POLEMIC: Germaine Greer talks on Q&A.
POLEMIC: Germaine Greer talks on Q&A. ABC

Talk to Germain Greer about controversial essay 'On Rape'

CONTROVERSIAL writer and feminist Germain Greer will offer a public discussion with Northern Rivers audiences about her latest essay, On Rape.

Published on September 3, 2018, On Rape is an essay commissioned by Melbourne University Publishing to discuss Greer's comments on the issue.

The book questions what is rape, explores "the conundrum of consent", and offers chapters called Sex as Bloodsport; Healing the Victim; Cure, Kill or Castrate the Perp? and Damage Limitation.

Greer writes that "centuries of writing and thinking about rape-as inflicted by men on women-have got us nowhere", and she calls for a better way.

Some of the assertions Greer offers have provoked reactions in Australia.

On the first chapter of the book, Greer explains that rape is not rare nor catastrophic.

"Rape is not a rare and catastrophic event or an extraordinary act carried out by monsters; from the banal to the bestial rape is part of the tissue of everyday life," she wrote.

"The US Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network is wrong in describing rape as 'caused by the conscious decision of a small percentage of the community to commit a violent crime'."

She contests claims by Suicide.org founder Kevin Caruso that "all rapists are cowards, criminals, and losers and belong in prison". She says Professor John EB Myers of the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific "is not right when he asserts that 'Nonconsensual sex without force is not rape'".

Controversy

After her latest appearance on ABC TV's Q&A program last month, Ms Greer was accused of likening rape trauma to fear of spiders.

Asked about a quote in her book that reads: "Most rapes don't involve any injury at all", an audience member asked her if she was saying that being violated physically doesn't come with any mental anguish.

"I am not saying that it is not damaging. I was raped at 19 and actually ... I was sorrier for the man who raped me than I was for myself because I thought what has happened to his sexuality?" Greer answered.

"Why has he turned into this mad dog? They will shoot him. They will kill him. They will wipe him out."

Q&A host Tony Jones asked Greer if the experience had traumatised her or not.

"Trauma is something that is dictated really by the sufferer. You know, I can't bear huntsman spiders. It is not their fault. It's my fault ... I decided to be frightened of them," Greer said.

"It is interesting to me that women are encouraged all the time to be terribly, terribly frightened and nearly always of the wrong thing."

'Dis-Invited' in Brisbane

Last July, Melbourne University Press accused Brisbane Writers Festival of 'dis-inviting' Greer from this year's event as "an attack on free speech".

Greer, who is lauded for her early feminist writing but has seen controversy in recent years, partly for her comments on trans women, told the Australian at the time: "The Brisbane writers' festival is very hard work. So, to be uninvited to what is possibly the dreariest literary festival in the world, with zero hospitality and no fun at all, is a great relief".

Byron Writers Festival has confirmed the event, but were unable to provide a statement explaining the reasons to invite Greer to Byron Bay as founder Edwina Johnson is currently overseas.



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