Paul Mitchinson is a part-time writer and a full-time father of two. He writes when he can. » more about me

Germaine Greer’s nasty little piece in the Guardian on the recently-passed Betty Friedan suggests that a new genre of essay has arrived. Call it the “obitchuary.” The most entertaining recent example I came across was Terry Castle’s hilarious memoir of Susan Sontag.

Nothing, of course, excites the male libido more profoundly than a cat fight. What I find bewildering is why women — especially those who have dedicated their lives to fighting the patriarchy — should willingly participate in such a spectacle. The essays confirm the worst stereotypes of women: vicious, backstabbing, calculating, gossipy, bitchy. (Leave aside Greer’s bizarre attempts to recreate Friedan’s accent: “Whuttzes extra trip they’ve laid on for tomorrow?” Yes, Germaine, we know — Friedan was an American Jew. Thanks for playing to your audience’s prejudices.)

Like mud-wrestling, these essays are essentially theatre for the male gaze. By the way, I loved them.

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