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Mar 8, 2010

Razer: The Monthly's Louis Nowra needs a good vajazzling

Forget what Louis Nowra and The Monthly say, writes Helen Razor: Germaine Greer is a bright and occasionally charming old ratbag who should be revered.


Generally, International Women’s Day is an occasion to which I pay little mind. In 1979, Brown Owl flashed my non-regulation underwear as a caution to all assembled Guides. I have since reasoned that it is better to wrap one’s self in solitude than risk being multiply stung by the hive mind.

As I am terrified that the Sisters’ Army might want to examine my underwear, I tend to avoid IWD. The past week, however, has upchucked surprises sufficiently nasty to rev my angry parts. And these all, by chance, involve the feminine form.

I learned recently of the aesthetic practice: vajazzling. This, it seems, is an elective for those who have passed Advanced Brazilian. The female sex organ, bereft of its hair, is encrusted with crystals; Swarovski, of course. Apparently, demand outstripped supply when Jennifer Love Hewitt, a woman unencumbered by talent or charm, told press that she needed to paste jewels on her v-gina in order to feel good about it.

Here, there are two salient conclusions to which one might be led. These are (a) the desire for visual perfection has become unmanageable and (b) any bitch who dislikes her own c-nt so much as JLH needs to go to hospital.

As tempting as it is to disburse all time and thought on Love’s poonanny-loathing, it’s the broader implications of this twat-ritual that concern us today. Vajazzling has been greeted by many “liberated” women with the sort of You Go Girl finger snapping normally reserved for daytime television. Blogger Bryce Gruber is among the women who casually confuse sparkly flaps for “empowerment”.

I shan’t go on. Except to say, it makes Carrie Bradshaw read like Solanus. SCUM and the city.

Then, I learned of My New Pink Button.  This vaginal pigment has already exploded online and unchained a tsunami of disgust. So, I shan’t go on about that much longer either except to say: is there no feminine crevice immune to pimping?

Which brings me to the third, and final, thing that prompted me to thought on IWD. Forty years ago almost to the day, the scholar Germaine Greer showed us a new site for insurgency. It was on the female body. “You might consider tasting your menstrual blood,” she dared her readers with The Female Eunuch. If in performing this test the revolutionary wannabe felt ill, she had “a long way to go, baby”.

A confidence that baby would go a long way informed this scorching, funny polemic. When Greer wrote about the yoke of grooming or the fear of menses, she did so with a purpose in mind: to move the body and, by extension, identity to the hub of discourse. The refusal to relegate the self and its associated flesh to absence was, and remains, a central project of feminism; or of gender studies, as the specialty is now more broadly known.

To sound less like my failed undergraduate self, Greer said: I’m a woman. Here’s my tits and bits. Now that you’ve seen them, can we please get on with the business of living outside of “man” and “woman” as we have known these categories? This fixation on the body was, in my reading, a project intended to remake woman as more than the sum of her looks; to free us from the fairytale idea that the true moral register of a woman is her appearance.

Last Friday, Australian magazine The Monthly published an essay on The Female Eunuch to “commemorate” the book’s 40th anniversary. Here was an opportunity to contextualise what is arguably the most popular work ever written by an Australian public intellectual. Instead, they decided to talk about how ugly Greer is. Which she isn’t. I hope I’m that hot at her age.

But THIS is not, at all, the point. This piece was written by a guy called Louis Nowra. And it was commissioned by Ben Naperstak, a 12-year-old whose stewardship of the august periodical might be kindly called uneven.

Basically, Nowra says: Greer bangs on about the body too much. Also, she is ugly and looks quite old. Besides which, my mother never read her book. And neither did a lot of other people’s mothers. Because, look, women are still obsessed by their own appearance. Did I mention that Germaine Greer was ugly?

If you don’t believe me, look here, here or here . But don’t, whatever you do, buy this effing magazine. I want Naperstak sent back to nursery school for not only defecating on his intellectual heritage but saying crap such as “political correctness is the enemy of intelligent debate” in Nowra’s defence. No, you’re the enemy.

And your mate, Louis Nowra, who goes on and interminably on about Greer, who looks like a “demented grandmother”, being too optimistic. How could she possibly think women would change their attitudes viz. “young women today love shopping more than ever”.

Seriously. Nowra is saying: the world didn’t change, so she shouldn’t have bothered. Should we apply this logic to Kapital and bitch that Marx ever wrote it because, clearly, expansionist capitalism was just going to get more and more complex? Should we fling a big old poop on the Gettysburg address while we’re at it and say: well, Abe, things are still pretty fucked for African-Americans, you should never have said any of that?

As for going on about Greer’s appearance? Wait until I have vajazzled in order that you may choke on the Swarovski crystals of my feminist unease. How dare you not accord this writer and thinker her due without resorting to cheap jibes.

In this forum, by the way, I can be cheap. You, however, were paid, at the rate of $1 a word, to write for a periodical that purports to be the voice of leftist erudition. And what did you do? You did what all your blokey mates have been doing with a little more elegance for years. To wit: you have reduced Greer to a desiccated caricature while claiming the detonation of “political correctness” to justify your out-and-out misogyny.

Greer attracts violent spittle of the type not because she is a polemicist, but because she has a cunt. Her every utterance or teeny, tiny op-ed column is the subject of scrutiny and fuel to the flame of what is, let it be said, pure hatred of feminism. I mean, Bob Ellis can vomit ad infinitum anything his cut-price shiraz provokes. And everyone says: Dear Old Bob. As much as I adore him, Clive James can write an entire work while pulling his pud and his sanctity and his oeuvre remain intact.

Greer DARES to say what we’d all be thinking several months later on the occasion of Steve Irwin’s death and she is called a hag. She DARES to write an informed history on the young male as visual object and she is called a dried-out old cougar.

Fuck off. She’s a bright and occasionally charming old ratbag who is far more erudite than most of what passes for an Australian “public intellectual” and should be revered. Greer may have done her utmost to change the world. Sadly, she was unable to undo the boring sexism that drives so many Australian female thinkers into silence.

Or vajazzling.

Fuck off. I’m going to paint my vagina.  We love doing that, we ladies. And shopping, too.

Happy fucking International fucking Women’s Day.

*This piece first appeared on Helen Razer’s blog Bad Hostess.


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130 thoughts on “Razer: The Monthly‘s Louis Nowra needs a good vajazzling

  1. dlew919

    I never thought I’d agree with Helen Razer, but I fully agree with and endorse this article.

    Congratulations to Crikey for publishing it. I hope she got $1.00 a word, or even more.

    Thank you, Helen.

  2. Mike Jones

    …. And Crikey’s point in republishing this potty-mouth commentary on a retrospective of Germ might be ….. ? Commenting about an already published review …. how meta can you get ? A slow news day ?

  3. Joel Tozer

    This article doesn’t deserve its place of third most important news item in Crikey news.

  4. Mahaut

    I can share the rage in this article without entirely endorsing its expression. Germain Greer has contributed so much to intellectual life in Australia, from her amazing book ‘The Female Eunich’ to her still lively contributions to Australian public discussions. She is still a magnificent and charismatic person with a towering intellect, not averse to initiating or promoting an argument.

  5. enzaii

    Yeah, I don’t usually enjoy Razer’s work, but this is fantastic. Well done Helen. Nowra is truly an embarrasment; We can do so much better.

  6. Diana Gribble

    I’ve been stewing about this vicious, stupid piece by Louis Nowra and feeling cowardly that I haven’t found a way of expressing my outrage. I could never have done it as well as Helen.

    Thank you from me too.

  7. Margaret Bozik

    I was so busy picking up my jaw off the floor after following the links to vajazzing and My New Pink Button that I almost missed the part of the article about Germaine Greer.

