She’s known for her outspoken views on sexual assault, but Germaine Greer shocked TV viewers once again as she was accused by some of comparing the trauma of rape to a fear of huntsman spiders on air on Monday night.
The controversial author and academic appeared on ABC’s Q&A to discuss her views on sexual assault, following a series of outrageous statements and claims in her essay On Rape.
Speaking to audience members, she appeared to claim that a victim of an attack actually dictates the amount of trauma they feel, while recalling how she felt following her own rape at the age of 19.
Joining journalists Andrew Neil and David Marr, South African author Simone Msimang and panellist Elena Jeffcoat, Germaine spoke openly about trauma and how it can affect different people in different ways.
As one audience member asked: “You [Greer] say that, and I quote, ‘Most rapes don’t involve any injury at all’. Are you saying that being violated physically doesn’t come with any mental anguish?”
Greer responded: “I am not saying that it is not damaging. I was raped at 19 and actually… I was sorrier for the man who raped me than I was for myself because I thought what has happened to his sexuality? ‘Why has he turned into this mad dog? They will shoot him. They will kill him. They will wipe him out’.”
As host Tony Jones attempted to bring her back to the question at hand, asking if it traumatised her, she added: “Well, trauma is something that is dictated really by the sufferer.”
She went on: “I can’t bear huntsman spiders. It is not their fault. It is my fault… I decided to be frightened of them.” She then added: “It is interesting to me that women are encouraged all the time to be terribly, terribly frightened and nearly always of the wrong thing.”
It sparked angry comments from viewers at home, with many accusing the author of comparing the two in the bizarre statement.
One person wrote on Twitter: “Did Germaine compare rape trauma to fear of spiders? #qanda,” while another added: “With that huntsman spider analogy, is Germaine Greer insinuating that it is the fault of a woman that has been raped that she experiences injury/trauma/ongoing suffering, not the fault of the rapist?”
And one more wrote: “You can’t tell people what to be frightened of. I’m afraid of both huntsmen spiders & rape too. Doesn’t make rapists as innocent as a huntsman. #qanda.”
People’s panellist Elena Jeffcoat admitted she felt unable to respond to the analogy, the ABC reports, adding on the show: “I don’t know how I feel about the huntsman analogy for rape and the trauma involved there.” However, some of the panellists went on to praise some of Greer’s essay.
“I read the essay as an eloquent work of despair because everywhere you explore in the essay you come up against a brick wall or a failed initiative or an old problem,” Marr said.
“I came to the end of the essay, not growing with you on many, many things, but thinking that if you want to know what the challenges are in this area, this is not a bad place to start to read them.”