Mother Greer*

Were you there? Did you sit in the audience in anticipation? Did your stomach do a wee flip-flop when the house lights dimmed and Ann Mossop walked on stage? Did you hold your breath knowing Her Holiness was about to walk on stage and we were all about to be blessed? And when she walked onstage, a tiny bit embarrased at the whoops and cheers, did you leap to your feet clapping as loudly as you could so She would know how dearly you held her in your heart?

And when the clapping and cheering died down and we all sat back in our seats, and she uttered the words “I’m about to throw a spanner in the works,” did you cheer for absolute joy that although she is 73, she is as feisty as ever, is clearly not going quietly, and makes no apology for it.

You did? Me too. And wasn’t she something! Can you ever imagine Her Holiness failing to deliver, or disappointing you in any way?

No one polarises like Germaine Greer. You either think she’s the bees bloody knees or you think she’s a self promoting kook who should have buggered off (back to the kitchen perhaps?) long ago. And that’s one of the things I love most about her. There’s no shades of grey in how she’s perceived by the public, and for this Cranky Feminist’s money, that means she’s doing her job.

She takes nothing – nothing – at face value. She takes every idea, every concept and notion, and turns it over and over, examining every crack and crevice with her feminist marxist lens, and will not put it down until she’s figured it out and formed her own, uncompromising position on it. Germaine fits no stereotype, and just when I think I know exactly what she is going to say, she says the complete opposite, and says it with such conviction, I find myself wondering why I held my original position in the first place. I don’t agree with everything she says, and some of her ideas and viewpoints make me extremely uncomfortable. And that’s ok, because that’s what I demand of her, I want her to poke and prod me out of my leftie complacency, and consider another facet, and other points of view.

She’s not afraid of saying “the wrong thing”, nor does she appear to get wrapped up in that great female trap of needing to be liked. If you don’t like what she says, that’s YOUR problem, and again she offers no apologies. She is smart and she is very funny, very very funny. She tells the truth, or at least she tells my truth; she articulates my feminism in the most honest and frank way. She is my compass and my guide, and I fear a world without her. I envy the English girls who get to sit in her classroom; can you imagine being taught by her all encompassing mind, by her no BS view of the world?

And yesterday, in the shadows of the Sydney Opera House, an opportunity presented itself, an opportunity I took with both (shaking) hands.

It was a fleeting few minutes, but a few minutes I don’t think I will ever forget.

“If somebody calls herself a Feminist, that will do. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to argue with her.”

Germaine Greer, Sydney Opera House, Sunday March 4, 2012

* I use this title with a great deal of trepidation; this song, written and performed by Augie March, is not a song written out of respect for Prof. Greer. But the title is the only title for this place, given the place Germaine holds in my head and in my heart.