    One can criticise Greer for being an intellectual elitist and disagree with some of her uncompromising views – but she is far less offensive than the purveyors of products and procedures designed to increase women’s dissatisfaction with their own bodies and sap their time, energy and money.

  8. Charles Livingstone

    Of course, Louis Nowra would never try to attract attention to himself, would he? What a creep! I guess he deserves the Monthly, and vice versa. Well said, Ms Razer. Potty mouthed you may be, but it sure suits the object of your comments.

  9. The Bad Penny

    Well said! As it happens, this is not the first time that Mr Nowra has revealed himself in print as sexist. Read this article about his thoughts on the capabilities of women writers:

  10. dlew919

    Why is it that the most boring, pompous people identify as ‘bohemian’ – is it a little like ‘cool’ – if you have to self-describe it, then you’re instantly disqualified?

  11. Skepticus Autartikus

    This is by far the best thing ever published by Crikey! FINALLY, somebody who can actually write. Onya Helen. You fucking well Go Girl!

  12. Peter Forrester

    Well done Helen Razer. Both you and Germaine Greer have had the courage to confront bad behaviour and highlight the destructive beliefs that underly it. I remember reading The Female Eunuch as an eighteen year old in 1972, fresh out of my all male secondary school and about to enter university. That book helped me to understand and better manage the male culture that also oppresses men. Peter Forrester

  13. Daniel

    “This article doesn’t deserve its place of third most important news item in Crikey news.”

    Agreed, it should be the headline article.

  14. Aphra

    Helen’s always been a favourite of mine. I was so saddened when she abruptly left 774 Melbourne’s Sunday morning program and haven’t listened to it since.

    She’s spot-on about Germaine Greer who’s been vilified and attacked for merely telling it like it is. But Germaine has an insuperable problem, i.e. she’s a genuine, thoughtful, intellectual from a basically hick country which is defiantly anti-intellectual and can’t tolerate any criticism unless it’s against one or t’others favourite football team.

    I well remember first reading The Female Eunich. It truly changed my life, my husband’s life, my mother’s life, and my son’s life. His understanding of gender roles was predicated upon it.

    Germaine Greer is one of the very few Australians in the history of the world who’s wrought meaningful change. We should celebrate her.

    Thank you, Helen, for reminding us.

  15. Lysistrata

    Thanks Helen for putting it so clearly as to why Louis Nowra ‘s views should be dismissed. I couldn’y understand why a bloke had been asked to comment without any kind of understanding. I found his general descriptions of older women confirming the viewpoint of the Female Eunuch ie women especially old women shouldn’t be seen or heard.

    Women may still shop and might even enjoy it but what does this add to the sum total of human knowledge. Men like to shop too – for cars, yachts, and other boys’ toys.

    Women’s lives have changed because of Germaine Greer despite his flippant responses, as now they can have or leave relationships, have their own income and have childcare as a backup. It’s not perfect but it sure is different to 1970. I agree it should have been the No#1 article.

  16. timhomewood1

    Thank you Helen. I was thinking about getting the latest Monthly to see if it had got back some of its old form but luckily didn’t. Now I can save my pennies. Louis Nowra an intellectual. God help us.

  17. sean diggins

    I’ve always loved reading Razar.
    More please….

  18. Anne Cooper

    I’ve never forgiven Nowra for having a goal defence shooting goals in an extremely pedestrian play at Belvoir St. Stupid writing, and it just just goes to show – he’s never been one to be burdened by details.
    But anyone who did see Germaine Greer speak last in 2008 would have been gratified and humbled to be in the presence of such generosity and wisdom. She is a national treasure. As for Louis Nowra’s contribution to Australia’s intellectual life…

  19. Dermot McGuire

    thank you helen. well done.

  20. vivienne wynter

    To Helen Razer: bless your f**ckin cotton socks. Never change, not a word, not a look askance, not a whit.

    To Crikey: by publishing Helen’s piece you have demonstrated that Crikey is a f**ckload more relevant, contemporary, sophisticated and intelligent that the disappointment that The Monthly turned out to be. It’s very very disappointing that The Monthly, which was so promising, has let its misogynist slip show by indulging in nasty piece of good old fashioned sexist intellectual bashing with Louis Nowra’s piece.

    Bad call The Monthly. Good call Crikey. Women and men who like women around Australia will be saluting you.

    PS I saw Germaine Greer at The Brisbane Powerhouse years ago and she got a rock star reception. I wonder if Louis Nowra, who describes Greer as a ‘demented grandmother’ has ever actually seen Germaine Greer in person.

  21. Hilary McPhee

    Have been composing responses in my head to Nowra’s vicious and stupid swipe at Greer ever since Friday – and didn’t write anything partly out of fear of being branded a batty old dame myself . That’s what makes the Monthly’s lazy trivialising so enfeebling and infuriating. Thank you Helen – a brilliant analysis. Your link with vajazzling is spot on. Remember the attacks Ariel Levy collected when she was here promoting her Feminist Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture not long ago ago.

  22. Richard Murphy

    Vituperous old dyke gets vajazzling ovation!

  23. Frank Campbell

    I’ve got no intention of buying Bob’s Blog (aka The Monthly) even if it existed in rural Victoria, so there’s nothing to go on here except Razer’s slash. Might well be justified, but how are we to know? Why doesn’t Crikey run Nowra’s piece? It links to/reprints all sorts of content, including Razer’s reprint here.

  24. helen hostess

    Hi Hilary.HR here. I do recall the Levy kerfuffle. Personally, I like to dress like an aging hooker circa 1964 and so was not, immediately, won by this ascetic text. But: such attacks for the crime of describing the mores of Girls Gone Wild.
    This was not a book without merit. Which is why it sold. Despite the jeers of so many critics that stifled gender studies/feminist texts for the last few years. It is not that there is no audience for books of the type. Authors are, quite justifiably, too terrified to write them.
    They might be called old. Or vituperative. Or a dyke.
    Richard. You too may eat me, you foul sod. What do you add to the debate in calling me an “old dyke”. It is true that I am 40 and it is true that I am not straight. But, sheesh, what IS your point?

  25. Ruth Brown

    Frank: We would happily link to the piece, but it is behind a paywall. It would be plagiarism for us to simply reproduce the article. Nevertheless, you can read the first four paragraphs here.

    Ruth Brown
    Crikey web editor

  26. Richard Murphy

    @HH: The point is not intellectual, but visceral, and open to change. I too am a fan of TFE. Am somewhat bemused by the rest of your comment?

  27. helen hostess

    You didn’t call me a vituperative old dyke?

  28. Skepticus Autartikus


    How dare you call Helen “old!”

  29. Richard Murphy

    @HH: Well, you are just slightly to the left of harpydom.

  30. janevashti

    Herr arr! Ms Razer I salute you. The Monthly hasn’t got two men to rub together. Just a juvenile on strings and an old coot who reads like a man drowning in a kiddy pool. Greer may be hard live with sometimes, but to hinge an argument for her lack of relevance on the fact that she has, in fact, grown 40 years older in the 40 years since The Female Eunuch was published is really embarasing.

  31. helen hostess

    What the fuck ever, Richard. After 15 years of being called a harpy, harridan or, in my younger days, a slut, your jibes are just white noise.
    If you want to hurt me, critique my writing.

  32. j-boy57

    Germaines trouble is that she’s not.

