Feminism isn’t usually a pathway to fame and fortune, and yet the feminist writer and critic
Germaine Greer has managed to make a career out of her philosophical thinking, outspoken and
extreme views and even managed an appearance on ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ into the bargain. Born
in Melbourne in 1939, Greer’s first taste of feminism came when she moved to Sydney to study
for an MA in romantic poetry and to teach at the institution. In 1964 she arrived in the UK with a
scholarship to study at Cambridge University.
In 1970 Greer published the book which made her a household name and one of the essential reads
when it comes to feminism: The Female Eunuch. Most people have heard of the book, even though
few have read it and even fewer know what it is about! The work actually deals with the way that
women view themselves under the influence of men and modern culture. It was controversial
because of its assertion that men actually hate women and have taught them to hate themselves, as
well as Greer’s use of graphic language to describe parts of both the male and female bodies.
Greer used the success of her first book to quit teaching and travel the world, promoting her work
as well as exploring women’s rights issues around the world. She was even arrested in New Zealand
for swearing during a public speaking engagement in 1972! Other publications followed during
the 1980s and 1990s, while Greer was working as a special lecturer and fellow at Newham College
and then as Professor Emerita of English Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of
Warwick. Although most of her publications have also dealt with feminism and feminist theory, she
has published several books on her other area of expertise, medieval literature.
Although academia provided Greer’s route into the public eye, she has embraced the modern media,
writing columns in several newspapers, posing nude for magazines throughout her life, appearing
twice on the BBC panel show “Have I Got News For You” and even playing herself in two episodes
of the Ricky Gervais comedy, “Extras”. In 2005, Greer took the extraordinary decision to sign up
for Channels 4′s “Celebrity Big Brother”, having previously criticised reality TV shows. Despite
forming an unlikely friendship with teenage music star McKenzie, Greer left the house after just
Greer continues to be controversial writer, both in newspapers and in books, on issues relating to
feminist theory as well as whole range of subjects. She came in for a great deal of criticism in 2006
when she used her Guardian column to suggest that the animal world had got its revenge on her
fellow Australian Steve Irwin, the nature show presenter killed while filming.
Many young women may only know Greer from her brief appearance on “Celebrity Big Brother”
but her feminist writings had a profound effect on readers in the 1970s when her ideas were seen
as dangerous and revolutionary. There are those who criticise her for turning her back on academic
thinking in favour of courting public attention, but this attitude has done more to bring feminism
into the public eye than a dozen dissertations or theses could have ever hoped to achieve.