I’d hate to see what kind of bile Germaine Greer would dump on my life if it were as scrutinized and well-publicized as the late Princess Diana’s.
Here’s an uncomfortable truth:
Almost everyone’s life is a mess. Perhaps there are monks on Aphon, or totem pole carvers in Alaska who have things figured out – but the rest of us? We’re practically doomed.
The backlash against Diana is somewhat understandable, considering the outpouring of hysteria that began practically hours after her death and lasted what seemed like a billion years. But I feel that people, smart people, are going too far in the other extreme.
I personally find that a lot of the criticism leveled at Diana carries some sexist undertones: we do not attack rich men the same way that we attack rich women, this rich woman in particular. Furthermore, even when people express sympathy for Diana many of them do it in a condescending, belittling fashion – “oh, what a poor lamb Diana was. What a sweet-faced little martyr.”
Diana combined serious agency with tremendous sexual energy. Many people are still uncomfortable with that. Was it fair that this woman hugged lepers to her Chanel suit and went back to her posh pad at the end of each one of her forays into Pauper Land? No. But guess what, the world isn’t fair. The world, in fact, is an ugly place – and so far, utopia-building hasn’t gotten humanity anywhere. Diana, at the very least, recognized her own privileged position. She used her glamorous image to do some good, which is more than I can say for myself, for instance (not that I have a glamorous image). She capitulated on our own screwed-up priorities, our desire for everything that glitters, to draw attention to worthwhile issues. And if she benefited from said screwed-up priorities, so what? She never claimed to be Jesus. You try giving up the lifestyle that you are accustomed to, the lifestyle you were born into.
Even Diana’s failed marriage was a lesson in itself – here’s an inexperienced young woman with no degree, her father unabashedly blabbers about her virginity on national television, and she’s getting hitched to a guy who’s only doing it out of an archaic notion of “duty.” Diana’s public humiliation, and the fact that she came to grips with it despite all the scrutiny, is part success story part cautionary tale. It’s almost like a lengthy public-service announcement, and one that she broadcast to the world with zero shame, no matter how many people have tried to shame her (and still do, a decade after her death).
Greer’s comments about Diana were self-serving at best. “Diana” has become just another buzzword for people to regurgitate whenever they want attention (whenever they come out with a new book, for example). Diana-bashing is easy, especially for people who supposedly have it all together, who have the perfect personal lives, the perfect ideological credentials…
Was Diana a saint? No. But I don’t think she pretended to be one either. The fact that there are plenty of real morons who have practically canonized her is not her fault.
Some feminists (notice: I don’t say “all feminists”) have an uncanny ability to tear into other women. While I’m not a believer in all this fuzzy “world-wide sisterhood” nonsense (perhaps I should be? I’d like to. I just can’t seem to do it at this point in my life.), I am still sometimes shocked by some of the rhetoric that I encounter as part of feminist discourse: “patriarchal whore,” and so on. God forbid you’re a woman who, for example, believes in abortion rights and eradicating FGM, but also, say, has a messy relationship with a boyfriend and wears lipstick when she goes out. Then you’re that creature that feminists of a certain stripe (once again, I don’t say “all feminists”) and patriarchs can easily tear apart: you get slagged by the former for your “conformity” and/or “stupidity,” and by the latter for being a “slut” who just “wants it all” (the amount of creepy men who comment on this blog, and my previous one, is truly astonishing… Although perhaps I should not be astonished).
In this context, Greer’s words are even more depressing.
Now, I’d like to see what the real feminist bloggers (God knows, I’m not “real” – I’m just a cardboard cut-out from slummy Eastern Europe who criticizes the Left, Right, and Center, wears perfume to the grocery store, and thinks the Duke Lacrosse case was a disgrace for practically everyone involved) will make of Germaine Greer’s comments, so I tag them:
Pandagon, Feministe, Laurelin, Bitch Ph.D., belledame222, No Cookies, the good people of Shakesville, Heart (I know she’s got bigger issues to worry about now, but a radfem take on this would be interesting -even if I disagree with it so virulently that I end up spitting up my strawberry juice all over my prissy handbag), Feministing, Vertical Blue, Hedonistic Pleasureseeker (how could I forget?), and Ali Eteraz (yes, I think Ali is a feminist, though I don’t even know if he identifies as one) – what say you?
And if I didn’t tag you, don’t get pissed at me, let me know what you think (unless you’re a dumbass troll, that is).
P.S. Watch this space for some fun conspiracy theorizin’ on Diana’s death.
P.P.S. You might be wondering how on earth this Diana thing is even a feminist issue at all. Perhaps it isn’t. I think it is, but I’m just a cardboard cut-out, after all.