  33. Denise de Vreeze

    Thanks Helen, & thank you Crikey for putting her article near the top of today’s list. Helen Razer is correct about Germaine Greer. Germaine has sometimes looked like an eccentric intellectual but so what? Is the best criticism that can be mounted is that she is “ugly”. I stopped reading The Monthly about the time the editor was changed- I suppose I should look up the Nowra essay but I’ll have to find a free copy. What is it that Helen wrote today which justifies the “potty-mouthed” label? Surely not the c-word! Personally I find “demented grandmother”, and for that matter “cougar” a lot more offensive. We thought in the 70s that women 30 years in the future would not be subject to gratuitous insults – bad judgement. Just to establish my probable position in Louis Nowra’s categories as irrelevant/past-it/hag, what is it with “brazilians” and now “vajazzling”? I can say ‘vagina’ and ‘labia’ out loud in public but the wide publicity about these erotic practices/adornments smacks of male voyeurism to me – especially since last week’s Hungry Beast coverage of labial plastic surgery. The emphasis doesn’t seem to be doing much for young women’s confidence.

  34. helen hostess

    Conceivably, Denise, you are just deluded in your anger. Perhaps you are old. Or a dyke. Or, worse, an old harpy dyke. It is only in these terms the opinions of women can be read. Your sexuality and physique remains the true register of your character.
    SO, let’s just go shopping, shall we? And braid each other’s hair.

  35. lorraine benham

    Fantastic stuff Helen, Not only does Nowra comprehensively fail to appreciate the nature of the paradigm shifting contribution Germaine Greer made to our broader society and specifically to the consciousness of women he manages to disparage her continuing courageous journey of intellectual and emotional discovery Makes you wonder really doesn’t it. What is it about the spectre of ‘age’ that drives him to write such drivel? Is baby cheeks all worried about eventually becoming a wrinkly himself. How sad.

  36. Bob the builder

    I’ve never thought of the Monthly as “the voice of leftist erudition”, but did often buy it to support interesting articles and debate, but in the last few years it got so boring, like Dissent (which sort of started that way), and batty, like the Quarterly Essay (I will never look at it again after that moronic Toohey piece on the intervention), that I haven’t followed it for a while.
    Having had my inarticulate teenage thoughts crystallised by the Female Eunuch I have remained a big fan and read most of her subsequent stuff (Sex and Destiny is fantastic too).
    Like some others I’m not usually a big fan of Razer’s, but this is spot on and an appropriate salvo for International Women’s Day.
    I don’t care how old Louis is, he is just a puerile shit and hiding behind “I refuse to be politically correct” (and therefore if you criticise me you’re suppressing debate) is pissweak.
    I was going to buy the Monthly to read this because it looked interesting, so thankyou to Crikey and Razer for saving me the irritation!

  37. Frank Campbell

    “But don’t, whatever you do, buy this effing magazine.”

    So what’s the point in pistol-whipping Nowra? OK Helen, you’ve pulped his balls in absentia. Great ritual. Very Razer, but apparently he needs razing, not theatrical abuse, jeered on by tribal commenters who can’t or won’t read the poxed article.

    If you think Nowra needs dismembering, do it. I’m sure Crikey would give you the space.

    Otherwise it’s all so, ummm, Fitzroy.

  38. drpglt

    thanks Helen. I have been stewing with anger about Nowra’s drivel ever since I saw it last week (they keep sending the Monthly even though my subscription expired last year, go figure). I was grateful to Eva Cox and Anne Summers for their responses, but yours takes the biscuit. you are so very very skilled at taking the power away from the bully. well done. thank you.

    loved it when you said, re the ugly slur – ‘she’s not. I hope I’m half as hot when I’m her age’. as my daughter would say – ‘totes’. 40 years after TFE and women are still disparaged for looking like women! it’s just mad.

    well done crikey for giving profile to your article.

  39. Niall Clugston

    Well, this is the second article I’ve read and it doesn’t tell me what Greer said in the “Female Eunuch” and how it has stood the test of time. And obviously Nowra’s article doesn’t either… So much for intellectual debate.

  40. Roberto Tedesco

    “I realised then that none of the working-class women who worked with her would ever read The Female Eunuch” – go to with the insight Louie boy! (This was after he talked of having had (get rid of that past tense) a chip on his shoulder because he grew up in a housing commish unit.)

    I certainly hope they’re reading the collected works of dear old Louis right now, including that splendiferous work “Bad dreaming” and, lest we forget, the (unintended) gigglefest that was “Map of the human heart”.

    Yes Germaine can be frequently annoying and irritating – but she still has style, content and charisma that some others will not achieve in 40 years of pissy wind-baggery.

  41. Skepticus Autartikus

    Helen’s work is fucking fantastic because she cuts the mustard with her keyboard. She fights smoke with fire. She doesn’t demand Nowra be silenced as so many other 1970s airhead feminazis have. “Why didn’t The Monthly get a woman to write the article?” [Edit – No insults please]

  42. Skepticus Autartikus

    Germaine is a Goddess of Ratbaggery. Her cerebral writing is EXTREMELY patchy, and further evidence that people with degrees in English are generally appalling analysts of society, politics, and history. It is her media and popular culture persona/e that is/are so interesting and infectious. And I do weep for her gynecological challenges, as she would have been a hoot of a grandma!

  43. Joanna Mendelssohn

    Well written Helen. I read “The Female Eunuch” just after I finished university and realised that if I took a job in Canberra with an honours degree I’d still be getting less money than a man with a pass degree. It was one of the books that changed my life as it encouraged me to make decisions without fitting into any preconceived moulds.
    I stopped my regular habit of buying “The Monthly” after the editor commissioned a shocking mish-mash by Sebastian Smee which trivialised the death of Nick Waterlow and his daughter Chloe.
    Louis Nowra (a.k.a. Mark Doyle) alone can’t be blamed for this piece of tripe. The editor commissioned it. The publisher appointed the editor and has done nothing to modify his errors of judgment. The board clearly approves of this, or otherwise they would resign. They are all culpable.

  44. Skepticus Autartikus

    Surely we can recapture the spirit of Athenian democracy and ostracize these white bourgeois baby-boomer banalities like Hamilton and Robert Manne to Antarctica, Christmas Island, or Nauru?

  45. Boris

    Thanks for this. I wish Louis Nowra would stop believing anyone cares about his insight into what women think other than those who are too afraid to talk to them. It reminds me of when he “decided” to grace the Aboriginal community with his expertise on abuse in Bad Dreaming. Thanks a lot mate, really glad to see you’ve stuck with that cause… oh wait you haven’t, you just sprout off on whatever the next thing is you imagine being an expert about. This isn’t about “political correctness” Naparstek, it’s about “having a fucking clue what you’re talking about.”

    Kinda stupid call on the Monthly’s part, seeing as a large segment of the target market might be women and/or people who are interested in having some analysis which is a bit more invested.

  46. Karen Purser

    Helen, thank you – this is the best writing I have read in a long time.
    You have responded perfectly in a way that I and many other women would have loved too but don’t have your skill. I will be sending this to all of my female friends and family, particularly my daughter and her friends as I consider it should be an important part of their education.

  47. Kevin Herbert

    The Monthly comes across as what I term “truck stop” journalism.

    It’s an inadvertant editorial cross between the old Australian Post & the 1970’s Nation Review.

    There’s clearly no ink in any of the editorial staffs veins…poor old Morry was just trying to buy some serious street cred in the publishing world.

    Making a media star out of an inexperienced, over-confident lad was never going to work. The list of contributors shows little knowledge of the wider Australian community.

    Close it Morry….real estate is your forte, and I understand Albert is looking for some help.

  48. paddy

    A huge thank you Helen.
    So glad that Crikey published you today.
    When you’re hot, you’re hot.
    This piece is a truly glorious f*cking blowtorch.

  49. dlew919

    So – should Naperstak stay? or go?

  50. Dee

    Agree with Paddy above. Helen, when you’re hot, you’re truly on fire. Loved the passion and pace of your intelligent ball-tearer. Thanks to you and to Crikey.

