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The Female Eunuch

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Author: Germaine Greer

Published: March 5th 2002 by Farrar Straus Giroux (first published 1970)

Format: Paperback , 400 pages

Isbn: 9780374527624

Language: English


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The clarion call to change that galvanized a generation. When Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch was first published it created a shock wave of recognition in women, one that could be felt around the world. It went on to become an international bestseller, translated into more than twelve languages, and a landmark in the history of the women's movement. Positing that sexua The clarion call to change that galvanized a generation. When Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch was first published it created a shock wave of recognition in women, one that could be felt around the world. It went on to become an international bestseller, translated into more than twelve languages, and a landmark in the history of the women's movement. Positing that sexual liberation is the key to women's liberation, Greer looks at the inherent and unalterable biological differences between men and women as well as at the profound psychological differences that result from social conditioning. Drawing on history, literature, biology, and popular culture, Greer's searing examination of women's oppression is a vital, passionately argued social commentary that is both an important historical record of where we've been and a shockingly relevant treatise on what still remains to be achieved.

30 review for The Female Eunuch

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    This review is about two issues that seem unrelated. Menstruation and Black women's hair. What links them is attitude. "Women still buy sanitary towels with enormous discretion, and carry their handbags to the loo when they only need to carry a napkin. They still recoil at the idea of intercourse during menstruation, and feel that the blood they shed is of a special kind... If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your menstrual blood--if it makes you sick, you've This review is about two issues that seem unrelated. Menstruation and Black women's hair. What links them is attitude. "Women still buy sanitary towels with enormous discretion, and carry their handbags to the loo when they only need to carry a napkin. They still recoil at the idea of intercourse during menstruation, and feel that the blood they shed is of a special kind... If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your menstrual blood--if it makes you sick, you've a long way to go, baby." Really? Speak for yourself Germaine. When I go to the loo to refresh my lipstick I don't take it out of my bag and carry it alone, who does? The bag goes too! (Also if it is a social occasion so do my friends. We might change our tampons and put on our lipstick but we don't hide it from each other and we are really there to gossip anyway). The blood I shed at menstruation is a very special kind of blood indeed. It is as if a house is prepared and loving furnished in hope of a special kind of new tenant, a fussy one, but one who is going to be much loved so everything has to be perfect. Then the news comes. Not this month. So wanting everything to be fresh and lovely for this new tenant, this teeny fetus, we clean it all out and start afresh. Special indeed. Sex during the heavy days of menstruation is sticky and icky and needs preparation, nothing spontaneous about it, and then there is the laundry. But on the light days, I'm up for it if he is. Why would I want to taste my menstrual blood, pee, poo or any products of my body (with the exception of extremely discreet nose-picking done oh, many many years ago (view spoiler)[I lie to be PC and grown-up of course (hide spoiler)] . But actually I have. It's metallic. Like the blood you suck from your finger. It's not a big deal. What planet did Germaine Greer come from? One that wanted to instil guilt as much push for some kind of equality? She reminds me of those black women who think that all black women ought to have locks or a natural or at worst/best an afro. That every other hairstyle a black woman has is her being ashamed of her race and aping white women. And white women who get tans and frizz out their hair are expropriating black women's assets without realising what an insulting political act they are doing. Actually white women just like getting tanned, they think it looks better (it does, I'm a red head, I'm jealous) and like messing around with their hair. But not as much as black women. Or not West Indians anyway. I live on a black island. Every week, every Friday almost, my clerks have to get their hair done. This week it's straightened hair worn sleek to the shoulders, next week it's waist-length braids. Another time it's maroon, bronze or blonde