The Advocate: Anti-Hate, Pro-Stupidity

(TW: Another blog about Greer/long/not nice.)

The human brain’s default setting is stupid.

We like our politics, pop culture, and discourse around anything of import to be stupid to suit our stupid fucking brains. Really, for some, it’s not that they’re incapable of being stupid, it’s just that stupid feels better: critical thinking, self awareness, studying history, reading books – these can each be uncomfortable, downright painful experiences.

And if you’re thinking to yourself, “Gee, it’s really mean of her to say people are stupid,” then you’re fucking stupid, too.

The reason I’m talking about stupidity, and the publicly verifiable fact that most people are stupid, is that when I saw The Advocate op-ed about Germaine Greer, all I could think was, “Holy fuck this writer is stupid and every single person who agreed with the conceit of this article is stupid, too.”

I mean, let’s not mince words. The article I’m about to address is fucking stupid as fuck. It’s so goddamned stupid that I contracted second hand stupid just by reading it.

However, the sentiments the article expressed are as odious and harmful as they are stupid, so that’s why I’m bothering to write about it at all.

I gave up on the “gay community” and publications that grow out of “the community” a long time ago. What passes as LGBT activism and media these days is little more than a collective jerk off among gay men, men who feel like women, and straight women who want to participate. Current “L”GBT media is outrageously hostile toward women — lesbians, in particular. Shit, as of late, it’s begun to embrace and promote pedophilia as evidenced by a recent article in Baltimore OUTLoud.

So, as a woman who cares deeply about women and girls, as someone who is ENTHUSIASTICALLY AND PROUDLY OPPOSED to adults having sex with minors, and as a dyke, I see nothing for me in what now passes for gay activism and journalism. The current LGBT movement is yet another boy’s club that sometimes admits women who are willing to proselytize.

The Advocate is supposed to be some authority on issues impacting gays, some sort of gold standard in homo-journalism. People defer to The Advocate, but as I asserted above, it’s nothing more than some collective stroke off competition.

Anyway. Today, they published a marvelously stupid article by some fucking idiot about Germain Greer. The title of the article was “Greer’s Feminine Mistake” – which is, I guess, a clever play on The Feminine Mystique, which Greer did not write, a fact the writer is probably unaware of. And really, most of these writers who are freaking the fuck out about Greer had almost certainly never heard of her, had never read her, have no freaking clue about her contributions to feminist theory, much less existence – until she hurt men’s feelings when she acknowledged reality.

The writer begins her op-ed with the following line: There’s this feminist named Germaine Greer . . .

Maybe the writer is trying to be dismissive, as in, “There’s this president named Barack Obama” or “There’s this County Clerk named Kim Davis . . .” or “There’s this gay publication called The Advocate . . .” Or maybe she’s intimating that she had no idea who Greer was until Greer insulted Bruce Jenner. It’s hard to tell.

She follows this bit of sarcasm? ignorance? by writing, Greer is one of those TERFS . . . who are strident “feminists” who hate trans women.

 Here, the writer does what so many leftists, so many liberal feminists do when they talk about women whose feminism does not center men: they make it seem as though the individual’s political and philosophical perspective is rooted in the hatred of trans people. Whether or not they believe – or even think about – what they’re saying is another matter.

All feminists who do not center male persons must be contextualized as women who HATE male persons. This rhetoric is important: no one is pro-hate. Just as I believe humans are, by default, stupid, I also believe that humans are, by default, good. (Yes – there are outliers. There are people who ARE “pro-hate” and there are people who ARE evil. These, I would assert, are the lunatic fringe exceptions to the “stupid-but-good” human rule.) It’s like those “Mean People Suck” bumper stickers I saw around in the late nineties (I think? Or was it the 00’s?) – yeah. Mean people suck. Did anyone ever feel otherwise?

The problem is that because people are so fucking stupid, if you equate feminist critique of gender with “hate” or “hate speech,” every well intentioned dumbass will thoughtlessly agree gender critical feminists are bad because gender critique is hate and hate is bad, okay?

 No one stops to think “how” gender critique is “hate” – they just accept that it is “hate” because that’s what’s been repeated on a rhetorical loop: Trans women are women; gender critique is hate – that’s what men are selling these days. That’s how consumerism works: the product doesn’t have to be sound or good for us or particularly useful, we’re told by men to make the purchase, and so we do.

We’re that fucking stupid.

Truth is more complicated.

Greer never said she “hated” trans people. She simply asserted what we all know to be true: trans women are not female. Oh, and she also said, in a roundabout way, Bruce Jenner is, like the rest of his family, an attention seeking celebrity who is also not female.

