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Crikey! Germaine Greer Again Angers Australia

16 August, 2008

I don’t have time for a full commentary on this but I wanted to share with you all the latest voice chiming into the intervention debate.  In her book On Rage Greer has come up with a theory which  places the culpability of violence of ‘Aboriginal men’ (which is assumed to exist) on the Australian colonial past and present which has inflicted such injustices as taking women, children, land and a way of life.  While no one, save perhaps Keith Windschuttle, would deny the harsh realities of colonialism and its effects on Aboriginal people, Greer’s essay seems in large part to rest on stereotypes and generalizations of Aboriginal men which are not substantiated.  Thus far her theories don’t seem to have been taken positively by either side in this debate. 

 

A few reports in the media for those of you that are interested —

 

Elders pan Germaine Greer black rage theory –

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24183665-16947,00.html

Rosemary Neill and Padraic Murphy | August 15, 2008

CONTRARIAN feminist Germaine Greer argues that Aboriginal men suffer a rage they “can’t get over”, one that is responsible for violence in their communities.

She also argues that indigenous women who supported the federal intervention in the Northern Territory Aboriginal communities will be seen as colluding “with the enemy”.

But her arguments have angered indigenous leaders, who claim her comments discourage personal accountability and are a step backwards in tackling violence.

Greer, writing in an essay, On Rage, suggests that loss of land, women, language and culture over the past 200 years has led to a rage among Aboriginal men that helps explain the high levels of violence, suicide and self-destructive behaviour often found in indigenous communities. “They can’t get over it (the rage) and it’s inhuman to ask them to get over it,” she said on the ABC’s Lateline this week.

 

Welcome Germaine – http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24182369-16741,00.html

But would you kindly tell us when you’re going home?

IF Germaine Greer’s extraordinary appearance on the ABC’s Lateline on Wednesday served any purpose, it was to remind us of the romantic, woolly thinking that has heaped misery on indigenous communities for decades. In a new essay, Greer looks at indigenous Australia entirely through the prism of Aboriginal male rage, which she justifies as a response to the “appalling outrages and abuses” of white settlers.

“They’ve been jerked about from pillar to post,” Greer told an incredulous Leigh Sales. “They’ve ended up in one concentration camp after another.”

By blaming white men for black men’s anger, Greer displayed her sexism, racism and ignorance. It was the kind of verbal molotov cocktail we’ve come to expect from the former anarchist, and proved yet again that if Greer did not exist The Guardian would have had to invent her. It is no surprise that after more than 40 years abroad, she is locked in to the progressive consensus of the 1960s and 70s. What might come as news to Greer, however, is that the debate has moved on since she left in 1964. The views she espouses are no longer progressive but regressive.

For a more sensitive if not supportive piece see

Greer’s latest rage more glib than lib – Tracee Hutchison

 

http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/greers-latest-rage-more-glib-than-lib-20080815-3wab.html

7 Comments leave one →
  1. M.Stockey-Bridge permalink
    18 August, 2008 3:42 pm

    I am interested to know ifyou have read Greer’s book? I have noticed that Australian’s seem to just let fly at anything Greer says or writes, and conflate and generalise her work to the extend that the media and academics seem to miss the point of what Greer is actually saying. I must admit that I have not read this book (or essay and Greer calls it) but from what I have gathered from televised debates, those arguing against the book have not read it either… I watched a gruelling debate wherein Greer was part of the panel and found consistantly that Greer was spending more time recontextualising the snipets of the essay people were arguing about. In an interview Greer gave an ABC reporter the reporter was so on the attack I wondered from where this reporters rage against Greer had come!

  2. amonchamp permalink
    18 August, 2008 5:21 pm

    I have read it and I found it both problematic and interesting. I think she makes too many assumptions in regards to Aboriginal men’s rage (I would like to see her substantiate this more) but her theory as to why rage exists (if you can assume it is there) is interesting and provocative. I think it is very worth a read just because it brings home so many points we often elude to yet rarely say so directly. I don’t agree with all of her opinions but that doesn’t mean that something isn’t worth engaging with.

    I do agree with you that regardless of what she says she can’t win in Australia post- Steve Irwin and other ‘sins’ – – she has become another intellectual that the media can deride without restraint.

  3. Anne permalink
    19 August, 2008 11:20 am

    If I may correct my own reply when I said she needs to ‘substantiate’ her claim about the existence of rage what I meant was that she needed to ‘nuance’ this claim. What I was trying to say is that it’s essentialising to argue that all ‘Aboriginal men’ are any one particular thing. i.e. what is needed is Wittgensteinian not Aristotelian categories here.

  4. 20 August, 2008 4:15 pm

    As posted by Simon Batterbury on AASNet, Marcia Langton has made a response to Greer’s essay, labeling it as ‘racist’.

    See here

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24202631-7583,00.html

    and here

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24203985-2702,00.html

  5. 22 August, 2008 1:57 am

    I’ve read the book and published a review here, if anyone’s interested:

    http://larvatusprodeo.net/2008/08/21/on-rage-germaine-greer-reviewed/

  6. 24 August, 2008 2:14 pm

    l went to melbourne

  7. Michaela permalink
    2 September, 2008 10:45 pm

    Thank you for the link Jovan… and thank you Kim for the refreshing review. I agree that the seemingly constant attack on Greer’s work, in Australia, reveals something of aspects of Australian culture. I do wonder how much this rejection/attack on Greer is linked to her being a “controversial” figure (unaustralian because she does not reside here and therefore should not comment on australian affairs) and how much could be attributed to her feminist work/celebrity. I have found increasingly that feminist perspectives are considered unrealistic, unfeminine… I recall a number of seminars where fellow students of anthropology quickly dismissed any feminist framework as unrealistic in the “real world”. I would be intrigued if anyone could share any knowledge of studies related to this… feminist studies/theories and generally anything to do with a focus on the female gender is not considered truly academic in Australia on the whole – to the extent that acknowledging/considering motherhood as a significantly different experience to fatherhood is considered to be a broad assumption by some… and any hints of a feminist direction in an anth. thesis is considered uninteresting as one lecturer put in (but I must say this is not the commonly held perspective, but perhaps the one I seem to come across most frequently) I digress… again thank you Kim, I am pleased to have read your review and shall keep an eye on larvatusprodeo hence forth…

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