It hurts me to say so, but on the subject of rape Germaine Greer has a point. Too much of one, actually.
The point is that rape has become politicised to a hysterical level.
Women are brainwashed into claiming it’s the worst thing that can happen to them, leaving them psychologically traumatised for the rest of their lives.
I’ve ridiculed this idea many times, giving long lists of things that any sane person would think considerably worse than rape. How about being killed? Left brain-damaged after a beating? Losing an eye or two? Having every bone broken?
Anyone blessed with a modicum of imagination can extend this list until there’s no paper left in the house. Miss Greer certainly can, and on this issue at least we agree.
“We are told it’s one of the most violent crimes in the world. Bullshit,” she says (make allowances for her Aussie origin). After all, the majority of “rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever”.
The first statement is correct, the second one betrays what in less progressive times used to be called ‘woman’s logic’.
For a violent rape may cause no physical damage, for example if the rapist holds a knife to his victim’s throat during the act, threatening to kill her and her children if she doesn’t comply. But this sounds fairly violent to me, injury or no injury.
Most rape isn’t rape, continues Miss Greer, dumping a truckload of rubbish on a kernel of truth: “Most rape is just lazy, just careless, just insensitive. Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal right, he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law.”
As to the last sentence, it’s factually incorrect. If Miss Greer read the papers, she’d know that a whole new legal category of marital rape has been brought into existence. Many a man has been convicted for helping himself to a bit of how’s your father without first obtaining explicit (written?) consent from his wife.
Such sex is indeed lazy, careless and insensitive, and men who practise it have no manners whatsoever. Yet it shouldn’t be criminalised in any sane society, which ours no longer is.
However, Miss Greer doesn’t even notice that what she says is self-refuting. For she equates marital sex without permission with common or garden rape, where a stranger jumps out of the bushes in the said common or garden and forces himself on a woman.
In other words, she implicitly supports the very attitude of which she accuses our courts and society in general. Moreover, she hints at the extreme feminist position that even consensual nuptial sex is rape.
Discrimination of any kind is a dirty word these days, but no judgement, intellectual, moral or aesthetic, is possible without it.
By equating bad sex with rape, Miss Greer effectively endorses treating the former as the latter in the courts. Judges oblige, and insensitive husbands often end up sharing a prison cell with violent degenerates.
Discrimination relies on establishing narrow, concrete categories. But Miss Greer’s categories are wide enough to let an articulated lorry through.
Rape to her is “sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love.” On that criterion, I’d guess 90 per cent of all men married for longer than a few years should be banged in pokey.
Miss Greer disagrees. According to her, no rapist should receive a custodial sentence. Some 200 hours of community service should suffice, especially if no injury was involved.
Now that idea is provocative, which is fine: if an idea doesn’t provoke, it’s not an idea but a truism.
The trouble is that Miss Greer’s idea isn’t just provocative, but deliberately provocative: something uttered for shock value only. This always means the idea has no other value at all.
In the next breath she suggests that rape be reclassified as GBH, which would result in a lighter sentence. When it’s her word against his, and the potential punishment is seven years, says Miss Greer, no jury will convict.
This again doesn’t add up. First, if it’s just her word against his, no jury should convict anyway, although many do. Second, the maximum sentence for GBH is life, and the normal sentencing is in the three to 16 years range. So how will such reclassification produce a lighter sentence? And anyway, should we go no higher than 200 hours of community service?
Miss Greer’s mind may be smallish, but her ability to self-promote through iconoclasm is gigantic. She has devoted her whole life to blowing up every traditional (and the only true) view of women, men and family – and it has paid.
The nuclear, which to say normal, family is to her the worst possible environment for women to raise their children.
I haven’t investigated her position on this subject deeply enough to find out what the best environment would be. A single slut on social raising several children by different fathers in a space filled with crushed beer cans and crumbled cigarette packets?
To be truly free, women, according to Miss Greer, should abandon monogamy and put themselves about like uncaged animals. Hence perhaps the hypothetical woman of my morbid imagination above is really Miss Greer’s paragon of female liberation.
Bralessness is another essential component. On this subject, she loses me altogether, even though I was rather lost already.
“Bras are a ludicrous invention,” she once said, “but if you make bralessness a rule, you’re just subjecting yourself to yet another repression.”
So wearing a bra is as repressive as not wearing one. What’s a well-endowed girl to do if she doesn’t want to play footie with her endowments? How does double mastectomy as a blow for liberation strike Miss Greer?
She is right to point out that the concept of rape has been so widened that perfectly innocent men have been convicted for, say, not stopping in the middle of a consensual act just because the woman felt like stopping. Or else a woman having sex with two men and then deciding she doesn’t fancy one of them after all. (References to specific cases available on request.)
However, when throwing her stones, she doesn’t realise she herself lives in a glass house. For she should look no further than herself and mindless fanatics like her in search of those who have ripped to shreds the fabric of our society.
It doesn’t occur to her that, if she or anyone else is incapable of uttering two words on this subject without one word contradicting the other, then perhaps the premise is false.
Fair enough, our society, cast adrift from its roots, is ready to respond to any twaddle with Hitlerjugend-type alacrity. But Miss Greer has added quite a few lashes of her own to the whipping up of destructive hysteria.
Now she looks at her creation and realises she doesn’t quite like it. She is the female Herostratus disillusioned with arson, or rather some of its consequences. Yes, she became famous, job done. But perhaps Ephesus doesn’t look quite right without that temple.