An except from an email received today by my friend Clementine Ford:
You are no real feminist and will never be Germaine Greer.
You dont have enough stamina to understand the issues, and only hurt the real victims.
See you around.
BTW I am the Germaine Greer of our generation, and I won’t be taking any advice from immature girls that know nothing of the world or issues they comment on.
You can read the whole thing here. I keep looking at it, partly because I keep trying to figure out who possibly could have written it.
Who is doing work of sufficient longevity and interest that they could comfortably claim the mantle of “Next Top Germaine”? But who is self-deluded and arrogant enough that they would a) write it in an email and b) use it to put others down in the process?
It is a Venn diagram in which never shall the two circles meet.
Unfashionable though it may be to admit these days, Germaine Greer is someone I have a lot of admiration and respect for. She was the person who transformed feminism from the shallow “Girls Who Run The World” style that was promoted to me in high school (which I never really clicked with, although again unfashionably, I have come to like that song - I blame Glee) to an exciting explanation of the politics of women’s gendered experiences.
And if feminists of our generation aspire to do the same kind of groundbreaking and debate pushing work that Germaine did her hey day? That can only be a good thing.
But to use your ambition to push other people down, particularly in this kind of immature way? Totally not cool.
Anyway, the truth is that none of us will be the Next Top Germaine. Not because we can’t do interesting, boundary pushing and relevant work, but because, well - Germaine is Germaine.
Germaine Greer (and Gloria Steinem, and Simone de Beauvoir) is a product not only of a particular time in history, but of a particular combination of brain chemistry, ideology and influences that make her Germaine. I might admire her legacy, but I don’t think in the same way that she does, I don’t share many of her assumptions, and I certainly don’t share her debate style. Nor does Clementine (except maybe the debate style - girl is fierce). Nor, I’m guessing, do you.
Because, fluffy bunny as it might seem - and as it certainly is - public debate is an ecosystem, in which each person has their own role to fill. It’s great to aspire to greatness, but to use the phrase “next Germaine Greer” to put others down? Reflects poorly not only upon you, but upon your work.
To quote Clementine’s response:
I think it’s wonderful that you’re the next Germaine Greer of our generation. Good for you. Personally, I aim only to be myself and make a difference that way, but I’m sure you have many great qualities and, as our generation’s next Germaine Greer, I certainly bow down to your infinite wisdom and superior feminist knowledge.
Question: WIll there be a new mothership, or has she given you the keys to the current one? I need to know whether or not we should start redirecting mail from the Hivemind.