These are pretty plain, uncomplicated, easily verifiable observations. These observations might tug at the cozy delusion-blanket that swaddles our sluggish lump of gray matter, but that bit of discomfort isn’t hate – it’s reality, it’s life.

The truth often sucks, but for society, what sucks worse – in the long term, at least – is pretending the truth doesn’t exist.

Speaking truth to another human being is not, in and of itself, a hateful act.

Hell, the hardest, harshest truths I’ve had to hear in my life have often come from the lips of those I love most.

Women are conditioned not to speak the truth, particularly not to speak truth to power. Much of what went so hard with society during the – now derided – women’s liberation movement of the 60s and 70s was that women were speaking painful truths about their own lives, truths that shattered patriarchal notions of what a woman should feel, should be, should say.

The writer of The Advocate article goes on to express outrage about Greer’s comment regarding trans women’s appearance and behavior. A lot of people have zeroed in on this moment from the interview. Again, in my estimation, Greer was simply giving voice to what we all know – even if we pretend we don’t. Obviously, as a not-so-conventional looking gal myself, I’m no fan of condemning a group based on looks alone, but I don’t think Greer was engaging in condemnation, she was plainly observing. And remember, as Phonaesthetica and I observed in our post a few days back, Greer was being dragged and baited into this conversation after making it perfectly clear she had no interest in the topic.

Feigning incredulity, the writer asks, What even does a feminist look like? She answers her own question with something about Dworkin looking like a “stereotype of a feminist” and Jane Fonda being pretty. Then she makes some weird segue into the “glamour” embodied by Laverne Cox, and deprecates herself as looking like an “eighth-grade art teacher” – which I guess is a bad thing? My takeaway from this part of the article was something along the lines of “if Germaine Greer, an old, yucky, Second Wave feminist, observes that many trans women don’t look like female human beings, it is bad and mean and looks-ist, but if I say that trans women are pretty and I, myself, am dumpy, like an art teacher, it is funny and good.”

She also says that she knew this dude who was a biker and then transitioned and is now a “dyke on a bike” – despite the fact that a man cannot be a “dyke” and also WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT? Seriously, what do any of these ruminations have to do with feminism? She lapses into this clunky stream-of-consciousness prose about all the trans women she knows and what they look like as though this somehow proves that Greer is hateful, as though to suggest the way one appears is, in and of itself, a feminist act – and she does this a mere two sentences after chiding Greer for being “un-feminist” for mentioning that people don’t all look alike.

She also addresses Greer’s comment about behavior, There’s a right way for women to behave? Well, I think that undoes about 200 years of Western feminist thought. – Funny. I didn’t hear Greer say anything about a “right way for women to behave.” She did, however, allude to the behavior of men who think they’re women.

Also, “Undoes 200 years of Western feminist thought”? Really? What would Wollstonecraft say about this? Wait. This writer probably doesn’t know who Wollstonecraft is because the woman didn’t live long enough to make an unpopular comment about Bruce Jenner.

And I find it very difficult to believe this writer, and those of her ilk, give a flying fuck about “200 years of Western feminist thought” when they’ve made their disdain for the last thirty years of feminist thought so abundantly clear. Seems to me the only feminist thought that matters is feminist thought of the past ten years, you know, the kind that men have manufactured . . .

What follows the “trans women are pretty and I am ugly” symposium is this:

Greer also once said, “No so-called sex change has ever begged for a uterus-and-ovaries transplant.” Clearly this woman has never met a baby-crazy trans woman walking around the house with a pillow under her shirt.

 Okay. Perhaps I’m being ignorant here or, um, stupid, but do adult human beings engage in this behavior? I mean, adult human beings who aren’t struggling with major mental illness? Is this supposed to illicit sympathy in the reader? Because for me, it evokes profound concern for the adult so unhinged that they would “walk around the house with a pillow” under their shirt to simulate pregnancy. I mean, yeah. When I was a little kid I, and other little girls I knew, sometimes did this — it was child’s play; we enacted – as children – an experience we were conditioned to believe was our destiny. However, of the great many women I know who have struggled painfully with fertility not one has ever, at least to my knowledge, spent any amount of time with a pillow under her shirt. See, for women, female reproduction is not an act, an artifice. Nor do I think sticking a pillow under your shirt in any way expresses an understanding of what it’s like to have a uterus and ovaries, nor does it express a genuine desire to have them. What it does demonstrate is a need – perhaps fetishistic, perhaps not – to seem like a woman. And isn’t this what the Greer “debacle” is all about? That a woman refuses to play a game of pretend when reality is at stake?

