I expected a pushback when the MeToo movement exploded, but not from a woman. Germaine Greer is back, still arguing with her gender as she did in 1970 when she wrote “The Female Eunuch” contending that we are made into powder puffs – passive and compliant – to make men comfortable, that we have no idea how much they hate us.

Family feud

Now Greer is pooh-poohing the MeToo movement, tagging it “whining.” And I find myself remembering my quarrel with her first argument about male contempt for women (More about that in a moment). Now I must bump heads with her again because she’s feuding with sexually abused women who call out violators in their history.

She wants to see women react “immediately.” Clearly, Greer has never been abused – certainly not as a child. Commenting on Dylan Farrow’s claim that her father, Woody Allen, abused her sexually in 1992, Greer told the press in her native Australia on Jan. 23, “It was 20 years ago, so you want him to stop making movies now?”

Reality bites

Look, of course, it’s be better to call out perpetrators in the moment, but come on, Germaine, there are reasons why this doesn’t happen - fear of not being believed, for one. Consider the famous rape case of 17th-century painter Artemesia Gentileschi. When she took her complaint to court, she was made to endure thumbscrews. Even at that, the rapist (her art teacher) got only a few months jail time.

With good defense lawyering these days (O.J. Simpson trial for murder comes to mind), justice is not always a sure thing.

Freudian slip

Back to Greer’s contention that women don’t know how much men hate them, I’d argue that fear may be the driving force behind male aggression. You can see it in Picasso’s paintings of women as man-eating beach crabs with thorny claws and knife-sharp teeth that seem to point to Freud’s theory of castration anxiety.

A painting of a spiky pink crab threatening a clearly terrified tomcat comes to mind. Even if Greer is right, her charge is too sweeping. There are too many exceptions – Rembrandt, for example. His painting of Bathsheba tells the story.

Proof positive

What you see is the Biblical figure of a married woman at her bath, during the reign of King David, in receipt of a written message from him summoning her to his bed.

While there are images of this incident, in art, that portray Bathsheba flaunting her nakedness in seductive ways, Rembrandt saw her as put upon. He told the story from her point of view, what she felt, not some male fantasy. You can see her state of mind as she sits by her bath (nude but with her legs notably crossed) holding the royal missive in her hand. She looks forlorn, at a loss to do anything but submit.

How can Greer overlook such a famous painting that shows male concern for the plight of a woman in a world ruled by males?

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