  51. Richard Murphy

    @HR: Why worry, Helen. Lots of people like you. Their enthusiasm leaves me a little gobsmacked in fact. You’re a tearaway, a larrikin performer like Germs herself, who once said of Adriana Huffington’s ‘The Female Woman” that it ‘stumped an oxymoron (TFE) with a pleonasm’. Parfait. But in Oz it’s often style that stumps substance.
    Your beatup on those rather normal young ladies powdering their mons’ with pixie dust is way too strident and makes you sound ‘old’ : a 70s pub-rock literary guitar hero. And unconvincing: Methinks you’d be off like a shot with the right invite from the Luxury Spot.
    Your feminist fan club is a bit on the matronly side too, no? And we know that’s NOT the way you want it from your hair-tearing opening pars. And barracking for Germs in 2010 is like barracking for TS Eliot in 1960. It’s a done deal. Like painting the town red, or your pussy.

  52. nico

    I haven’t read it, but Nowra’s piece comes off as mean-spirited and I would love to know why The Monthly published it. I can’t see the point.

    I am pleased no end tho that Crikey published Helen Razer’s response.

  53. Geordie

    “I mean, Bob Ellis can vomit ad infinitum anything his cut-price shiraz provokes. And everyone says: Dear Old Bob.”

    Um. Helen. Everyone except Louis Nowra, who wrote of Ellis in a recent review for the ALR:

    “I don’t know Ellis but have seen him around the traps occasionally. He has a rumbling, melancholic voice that is frequently engaged in a meandering monologue that brooks no interruption and an egotistical insistence in referring to himself in the third person. He’s a caricaturist’s dream, with a face like an aged bloodhound, windswept hair even on a still day and a warped stomach that seems as if Quasimodo’s hump has mysteriously gravitated around to his front. His suits are stained and dishevelled and his tie askew. All in all, he is a walking personification of Tracey Emin’s unmade bed.”


    Nowra may be a headkicker, but he’s an equal opportunity headkicker.

  54. kaosmgt

    While I haven’t yet read my copy of The Monthly i noticed with regret the fact that Nowra was commenting on Greer. Which caused me to ask myself: what’s Nowra got on the new editor – three ‘essays’ in three months? Who does he think he is – Robert Manne? Nowra’s film industry piece was dismissive and bitter, his profile of Abbot only mildly interesting and now a bloke commenting on Greer – come on Ben.

    I won’t be renewing my subscription to The Monthly if things continue. Bring back Sally I say and what about some new writers not just the usual suspects?

  55. davidk

    I’d never heard of Lois Nowra and hope I never hear of him again. Greer is an intellectual giant among men and women who will be honoured for centuries as one of the few who have changed the world for the better.

  56. weebuns

    Razor’s piece refreshes, informs, inspires; wears Doc Martin boots.

    Richard Murphy; since you appear not to know your ‘Dingoes’ from your ‘Slits’, nor your strident from your anti-establishment, your efforts to paint the author as matronly makes for crusty reading.
    Comments about ‘potty’ language are also misinformed.
    This is punk, not potty.
    The language is perfectly keen in the context of idiot labial practices, of Greer’s treatment at the paws of chauvinistic journalism; the tip of a v large misogynistic iceberg.
    Which, as Bikini Kill would say ‘wants to make a symphony out of the sound of women swallowing their own tongues’. This article deflates them all.
    Well written, Helen.

  57. Bogdanovist

    Louis Nowra wrote Away and subsequently I had to study it in year 9 English. It was gad awful. I’ve never forgiven him for that. I wish we could have studied The Female Eunuch instead…

  58. Denise de Vreeze

    Richard M-you got a bite. Yes I am old and I should be making jam from fruit grown in my own peaceful garden where I have withdrawn from the world. There is a chance though that (only through hindsight of course) I might know something about the world of women. If you are actually a “rather normal young lady” yourself, I would be truly interested in your thoughts on the pixie-dust-on-mons issue.
    The Monthly article was about Germaine Greer; Helen Razer objects to Nowra’s dismissal of Greer and the offensive manner in which he has apparently done so. There were some clever links to International Women’s Day and contemporary media ‘coverage’ of women’s bits.
    I agree with her that “sparkly flaps” do not bestow power on the person above them.
    Idon’t care about an IWD but Germaine Greer still is worth barracking for. See para 10 in Helen Razer’s piece.

  59. Morrison Hoyle

    Just as I switch TV channels when I hear the F word and close a library book when I come across it, I am completely turned off by what another comment called the potty-mouthed piece by Razer.
    People who can only express themselves by uttering obscenities only reveal their lack of vocabulary and limited intelligence.
    I won’t pay Crikey to read this sort of rubbish. Crikey can seek subscribers who delight in filth but if it does, it can leave me out.

  60. Meski

    Paint it with chocolate, that would be in good taste.

  61. Redwhine

    You go girl! *singer snapping*

  62. stephen

    A very good piece of writing Helen.

  63. Gavin Costello

    I wonder how many additional hits the Monthly have got out of this
    I wonder what @glebe2037 thinks following recent engagement with la Helene

  64. Helena Handcart

    So much hearsay, so little time.

    Most of the respondents seem not to have read Nowra’s article, which talks about the various ways in which Greer has always made her presence the centre of attention in public, from the days of boasting about editors wanting to publish her piss-stains- now that’s potty mouth!- to posing nude for Oz and appearing on whichever celebrity reality show it was. All matters of public record, and Nowra’s opinion is as valid as anyone else’s.

    The most cutting criticism is of the quality of Greer’s writing, about which he makes some strong points, and locates the Female Eunuch in its time and place. That the book had a profound effect on people’s lives does not necessarily make it a literary masterpiece. Try The Second Sex if you want good read.

    The other point Nowra made tellingly was the address of The Female Eunuch primarily to middle-class women, in its emphasis on the liberating possibilities of work outside the home. As a working class boy all his female relatives already worked – generally in factories – and didn’t see this as freedom from patriarchy.

  65. Plife30

    I can’t agree with Greer generally or this Louis guy, but they each have legitimate agendas to push.

    But certainly not Razer – the day this vitriol is taken seriously (which I assume is a comic piece intended to further her credentials as a comedienne, which hats off to her she does) is the day intelligence and wisdom finally die.

    Funny, but derogates from Greer’s intellectual mandate.

  66. Venise Alstergren

    Wonderful, wonderful article. I’ve always thought Germaine Greer tended to understate her case which makes her doubly threatening to the male of the species.

    I dare say they hated her even more because she enjoyed heterosexual sex. Had she been a dyke, the Oz male would have dismissed her with scorn, but dismissed her all the same. She was always, just being a woman, doomed to be insulted and hated by the Australian male-living in a state of football sated apathy-who regard sex as a quick poke, and intellectual conversation as something written in Sanskrit.

    Perhaps if Oz males knew how to make sex into an art form, there wouldn’t be so many shrieking little Vals out there wanting to paint their twats in the first place.

  67. Venise Alstergren

    MESKIE: people have been shot for making comments like yours. Oh king of puns. 🙂 🙂

  68. skink

    I add my comment only in the hope that this pushes the article up the ‘most read’ list.

    however much vajazzling and Pink Button you use, your minge will never be as dazzling, or as purple, as your prose.

  69. Richard Murphy

    Zut alors, what to do with Venises and Denises…
    While your desire body is coterminous with the universe your desiring body is not quite so large. That’s where pixie dust and rhinestones ( for the more mature) come in. Just like rhinestones in the sky they allow you to be seen from far off. (Closer in the earth’s atmosphere sort of stuffs things up a bit). So don’t be surprised if one day…
    “OO-err you’re all Blue. (Mind your head)”
    “The front of my bum’s in the right place, tho’. See, it aligns perfectly
    with your pixie dust.”
    “o Ra’vi, this is all I’ve ever wanted. Let’s stay here all day.”
    “Earth day, or Pandora one?”
    Iris out.

