The Verse’s Lou Clement tells us about Germaine Greer for International Women’s Day, at the Brighton Dome on Saturday 4th March 2017
Germaine Greer is known for feminist works, the Female Eunuch and The Whole Woman. However today, in celebration of upcoming International Women’s day, she is discussing ecology. Ecofeminism is billed as the focus of this lecture. It focuses on Greer’s achievements and experiences as the owner of a large plot of land called Creek Cave. Also she will discuss her more widely felt beliefs about the changes seen in species and environment over the last forty years.
Greer is a campaigner of sorts. But she asserts that she doesn’t want followers, and she urges each member of the audience to take action for themselves. To suspend belief in what we read and research and to be aware. She is critical of academic theory. Dismissive of categories that include deep ecology. She frowns on these because they obscure rather than clarify a present, clear and ongoing decline. She answers audience questions arrow-like: straight through the vague questions and replying with enviable, maybe even a remarkable international awareness, with poise and understanding. I don’t know that I expected anything else. But Greer tells us she’s 78, and that she is writing her last book. She’s going out guns blazing.
Greer discusses customs, cultures, women around the world and their practices. She tells us about the oppression perpetrated by Buddhist governments when asked about Thích Nh?t H?nh. She doesn’t agree with modern mysticism. The message in this for me that religious leaders don’t exist in isolation. That values of cooperation, preservation and sustainability don’t belong to a religion.
She emphasises that women have a visceral connection to the earth. Referencing anthropological and archaeological evidence and discussing the theories and work of eminent evolutionary scientist Lynn Margulis. Throughout her talk, she frames her discussion with the facets of misogyny that present themselves to her in society. She is amused and exasperated by the role of the advertising industry. While the audience cheers, she describes her experience of watching Countdown, where the advertisement of incontinence pads for women bookends the show. Targeting women for their leakiness, this is the focus of women’s industries.
But what about hyperemesis gravidarum? Where is the research into this life-threatening condition that women suffer during pregnancy? This is just one example. She seems to speed up rather than slow down as the talk progresses. We find out that she would rather be at home than traverse the globe, as she was due to that day. She is about to launch her archives at the University of Melbourne on International Women’s day.
The talk felt informal. But it was laced very finely with attuned thinking, and a vision and energy that is hard to pin down. It made me feel good about being me. It also made me want to keep on striving in a way that is true to my own beliefs. There was a standing ovation for the Germaine Greer at the end of the event, and as I turned to leave there was joy in the faces of the attendees.