extensions, another time it's the big bun. Sometimes it's a pixie cut and oh, goodness sometimes it's a blonde pixie cut or blonde flowing extensions. And next week it's a weave of fake little braids cut chin length. And then there are the nails... Just style and fashion. The three most popular businesses on any island? Rum shops (bars), mini-markets and hair salons. Getting your hair done is a woman thing, it's a joy, it's self-decoration, it's fun, it's not a political act at all. One more thing on hair. Hair straightened for the office because it is more acceptable than a wild afro. All of us who work with others have to conform to the looks culture of the workplace. An afro might not be acceptable but natural hair brushed back into a bun certainly would be. My wildly ringleted red locks were just as unacceptable and had to be tamed for work before I was the boss. Look back to Ancient Egypt. At one time when I was younger I can remember people insisting that the Pharoahs were white. After Egypt was conquered in 305 BC there were definitely white pharoahs but by the time of the last one, Cleopatra they were all mixed if not black. Look at the faces on the sarcophogai. The extended almond eyes, the full lips and most of all the hair. Masses and masses of braided hair extensions. This is a full-on black look, a beautiful look that the Egyptians so loved, this look became the standard for royals and for all sarcophagi whatever their racial status. It's still a high-fashion look, just the weave got toned down and more varied. So Germaine and you black racists who are always looking to separate blacks and whites, always looking to see if you can find offence to make noise about, you have a lot in common, and not the good things either. Just for the record, I'm not a feminist. I was. I've gone past that. I think that all people should have equal opportunities in life. Men and women are totally different though, with different strengths and abilities that could be used for all our good for a better society rather than applying a single 'template' of education and achievement and calling that equality.. But this is a review of Germaine Greer's book on feminism not on my own personal somewhat anarchic views. This review was entirely inspired by reading Leo's review of The Female Eunuch When is a review a review and when is it a rant? When is a rant making a real point or when is it really just an excuse for anecdotes? Does it matter? Rewritten 7th Nov. because some troll took exception to this review. I made it harder :-)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    Disclaimer: Ignore this review. Greer hates trans people. The Female Eunuch is one of the touchstone texts of second-wave feminism. I'll admit, I'm terrified of Germaine Greer. She's on telly quite often and my god she scares the shit out of me. However, through reading her most famous book I now see that she and I are quite similar. We're both very angry and hate a lot of things. I adore her humour and incredibly condescending prose, it's quite a refreshing read for a text that was written 45 ye Disclaimer: Ignore this review. Greer hates trans people. The Female Eunuch is one of the touchstone texts of second-wave feminism. I'll admit, I'm terrified of Germaine Greer. She's on telly quite often and my god she scares the shit out of me. However, through reading her most famous book I now see that she and I are quite similar. We're both very angry and hate a lot of things. I adore her humour and incredibly condescending prose, it's quite a refreshing read for a text that was written 45 years ago. This book basically Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Feminism (But Were Afraid to Ask). While it is dry at parts, overall the book is enjoyable and informative. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to know more about second-wave feminism and feminism as a whole really.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Luckily I read this book after I got married, otherwise I wouldn't have married at all. After reading it, I sat down to discuss it with my wife (it was immediately after marriage, and I had high hopes that we two could have long intellectual discussions in our life together). After I gave her a précis of the book, I suggested that she read it. What she suggested I do with the book was not entirely polite. However, I learnt one thing: women's freedom consists of NOT choosing to read feminist li Luckily I read this book after I got married, otherwise I wouldn't have married at all. After reading it, I sat down to discuss it with my wife (it was immediately after marriage, and I had high hopes that we two could have long intellectual discussions in our life together). After I gave her a précis of the book, I suggested that she read it. What she suggested I do with the book was not entirely polite. However, I learnt one thing: women's freedom consists of NOT choosing to read feminist literature too.

