Germaine Greer Shows Us The Problems With Second-Wave Feminism
Can we all just agree to stop letting second-wave feminists have speaking gigs? Germaine Greer, the author of The Female Eunuch, is the latest of the old-school feminists who seriously disappoint us. In an interview with BB2’s Newsnight, Greer discussed her feelings about Caitlyn Jenner, and we seriously wish she hadn’t.
In effect, Greer gave the textbook “I have no understanding of gender” answer by discussing how, in her opinion, Caitlyn Jenner is not actually a woman. There’s a lot of things you can call Caitlyn Jenner — an Olympian, a reality TV show star, even a Republican — but she’s definitely a woman.
After being asked to address Caitlyn Jenner being awarded Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine, she spewed some toxic transphobic statements. “I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this,” she said. “That a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman.”
Gross. Maybe someone should teach Greer the definition of misogyny.
While it’s shitty to see people who call themselves feminists objectify women by defining their gender simply through the presence or absence of body parts, the backlash against Greer has made us a little more hopeful for the future of feminism. Cardiff University, who had Greer on the schedule for a speech later in the year, quickly circulated a petition barring her from campus. The petition garnered over 800 signatures, although the speaking arrangement has yet to be canceled.
In all of this mess, we see why second-wave feminism died. Realistically, feminism without intersectionality — an understanding of how various identities inform experiences with oppression — isn’t really feminism at all. And second-wave feminism, which died out partly due to a penchant for ignoring queer women and women of color, definitely lacked intersectionality. For a group of women who’ve fought against an essentialist view of gender and defining women by their bodies and actions, they sure are hypocritical.
That isn’t to say that third-wave — or fourth wave? which wave are we in now? — feminism is perfect. It’s far from it. But if the Cardiff University petition shows us anything, it’s that maybe young people are moving towards a social climate where transphobia is seen just as backwards and retrogressive as it actually is.
Photo via Vanity Fair and the Guardian.