Women should stop pursuing the idea of achieving equality with men, according to Germaine Greer.
Speaking at an event to launch an archive of her work at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday night, the Australian feminist and author argued that equality is a “profoundly conservative goal” for women.
The Guardian reports that Greer told the 500-strong audience at the Kathleen Fitzpatrick Theatre that “everyone has accepted… this idea of equality feminism.”
She added: “It will change nothing.”
Rather than trying to ‘draw level’ with men, feminists should try to carve out their own political space in the world, Greer said.
“If we’re going to change things I think we’re going to have to start creating a women’s polity that is strong, that has its own way of operating,” she said.
Greer cited the example of women’s experiences in warzones such as Syria as evidence that equality with men should not be the end goal for women.
“War is made against civilian populations where women and children are the principal casualties in places like Syria, whether in collapsing buildings or bombed schools,” she said.
“War is now completely made by the rich with their extraordinary killing machines… Women are drawing level with men in this profoundly destructive world that we live in and, as far as I’m concerned, it’s the wrong way. We’re getting nowhere.”
Women entering traditionally male-dominated fields, such as the military, should not always be cause for celebration, Greer continued.
“If what happens when women discover when they join the army is they discover it’s no place for a sane human being then they’ve learned something,” she said. “But right now, things are looking distinctly grim.”
Greer, 78, was a prominent figure in the second-wave feminist movement. Her seminal feminist text The Female Eunuch, in which she argued that women’s sexuality is repressed by suburban consumer culture, became an international bestseller when it was published in 1970 and has never been out of print. It also whipped up a certain amount of controversy, with many feminist critics denouncing Greer’s thesis.
But while Greer has been a divisive figure from the beginning, she has come under particular fire in recent years for her attitude towards transgender women, who she has repeatedly said she does not regard as real women.
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In protest at her views, which many regard as transphobic, thousands of people signed a petition to ban her from speaking in a lecture at Cardiff University in 2015. She eventually did appear at the university, and remained unrepentant in her stance.
Launching the archive of her work in Melbourne, Greer reiterated this stance, saying that she believes people whose gender identity does not correspond with their birth sex are “simply mistaken”.
However, she said she remained unconcerned with other people’s perception of her.
“You can make any judgement you want of the way I’ve behaved,” she said. “Once I’m no longer here, I’m yours to interpret. I do not believe in censorship of any kind. I won’t want a safe place where I can avoid being offended. I’m offended every day.”
Images: Rex Features