  4. 4 out of 5

    El

    As the new "American Healthcare Act" comes to light, one thing that strikes many of us is how many pre-existing conditions on the list are specific only to women: pregnancy, C-section, hysterectomy, just to name a few. There's also rape and domestic assault which are also pretty specific to women, but I'm not naive enough to believe that only women and raped and assaulted. It's ridiculous to consider those pre-existing conditions in any case, and I would bet good money that the reason for their As the new "American Healthcare Act" comes to light, one thing that strikes many of us is how many pre-existing conditions on the list are specific only to women: pregnancy, C-section, hysterectomy, just to name a few. There's also rape and domestic assault which are also pretty specific to women, but I'm not naive enough to believe that only women and raped and assaulted. It's ridiculous to consider those pre-existing conditions in any case, and I would bet good money that the reason for their inclusion is a group of old white males consider them an issue that only women have to deal with, and it's clear that the GOP has an issue with women. Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch in 1970. It was ground-breaking at the time, this woman coming out and saying "Hey, everyone, men hate women, and they're making women hate women too! Wake up!" For a lot of modern readers, Greer's raunchy humor and occasional language is hardly ground-breaking or even surprising, because we have a whole slew of women writers like that now. But it wasn't as common in 1970, and women did start to pay attention in part thanks to Greer's book. Greer discusses the many ways women have been taught to hate themselves. This is not as easy as just recognizing this and moving on - this is some insidious shit, and it surrounds all of us. Men are susceptible too, just so I don't have any men pop to be all "But it's so hard to be a man..." Yes, yes, sure it is, but we're not talking about you right now, so step off. If you watch commercials on TV today, you are still inundated with ads for things that tell men that their women want diamonds in order to feel loved... and women often still believe that themselves. There are ads for weight loss supplements that are geared towards women. They are reminded that as they age, they put on weight, their skin sags, their hair dries and thins out. There's a magic fix for everything that happens to women. (Spoiler: It's snake oil, all of it.) There are commercials for feminine products of a wide variety. These commercials have changed over the years, and now we have those that say it's okay to play sports and be active because there's a product that allows you to do those things even while you're on your period, which is still saying that your life cannot be completely while you're on your period, or that you should in some way change the way you live your life while you're on your period. Women do not feel comfortable (in most places, even when working solely with women) taking a tampon out of their bag at work and walking down the hall with it in their hand; less so with a maxipad in hand. It's a part of life, everyone is aware of it, and yet women feel they need to be somehow subtle about it, they don't want to broadcast they're on their period, it's still an embarrassment. Then there's the topic of taxing of these items. What I'm saying is there's a lot still in our media about how women should behave, how we should age, how we should protect ourselves (especially when talking about rape or assault - we need to watch what we say, watch what we wear, watch where we walk, watch who we talk to, watch how we behave, and on and on and on), how we should dress, how we should talk, how we should live our lives (it's still not 100% the norm to choose to not get married or have children). When someone is told from day one that they're not good enough the way they are, it has a damaging effect on how a person lives their life, whether they're aware of it or not. Greer talks about a lot of the obvious ways women are told they are not good enough, the one most can relate to, probably, is on Body. Very few women I know are truly 100% happy with the way they look, 100% of the time. Social media now plays a factor on this, where so many of our friends are training for a marathon and posting pictures of their workouts, and some are too sick (physically or mentally) to get off the couch most days, and therefore they feel worse about themselves and their physical appearance. (That's just one example.) My point is that social media is this place where we go to only talk about how amazing our lives are, and of course it's only a small fraction of our lives, but it's hard not to compare and contrast to one another, that's natural. Women, especially, however, are shown constantly on TV and in magazines what a "natural" woman looks like (which is hardly ever actually "natural") and if we don't look like that, then something must be wrong with us. Intellectually we know that filters exist, and PhotoShop, etc., but it's a pervasive issue. Greer also touches on topics of women hating on women, a problem that still exists today. Women rarely (in Western society) pick each other up and work together. That's a trend I see whispers of changing in the media, but then I see just as many other instances where that's still not the case. And in my own experience, I can tell you all sorts of examples about competitive women instead of supportive women. It's something that we're told is innate to being a woman, that women are just "naturally" catty, but that's one of those lies that has been told to us for so long in history that we just take it at face value. It's not actually true. It's not in our genes. It's been built into the culture over so long a period, but that's something that can change, which starts with each of us. That's Greer's point here. We don't have to sit back and let others dictate what it means to be a woman. We don't have to let the media choose for us which products we use. You know how it's so expensive for women to get their hair cut? It's because the salons know that women will pay these exorbitant prices for beauty. You ever see in comparison how much a man pays to get their hair cut, even sometimes styled? It's a whole lot less because the industry found if they raised prices too much for men, the men wouldn't come in to have their hair cut. Women, however, still will, because we're reminded that if our hair doesn't look nice, then we look awful, and soon it's a personality flaw. It's a sick, sick cycle. There are a lot of people who also don't believe any of this exists. They invalidate the experiences of others. It's easy for people to say "Women are being hysterical, none of this actually happens." (Also of note: hysterical was originally defined as a neurotic condition found in women and was thought to be caused by a problem with their uterus. That's an important thing to keep in mind, especially when looking at the new healthcare pre-existing conditions list.) People of color have an even harder time with invalidation by people of privilege because so often non-POCs want to be all "I don't recognize color, I'm colorblind!" which is just a fancy way of saying "I'm going to pretend like there's no social issue here whatsoever!" This is a mess of a review, but I'm angry. Greer was angry when she wrote this book. Occasionally throughout her book she seems "too angry", which is another way we like to invalidate something someone says. I found myself having trouble following her words at times because her anger was so apparent and so seemingly over-the-top that finally I was like "If she wasn't so angry, maybe her point would come across better." That's unfair. Greer is allowed to be angry, and quite honestly we should all still be angry, especially in light of our current administration and these acts of hate against women. I'd like to say that so much has changed since 1970 when this book was first published. It would great to be able to say that none of Greer's original thesis is still applicable today. But it is, sadly. So her point is that it's up to each of us to make things better. She calls for a revolution, wants to know what each of us will do. And that's exactly the right question to ask. It's a relevant question to ask today. Some of us have been working towards that goal for a while, and what happened in Washington, DC and across the world on Inauguration Day in January was the first step in which a lot of other people started to wake up and take a stand. Everything that has happened in the past few months has contributed, though maybe not on the same scale as the Women's March in January. But not everything has to be on the same large scale to make a statement. It's also up to us to listen.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Praj

