Review: Germaine Greer: “not despondent…worried”

I was afraid that Germaine Greer’s Four Decades of Fun with Feminism gig at Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury might at best be an apology. I feared that at worst it might turn into a renouncement of the Eunuch ‘theories’ for which she has become so renowned. My apprehensions had no grounds, however, as I discovered to my relief and enjoyment as Greer made us laugh, cringe, scoff in mutual disgust and even cry with her reflection on feminism since her most celebrated work was first published in 1970.

In the 90 minutes for which she played, Greer addressed firstly the phrase for which she has been both credited and chastised in equal measure, that “women have no idea just how much men hate them”, explaining how the quote has evolved as a freelance feminist tagline in its own right and been interpreted (and misinterpreted) by feminists and others alike. From there, hammering through issues such as women in the workplace (for which, she cheerfully insists, she should not be “blamed”) and the (ongoing) questions about the role of women as mothers, she was both entertaining and insightful in equal measure.

When discussing female desire Greer, flanked by nods of agreement from most of the audience (and whooping from some!), asserted that women “have not been helped by Sex and the City”, and assured us that she is “not despondent…just worried” about the situation of feminism and womanhood today.

Four Decades of Fun with Feminism exceeded my expectations in almost every way (except that I did expect to be star-struck when given the chance to talk to her directly towards the end, and wasn’t disappointed) and the audience, seemed to share and be endeared by her overall sentiment and bottom-line of not aspiring to be an “equality feminist” (quipping that being male is not something she has ever aspired to) but instead addressing women in their own right to be their own experience, not experiencing life as an ‘other’.

She also thinks that tarragon, as a seasoning in food, is very overrated.

[Editor’s note 2021: this post was published before Greer’s views on trans people were widely known. This post from 2015 is an excellent rebuttal of some of Greer’s views which are not shared by The F-Word. Please see our position on transphobia and cissexism here.]