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Friday, 1 June 2018

Germaine Greer and Tanja Bueltmann

I call for Germaine Greer to stop calling herself a feminist. Because she very clearly isn't. And the hailing of her as one needs to stop. It should have stopped a long time ago, really, but now is certainly a good time to really do it.

The latest spat about Germaine Greer – see Tweet above – has taken me off into re-visiting my views on the use people make of titles they possess. My own view is that titles should not be used outside the context to which they belong. So if you are a university Professor, then on campus you are Professor X, but off campus you are not unless you are speaking or writing on a subject about which you are claiming an expertise to which your title gestures. Ditto if you are a General.

Professor Tanja Bueltmann may be a jolly good professor (she’s a historian) but that does not give her any special claim on Twitter to pass judgement on Germaine Greer, nor should she be using her title for this purpose. It has clearly been a helpful thing to do because it has meant that the deference-encouraging BBC has picked her Tweet for wider dissemination. As plain Tanja Bueltmann my guess is that she would not have so easily achieved her five minutes of fame. In my view, that’s unfair on the many Tanjas who aren’t professors and who may have equally or more interesting thoughts about Germaine Greer.

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