    I adore men, I love my cigarettes and scotch, take pleasure in my womanly curves; simultaneously I greatly want women to obtain their freedom of rights. Feminism may be an archaic phenomenon in the urban world yet it is still in the nascent form in numerous authoritarian patriarchal configurations and societies plagued with female foeticide. This manuscript does justice to such dwellings where women irrespective to their economical standing bear subjugation to various norms of religion and cultu I adore men, I love my cigarettes and scotch, take pleasure in my womanly curves; simultaneously I greatly want women to obtain their freedom of rights. Feminism may be an archaic phenomenon in the urban world yet it is still in the nascent form in numerous authoritarian patriarchal configurations and societies plagued with female foeticide. This manuscript does justice to such dwellings where women irrespective to their economical standing bear subjugation to various norms of religion and cultural obligations. Alas! I cannot go through anymore feminism prose. My audacious teenage years and traumatic squabbles with my mother altered me as Simone de Beauvoir of the house. And now I am extremely fascinated with Lady Gaga simply for kicks.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    This book was fascinating and made me rethink being a woman. It deals with the suppression of the female intellect, identity, and psychological development. My soon-to-be-husband was NOT happy I read this - I really reacted to what I was reading. I simmered down eventually.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John

    Brilliant. This book should be required reading for everyone, not just women.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    Greer cuts through our absurdly patriarchal fantasies of romantic love, diagnosing the misery and anxiety they cause, and draws a picture of the female stereotype as castrated - a passive receptacle for male sexuality. She also implicates capitalism in shaping and reinforcing patriarchy, with some great passages on the history of women in work. The book is also highly readable, non-technical and funny. I've recently found out that Greer's later work is explicitly cissexist and transphobic, so I'm Greer cuts through our absurdly patriarchal fantasies of romantic love, diagnosing the misery and anxiety they cause, and draws a picture of the female stereotype as castrated - a passive receptacle for male sexuality. She also implicates capitalism in shaping and reinforcing patriarchy, with some great passages on the history of women in work. The book is also highly readable, non-technical and funny. I've recently found out that Greer's later work is explicitly cissexist and transphobic, so I'm not reading her any more.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Emma

