Germaine Greer needs to lie down

Darn it, I’m still feckin-well addicted to it. Big Brother that is. I’m watching it and I’m reading about it and I never stop talking about it. Oh my, I wish someone would stop me!

I think that I’m done with it all until I see something else that makes me want to rant. Take the following from Germaine Greer, for example. I’ve never known Greer to be so disparaging of strong and intelligent women, but she gets very scathing in this piece. Look at what she says about Shilpa.

There are no good reasons for watching Celebrity Big Brother and very good reasons for not. Not watching will spare you the nerve-fraying annoyingness that is Shilpa Shetty. Everything about her is infuriating: her haughty way of stalking about, her indomitable self-confidence, her chandelier earrings, her leaping eyebrows, her mirthless smile, her putty nose and her eternal bray, “Why does everyone hate me?” Not to mention the crying jags. What no one seems to have quite understood is that Shilpa is a very good actress. Everyone hates her because she wants them to. She also knows that if she infuriates people enough, their innate racism will spew forth.

So she deserves to be racially abused? Is that the implication here?

She is just the girl to raise the pit bull in a dizzy little drip like Danielle and keep her frothing at the mouth long enough for her nascent career as a sweet little Wag to disappear down the drain. When Shilpa is finished with Danielle even Teddy Sheringham will know what a small, dark heart beats within her fetching chest. This explains the slightly cannibal air of self-satisfaction that never abandons Shilpa. She knows what she is doing. She will shred the nerves of all the other women in that house until even Cleo pulls back her frozen lips and shows the fangs behind her witless Mona Lisa smile.

Oh, so it is all her fault then? Mainly for being able to recognise that she’s not a vapid, talentless idiot, you’re saying?


I’m thinking that this piece probably says more about Greer than it does about Shetty. I’ve always had an admiration for Greer (she was one of the most prominent feminists around as I was growing up), but she’s been letting herself down a lot in recent years. She seems bitter and unhappy about something, and she resorts to attacking women who remind her of who she once was in order to express her discontent. Even when she was on CBB herself last year or whenever it was, I watched her thinking that there was something missing. She’s not fair anymore, and I always remember her being very fair.

Shilpa isn’t nasty like she describes, but she is a reminder to frustrated women the world over that they’re not all they want to be. This is clearly what upset the three ‘ladies’ in the Big Brother house, and I can’t help but think that it’s what’s upsetting Greer too. Nay, think of the BB house without Shlipa, I say! She’s not perfect, no doubt, but she’s smart and funny and kind and generous and interesting. I can’t think of another housemate to whom you could attach those adjectives. But perhaps Germaine doesn’t like such qualities in a person, now that she’s lacking in them herself.

It’s a shame, really, because I think Greer could still be a very influential and important person; feminist or otherwise. If only she’d stop being a moron apologist (and something of a moron herself, truth be told) long enough to realise it…

15 responses to “Germaine Greer needs to lie down

  1. From what I have been forced to see of CBB Shilpa is the only one in the house who would make me look twice in any more of a OMG trainwreck kind of way. I’m not talking looks. It is the very self-assuredness (aloofness?) that Greer talks about that is attractive. Why can’t a woman be imposing in that kind of way. Britain has an obsession with the ladette culture, something my grandad would have described as trollops. (don’t take anything he ever said as gospel though he was a scouse alf garnett and would have been jumping on the shilpa bashing bandwagon) What is wrong with a woman who can stand up staight without thrusting naked/semi naked breasts in the face of everyone. As for speaking english “incha” “dunnit” “intshe” are not in my OED.

    I wish she was Scottish. I would be proud.

    PS still resisting the urge to tune in for Dirk. Please tell me he is out to lay to rest this dichotomy. Dirk or self-respect…..

  2. I agree. It’s the fact that she’s so dignified that I like. Clearly this quality irks Greer just like it irked the three in the house.

    And Britain does love ladette culture. Sara Cox would be so proud. She’s another one…

    Dirk is not out but he’s not worth tuning in for. I can assure you of this. 🙂

  3. That was the article to which I referred in my post the other day. I was just as annoyed as you by the tone of it, but I decided I wanted to concentrate on the linguistic aspects that she brought out, since that was quite enough for one LJ ramble. Also, of course, since I know something about linguistics but nothing at first hand about the inmates of the Brother-house, I felt I would rather concentrate on giving Ms Greer’s arguments a more scholarly treatment than she could manage herself (and thereby taking one of them apart piecemeal) than taking her to task for her attitude. I think I did mention in passing that she sounded as jealous as Ms Goody and her friends, but that was about all.

