Author of The Female Eunuch was speaking during debate about gender and trans rights
09 May 2018 | Jim Waterson| The Guardian
Germaine Greer has called for all public toilets to be made gender-neutral, saying the current division into gents and ladies is outdated.
“Just dump the whole thing,” said the feminist academic. “You can actually sort out toilets in a more sensible way so that people have access to the bits they need and they don’t have to be bothered by the bits they don’t need. In our houses where we live our toilets are not gendered. I think that should just be now universal.”
Greer made the comments during the Channel 4 programme Genderquake: The Debate, which aired on Tuesday night. The programme, a spin-off from a week-long series of programmes about gender and trans rights, featured the academic debate with a panel including former Olympic athlete Caitlyn Jenner.
Gender-neutral toilets has become a regular topic of discussion in relation to transgender rights but Greer, who has become a target for some activists after she said transgender women are “not real women”, used the live debate to say she had little time for that argument.
“I don’t get it,” she said. “I don’t understand why in England in particular defecation is thought of as a sexual activity. I don’t get it.”
Greer went on to raise concerns about the decision to allow runner Caster Semenya to run in women’s races and raised issues about gender self-identification: “Being without a penis doesn’t make you a woman any more than being without a womb makes you a man.”
The programme had faced criticism from some trans activists before broadcast, who raised concerns it could question the existence of transgender individuals.
Jenner, the former US Olympic gold medalist and trans activist, said she was concerned about the suicide rate among transgender people and called for the public to be less hateful in online discussions surrounding gender: “What we say, our words, make a difference.”
She also told the audience that she was disappointed with Donald Trump’s record on trans rights: “I don’t know if the evangelical Christian right has got to him. He has done a terrible job when it comes to trans issues in the US. He’s set our community back by 20 years.”
After the show panel member Ash Sarkar praised the diversity of the programme but raised concerns about the audience, who repeatedly heckled members of the panel during the debate.
“There was very poor vetting, there should have been ground rules laid out for the audience about what was acceptable,” Sarkar said.
“The floor manager came up to me in the break and said to me that if they heckled again they would be removed then that didn’t happen.
“Channel 4 worked incredibly hard to have diversity on the panel and that’s phenomenal and to be celebrated.
“There was a lack of preparation for just how hostile [radical feminists] are.”
Sarkar also raised concerns about the treatment of former Labour party adviser Munroe Bergdorf.
“If someone had called me a Paki they would have removed them, why not for someone yelling at Munroe that they’ve got a dick?”
Read This Day from Hawkins Bay Dispatch