    I picked up this book not only because of it's historical significance but because a friend mad a blog post about it while having not read it basically saying Greer was an self-important idiot and I really hate ignorance. Reading this book as a feminist in 2010 there are things about it I don't agree with. I definetley have problems with the blatant transphobia which is a theme through Greer's writings, and she has a rather patchy idea about homosexuality. Some of the things she talks abuot are o I picked up this book not only because of it's historical significance but because a friend mad a blog post about it while having not read it basically saying Greer was an self-important idiot and I really hate ignorance. Reading this book as a feminist in 2010 there are things about it I don't agree with. I definetley have problems with the blatant transphobia which is a theme through Greer's writings, and she has a rather patchy idea about homosexuality. Some of the things she talks abuot are outdated or becoming so which is touching in a way as it means we're making progress but many of them are still cuttingly relevant today. Young girls still grow up dreaming of romance and magical kisses while boys are taught to fuck. Women are still penalised in marriage and children are still forced inwards in a nuclear family. This is a powerful book. At times too powerful. Greer also at time inadvertently makes me laugh by criticising accademic feminism in a highly accademic book and criticising the classism in feminism which dealing mainly with middle class issues. Maybe one of the most interesting things I got from reading this book is a view of hoiw feminism itself has changed. Feminism today is much more accessible, both in it's texts and in the way it operates, and we are started to acnowledge a lot more intersection which I think can only be a good thing. Greer quotes an argument that isms such as racism and classism are unimportant and can not be solved until we solve racism but the truth of the matter is these things are all intimatley linked, something that the feminist movement is slowly starting to admit and the faster we get round to it and embrace it the better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    I bought this book a long time ago, when I was living abroad and I had my first contact with feminism. I saw a "gender studies" shelf on a bookstore for the first time, and I went ahead and bought the works of the people I had heard of before. One of them was Germaine Greer. Apparently she's always been a controversial figure, probably more so today that social media has amplified her views. I'm being euphemistic - she's a repulsive attention-seeking troll who clearly takes pleasure in making inf I bought this book a long time ago, when I was living abroad and I had my first contact with feminism. I saw a "gender studies" shelf on a bookstore for the first time, and I went ahead and bought the works of the people I had heard of before. One of them was Germaine Greer. Apparently she's always been a controversial figure, probably more so today that social media has amplified her views. I'm being euphemistic - she's a repulsive attention-seeking troll who clearly takes pleasure in making inflammatory comments and generating outrage. I did not know any of this when I bought The Female Eunuch. As it happens, this book has been languishing at the bottom of my to-read list ever since, while I have gone on to read several amazing feminist books, old and new, which shaped me as a woman and changed my life and outlook for the better. And now I picked this up because I'm cleaning out my bookshelves and going through my unread books to see if I want to keep them. I am glad I only opened it after having been exposed to so many other feminist works (both good and bad) and could have a more informed opinion on its contents. I wonder if, had I picked it up at age 18, without knowing the first thing about feminism, I might have accepted some of its bullshit, or even been turned off of feminism entirely. Now, on reading it, I instantly recognized The Female Eunuch for the trash that it is, and suitably disposed of it. It is dated, elitist, racist, homophobic, and has lots of pseudo-scientific or straight up hippie bs in it. It's also pretty damn misogynistic. In short: it's a no from me. If you're still curious about this book, you could always google Greer and read about her defending female genital mutilation and child marriage, standing up for the fundamentalists who wanted to kill Salman Rushdie and the ones who wanted to burn Monica Ali's book, shitting on Meghan Markle, blaming victims of sexual assault and rape... I could go on. If that sounds appealing to you, then you'll love this book! I personally think that this is just not someone I (or anyone) should be learning feminist ideas from. Germaine Greer is better off ignored and forgotten.

