Germaine Greer: ‘Most rape is just lazy, careless and insensitive’

Author and feminist academic calls for punishment for rape to be reduced

Author Germaine Greer: “I can hear the feminists screaming at me, ‘you’re trivialising rape’ .” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Author Germaine Greer: “I can hear the feminists screaming at me, ‘you’re trivialising rape’ .” Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

 

Author and feminist academic Germaine Greer has called for the lowering of punishment for rape and said society should not see it as a “spectacularly violent crime” but instead view it more as “lazy, careless and insensitive”.

She suggested that a fitting sentence for the offence might be 200 hours’ community service and perhaps an “r” tattoo on the rapist’s hand, arm or cheek.

Speaking at the Hay literary festival in England, she argued that rape is rampant in society and the legal system cannot cope with it because it always comes down to the issue of consent, with the victims becoming little more than “bits of evidence”.

She said the system was not working and radical change was needed. “I want to turn the discourse about rape upside down. We are not getting anywhere approaching it down the tunnel of history,” she said.

Think about it as nonconsensual … that is bad sex. Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love

“Most rapes don’t involve any injury whatsoever,” Greer said. “We are told that it is a sexually violent crime, an expert like Quentin Tarantino will tell us that when you use the word rape you’re talking about violence, a throwing them down... it is one of the most violent crimes in the world. Bullshit Tarantino.

“Most rape is just lazy, just careless, insensitive. Every time a man rolls over on his exhausted wife and insists on enjoying his conjugal rights he is raping her. It will never end up in a court of law.

“Instead of thinking of rape as a spectacularly violent crime, and some rapes are, think about it as nonconsensual … that is bad sex. Sex where there is no communication, no tenderness, no mention of love.”

You might want to believe that the penis is a lethal weapon… A man can’t kill you with his penis

Rape trials were foundering and not ending in convictions as lawyers argued over the issue of consent, she said. “Why not believe the woman and lower the penalty?

“If we are going to say trust us, believe us, if we do say that our accusation should stand as evidence, then we do have to reduce the tariff for rape.”

Greer acknowledged her thesis would be controversial. “It is moments like these, I can hear the feminists screaming at me, ‘you’re trivialising rape!’

“Well I’ll tell you what … You might want to believe that the penis is a lethal weapon and that all women live in fear of that lethal weapon, well that’s bullshit. It’s not true. We don’t live in terror of the penis … A man can’t kill you with his penis.”

She said that, in cases of obviously violent rape, the courts should concentrate on the violence which should attract bigger sentences, rather than having long trials in which women are humiliated for long periods.

Greer is publishing her full argument on rape in a new book, coming out in Australia in September.

She said some might see her attitude to rape as flippant, but she reminded the silent Hay audience of her own experience when she was 18 and was raped. She was beaten repeatedly by a man telling her “say f**k me” a dozen times. Did she say it? “I don’t think I did, but maybe I did. How would that look on my mobile phone in court saying ‘f**k me’?”

Greer did not make a complaint to police.

She questioned a statistic which said that 70 per cent of rape victims had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder compared with 20 per cent of conflict veterans.

“What the hell are you saying? Something that leaves no sign, no injury, no nothing is more damaging to a woman than seeing your best friend blown up by an IED is to a veteran?”

Society wanted women to believe that rape destroyed them, she said. “We haven’t been destroyed, we’ve been bloody annoyed is what we’ve been.”

Greer has long divided opinion, since she published her landmark work The Female Eunuch in 1970, and her Hay talk shows no sign of changing that.

She said the world was full of bad sex, that people were not talking and loving as they should. “Love-making is not a matter of an organ, it is a matter of communication and somehow we’ve got to rescue it. It is in deep trouble, heterosex.”

It is more of a crisis for women, she added. “Women love men, more than they [men] love women. We are more aware of our men, more than they are aware of us. We are more easily pressured into pleasing them, or trying to please them. We tend to love our sons more than our daughters, we hope it doesn’t show, but it nearly always does.”

Greer was pessimistic about the Harvey Weinstein case , predicting that the only winners would be lawyers. “They will break down the witness.” – Guardian Service

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