The Streisand Effect is, according to Wikipedia, “the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”
It seems to me Germaine Greer is experiencing something akin to the Streisand Effect right now, as I’ve been seeing her views and ideas discussed far more widely than usual on social media and discussion boards, as a direct result of an attempted no-platforming at Cardiff University. This discussion has, in turn, prompted me to check out a couple of her books, in order to see whether she is quite the transmisogynist monster that she is made out to be. (Short answer: Pretty much.)
I’ve found her writing witty and sharp, stylistically speaking, but substantively it cannot pass skeptical muster. Greer shoots from the hip far too often, and expects her readers to just follow along without trying to test her hypotheses. For example:
Some men hate all women all of the time; all men hate some women some of the time. I reckon that in the year 2000 more men hate more women more bitterly than in 1970. Our culture is far more masculinist than it was thirty years ago.
This quote comes from The Whole Woman (1999) and it may well be testable using data from the social sciences. According to Greer, one of the major ways which this hatred of women expresses itself is in the form of sexual violence:
A date turns to rape when the lovelessness of the man’s interest can no longer be disguised. Marital sex turns to rape in exactly the same way. In both cases the woman is slow to sense the implacable hostility that looks out of her man’s eyes. Women are raped, abused and harassed not by rampaging strangers but by men they see every day, men they thought they knew or men they thought they knew or men they thought they could ignore. Dig it. The man is not born who will not hate some woman on some occasion. Odds on it will be the woman with the greatest claim on his love.
– Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman, pg. 417
If this is so, then the increase in hatred from the 70’s to the turn of the century should be evident in the data. But what do the data have to say? (Those of you who have read Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature probably see where I’m going with this.)
Instead of the sharp rise in sex crime that Greer would predict after three decades of ever increasing male hatred, we see precisely the opposite, and that despite a increased levels of reporting and a broadening social concept of what constitutes rape.
There may be other reasonable ways to measure the hatred of men, however, such as surveys of sexual harassment or self-reporting. These will be covered in future posts.