  11. 4 out of 5

    J.

    To try to review a book this monumental would be somewhat ridiculous, so instead I'll report on what it's like to encounter it for the first time so long after it created the ripples that it did with its impact. I'm blown away by how much late Second Wave feminism is already present in this book from 1970 (still somewhat early in that movement). I'm also blown away by how diverse her argument is, cogently handling psychology as well as biology as well as literature. Even the structure of the boo To try to review a book this monumental would be somewhat ridiculous, so instead I'll report on what it's like to encounter it for the first time so long after it created the ripples that it did with its impact. I'm blown away by how much late Second Wave feminism is already present in this book from 1970 (still somewhat early in that movement). I'm also blown away by how diverse her argument is, cogently handling psychology as well as biology as well as literature. Even the structure of the book, i.e. a grouping of many short, tight essays on the subjects at hand rather than some of the more long-winded thinkers and theorists on these same subjects, is revolutionary. All together, the best way to use this book now, when so many of these arguments she put into play have become fairly common fields of battle, is as an introductory text. So, if you have a young person in your life who has started to show some interest in thinking about gender (or if you are in that position yourself), this book would be a great place to start.

  12. 5 out of 5

    abatage

    When I started reading this book I was hoping that it would be an irrelevant, but interesting account of 70s feminism and that most of its messages could now be seen as history. Unfortunately, there's far too much about the concepts and obervations that Greer discusses in this book that are all too relevant to our current society. While many of the statistics are outdated and even perhaps the intensity of the need for change, there is still a very strong message to be found within. I personally c When I started reading this book I was hoping that it would be an irrelevant, but interesting account of 70s feminism and that most of its messages could now be seen as history. Unfortunately, there's far too much about the concepts and obervations that Greer discusses in this book that are all too relevant to our current society. While many of the statistics are outdated and even perhaps the intensity of the need for change, there is still a very strong message to be found within. I personally could relate a large part of this book to my own life and my peers - and I'm a twenty-six year old male! There's no freaky man-hating either, which Germaine Greer apparently has a reputation for (as my peers tell me). In fact, my own reading of this book saw far more criticism on women than men - perhaps because it's obvious where men need to be criticised and more difficult to articulate the ways in which women have hindered their own liberation. Greer manages to articulate this well (with refreshing blunt-ness) and arrives at positive solutions for change and liberation. As a sociology student I found this a fascinating read because it is a fundamental blue-print for sociological trends that are extremely present today. Yes, it's a sad thing to be able to say that a feminist book written nearly 40 years ago is worthy not only as a historical document of the times, but as a candle shedding light on the issues in society that continue to hold sway. I'd love to be able to say that The Female Eunuch is "outdated" and that "none of those things are remotely applicable today"... but unfortunately I believe that is jumping the gun and mirrors my own frustrations with my own generations' attitude towards feminism. Many of my peers would tell me that the fight is all but over and that equality and liberation are shared commodities... I'd beg to differ.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sam

    Forty five years ago, a softly spoken Australian published a delicate commentary on the position of women in the existing patriarchal society and how a small movement known as feminism has taken on a second attempt at evening things out a little. In reality this turned out to be a feisty, blunt and uncompromising assessment of where the first wave of feminism has gotten us (and yes I mean us, men as well as women) and where the second wave needs to focus and get changes made (basically everywher Forty five years ago, a softly spoken Australian published a delicate commentary on the position of women in the existing patriarchal society and how a small movement known as feminism has taken on a second attempt at evening things out a little. In reality this turned out to be a feisty, blunt and uncompromising assessment of where the first wave of feminism has gotten us (and yes I mean us, men as well as women) and where the second wave needs to focus and get changes made (basically everywhere). All done in Greer's now world famous to the point and straight talking wit. No stone or assumption is left unturned, no door or circumstance left unopened and no closet, assumption, opinion or excuse is left un-riffled as Greer not only shows where things were (and are) going wrong but also demands of the reader 'what are you going to do?'. The subject of this book raises many emotions and responses from anger and disgust to glimmers of hope and optimism, a balance that I feel few authors would be able to manage with the skill that Greer shows in these pages. Having said that there are a few bits that get a little dry and others that are not as relevant as they once were (to me in my current circumstance anyway) and as such these have probably lost some of their impact. However despite the number of years between its original publication and now there is much within its pages that is still relevant if not more relevant today than they were then, making this as much an indictment of both society and the effectiveness of the second wave of feminism as much as it is a stirring call for a complete rethink of society. Be not afraid readers, this does not man-hate, call for arms, encourage war between the sexes, it asks simply for a complete reshaping of society for the benefit of everyone, men as well as women, so lets get to it.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ghost

