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by Germaine Greer

ON RAPE by Germaine Greer


Melbourne University Publishing, ANZ

Bloomsbury, UK Commonwealth

It is time to rethink rape. Centuries of writing and thinking about rape—as inflicted by men on women—have got us nowhere.

Rape statistics remain intractable with crime surveys telling us that one woman in five will experience sexual violence. Despite all efforts to root sexual assault out of workplaces and colleges, predatory individuals still inflict lasting damage with apparent impunity. Bestial or banal, a proven rape may carry a prison sentence of many years, even life, but very few cases ever find their way into a court of law. Once in court, even fewer cases result in a conviction. The crucial issue is that of consent, which is thought by some to be easy to establish and by others as impossible.

In 'On Rape', Germaine Greer argues that consent is an inscrutable notion and should be ditched in favour of a more rational

assessment. She also calls to demythologise rape and adapt the judicial system: current rape laws protect women but at the same time reinforce the idea that it is a devastating shameful crime – a direct results of centuries of patriarchal thinking.

More on Germaine’s thinking in a recent radio interview (the part on rape starts at minute 12”30)



Germaine Greer was born in Melbourne and educated in Australia and at Cambridge University. Her first book, The Female Eunuch (1969), took the world by storm and remains one of the most influential texts of the feminist movement. Greer has had a distinguished academic career in Britain and the USA. She makes regular appearances in print and other media as a broadcaster, journalist, columnist and reviewer. Since 2001 she has been involved in rehabilitating sixty hectares of subtropical rainforest in south-east Queensland; in 2011 she set up Friends of Gondwana Rainforest, a UK charity, to help in financing that and similar projects.