In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Greer laments for the good ol’ days where women avoided sexual assault with a sharp slap and a huffy exit.
“In the old days, there were movies – the Carry On comedies, for example – which always had a man leering after women. And the women always outwitted him – he was a fool… We weren’t afraid of him and we weren’t afraid to slap him down.”
As we all know, the men from Carry On films are our most reliable portrayal of postmodern masculinity. As a feminist I have always modelled myself on the empowered bombshells of this classic series, hoping for the day when my frumpy outer shell will reflect the high-pitched, titular damsel beneath. Only then will I truly be free.
It was in a rusty Sydney dive bar in 1974 that I first met Germaine Greer; she was drinking pink cocktails in a white bikini, surrounded by a troupe of clumsy police officers. I was a simple waitress, serving the usual house platter of melons and toasted buns. I brought two jugs of water to their table, and once the officers had finished lamenting the inadequate size of my jugs, Ms Greer sat me down for a pep talk.
She told me the story of how she got here: after an expedition to the African jungle to investigate an all-female tribe went wrong, her uniformed companions had chased her playfully from the airport (pinching her bottom and prat-falling as they went). They meant no harm, it was only a bit of fun, and after a firm telling off she brought them here to mingle.
In between the shouts of ‘Oh matron’ and giggly demands for more buns, Germaine explained that unlike most women, her response to sexual harassment was simple, playful and motherly violence. Men are childlike after all, and they respond well to punishment and a bit of operant conditioning. It is a woman’s duty to put them in their place, as we are the smarter sex, and we can’t expect animals to understand the rules of basic interaction.
Germaine began lushly squeezing fresh orange juice into her sugar-rimmed sex on the beach and the officers collapsed to the floor in fits; not fits of laughter, but overwhelming fits of snarf. It was innuendo overload – a printer jam in their tiny, perverted brains.
‘Now now boys’ said Germaine, authoritatively, ‘you must control yourselves or I’ll give you another slap’.
They are nothing to fear, she explained. I nodded in agreement, calmly swatting an officer’s hand that had wandered up my skirt. He scuttled away, his moustache bumbling with each guffaw that left his jaws. In her words I had found a courage that would carry me through my days as a young woman. I watched her saunter to the ladies’ room, only to return with conveniently placed leaves covering her person at only one particular camera angle. I never encountered Ms Greer again.
From that day hence I met the aggressive advances of men on the street with perfectly timed slaps to the face, and I was always sure to have erotically charged fruits on my person. These women who speak of paralysing fear and defensive catatonia against unwanted advances are clearly lacking enlightenment. The confusion, terror and shame they feel is clearly a symptom of not being introduced to Carry On Up The Khyber at a young enough age. As I sit here, sipping my cosmopolitan in a Camden pop-up surrounded by lecherous sailors, I can’t help but wonder where feminism can go from here.