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Feminist Says Animal World Takes Revenge On Steve Irwin

Greg Strange | September 7 2006

"The animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin, but probably not before a whole generation of kids in shorts seven sizes too small has learned to shout in the ears of animals with hearing ten times more acute than theirs, determined to become millionaire animal-loving zoo-owners in their turn."

So said Germaine Greer, feminist Australian writer and academic, upon hearing the news of the death of famed "Crocodile Hunter," Steve Irwin. Wow! I wonder if she might be able to lighten up just a wee bit in her old age.

But if you happen to know who Germaine Greer is, you won't be too surprised at her hyperbolic response to Irwin's death. She is the author of the best-selling 1970 book "The Female Eunuch." The premise of that book was that men hated women and that the traditional suburban, consumerist, nuclear family repressed women sexually, rendering them the female equivalent of eunuchs.

Whatever. It was the kind of stuff that became the standard-issue rhetoric of radical feminism and is now seen as little more than an anachronistic knee-slapper. Suffice it to say that Greer, now in her declining years, is a malcontent and an iconoclast who decided, for whatever nonsensical reason, to turn her venom towards the chief icon of the cable television channel "Animal Planet." She's definitely not your mother's Germaine Greer anymore.

"What Irwin never seemed to understand was that animals need space," Greer said. "There was no habitat, no matter how fragile or finely balanced, that Irwin hesitated to barge into, trumpeting his wonder and amazement to the skies."

So I guess that whenever some bumbling human is killed by a vicious croc, venomous viper or other deadly but noble creature of the wild, it is due to the human's own arrogance and/or obnoxiousness. The funny thing about Australia, though, is that there are deadly or dangerous creatures almost everywhere. Maybe the people should all just am-scray and let Australia be the world's first human-free, continental animal preserve. (Except, of course, the Aborigines, who instinctively know how to be in perfect harmony with nature.)

"Every creature he brandished at the camera was in distress," Greer continued.

Right. Somebody pass the Kleenex, I'm getting choked up here.

In reality, every creature that gets snapped up by a hungry croc is also in distress, but that's just nature, the inherent wisdom of which we are simply not wise enough to question. Be that as it may, common sense says that the stress induced by an overzealous shutterbug is a lot less than the stress of being devoured alive.

Greer did manage to get one thing right and that was about the Michael Jacksonesque stunt Irwin pulled when he fed a crocodile while holding his baby son during a show at his zoo. Putting a baby in jeopardy like that was a stupid thing and Irwin rightfully got hammered for it. But even there, Greer's priorities were a bit misplaced.

"The whole spectacle was revolting," she said. "The crocodile would rather have been anywhere else. . . ."

Who gives a rat's patootie where the crocodile would rather have been? The issue was the baby. Hel-l-o-o!

Anyway, the significant thing about Irwin that Greer left out of her critique is how he tried his best to get people to appreciate the beauty of normally hated animals like snakes and how he implored people not to needlessly kill them out of misguided fear. I don't know how many people will ultimately take that message to heart, but the idea that the animal kingdom was being terrorized by the wildly enthusiastic and utterly adorable Steve Irwin was surely meant by Greer to be satirical, wasn't it?

On second thought, and knowing her history, she was probably totally serious.


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