Two fuckings and a dick: academic freedom explained

The silly bit

Caller: Hello, is that Ms Greer?

Germaine Greer: G’day!

Caller: Glad to hear it. Ms Greer, i am calling you today to tell you that as one of our most valued customers we would like to offer you…

GG: Look, just because you lop off your dick and then wear a dress doesn’t make you a fucking woman

Caller: I’m sure it doesn’t Ms Greer. Would you mind moderating your language. I just wanted to say….

GG: I’ve asked my doctor to give me long ears and liver spots and I’m going to wear a brown coat but that doesn’t turn me into a fucking cocker spaniel!

Caller: Ms Greer, pleasee, there is absolutely no call for….

GG: A man who gets his dick chopped off is actually inflicting an extraordinary act of violence on himself

Caller: Ms Greer: I’m sorry you feel that way. I’m going to hang up now.

The serious bit

Omigosh, Jane: you made that up, didn’t you? Sadly, no. Or rather, to the best of my knowledge this is NOT how Ms Greer usually greets individuals who phone her up with the news that she has won a week’s expenses paid luxury Caribbean cruise. Or any other sort of cruise.

But unlike the Government, i am not monitoring her calls, so how would i really know?

What i DO know is that the words attributed to her above are words that she is reported to have sent in response to trans actress Rebecca Root who had the temerity to talk about Ms G’s transphobia on the BBC earlier this week.

And this puts me in something of a quandary. Because i’m mostly against no platforming. I think it was wrong to attempt to disinvite her from Cardiff University. Though chances are i’d not be remotely interested in going to listen to such a potty-mouth.

Because…let’s think about this: where in public discourse, is such language ever deemed acceptable?

On the phone to the Tax Office? Nah. I am pretty sure i’d be hung up on after the first “fucking”.

Complaining at the railway station? No again. A fucking and a half down the line and i am pretty sure that a supervisor would be called and that would be that.

On the buses?

In the street? No way. I mean: if some random bloke approached me and started to harangue me like this, i’d be straight on to the police.

So this is not really acceptable language.


Except if you happen to be some sort of world famous academic with loads of books under you belt.

Which led me on to thinking: i’ve published a couple of books. OK. One was tedious and all about statistics. But it was still a book. Does that mean i am allowed a couple of fucks and a bloody before they send for the supervisor?

Is being a writer and a radical thinker an automatic pass for conducting oneself in a manner that would instantly close down a conversation if anyone else tried it?

Or is it all just a load of privileged hot air? Do those defending the old bat – sorry, famous feminist – genuinely think this is how it is OK to speak: do they really believe that sticking on the contrarian badge in the morning gives people the right to act like every Friday night rude and abusive boor ever?

Or is this no more than special pleading? A get out of jail free card for a bigot with seemingly little control over their words and language: a card that, i suspect, they would be very slow to proffer to any trans person who chose to descend even half as far into the gutter?

The footnote

Australian housewife takes phone call: image courtesy of Photobucket

Australian housewife takes phone call: image courtesy of Photobucket

I do not know…once more: how could i? So i shall leave you instead with an image of a somewhat happier Australian housewife taking a phonecall. Dame Everage has appeared often on the BBC, but to my knowledge has never felt the need to use the f-word on air.

I don’t believe she should be no platformed, either.


About janefae

On my way from here to there
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2 Responses to Two fuckings and a dick: academic freedom explained

  1. imageworkss says:

    Well said (as usual).


  2. demelzab says:

    Aside from my amazement at “no-platform” becoming a verb, I tend to agree. I’m really uncomfortable when someone is silenced by a pitch-fork mob: not only is it illiberal, it also causes a Streisand effect.
    And GG has created a perfect storm of controversy: she starts as an adopted National Treasure, then she adopts a contrarian position on a cause of our times, and finally she gives the media an excuse to print swear words as directly reported speech.
    GG will probably say “I don’t give a flying fandango what anybody thinks”, while basking in the attention of the storm.

    Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas.


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