Germaine Greer says feminism is ageist and the aged care sector is under attack

Germaine Greer

Greer uses international women's day event to demand feminism take aged care seriously and chide the Australian government for its treatment of pensioners Germaine Greer has accused the Abbott government of attacking pensioners and said people in residential aged care have lost their civil rights. Photograph: Murdo Macleod for the Guardian


Elle Hunt



Sunday 8 March 2015 16.26 AEDT


Feminism is ageist and Abbott government "attacks" on pensioners make aged care one of the most pressing feminist issues facing Australia today, Germaine Greer has said.


Greer was speaking as part of a panel discussion alongside US feminist commenters Roxane Gay and Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency, and Clementine Ford, Tara Moss, and Celeste Liddle as part of the All About Women festival marking international women's day at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday.


Feminism, like the media, was ageist and focused on young women of reproductive age in relationships to the exclusion of children and the elderly, Greer said.


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"Give me the right to grow up, let me age," she said. "In our society elder women have no respect."


She also accused the government of attacking pensioners and people who work in the aged care sector. The federal government has been criticised for its proposed pension indexation measures in recent weeks.


Greer claimed people in residential care were "locked in" and lost their civil rights. "They are incarcerated and they have committed no crime," she said.


Greer also said women working in residential care were exploited, being paid $20 per hour and without opportunities for progression. "The only reason you do the job is out of mercy."


"Why does the government beat up this sector? Because they know they can get away with it. Why can they get away with it? Because 51% of the population has no political power."


Almost 90% of the direct care workforce in residential aged care are women, as are 70% of people who live in residential aged care, according to Aged and Community Services Australia, and the Australian institute of health and welfare, respectively.


Greer said the solution was "understanding how to put pressure on the system", which she said men were taught from a young age, and women weren't. "If we are to stop the attacks on pensioners, we've got to make it clear to Tony Abbott he can't get away with it."


During the event on Sunday, Greer was also critical of equality between the sexes as a goal for modern feminism. "Everyone thinks they understand [equality], but no one understands it. ... it's an illusory goal," she said.


"I'm a liberation feminist, not an equality feminist. Equality is a profoundly conservative aim and it won't achieve anything."


She pointed to the gender pay gap, and the slow speed with which it is reducing, as evidence of the lack of parity. A United Nations report last week revealed that at current rates women's income would continue to lag behind men's for another 70 years.