Is It Okay For Feminists to Trash Other Women?

by Kaitlin Cole

Feminist icon Germaine Greer has come under fire recently for making negative remarks about other women.  Greer wrote the 1970 bestseller, The Female Eunuch, which encouraged women to reject the traditional nuclear family idea (she felt it oppressed women.)

In March, the Australian feminist said Prime Minister Julia Gillard had a “big arse.”  She also noted that Gillard’s jackets make her look like an “organ grinder’s monkey,” though she later backtracked a bit and said, “a woman is not her jacket.”  Ya don’t say!

Courier Mail writer Jane Fynes-Clinton feels these remarks go against the women’s equality and freedoms Greer so stridently fought for in the late 20th century, and  wonders if Greer is desperate for a bit of attention and controversy.  There’s no doubt that the remarks were petty. However, I can’t help but wonder if anyone would’ve cared if she’d made them about a man.  It probably would have been more expected a feminist would say something unkind about a man, as unfortunate assumptions about feminists disliking men still exist. 

This issue asks an interesting question: does being a feminist mean we can never say anything unkind about other women? Should it mean that?  While narrow notions of beauty are definitely still in place, this seems like more of an issue for pop culture in general (tabloids and gossip sites tear people’s looks apart daily).  

Greer herself recognized this issue on Australian talk show Q&A: “You don’t understand how tough it is for little girls who think that having a fat arse is to be dead, is to be finished.”  We all could stand to cool it with the petty remarks about people’s appearances.  As long as we keep making negative comments about appearance, society will continue to overemphasize looks. 

What do you think?  Has Greer gone against everything she stands for, or was she simply making a harmless joke?

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