supported the feminist ideals of equality, the
problem is we have some some extreme feminists, generally the victims of
some childhood tragedy at the hands of trusted male that absent appropriate
counseling can turn into a seething hatred of men and they spend the rest of
their lives attempting to do men the maximum amount of harm.
Movies like Thelma and Louise, The Three Wives club all pander to those in
society who just want revenge and don't care that innocent men are going to
pay, often the very men who have supported equality between the genders.
In Canada, extreme feminists have been extremely successful in holding
"brain washing sessions for Judges", thats right, every family court judge
in Canada must go to feminist indoctrination sessions and face extreme
political pressure to do indirectly what is not permitted directly.
Take the Ontario Court of Appeal, Any time a male appeals a support order
and wins, he is hit with a massive cost penalty.
If you think Muslim women have it tough having to produce 4 witnesses to
obtain a conviction for rape, the burden of proof is even more difficult for
a male in family court.
Judges simply invent any reason often reasons that are totally unsupported
by the "evidence" to justify orders that are blatant pandering to their
feminist political bosses.
Some judges actually take orders, agree to hear a case and make a decision
in advance, it goes beyond Judge Shopping, you would think a corrupt
judiciary would only occur in some cesspool of corruption in a third world
Wrong, the cesspool of Judicial Corruption is exactly what we have in
Canada, its a horrifying experience that leaves a trail of incalculable
destruction, it means we do NOT have the Rule of Law in Canada.
We have something else, its called a pathological hatred of men,
Its real crime and its starts in Family Court.
- Posted 07/06/08 at 11:36 PM EDT
Ottawa Mens Centre.com, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: "Revenge
of The Animal World" is how Germaine Greer described the tragic death of
world renown dedicated father Steve Irwin and she came out with this
pathological statement immediately after Steve's tragic death.
It begs the question, what kind of person would say something so offensive.
- Posted 07/06/08 at 11:51 PM EDT
Just walk into any Family Court Room, odds are the judge, court staff and
the lawyers will be female. The court staff frequently contain bitter
divorced women who snicker and portray body language to silently voice their
opinion during hearings. After the hearings, female court reporters
frequently frustrate attempts to obtain transcripts, especially when they
know that transcripts affect time lines. In Ottawa once court reporter
simply took the money and never provided the transcripts, that is she stole
Court management also direct the proceedings, its like having a group of
umpires who are going to hand out penalties to the opposing side for
breathing and allow the other side to kick beneath the belt all the time.
Our Ontario Family Court Judges know its goes on, some underbellies,
actually give instructions on how to do it to their staff who even quote the
fact that Judge so and so told them not to include something in the
In Ontario at least, transcripts if damaging to the judge are likely to go
missing and create delays where fatal prejudice results.
Our feminists have gained control of the courts, they use the courts as a
weapon of destruction against men sending thousands of Canadian Men to
Canadian Concentration camps for the crime of being a father and asking for
These dedicated brave fathers are often totally destroyed, have their
reputations destroyed, often falsely vilified as child abusers or wife
beaters on dubious affidavit evidence that never gets to be cross examined
because judges order pleadings stuck, order astronomical security for costs.
Justice in Canada is becoming something of the upper class only, unless you
can "buy" a lawyer who knows the judge, judges routinely abuse those who are
victims of injustice by making sure their case
NEVER GETS TO TRIAL.
There is no Rule of Law in Canada thanks to feminist influence in the