Wednesday, March 10, 2010

But is it really germane?


Polly Borland's portrait of Germaine Greer, 1999.
National Portrait Gallery, Australia.

I was hoping to stay out of the hoopla surrounding the incredulous attack by Australian writer Louis Nowra on Germaine Greer. Firstly, because his article in The Monthly is not available online and I can't be bothered to buy the rag and secondly, because as much as I loved 1970, I do not wish to return there. I have seen Time Tunnel and I know that sort of journey ends badly. In any case, the piece has been so picked over I can't imagine there's much discovery left in it.

The question 'why?' is still hanging around from our little Oscars party the other night so I invited to sit down and discuss the topic. Let the record show that the question 'why?' scowls disdainfully.

Vehemently opposed to unfairness as I might be, I have come to accept that the more you struggle against it, the more likely it is to steal the silverware. It is beyond reason to me that anyone can even think of mounting a justification for denying women equality is credible intellectual work. I am simply not resident in that headspace.

I've had a dig or two at Germaine before, usually when she's issued daft pronouncements about racial issues. On the subject of women's liberation, she was and is a sage almost without fault. Clearly men do hate us, and blame us for everything that's wrong with the world. Climate change is happening because of our dependency on whitegoods and hair straighteners. Cost blowouts in health systems are due to our fertility demands and perpetual ladies' bits malfunctions. Divorce is our fault too. We expect too much. Let the record show that the question 'why?' is already asking for a stiff drink.

Germaine Greer is to be admired for her astounding resilience. How would Bob Dylan react if his audience demanded he play only Blowin' in the Wind? Nothing else, just that one song, over and over and then explain what he meant by it for an encore. Her response to Nowra's hysterical Tootsie moment is the epitome of control. She chooses not to engage him directly, and why would she? That would be like asking toothache for its hand in marriage.

Perhaps I am a coward for deciding that getting on with my lot is preferable to engaging in Summit Groundhog for the rest of my days. I'm afraid negotiation hasn't gotten us anywhere.
I have decided a subversive campaign of civil disobedience is the way to go. It really is only of theoretical interest to me that I will always have a lot less to live on than a man of my age and standard of education. I need hardly any money to survive comfortably. I already have a shed and I don't have a fetish for power tools or a burning curiosity to see what it would feel like to wire my life savings to The Philippines and be the last person left waiting at the airport.

Women do have one potent power. The power to withhold. They can't make us shop. Every time you buy a handbag you don't need, and in my view that is all of them after No. 1, you shoot yourself in your Roman sandal-clad foot. You put money in the pocket of the male retailer and provide him with the excuse to accuse you of being vain and shallow at the same time. Not so much an equalities strategy as a suicide mission. In the words of the very much mortal Jack Black, 'stick it to the man'. Let his warehouses of hideous asymmetrical blouses made by enslaved children rot and his profits along with it. Let's see what that does for his boy toy collection.

For seven years I shared a flat with the slobbiest man in London. This is where I learned that most cleaning activity is superfluous. It is in your interests to wash both clothes and dishes as you will need them again. Buying decent, energy-efficient machines for both of these is a good long-term investment. Hoovering under the bed is useful for finding lost jewellery and running around the bath with a dollop of CIF occasionally enhances the bathing experience exponentially. Everything else can wait for spring cleaning for which you should set aside one rainy day and some edifying podcasts.

Mothers, I know what you're thinking - she doesn't have children. She only has herself to look after. Well, I have news. Children do not make a difference to the cleaning imperative once they are over shitting and throwing up on everything. You just need to run the machines more often. Children do not want to clean their rooms because it is pointless and there are far more interesting and beneficial things to do. They are right and you are wrong.

At this rate, the gender wars will rumble on for longer than the conflict between the houses of Valois and Plantagenet. I admit I'm actually not very good at relationships. I used to see that as a failing but now I just accept that I am someone who shouldn't be in one. I actually think there are a lot of people like me about. The good news is that I turn out to be terrific at solitude. There just isn't any incentive for me to go into battle. I would do it for ideology but the conversation needs to graduate from kindergarten. Perhaps someone will be kind enough to let me know if that ever happens. Meantime, I have quiet contemplation to be getting on with.

Let the record show that the question 'why?' has just called a cab.