  70. Richard Murphy

    Jesus wept, Helen, you’d better confess: “Jasper made me do it, after Abigail and I…..”

  71. Sally Trevena

    Good work Crikey for publishing Razer’s article.

  72. Roger Noakes

    Not a fan of Razer’s writing or broadcasting but the foolishness of the Monthly to publish Nowra’s doomed article on Greer has given her the opportunity to write bile to bile.

  73. Frank Campbell

    Yesterday I posted the following 11 brief quotes from the comments here, plus one from Razer. Each quote reflected a certain diffidence about free speech.

    Then I added a general comment about the sociological context in which this censoriousness survives.

    Crikey removed the post. Why?

    here it is again:

    “But don’t, whatever you do, buy this effing magazine.”
    “She doesn’t demand Nowra be silenced…”
    “Now I can save my pennies.”
    “I guess he deserves the Monthly, and vice versa.”
    “I was going to buy the Monthly to read this because it looked interesting, so thankyou to Crikey and Razer for saving me the irritation!”
    “The editor commissioned it. The publisher appointed the editor and has done nothing to modify his errors of judgment. The board clearly approves of this, or otherwise they would resign. They are all culpable.”
    “Close it Morry….real estate is your forte…”
    “So – should Naperstak stay? or go?”
    “I haven’t read it, but Nowra’s piece comes off as mean-spirited and I would love to know why The Monthly published it. I can’t see the point.”
    “While I haven’t yet read my copy of The Monthly…I won’t be renewing my subscription to The Monthly if things continue.”
    “I’d never heard of Lois Nowra (!) and hope I never hear of him again.”
    “Germaine Greer still is worth barracking for”

    1. Hardly any of you have read Nowra’s article
    2. You’ve been told not to (but you’ll probably read it in the library, furtively)
    3. This sociological pleasure trove of comments is so…censorious and illiberal. Pure FitzGlebe.

    Today in Crikey Ben Eltham criticises the cliqueyness of The Monthly, as if the minuscule Australian litcrit/political pundit scene were not entirely composed of incestuous cliques. Relationship is everything, and every relationship is a conflict of interest. Loyalty rules, spiced with inevitable betrayals, betrayals cherished for decades. Australia, the Balkans of the mind (minus God, thank Christ).

  74. SBH

    Richard Murphy pace your self and dont start drinking at lunch time. Otherwise by 6.44 you’re pie-eyed and make no sense

  75. skink

    Planet Janet has decided to stir the porridge on this debate, just a few days late, with a similar argument about her mother never reading Greer’s book. Planet then goes on to have a few snipes at Greer, seemingly just because Greer blanked her when they met.

    Defenders of free speech and fair comment may be interested to learn that The Oz has now removed the opportunity for readers to comment on Planet’s column.

  76. Bob the builder

    @ Skink
    Oh, how very TooCluse!

    [Moderator: this comment has been edited due to a personal attack against a commenter. Play nice.]

    Well done Germs – just the mention of your name has brought some of the Push spirit back to staid ‘Strayan political ‘debate’.

  77. Sammy

    I held off commenting on this until I had read the Monthy article in question. After doing so Razer’s response to it seems little more than a chance to grandstand on something guaranteed to get the crowd in behind her and inelegantly (in the writing sense) throw a few cuss words around.

    The response has the reek of burnt sacred cow around it and doesn’t address a number of the legitimate criticisms Nowra makes of Greer. Instead a few convenient strands of the piece are taken out, woven into a straw man of mysogyny and then vitriolicly attacked. Greer is not being criticised because she has female genitalia- she is being attacked for her sometimes colossal arrogance, her inconsistent writing post Female Eunuch, and, most interestingly, the nasty, cruel derison of other prominent women that she has dished out. Is this behaviour we should “revere”?

    The valid point is also raised that maybe her work was a wee bit middle class, and that maybe it didn’t have the influence that it is puported to have had. Is to ask such questions mysogyny? Or are we men banished from the discussion just because we don’t have the right bodily organs? Furthermore, is it appropriate for anyone engaged in public intellectual life (and for better or worse you are such a person) to so viciously attack others for their opinions? To deride them as a ’12 year old’, to tell them to ‘fuck off’? I imagine if you were on the recieving end of such a public assualt from a male writer you might think it a tad bullying.

    You do yourself a disservice with your nasty personal attacks, but what could we expect from someone who handily ignores similar behaviour from her singed sacred cow- Germaine Greer?

  78. Ms Naughty

    I do love that the word cunt can appear so freely in an opinion piece. Cunt cunt cunt.

  79. Bob the builder

    Dear moderator,

    I realise you have a difficult balancing act to perform, but I’d prefer you delete my whole post than leave some and censor the rest. The comments were in the same vein as other contributors and far less offensive than other posts here. Half-censoring my comment makes it look like what I said was far worse than what has already been said, which it was not. I hope I’d be mistaken in wondering if the mention of the hallowed Mr. Murdoch got your hackles up.

  80. Frank Campbell

    Robert de Builder: you’re right. But like many Crikey commenters you seem unable to distinguish between satirising or rubbishing someone’s ideas (which Crikey should encourage if it doesn’t want to end up stifled by the weed of decorum) and personal insult directed at other posters.

    As for vile Murdoch, he’s a public figure and fair game, restricted only by fear of defamation (relax, he’ll be dead soon). I’m sure Crikey isn’t bothered if Murdoch or Abbott or Lord Planckton of Krill are ridiculed- there have been no inhibitions on Crikey about people treating Planckton’s thyroid disease as a stick to beat him, for instance (me included).

    And learn to distinguish between Murdoch and his poxy commentariat and the large majority of Australian journalists etc who work for him. They’ve got no choice, have they? Murdoch is a near-monopoly. Most journos who don’t work for Murdoch have in the past and will do so in future.

    As for contributors like Razer- she is both relentlessly rude (which I like) and insults Nappiestak personally (“12-year old”). That’s fine by me. But contributors should be fair game too. They dish it out…

    Personally, I’d prefer if commenters were allowed to insult each other freely, as they have done thus far. I don’t do it, though that doesn’t inhibit the local trolls. But there is a strong argument in favour of banning personal insult: many people are discouraged from commenting. I’ve been called delusional, demented, bitter, old, juvenile, twisted, drunk, hung-over etc etc. Doesn’t bother me, but inevitably most people just avoid commenting. The 20 or 30 regular abusers (who often have nothing else to say) deter participation. Not good for crikey stats, is it?

    Ultimately, personal insults show how sterile Australian critique is- any argument which contradicts political correctitude (Left or Right) invites abuse- I’ve had it from Bolt, Jonathon Holmes and a truckload of Crikerions… because everything in the Oz scene is both tribal and personal.

  81. Bob the builder

    I suspect I dislike FitzGlebe as much as you (thankfully I’m 4000kms away), but to accuse people of being “pure FitzGlebe” is also a personal insult (at least I think it is!).
    Regarding my comments about you, I was mindlessly following the “drunk” theme, which on reflection added nothing.
    That said, I disagree with most of your points, such as they are.
    Greer’s always been rambunctious, Nowra seems like a gutless shit-stirrer who’s hiding behind anti-PC to defer criticism, and Razer’s returning open, honest fire. No room for politeness and censorship anywhere I’d think, and I don’t think any but a minority are suggesting Nowra (or any of the other players) should be censored. Like many others, I won’t be buying Bob’s Blog, as you call it, until it’s worth reading, the same reason I don’t buy the Age or the Smelly Moaning Herald.