And doesn’t it make sense that a male defined, highly commodified, branded “feminism” used mostly to hock pornography, music, clothes, and prostitution would have a vested interest in making women like Greer, women who’ve seen some shit, women who are not set to their human “stupid default,” women who can actually see and articulate that there are real issues, real struggles faced by women and girls that don’t involve a person’s right to participate in a slut walk, or to “change genders,” rendered insignificant? Greer’s feminism isn’t sexy, isn’t salable, isn’t stupid.

The writer concludes on a “free speech” note, I guess, arguing: I think we need to let people hear Greer out so we can all collectively look at her and say, “Well, that was a bunch of crazy BS. Oh, isn’t I Am Cait on?”

And thus, she proves my point. We’d rather not listen to the “crazy old woman” who has meaningful, important, and complex thoughts to share about the problems facing female human beings. Instead, we’d be better off to watch a privileged, wealthy, white Republican in an expensive dress drink chardonnay with his “gal pals.” Not hateful feminism. Just stupid.

 

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Convert or Perish: On Germaine Greer

** This is a joint post with Phonaesthetica **

Regular readers of our blogs don’t need an introduction to the canonical liberation-feminist work of Germaine Greer, nor do they need a recap of what’s happening to her in the news this week. But, to sum up: Greer is under fire for hurting Bruce Jenner’s feels – and by extension, the feels of other men who say they are women – for maintaining that they are not, in fact, women, and that misogyny is the basis of Glamour magazine’s decision to consider Bruce Jenner for its Woman of the Year award, i.e., Jenner’s pretty hair, makeup, nails and fashion make him a better women than someone who was simply born a woman.

Because of this, Cardiff University – Greer’s own academic institution – will not offer her an honorary degree; nor will it allow her a platform to speak. A change.org petition with nearly 2,000 signatures accuses Greer of “demonstrating misogynistic views towards trans women, including continually misgendering trans women and denying the existence of transphobia altogether.”

These are lies.

In the six-minute interview clip, Greer makes it very clear she believes male-to-female transsexuals should “carry on,” should do what they need to do to feel comfortable; and that she’s happy to use “female speech forms as a courtesy.” However, here she doesn’t bend: Male-to-female transsexuals are men, and Bruce Jenner is angling for the kind of attention lavished on the Kardashian women.

“I’m not saying that people should not be allowed to go through the procedure,” Greer says. “What I’m saying is it doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion; it’s not a prohibition.”

The interviewer persists in dragging the discussion into various side alleys – What about intersex, huh? What about someone who has a uterus and testes, huh? Aren’t you being insulting? Some people think this kind of speech incites violence.

Greer, patiently, re-iterates that intersex conditions and transsexuality are two different things; reminds the interviewer that trans has never been her issue (because, guess what, her issue is WOMEN); and then cracks herself up laughing at the recollection of the many times she herself has been insulted.

“Try being an old woman!” she says, and we know what she means: An old woman is invisible; is offensive by continuing to exist long after her beauty and fertility and usefulness to men are gone.

In fact, hey – look at the first comment posted here underneath the interview:

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No one is accusing this commenter of violent, hateful, dehumanizing speech, as they would if the comment were directed toward, say, Laverne Cox or Caitlyn Jenner: that’s because Greer is female; is elderly; is firm in her unpopular, non-male-centered opinion. So it doesn’t matter what people say about her. She no longer counts.

While older men are celebrated for their wisdom and important insight (think, for example, an entire Oscar-winning documentary, The Fog of War, centered on the musings of an eighty-something McNamara), society does not regard older women in the same way. We do not afford older women the opportunity to be heard – unless they are willing, as say, Betty White, to perform for our amusement.

The liberal feminist movement itself is consumed in a deep, profound hatred of older women who are feminists. “Second Wave” has become a pejorative, principally because what the Second Wave represented was women’s refusal to cater to the needs and demands of men; to emancipate themselves from patriarchy.

Liberal feminists work tirelessly to distance themselves from the women who came before – be they Second Wave or suffragette. Liberal feminists have been conditioned to cut themselves off from their predecessors because their predecessors did not prioritize the way men might feel if women earned the right to vote, take birth control, start a group, publish a book, found a magazine, or get a fucking job.

Second Wave feminists, in particular, were not afraid to say men and men’s needs were the primary cause of women’s suffering – even Betty Friedan, founder of NOW, got freaked out and attempted to distance herself as feminists of the 60s and 70s started to openly, unabashedly name the problem. And though we can’t speak for Friedan, we would hazard that she knew men were the problem, but distanced herself from the claim in order that she not end up, at the tail end of her career and life, villainized the way Greer is being villainized now. (And yes, we are also aware the Friedan was afraid of being labeled a lesbian, and saw lesbians as a detriment to the movement.)

