(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.