  82. Frank Campbell

    Bobby Builder:
    “but to accuse people of being “pure FitzGlebe” is also a personal insult (at least I think it is!). ”

    No it’s not. That’s the point. The distinction is between say “Campbell is a writhing knot of tapeworms ruled by a cancerous ganglion” and “The Liberal Party is a writhing knot of…(etc)” The latter is both self-evidently true and acceptable in polite Crikey company. The former suggests personal animus.

    “Pure FitzGlebe” refers to the “censorious and illiberal” comments as a whole. Impersonal satirical comment. If I’d described say “Judy X’s” comments as “Pure FitzGlebe” it would still be OK- it’s criticising her comments. If I say “Judy’s pissed again” or “Judy, your tapeworms are emerging”, it’s personal insult.

    Whether such personal insults should be censored is another matter. From Crikey’s point of view, better ban them- it might encourage more genuine critique of ideas. But it would also require a lot of policing- and Crikeria is a tiny outfit, not a Murdochian empire.

  83. Venise Alstergren

    RICHARD MURPHY: I read your last post (6.44pm yesterday) too late to comment, Approx 2300hrs. And have only just (1505hrs) sat down at my computer. My question is WTF were you drinking when you wrote it? Made no sense at all. Dare I suggest you stay off the plonk until you’ve finished posting?

    As for all the blokes writing in and objecting to (I hate this expression)-Potty Mouth- Helen Razer. Over a long and sordid history I have noticed that the first thing blokes do when faced with a bit of female aggression, is to accuse her of bad language. Its a sort of ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet’ remark.

    I am astonished to find this underhand thought-mode in the august pages of Crikey. It’s low, mean and indicative of a lower middle class mentality. And it is a first resort.

  84. Helena Handcart

    Publicity bonanza for Crikey as Greer threatens Nowra with a lawsuit. From an obscure Australian journal to the front pages of the tabloid in Britain. Yield: one happy alleged 12 year old.

  85. Helena Handcart

    The Monthly, obviously

  86. Frank Campbell

    “Greer threatens Nowra with a lawsuit”

    What hypocrisy. Headkicker mortified by critic. I bet Helen of Fitztroy would never stoop to that. She’s a genuine Pubic Intellectual.

  87. Richard Murphy

    @HH: like the cut of your jib. You got any urls for the Brit tabloid?
    @VA: Actually it makes a lot of sense. You just too sober to see it. Ask Denise.

  88. Venise Alstergren

    RICHARD MURPHY: I’ll just have to take you at your word. Nothing personal.

  89. SBH

    I found some pictures of Louis Nowra and he looks like a balding fat wog. Can the Monthly please run an article on the unattractiveness of fatish middle european men please? It would so inform my views of Luther, Goethe, Foucault, Rimbaud, Brunelleschi, Galileo, Rousseau and all those other grease balls.

    Me an all Venise, Murphs spray only made sense after 17 G&T’s but when I sobered up my notes looked like…well…mad ravings

    Of course Frank public intellectuals are not entitle to the protection of the law, no matter how baseless the attack

  90. janevashti

    I already left a love note for Nowra and The Monthly, though given the fact that you lot can’t get enough of this issue I thought I’d share a quote from dear Oscar Wilde. It’s been scratching at me for the last few days and sums N up nicely I reckon:

    “By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”

  91. cath

    Thanks Helen. Thanks Germaine. Legendary! I whooped it up! This article is the best thing Crikey has ever done (note: I have read very few Crikey articles).

    Yes, Australia hasn’t changed much in 40 years – Germaine and her ilk have achieved nothing. I mean, don’t women still have to have their husband’s permission to get a credit card or open a bank account? Don’t they have to leave work forever once they are married? Oh yeah, they don’t. The main way Australia has not changed is that it is still full of angry, defensive, self-righteous and ultimately insecure blokes who get their old goat up if anyone mentions “feminism” “women’s rights/empowerment/anything at all not related to looking hot for men” or “Germaine Greer”.

  92. Frank Campbell

    SBH- Nice juxtaposition:

    “Of course Frank public intellectuals are not entitle to the protection of the law, no matter how baseless the attack”

    “I found some pictures of Louis Nowra and he looks like a balding fat wog.”

    (he’s actually of Oirish extraction, though they were the wogs of the 19th century…)

  93. Helena Handcart

    Just speculating- let’s see how it pans out.

  94. SBH

    Did you like that Frank, I thought it was nice. and I said ‘like’ Frank, looks ‘like’ not ‘is’.

  95. James McDonald

    Vintage Razer. Brilliant. Please, don’t ever change (your style and your heart that is — it’s not my problem if your beaver goes grey without lipstick.)

    The Monthly is a dishrag — I would call it The Monthly Pad, but that might be taken the wrong way.

    Greer is, well … Greer. Reminds me of someone’s blog signature I saw recently: “You were born an original, don’t die a copy“. I guess for every time she said something I thought was outrageously wrong and ignorant, she would say something else I thought was brilliant. But always fearless, always true to herself, and it all needed to be said and debated.

    All in all, I wouldn’t change a thing about Greer. Or Razer.

  96. Richard Murphy

    How many grombies does it take to change a light bulb?

  97. Mines a Newt

    I thought Nowra’s piece was contemptible.
    Pity, then, that the response was left to Helen Razor. It reads like she dictated it while mildly pissed with her mind on something else, like watching tv.
    It flails about, stupid, self-absorbed and incoherent, and completely fails to lay any sort of punch on Nowra. I expect he’s delighted, and congratulating himself this is the best his opponents could do.
    Pity, really.

  98. Frank Campbell

    “Did you like that Frank, I thought it was nice. and I said ‘like’ Frank, looks ‘like’ not ‘is’.”

    I sympathise, SBH, but it’s not me you have to convince. It’s the judge. I can see it now. SBH in the dock. The Crikey Team emoting in the gallery. First Dog tied to a powerpole outside, whimpering. A slippery defamation QC. A three-month delay while Nowra-Doyle is liposucked and rethatched by ShaneMane Hair Joy. Bang goes your defence of truth: a blonde, lithe Nowra vaults into court. Comprehensively de-wogged.

    The trial lasts months. Greer testifies interminably, then vanishes with the plaintiff. You lose. But there’s a happy ending. The new Mrs Nowra is radiant.

  99. michaelwholohan1

    Just read this in a hotel north if Rome after a snow storm, it warmed me considerably to see the verbal hiding you so deservedly gave Nowra, he certainly has shown himself a real prick.

  100. SBH

    Frank that’s quite funny but wanders a bit towards the end

  101. Frank Campbell

    Don’t we all, SBH…

    But I can see the headline in the News of the World now: “GOTCHA: celebrity grannie snares Aryan hunk in court backflip”

  102. Venise Alstergren

    FRANK CAMPBELL: So the divine Louis Nowra is of Iris extraction? This could possibly mean he’s a Catholic+ misogynist. Could be that ‘I wonder whose kissing her Now (ra)? Is of the same school as our beloved leader of the opposition.

    In which case we can all cut our throats.

  103. SBH

    Now Frank, I’ve overcome my feelings that Napstead is a manipulative little prick who courts controversy for the sake of circulation and had a solid read of the piece and it seems that Nowra sees women like his mum and his aunty as saintly working class madonnas and modern women as shallow stupid whores. He seems to fundmentally understand what Greer was trying to do or the time she was doing it. His statement that all Greer did was transpose her ideas on Marcuse’s theoretical framework is stunning in its dismissiveness. Even if this pergorative assessment were accurate it ignores the fact that this had never been done for women before. On the up side the piece is written with sparkling, pugnacious style but that only shows that just because you can write doesn’t mean you can think.

