Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

Germaine Greer: 'Rose McGowan and others have got billions of pounds of free publicity from #MeToo'

The Australian writer also claimed that the criminal cases are 'going to go nowhere'

Germaine Greer at Jaipur Literature Festival. Courtesy Jaipur Literature Festival
Germaine Greer at Jaipur Literature Festival. Courtesy Jaipur Literature Festival

Germaine Greer has claimed that some of the high-profile women associated with the #MeToo movement, including Rose McGowan, have managed to engineer “billions of dollars of free publicity” for themselves.

Speaking on the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival, Greer said: “A man makes a pass at you and you reject him, or you might decide not to reject him, especially if he’s offered you a part in a movie […] And then he’s nervous that you’re going to talk to the press, so his lawyers come in and say, ‘We want you to sign a non-disclosure agreement.’

“You sign the NDA and get paid a six-figure sum, you spend the money, and then think, ‘I think I’ll tell my story now.’ And I’ll tell you something else, it’s going to go nowhere. Watch this space. What they’ve got out of it is billions of dollars of free publicity.”

Beyond the Female Eunuch: Germaine Greer in conversation with Bee Rowlatt at Jaipur Literature Festival. Courtesy Jaipur Literature Festival
Germaine Greer in conversation with Bee Rowlatt at Jaipur Literature Festival. Courtesy Jaipur Literature Festival.

Asked to clarify who had got free publicity out of #MeToo, Greer replied: “Rose McGowan. You want me to name them all? There are a lot of them.”

Greer, however, denied that she had ever described the movement as “whingeing”, as was widely reported last year. In an interview with the Australian media in January 2018, Greer was quoted as saying, “If you spread your legs because he said ‘be nice to me and I’ll give you a job in a movie’, then I’m afraid that’s tantamount to consent, and it’s too late now to start whingeing about that”.

Rose McGowan has been one of the most outspoken members of the #MeToo movement. Getty Images
Rose McGowan has been one of the most outspoken members of the #MeToo movement. Getty Images

Greer, author of influential feminist text The Female Eunuch, has now distanced herself from those remarks. “As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever used that word [whingeing],” she said. “That comes from a peculiar conversation I had with someone at the Australian High Commission, who did not tell me he was a journalist until he’d finished grilling me about all sorts of things. I’ve never called it whingeing. I have other reservations about it, though.”

Later in the discussion, the Australian academic and author was asked for her opinions on transgender people. Greer has previously said that transgender women are “not women”. The 79-year-old reiterated this point, pointing to the fact that transgender women do not menstruate and cannot become pregnant.

“When you decide that you need to be turned – by surgery, hormones and lifelong medical treatment – into the thing you are not, you’re being persuaded to make a mistake that will cost you,” Greer said. “It sounds like a ticket to happiness.

“Those of us born [as] women will tell you that of course we are not surprised that men are better at being women than we are. Here we’ve got women who don’t menstruate, that’s got to be a plus, who don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. These are obviously special, glamorous entities and they’ve all been positioned this way.”

This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Female Eunuch, in which Greer examined women’s sense of self. When this was mentioned, Greer took the opportunity to dismiss it, saying: “It’s not a very good book, it’s the best I could write at the time.

"Now it’s time for you to write your book. Let’s get rid of [The Female Eunuch]. It’s past its time.”

The Jaipur Literature Festival runs until January 28. For more information, visit: www.jaipurliteraturefestival.org

Updated: January 24, 2019 05:25 PM

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