Jaipur, Jan 24 : Germaine Greer, the author of the seminal text of second wave feminism, "The Female Eunuch", faced a volley of questions from British journalist Bee Rowlatt as well as the audience at a heated session on the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) here on Thursday.
Rowlatt described the feminist icon as "a tornado of provocation", before asking her to share her views on the trans community and the #MeToo movement.
Greer said she had imagined such upheaval by this time - it has been almost half a century since "The Female Eunuch" was released.
She also referred to the work of black radical Eldridge Cleaver, and his book, "Soul on Ice", in which he mentions the spiritual castration of black men -- a concept she found an interesting analogy for women: "A girl is born with energy, creativity and a voice. How does she become silenced," she asked.
Greer said she wrote the book so that women could read it and kept in mind that most women have no time for leisure, and would have to juggle reading with their work.
"It was the women who made 'The Female Eunuch'", she said. "It's not a very good book. It's the way they read it that made it important."
Other parts of the discussion were less unanimously agreed upon. Greer's views on the trans community, and indeed, being trans, did not seem to be in sync with the consensus of the audience.
She acknowledged the existence of a third gender, but beyond that, her ideas of biological sex, gender and sexuality seemed to be interchangeable in terms in her parlance.
In contemporary understanding, transness is neither a "costume" nor is it the peculiar phenomenon of "men being better at being women than women are", both of which Greer associated with being trans.
Greer's views on the idea of #NotAllMen is one commonly heard amongst third wave feminists, and one she argues is a necessary counterpart to the #MeToo movement: "Not that all men hate all women all the time, but that women don't know when they're in danger from the men they're with."
However, more contentious was her take on the #MeToo movement itself, which she seemed to dismiss as publicity seeking by those victims who reported the incident years after signing non-disclosure agreements about workplace harassment, as a way to extort money from the accused.
This idea was, in particular, strongly resisted by the audience, which made for a lively QandA session during which many members vocally disagreed with Greer.
Other aspects of Greer's long career, such as her environmental activism and her exploration of women poets from the 16th and 17th century, provided a sense of balance to the discussion.
The session closed with a comment that seemed to echo throughout the Front Lawn: "Many women, I suppose, feel betrayed by your stand. I suppose they feel that you were a voice for the powerless and now you're a voice for the powerful," Rowlatt, whose current book "In Search of Mary" is inspired by the life of Mary Wollstonecraft (1759- 1797), one of the world's earliest advocates of women's rights, said to thundering applause from the audience that marked the end of the heated session.