    A final comment, the delicious irony of Nowra’s wife defending him in the Oz would be lost on no one who’s read Greer

  104. Frank Campbell

    Scan down these 100 posts- don’t they reek of prejudice? Hardly anyone’s read Bega/Doyle’s piece, yet their loyalty to Greer is such they obey Razer’s half a dozen casual paras to excoriate him. (I’ve already listed above what many of you free-speechers said about The Monthly (9.02 am 10/3))

    Doyle’s attributes/views according to the lynch mob:
    “gutless shit-stirrer”
    “a fat balding wog”
    “possibly a catholic/misogynist”
    “a real prick”
    “angry, defensive, self-righteous and ultimately insecure”
    “an embarrasment” (sic)
    “a creep”
    “vicious and stupid swipe”
    “a puerile shit”
    “40 years of pissy wind-baggery”

    Might all be true. I wouldn’t know. But neither do you.

    It’s that tribal culture again. Group loyalty transcends everything. Note that the sycophancy of some men here to Greer exceeds that of the women.

  105. SBH

    Franky, like I said yes I read the piece. Those comments could be applied to the piece I read easily. Its an astonishingly shallow piece which seems to dervive it’s energy from Louis romanticisation of women in general and his mummy and aunties in particular. Lets see how many people remember Louis Nowra in 40 years though. That will be the really test.

  106. Frank Campbell

    SBH: fair enough. You’ve now read it. Feel free to tell us in some detail. I’m sure I’ll learn more from that than from HellRazer…

    Why don’t we all break with tradition and read it? Then do a Giggles Byrne Tuesday book club thing…I’ll put a big flower on me ear, a Hardy perennial…

  107. Katherine

    As a young-ish woman (33 with a 1yo bub), I thought I’d contribute my thoughts on the whole vajazzling phenomenon.

    It’s up there for me with the Brazilian (I mean, who *doesn’t* want to look like a 12 year old girl?), and labial cosmetic surgery (for that honeymoon-fresh vajayjay).

    We were born with certain characteristics and aging is one of these things. We are supposed to have pubic hair, peeps, as much of an evolutionary throwback as it may be, and when you have a baby, well, let’s just say everything kind of gets rearranged down there. It doesn’t mean that I want my girly bits to go back to how it was – it’s a reminder of one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    I should add that being 12 years old was pretty comprehensively sh*thouse and I’m in NO hurry to go back there either.

    If *you* feel the need to make with the perky on your pinkbits, knock yourself out. Just don’t pretend like it’s the “normal” thing to do, or that you have good self-esteem while you’re doing it.

  108. scottyp

    Frank Campbell- hear hear. You point out what is clear- half these posters haven’t even read the article. From Razers little rant it isn’t even clear that she has read it. She doesn’t engage with any of Nowra’s arguments- she just picks a few things up from the first page and blows them up into a hysterical, foam flecked and shallow rant. Weak writing, weak arguments- just weak. I would hope for a better comeback to an article which is supposedly so deeply flawed- i’ve yet to see one on here.

  109. Venise Alstergren

    SCOTTYP: I’ve come across that name before. Where oh where? It will come back to me.

    FRANK CAMPBELL: I don’t want to depress you, but going on his mother’s performance, I’d say Rupert Murdoch is good for quite a few more years.

  110. SBH

    Scottyp the problem with nowra’s peice is he doesn’t make any knid of reasoned argument he just shitcans Greer

  111. Lysistrata

    Scottyp – Judging by your equating an ironic piece of writing to hysterical, foam flecked and shallow rant, we can’t hope for too much – and so it proves to be. Your allusion to hysterical and weak writing – what more would be expected from a woman eh? Hoping for a better comeback? – from a bloke such as yourself, perhaps? Frank Campbell could do in a pinch since both of you have almost certainly had women trouble.

    SBH is right.

  112. Venise Alstergren

    KATHERINE: Terms like ‘Labial Cosmetic Surgery’ worry the life out of me. Muslim men having decided women are unclean, have managed, and in some countries seen to it, that it is mandated for young girls -ie about forty percent of Egyptian women- to have their labias removed and a total clitoridectomy. Which must make sex a total pleasure. Not!

    This act of barbarism and charming procedure, happens at the hands of a female ‘elder’ and is frequently performed with a piece of blunt stone. Ah the joys of religion!

    I’ll bet that if this operation became fashionable a whole lot of young women in Oz would have it done! After all, what else is left after one’s fanny resembles a twelve year old girl?

  113. Bob the builder

    I found Germaine Greer’s discussion of female circumcision in Sex and Destiny most illuminating. Not sure you’d agree with her though… And not sure what happens or doesn’t happen in Egypt is completely relevant to Oz.

  114. Frank Campbell

    Venise: I add his parents’ ages and divide by 2. There’s still hope. Lots of hope. I’m testing prayer now as a potential accelerant. So far mixed results. A local cricketer called Murdoch was run over by the heavy roller. Unrecognisable. Fine tuning in progress. Adjust trajectory.

  115. billie

    Female circumcisions are performed in Australia upon young girls of east African origins.

    According to Wikipedia Nowra was born Mark Doyle who started a degree at La Trobe University.

    Germaine Greer is a Melbourne University graduate and went onto complete degrees at Sydney and Cambridge [PhD], she is Emeritus Professor of English at Warwick University

  116. scottyp

    Lysistrata- Your response was quite amusing. From an earlier post of yours- “Thanks Helen for putting it so clearly as to why Louis Nowra ‘s views should be dismissed.”. This is a laughable assertation, and surely you know it. Razer hardly shows at all why Nowra’s article should be dimissed, instead she has a swear and really doesn’t go any deeper than the first or second page (which you might know if you had read the piece)
    It’s oh-so predictable of you to try turn any criticism of either Greer or Greer’s self apointed champion (razer) into an example of how us horrible malefolk are just out to oppress women. I actually don’t solely associate hysterical behaviour with women- do you? Furthermore, weak writing is common to both sexes, and you clearly feel free to attack Mens’ writing so hey, is there some sort of double standard happening here?

    I would love to read a decent comeback to Nowra’s piece- if it came from a woman, great. Good writing and good arguments aren’t the sole domain of one sex are they?
    Your allusion to woman trouble is rather lame (and I can happily inform you, innacurate), and considering your insistence in framing this whole discussion as a Men vs Woman thing probably reflects more disfunction in your relations with the opposite sex than in mine.
    In a display of irony that Razer could learn from you’ve no doubt had to wipe a tiny bit of your own angry sputum off your keyboard after writing your post.
    Of course you haven’t really bothered to engage with any of Nowra’s article either- it’s so much easier and more theraputic to rage against the misogyny and sling around a few angry posts isn’t it? Where is the considered engagement? Razer hasn’t provided it, and after your post and several others it still has yet to make an appearance.

  117. Lysistrata

    Thanks for the laugh Scotyp. It is good to see that higher standards are still required of women than men. You are long on scorn but fail to live up to your own exacting standards. Of course double standards are nothing new. Better get your wife to make you a cup of tea and put another log on the fire so you can cope.

  118. Frank Campbell

    We’re all either too lazy or too scared of hellrazer’s wrath to read it…

    Rather than insulting the earnest ScottyP, shouldn’t you (a) read Doyle and expose his foulness (b) dissect Nappystak’s editorial credentials (c) analyse Robert Personne’s fitness for office?

    As usual, expozay, dissection and analysis are absent from both article and comments. It’s all so…Bolty. Intellectual pantomime.

  119. Venise Alstergren

    BOB THE BUILDER: “And not sure what happens or doesn’t happen in Egypt is completely relevant to Oz”.

    Actually it is more relevant than I care to think. I hear stories from Middle Eastern sources in Oz that this barbaric practice happens right here in Oz.

    Although I admit, in penitence, that I did wander off-post a little. 🙁

  120. cath

    Enough with the “intellectualism” bs. Simone de Beauvoir’s “The Second Sex” was an intellectual work. “The Female Eunuch” was about issues and difficulties for women, in the 1960’s and 70’s, coming to appreciate their own bodies and sexuality for themselves. If you have a problem with that, or thinks it’s irrelevant or redundant, you’re either a misogynist, or a 12-year-old.

