Is it my imagination, or are Greeks dismissive of raw, honest, opinionated women?
And when I say opinionated, I don’t mean women that speak their mind within the confines of what women are permitted to discuss, i.e. what I like to call ‘Good Greek Girl Feminism’. I mean taboo subjects, like the kind I write about – cultural and sexual repression, shaming the family, divorce, and sex – just open honesty about what it feels like to be a woman.
Take my recent trip to my homelands, Greece and Cyprus. Just like my trip two years ago, as soon as the men hear of my book Love and F**k Poems and my tour and performances, I get an influx of Facebook messages ranging from asking me out to some that are so disgusting I would never show them to anyone. Sometimes I am harassed to the point where I have to block.
At first I was flattered but then I asked myself why I don’t get the same sleaziness in Australia. If anything, when men contact me in Australia they tell me how much they like my work but they never ask me out, say I am beautiful, or make comments about my body.
It started to make a bit more sense when I went to teach at The European University in Nicosia and one of the women in attendance said to me, “it’s really great that one man came to hear you speak and it’s not all just women.” When I asked her what she meant by that she said men don’t take women’s writing seriously. They think it’s girly.
I pondered this statement. Was my writing not taken seriously in Greece and Cyprus? When journalist Andonis Mboskoitis praised my performance in Cyprus on LIFO.gr in 2014 it started a social media outrage, one that was reignited on my recent trip and has seen the article shared over 22,000 times. I have been called a pornographer, a slut, irrelevant, an insult to the poetic language – the list goes on. I know I have great supporters of my work too, I am also not trying to generalise here, but I also do write a lot about culture and part of that is analysing the culture from which I originate.
Earlier this year I wrote an article questioning whether Greek culture has trained us to keep our houses too clean, if it was actually about hygiene or an obsession with upholding appearances. I was astounded by some of the responses criticising me personally. It was interesting that the topic was about something as simple as the cleanliness of a house, but because I was pushing the boundaries and stepping outside Good Greek Girl Feminism, I was slammed.
I have chosen not to include the person’s name out of respect.
Although I have always seen the homelands as evolved compared to the migrants of Australia, on this recent trip I realised that patriarchy is more alive and kicking than I thought it was. The emergence of Good Greek Girl Feminism has somewhat evened some things out but there’s still a way to go. And in Australia, Good Greek Girl Feminism is relatively new.
To elaborate on Good Greek Girl Feminism is to say it is a wave of feminism that sits snug within the confines of patriarchy. Men have allocated certain freedoms to us over the years and now women can discuss and be involved in politics and be educated as opposed to being only housewives.
Organisations have been set up to support Good Greek Girl Feminists but only if they conform to what a Good Greek Girl Feminist should be. This wave of feminism encourages women to be high achievers within these boundaries.
While beneficial, this type of feminism can sometimes frown down at radical feminists like me who do not fit the mould of the Good Greek Girl Feminist.
They, with men and patriarchy, can have a part to play in the silencing of women, because, while their husbands may help them around the house as opposed to how things were 20 years ago, they still uphold the rules of patriarchy and the role of women within that structure. That is why radical Greek feminism still has a way to go and why I think Greek culture can’t handle honest, opinionated women.
Koraly Dimitriadis is a freelance opinion writer and the author of Love and F**k Poems. Her theatre show KORALY: “I say the wrong things all the time” will premiere in Melbourne at La Mama Theatre from 30 November to 11 December.