After the untimely demise of Steve "The Croc Hunter" Irwin last weekend, I was wondering how long it would take for someone to try to exploit the tragedy for personal gain.
Well, that was quick.
So Germaine Greer, the one-time darling of the Women's Movement who would later turn transexual-bashing into a near-art form, has officially become the first nut to fall from the media tree.
In Tuesday's Guardian, Greer decided that, well, it's okay to pick on a dead man if it gets you media attention, claiming that "the animal world has finally taken its revenge on Irwin."
Greer's 15 minutes of fame were up a long time ago. And she knows it. In fact, she's spent much of the last three decades publishing various histrionic diatribes against everything from the Lord of the Rings to reality television in a desperate attempt to somehow reclaim her 1970s popularity.
Sure, Greer wrote The Female Eunuch. And that book alone earned her the right to be called one of the leading Feminist authors of the latter-half of the 20th century. But writing one landmark book does not guarantee an immortal shelf-life, nor does it give anyone the right to turn one man's tragic death into a publicity stunt.
Will Greer back down? Oh no. She's savoring every moment of it. After all, what self-described "supergroupie" doesn't strive for media exposure?
Sure, Irwin faced controversy in his lifetime. But, seriously, who would you trust to handle a kid and to feed a carnivore simultaneously? Your father or someone who spent their entire life handling crocodiles and exotic reptiles?
As for Greer's "defense" of those poor, helpless creatures that Irwin supposedly "tormented..."
You know, I can think of maybe a dozen or so folks in entertainment who I'd consider globally recognized leaders of the conservation/wildlife protection movement...and Greer ain't one of 'em.
Irwin, with his Aw Shucks charm and ability to bring an almost childlike curiosity into tens of millions of homes worldwide, made things like wildlife management, ecology, endangered species protection entertaining - and important - for a whole hell of a lot of children.
Since Irwin's death, I've had several dozen people tell me about how their daughters were devastated by the loss. Irwin and his wife, Terri, were their heroes.
And some of these young daughters plan on growing up to be veterinarians, doctors, park rangers, and zoologists, in part because they grew up watching a happy-go-lucky Aussie who used words like Crikey! and loved animals.
Maybe Greer wants to explain to these young women - brilliant all - why she felt the need to sit atop her Ivory Tower, protected by a lifetime of academia and savvy marketing, and attack their hero?
Let's be blunt here. The world needs more Women of Science. The human race needs its female segment to become engineers, anthropologists, botanists, chemists, surgeons, architects, astronauts, and conservationists. This isn't a matter of suffrage or "women's rights;" the advancement of scientific research and scholarship is vital to the survival of this planet.
We need more women like Joy Adamson. We need the next Rachel Carson. And we're gonna need thousands of women with the programming genius of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper - you wouldn't be reading this blog right now had Hopper never been inspired by someone to help invent computer science.
The world does not need another retired academic, bloated from decades' worth of ego and bourgeois praise, wilted and stuck in the trenches of 1970s Western gender warfare. The world does not need another "activist" celebrity. Humanity could do without another cult-of-personality "Feminist" more concerned with one woman's checkbook than the fate of womankind.
Steve Irwin inspired men and women, boys and girls, to explore the world around them. And he wasn't some arrogant, self-absorbed scholar. He had very little formal education beyond high school, actually. Irwin was, well, your everyday, run-of-the-mill, Average Joe who happened to become one of the world's most widely recognized "wildlife warriors."
Greer's publicity stunt will, sadly, probably make her a bit of money. She'll undoubtedly make guest appearances on numerous television and radio shows, she'll sell more books, and maybe, just maybe, she'll get a new bestseller out of it.
But somewhere, out there, a young girl has finished crying over that funny Australian guy who taught her to love animals. And maybe she's picking up her biology textbook and studying her heart out, so, one day, she can be a "famous" animal-lover like Irwin. Or maybe she picked up a copy of Silent Spring from her local library. Or maybe she's now inspired to one day become a biology teacher or to volunteer at her local animal shelter.
And, with a little luck and a little more inspiration, that girl might just grow up to be a conservationist, scientist, or educator worth more to the Women's Movement than a thousand Germaine Greers.
Somewhere, in some afterlife, a rather energetic Australian, in shorts seven sizes too small, is grinning from ear to ear, waiting and watching.