Activists call for Germaine Greer appearance at International Women’s Day event to be shelved

Posted On 08 Feb 2017 at 1:44 pm

A planned talk on eco-feminism by veteran feminist Germaine Greer has drawn protests from people who are angry she has been invited to talk because of her past comments about transwomen.
germaine greer by Helen Morgan on Flickr
The complaints come two weeks after a request from the organisers of the anti-Trump march for women not to wear pussy hats or bring placards saying pussy power, as the “vagina centric” theme of the Women’s March was offensive and exclusive to transwomen.

Ms Greer is due to appear at the Brighton Dome next month as part of the venue’s programme to mark International Women’s Day.

However, after a flurry of complaints from people misdirected at the Brighton Women’s Centre (BWC), which is also holding an event at the Dome, the centre distanced itself from the decision to invite Ms Greer.

The Dome has also received a small number of complaints but is standing by its decision to invite her.

One woman yesterday posted on the Dome’s Facebook page: “Really disappointed to see that you’re hosting Germaine Greer for IWD. She’s not a voice which speaks for women. She claims that trans women are not women. Please do not host her.”

Andrew Comben, the Dome’s chief executive said: “We understand the concerns that people have raised about statements Greer has made on transgender issues.

“While we in no way endorse these views, as an arts organisation – and at a time which feels particularly precarious, both politically and socially – we are committed to providing a platform for a whole breadth of opinion, debate and discussion.

“The Brighton Women’s Centre would like to make clear that they are in no way associated with Germaine Greer’s appearance at Brighton Dome and we are happy to give that assurance.

“Brighton Dome actively supports work which celebrates and champions diversity in all its forms and we would like to reassure audiences that we are committed to ensuring that Brighton Dome is a safe and welcoming space for all.”

The BWC issued a statement this morning which said: “The trustees and the director of Brighton Women’s Centre (BWC) would like to offer an apology for the hurt and distress that may have been caused by its association with Brighton Dome’s decision to invite Germaine Greer to speak on 4 March at our IWD event.

“BWC offers safe, non-judgmental, inclusive spaces for ALL women across Sussex. We stand alongside and support ALL women fighting for equality and if you identify as a woman, you are welcome.

“The BWC organised event at Brighton Dome is a free event for ALL. Any event ticketed by Brighton Dome does not necessarily have the endorsement of BWC and we will be speaking to Brighton Dome about issuing a press release to make this clear.

“BWC looks forward to welcoming all self identifying women to join with us to celebrate International Women’s Day.”

In a post to the anti-Trump march’s Facebook page last month, which has since been deleted, Ooffi Hardwick said: “Message from the organisers: Our intention is to make this march intersectional and inclusive for all.

“For that reason we respectfully request that people ensure that their signs and apparel reflect that.

“We ask that you do not wear pussy hats or carry pussy power placards. The vagina centric theme of the Women’s Marches was offensive and entirely exclusive of our trans sisters.

“Genitalia does not equal gender. Whilst we understand people’s desire to fight back and react to Donald Trump’s horrendous misogyny, we believe the best way to do this is to fight together and for each other in a space where no one feels unwelcome, and where those spaces do not exist for us to be the ones to forge them.”

The post was liked by scores of people, but provoked a fierce response in the comments from women who argued that wearing a pussy hat was a direct response to Trump’s remarks about grabbing women by the pussy, and arguing that the request was itself divisive.

Germaine Greer has become a target for no-platforming – calls to withdraw her invitation to speak in public – because of comments she has made in the past about transwomen, saying that in her opinion they are not really women.

In 1999, she wrote: “When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho), it is as if he murders her and gets away with it.”

She has since modified her views, but when questioned about it has maintained that she believes it is not possible for somebody to change their sex.

Germaine Greer’s lecture, Women For Life on Earth: The Inevitability of Ecofeminism, is to be held on March 4 at midday. Other events as part of the programme include topical stand-up from Bridget Christie, a live recording of The Guilty Feminist Podcast, and a full day of free events, activities and workshops in partnership with Brighton Women’s Centre.

This includes a panel debate around the question Do We Need Women Only Spaces? featuring Caroline Lucas MP, Lisa Dando of Brighton Women’s Centre, Katharine Sacks-Jones of Agenda and Natasha Scott, winner of Miss Transgender Brighton.

  1. Betty Reply

    Trans women are not women. They may have had surgery, and or dress as women But they are not women. Time to end the madness.

    • James Thomson Reply

      Betty, you need to define your terms if you’re going to make a statement like that. I suggest you brush up on your biology first though, as if you are going to attempt to prove that ‘trans women are not women’, I guarantee you are going to have a bad time.

      • tonysam Reply

        Germaine Greer is right about these transgenders, i.e., crossdressers. They can’t stand for anybody who flat-out says men in dresses are not women. They aren’t. Period.

      • chloe Reply

        Biology would definitely tell us that transwomen are not women. So not sure what on earth this comment is about? Transwomen are male. Woman = adult human female.

  2. Brian Reply

    the decision to request those attending a themed march, ie wearing your homemade or donated pink pussycat hats, not pussy hats!!! is a complete misunderstanding of the organisers and the cause they supposedly support… The PussyCat hat is a hat knitted, crocheted or even glued fabric in the form or style of a hat with ears, hence the pussycat hat and not to look or resemble the female genitalia…. My wife knitted me one, although I got her to use red wool and not pink… it still looks good and I did too on the march in london a couple of weeks back!! my gawd this stinks of being offended for the sake of being offended or in other words ‘attention seeking’….. Wear your Pussycat hat with pride and also with meaning, the meaning being that by wearing the hat you are in solidarity with all those (around the world) who suffer under oppressive regimes or governments and also to identify to you that ‘you are not alone’ in this fight against injustice……

  3. Sharon Crawford Reply

    Time the Brighton ‘women’s’ centre starting representing women, real women. Enough of this bs. Truly bonkers. Go Greer – real women are with you.