  121. Lysistrata

    Hi Frank,
    I notice that you are unhappy with my responses to Scottyp – no doubt thinking that his insults which are far longer and detailed against women are OK, since you don’t tell him to moderate his language. You then give me a reading list of what I “should” be reading and doing. Sorry but I have too many loads of washing to do all of that reading about topics I am far from convinced would enhance my enjoyment of life, and would add little to the sum total of human knowledge. I am quite happy to leave it to you.

    Cath is right – the Female Eunuch was about everyday realities for women not some mythical space. That is why it had such an impact on women’s lives in Australia in contrast to the sophistry of Nowra.

    Venise – of course female castration is on the topic – it just takes the neatening of female genitalia to the extreme. It is the same thing, to think that female genitalia needs to be medically fixed to appeal to a man.

  122. Elan

    Well THAT took some time! I have read through every post.

    I picked this topic up while linking to ‘comments’; one of them interested me, and here I is!

    Nowra has critiqued Greer’s book-40 year anniversary. Helen Razer is not happy about what he wrote.

    (I have TFE, I got it when it came out. It did not change my life).

    I don’t know who Nowra is. I have heard the name that’s all. I care little about what he or anyone else writes, if I simply am not interested in reading same.

    I don’t know who Helen Razer is. She is entitled to her view, AND how she puts it.

    So is Nowra.

    I DO know of GG. I do not particularly like her, she is arrogant and elitist, and has written little about women who really DO need a little ‘liberation’.

    Bob Ellis came up. What an arrogant prat! He has done very well out of his friendship with the SA Premier after making a documentary about same-which nobody I know has ever seen, let alone purchased. Ellis then took a lucrative ‘consultancy’ role with the SA Government..

    I care little that JLH put sparklers on her bits,-if she wants to do that, that’s her business. (I once saw a pic of a fellow with various bits of ironmongery hanging off his salami. That’s also his business).

    FORCED mutilation of female genitalia is foul. That is different and is rightly strongly condemned.

    Of all these posts I can most closely relate to the one put up by SAMMY 10/3-10.56am.

    I’m inclined to agree with him.

    The irony of feminism is that it has been spruiked by women who least need it, to women who were simply unable….unable!! to achieve it. With one exception the Pankhurst’s did much the same thing.

    I’m NOT being patronising, but I’m buggered if I’m going to get worked up about the opinions of Nowra/Greer/Ellis.

    I have no interest in any of them, and thus I won’t waste my energy giving a Wombat’s scrotum for what they say.


  123. Gavin Costello

    Well I’ve finally read Nowra’s piece, and having read Ms Razers response, I fear both of them have gone off on a tangent. Not so much as much of the, dare I say it, “commentary” here has done. Though, I’m sure Crikey are happy.

    So Crikey, with all the money you made from this piece of linkbait, how about you actually commission someone to write an actual critique of The Female Eunuch 40 years on? For Nowra certainly hasn’t.

  124. Frank Campbell


    “(ScottyP) his insults which are far longer and detailed against women”

    What are they? You’re verballing him. He might be a ratbag, but we need to see the rat and the bag. It’s called evidence. Something missing in Hellrazer’s piece and virtually all the comments.

    “You then give me a reading list of what I “should” be reading…”

    The “reading list” consisted solely of the article you excoriate but haven’t read.

    Verballing again.

  125. Bob the builder

    The point that Greer made about female circumcision in Sex and Destiny was what right do western middle-class women have to tell other women (from poor countries) what they should do with their bodies? From memory she questioned whether they were actually mere victims of male dominance and compared the practice with other body modification practices, such as tattooing, piercing, etc., etc. that are prevalent and accepted in western countries. And made the point that there is no outcry about male circumcision in western countries – a few decades later she made a similar point about attitudes to breast cancer screening vs. testicular screening; i.e. that if anyone suggested to men that someone else had a right to tell them what to do with their bodies they would tell them where to go; men wouldn’t be corralled into a painful, reasonably pointless regime of physical examination and would reject the notion that anyone else had the right to coerce them into such a humiliating experience on a regular basis; likewise, if there was a move to ban male circumcision it would be rejected as an unreasonable invasion. I think the broader point she was making was that western women’s bodies are still valid sites of interference, whether by western women (and men) judging third-world women’s cultural practices or the medical profession regimenting first-world women through mass screening programs or the medicalisation of pregnancy.
    She also made the point that there are a huge range of practices within female circumcision, and the most invasive are quite rare, much more so than the slightly racist hysteria would suggest. The least invasive are almost ritualistic and less invasive than, say, foreskin removal.
    In short, Greer has never been a stock-standard feminist, and she has also never been only relevant to middle-class women (and men). The criticisms about not reading Nowra’s piece seem particularly hollow when compared with those critics complete ignorance of Greer; she always talked about all classes of people and was well aware of the situation of working-class women – I don’t for the life of me know how anyone could say she was only relevant to middle-class people, it’s just nonsensical. Not only that, but she talked about women in other cultures (and did the hard yards to meet people on their own turf) and their status not just as women, but as people who were subjected to western domination (by men and women), as her discussion of female circumcision showed.
    Anyway, I could go on, but she’s a complex, intelligent, incredibly well-read and well-lived person who challenges us to think. I agree with Frank Campbell’s criticisms of some of the groupthink on this page (although note the curious absence of criticism of those whose views align more closely with his), but that’s hardly Greer’s fault, and anyway doesn’t compare in the slightest to the groupthink on evidence amongst, ummm, economists, the WMD crowd, the Lib/Labs, every major Australian newspaper, etc., etc.

  126. James McDonald

    Yep. I agree with Cath. Not everything worth saying reads like a masters dissertation.

  127. scottyp

    Lysistrata- I’m glad I made you laugh, although from the tone of your posts I can only imagine how bitter your laughter must be.
    I’m not quite sure where my criticism of ‘women’ (plural) was in any of my posts- I certainly criticise Razer- is she somehow emblematic of all women? It seems that you are looking everywhere for misogyny to be outraged against. Regardless of its presence I’m sure you’ll find it.

    You again dodge any real dissection and refutation of the assertions Nowra makes about Greer in lieu of a few cheap shots. It’s almost as though you are trying to bait me (and others) into making the sort of misogynist statements that would validate your your framing of the whole discussion as women haters attacking female writers because of their sex. It’s a handy way for you to avoid any real engagement, sledge other posters in ways you would probably decry as sexist if you were the subject of them yourself, and try to take the moral high ground.
    Putting on gender war blinkers must make taking positions on issues easy, but really, it’s intellectually lazy.

    If you would like some starting points to refute have a look at Sammy’s post- there are a few good ones listed there.

  128. Venise Alstergren

    BOB THE BUILDER: I’m not sure about the points you are making. I’ve read Germaine Greer’s books but was under the opinion she wrote them before there was a a substantial amount of immigration from the Middle East.

    Germaine Greer had a point when she said it was not on for Westerners to criticise poorer nations, and their practises. However, I am talking about women of Middle Eastern descent and Oz citizens who are having this operation without consultation with them. I believe I am right in questioning what happens to Oz women.

    You make the point that circumcision of small boys and there being no outcry about it. Here you are wrong. There was an outcry about it but it happened just before the AIDS epidemic swept the world. Subsequent research revealed that male circumcision was a deterrent to this disease. the outcry died down.

    Like you I have always been a great admirer of Greer’s work.

  129. Jean-Luc

    You are “right” Joel Tozer, it does not deserve third place but FIRST. Poor Louis really sounds like Germaine dared say no to him… doesn’t he?

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