    I’m inclined to think that once feminists start bashing anyone, they can no longer legitimately call themselves feminists, because real feminism is all about a world where nobody needs to feel they have to bash people in order to get what they want. But perhaps that’s just me.

  4. miss_next: I think you’re right about feminists, there. Well, you can be anti-someone who you feel is repressing you, if I understand it correctly, but surely she couldn’t feel repressed or dominated by Shilpa? Could she? I don’t know…

    She certainly sounds very envious. I’m really dissappointed in her.

    I didn’t see the linguistics angle but that’s not my thing. 🙂

  5. I think feminism is about being anti-repression, not anti-people. It has to be focused on the behaviour rather than the person (or system) that is perpetrating it. Otherwise, it not only becomes a blunt instrument that doesn’t distinguish between the helpful and unhelpful behaviour of the same individual, but it also risks becoming precisely the thing it aims to oppose – a system of discrimination. I have met so many women who called themselves feminists but were nothing more than anti-male, and it saddens me.

  6. miss_next: Yes, I suppose that’s what I meant, although so much feminism now is just anti-men. (And moreover the line is so easy to blur.) I got sucked into a website recently (in that trainwreck way) that was so anti-men. I think I can understand how feminists can be anti-individual-men if they feel them to be particularly oppressive but this site was against the whole gender. And the author had this way of turning everything around to blame the male patriarchy. It was pathetic, really, and I gave up reading there after a while because it was so difficult to take, even as a woman.

  7. I agree, I’m very sad by Germaine’s odd views over the years, my disenchantment began when she spectacularly failed to cope with CBB when she took part. She does seem very bitter. The Shilpa sistuation is an odd one and there are enough rabid hordes trying desperately to blacken her name because they would like Princess Jade the people’s spokesperson to be crowned, without her launching herself into the affray giving the ‘she asked for it’ view even more credence. The ‘actress’ accusation amuses me every time I hear it leveled at Shilpa because it seems that everyone has forgotten that Dirk is also an actor, as is Cleo (at least arguably), but then people have also forgotten that actresses are given instruction, lines to learn and actions to mimic. It seems to suggest that your job choices infiltrate your life to such an extent that you are nothing but a hollow shell without it, actresses have never felt a genuine emotion in their scripted lives apparently, actors though – different story (but then they are male and by definition not capable of any form of manipulation.

  8. Kris: You make some very good points, Kris. They make wonder even more about Ms Greer’s recent attitude towards the women she used to strive to protect. Perhaps ‘protect’ isn’t the right word there. I’m having terrible trouble waking up (and warming up) this morning.

  9. Greer says

    “Everything about her is infuriating: her haughty way of stalking about, her indomitable self-confidence, her chandelier earrings, her leaping eyebrows, her mirthless smile, her putty nose and her eternal bray, “Why does everyone hate me?” ”


    What was that about the pot calling the kettle black?

    I agree I think its a damned shame when women as influential as Greer is start ganging up on other women.

    As far as I can see both “sides” of the BB fracas have been hoodwinked into putting on a right show for the benefit of Endemol’s ratins.

    But yeah…Greer has gotten to be very bitter and its a real shame. I also used to admire her.

    Chami Chakrabarti from Liberty was on Newsnight the other night…now there was an intelligent woman’s perspective on the whole thing.

    Did you see it all? It was brilliant.

  10. Puddle: I didn’t see that, no.

    And now that you mention it, she does sound like she’s describing herself there. Funny!

    I’m going to take Greer with a pinch of salt from now on – it’s a real shame she’s started to go on like this, but she’s the only one who’s going to lose as a result really.

  11. We don’t get Big Brother here – instead, I get obssessed with America’s Next Top Model, and Wife Swap.

    When I was living in the UK though, I was hooked to Big Brother. The last time I saw it, a gay Irish boy won (I think) – and the runner up was a ditsy Welsh girl. What was that? Season 2?

  12. Oh, Venting, you poor, poor thing! As difficult as I find it to watch shows like BB, I find it impossible to watch anything talent-search-related. It’s truly gruesome TV.

    Yes, that was BB2 I think. The Irish bloke was called Brian and the ditsy Welsh girl was called Helen. If I remember correctly, Helen and another contestant, Paul, got married. That’s just lovely, innit! 😉

    Those were the days when I watched BB avidly – I haven’t done so in a number of years. I’ve given up on Celebrity BB now too – it was interesting while it was being political but now it’s just too dull.

  13. Yes, I remember that about Helen and Paul, now. They had a snog under a blanket and all the while her bf back home was watching.

    Now THAT was good television.

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