  4. Jean Calder Reply

    Misogyny comes in many guises. The latest manifestation of it is via the so-called trans movement and modern identity politics. For make no mistake, it is the shape of a human being’s genitalia which determines whether or not they will have access to rights, wealth and the possibility of freedom – and in some countries to life itself.

    Over the centuries, women and girls have been silenced and have had their history stripped from them. So though this current discourse is nothing new in its intentions, it manifests itself in a particularly cruel and insidious way. It invades women’s space and undermines women only campaigns. Above all, It stops females naming or acknowledging the very parts of their bodies which make them what they are – giving them both the possibility of giving birth and also unfortunately also bringing them vulnerability to discrimination and attack.

    In order to counter this women have to be proud of what we are and name the discrimination that faces us.

    Unlike ‘trans women’ we who were born female have no protection under hate crime legislation against aggravated sexist assault or hate speak. We need to stand up for ourselves, for if we do not, no-one else will.

  5. Dom Kaos Reply

    Ah, Germaine Greer, who asserted in “The Whole Woman” that FGM was a feminist act, because it was performed by female elders and therefore prevented the community’s men from controlling their womensfolk’s sexuality.

  6. Joy Reply

    MTT are not women. Women need to celebrate having vaginas, and should not be silenced, particularly not on International Women’s Day. I’m so angry I can hardly type! Go Germaine Greer!!!!!

  7. HerbyXX (@Herbeatittude) Reply

    It’s very interesting the way these men target feminists, rather than men.

    There has so far, been absolutely no scientific evidence ever, to show that anyone can genuinely change sex. Yes, you can take hormones and yes, you can get an operation to invert your penis, but that will not make you a woman, because your biology and your socialisation will ensure that you will always be a man.

    And that’s fine. Why not be a man in a dress, what’s wrong with that?

    But what is really wrong, is that about 80% of men who now identify as transwomen (or just “women”) don’t even bother to have the operation or hormones. They just call themselves women and expect everyone to believe them and act as if they are (that’s that male socialisation again). Most of them are autogynephiles and the move to allow them to be legally considered women, is frankly dangerous to women and children.

    You can see how much they hate us, from how they lobby to silence our best fighters. We must resist them.

  8. Sophie Jameson Reply

    The attempted censorship of what women wore at the anti-Trump march was shameful enough but this is worse. Being a gender nonconforming man doesn’t make you a woman. MTTs are male and I for one am heartily sick of transgenders and their followers telling women to STFU. Men silencing women is not exactly new or progressive.

    Germaine Greer is a feminist icon. Brighton is lucky to be able to host her. Oh, and “woman” is not an idea in a man’s head.

  9. Jessica Reply

    Stifling free speech is a very frightening road to travel

  10. Geraldine Reply

    Real women with wombs, ovaries, and breasts capable of giving birth and feeding children will not be silenced by men anymore. You will not shut us down or DICKtate to us. You are not women you are men. I’m am sorry you feel like women, some people feel like they want their legs amputated or even horses. Biology is fixed you are male. Live how you want, we will call you she and her out of respect. We have no issue with how you feel or how you live. We could be your greatest friends and allies. But we are the females. We are allowed to talk about our genitals. It is not violent to point out scientific facts how ever much you wish it wasn’t the case. Women who had not previously considered they were feminists let alone rad fems are now getting very very angry and we are spreading the message to each other. We are not Terfs, we are just women concerned about our rights and safe spaces. Greer you speak for us all. Womens rights must not be thrown under the bus again to palcate a small minority of men used to getting their own way.

    • James Thomson Reply

      “Biology is fixed you are male…” NO, Geraldine, it is NOT that simple! Why would you make such bold statements without first learning a little about the biology? Seriously, in a couple of hours you could learn more about genetics and gender than you (apparently) have learned thus far in your life. I remain baffled as ever by people who pontificate on a subject without knowing anything about it.

  11. Janet Wright Reply

    Germaine Greer is an inspiring feminist who has spent the past five decades standing up for women. Her writing has informed generations of younger women and provided a powerful defence against the disinformation spread by opponents of women’s rights. She has refused to be intimidated by genuinely dangerous enemies or shamed by stupid insults. Whatever your views on human ability to change sex, there can be few more appropriate people than Germaine Greer to speak at a Women’s Day event.

  12. Julian McCrea Reply

    Thanks for having Germaine Greer! I am not surprised by the misogyny in the comments here. Alas, women only ever matter if they are men.

  13. Mini Reply

    I am so disappointed to have missed seeing GG who I feels speaks so elequently and bravely on behalf of women. Without her our lives of women would be more oppressed and less visible. How dare people deny this legendary woman the right to speak and express her opinions. I agree that trans-women are not women but due to surgery and hormones they can live as close as possible to their preferred gender. What is wrong with stating the obvious a trans gender women is a trans gende woman. I have no wish to discriminate in terms of human rights and freedom of expression but trans-fascism cannot dare to tell women to shut up. Stop alienating a group of women who are totally on your side but who see you as different but as transgender – and being transgender is ok – embrace it

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