Fuck, even Gloria Steinem came out in support of the idea of ladybrain – and we don’t think she believes it any more than Greer does. But because the current liberal feminist mandate is that female is a feeling in a man’s head, Greer and Steinem have both been faced with a difficult choice: Say you’ve converted to Genderism (even if you haven’t) or be prepared to have your entire life’s work eclipsed by our culture’s staid belief that hurting a man’s feelings amounts to blasphemy.Young liberal feminist women have been given terms like “queer” and “cis” to confuse them into believing that their suffering is not real or, if it is real, it does not result from being born female.

When older sisters, like Greer, speak, when they say, “Listen! Women and girls have real, actual problems that have nothing to do with a man’s ability to craft the visage of ‘woman’” we, as a society, are quick to censure them, to call them “mad,” to infer they are insane with old age.

This is a trope, a motif. We see this in countless so-called “classic” and “beloved” tales: Great Expectations, Sunset Boulevard, Snow White, Macbeth, to name a very small few. We see this pattern, too, in our pop culture, in our politics: an aging woman is an angry woman, is jealous, is insane, is a being (not quite human, not quite woman) bent on evil.

The only “good woman” over fifty is one who is silent, deferential, nurturing, OR willing to make a fucking fool of herself.

But if one was to listen, to actually fucking listen, to a single word Greer has said on the topic, one would hear that hers are not the belligerent ravings of a madwoman, but rational, intelligent responses to a lunatic conversation she has been relentlessly dragged into despite the fact, as she has repeatedly stated, that she has zero interest whatsoever in discussing the matter, or thinking about the matter.

Here’s the bizarre reality: this interviewer is seated across from Germaine Greer – brilliant scholar, feminist icon, a woman who has nearly eighty years of experience and insight – and the best she can do is ask her about Bruce fucking Jenner?

But we, I suppose, are in the minority in that we value older women; we have friendships with women who are twenty, thirty, forty years our senior; we look to our elder sisters for advice, and are eager to hear their perspectives. We do not see women like Greer as freakish “others.”

Cardiff will not give Greer her earned and deserved honorary degree because she, unlike Steinem, refuses to espouse a belief in ladybrain. Greer will not betray a lifetime of scholarship and activism, she will not disappear her convictions, in order to cradle the fragile male ego, in order to pander to bullshit liberal feminism, and to perpetuate what we all know is a gigantic fucking lie.

But you know who wasn’t denied an honorary degree? Mike Tyson, the man who raped and beat women. Mike Tyson, who BIT ANOTHER MAN’S EAR OFF ON LIVE TELEVISION.

Who else; who else. Oh, yeah: Kanye West, author of immortal rap lyrics including ”We got this bitch shaking like Parkinson’s,” “black dick all in your spouse again,” and “I keep it 300, like the Romans/300 bitches, where’s the Trojans?” has an honorary doctorate.

(So does Kermit the Frog. No shit. From Southampton College.)

Roman Polanski anally-raped a female child. He gets LOTS of awards and makes LOTS of speeches.

Hurt feelings — hell, hurt bodies — in no way jeopardize a man’s public career. Very few men are maligned for talking shit about women, and absolutely no man is shamed for speaking, as Greer has, in simple, verifiable facts.

Go back a second, though, to Kanye’s Trojans, because this whole Greer thing forcibly reminds us of the ancient Greek myth of Apollo and Cassandra.

Despite his good looks, Apollo didn’t have such a great reputation with the ladies. He had a history of attempted rape (which, in ancient mythology, is not regarded as too great a transgression), and of bribing women for sex. For Apollo, a figure who is supposed to represent the “perfect man” in form and intellect, all women could be bought, and when they could not be bought, they could be forced, and if they could not be bought or forced, they would be cursed.

When he offered Cassandra, a Trojan woman, the power of prophecy in exchange for sex, she gave it some thought but ultimately rejected him. Apollo, in turn, cursed her: she would have prophetic gifts, but never be believed.

In fact, she would be thought a liar and a madwoman.

And so, when Cassandra foresaw the Trojan War, no one listened.

When she insisted, “The Trojan Horse is full of men hiding!” people laughed at and insulted her.

Finally, she grabbed an axe and a burning torch and ran toward the horse, in an effort to destroy it before it destroyed Troy – but the Trojans stopped her, therefore ensuring their own destruction.

The men hiding in the horse were tremendously relieved.