    When I picked this up out of the Women's Studies section this past January, I was really adrift in life. Greer's book caught me and refocused me, entire paragraphs eliciting a 'fuck yes' aloud. Germaine underlines that uncomfortable feeling of what it means to be female in modern society, something I'd never noticed until falling into a heterosexual relationship. What does it mean to be expected to play traditional gender roles, to cater or ignore expectations? A milestone.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deirdre

    Greer can be brilliant, can be infuriating. She can shine and she can let herself down horribly. This is a book of its time and I read it when it was first published. Back then, it blasted the cobwebs off a totally patriarchal society but did it in a witty and winning way. This is Greer at her best. It is sad that whilst this book is now somewhat dated, the battle it engaged with has still not been won. Today's young women in the main think feminism is passé and are complaisant about the superfic Greer can be brilliant, can be infuriating. She can shine and she can let herself down horribly. This is a book of its time and I read it when it was first published. Back then, it blasted the cobwebs off a totally patriarchal society but did it in a witty and winning way. This is Greer at her best. It is sad that whilst this book is now somewhat dated, the battle it engaged with has still not been won. Today's young women in the main think feminism is passé and are complaisant about the superficial advances gained. Books like this are still worth reading and their arguments worth taking on board.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Dubois

    I read this book in a French paperback book published in 1973, with a very small font, almost no margins, 450 pages long, no preface, and the most horrible bookcover in the world! How and why did I get this book? I can’t remember. What I do know is that I should have read it when I was young, it would have changed my vision of women, my vision of myself. Today, after having read George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and so many other great women authors, Germaine Greer's book has rein I read this book in a French paperback book published in 1973, with a very small font, almost no margins, 450 pages long, no preface, and the most horrible bookcover in the world! How and why did I get this book? I can’t remember. What I do know is that I should have read it when I was young, it would have changed my vision of women, my vision of myself. Today, after having read George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and so many other great women authors, Germaine Greer's book has reinforced the observations I have already made about the status of women, those of our mothers and grandmothers, or at least mines. It is a very well researched and thoughtful book that I recommend to both women and men, although I do not agree with the author on topics that do not concern women directly, such as marijuana and communism. This book is not a pamphlet against men, it is the author's claim for women’s right to exist. Of course, it released in 1970 and fortunately many things have changed since then, with regard to the lives of women, children and their education. But there is still a lot to do, hence the interest of reading this book. In fact, equality of rights, especially in Western countries, is real. What remains to be done is to "correct perspectives distorted by our prejudices about femininity, sexuality, love and society," Greer says. This is what George Sand wrote in Indiana: "It remains to struggle against opinion; for it is opinion that delays or prepares social improvements." (Let me remind you that I read this book in French and couldn’t find The original Englsih version, so Greer’s quotes are my personnal translation… far from being the best one !) Greer therefore believes that "women, by freeing themselves, will also liberate their oppressors." (which means man or rather some men). "Men have reason to believe that as the sole holders of the universal sexual energy and protectors of women and children, they have undertaken the impossible, especially today when their creative genius has produced nuclear weapons." But, adds Greer, men are willing to share responsibility and are looking for a more satisfying role. But do women want to share, in the same way as men, the direction of a world that men have pushed to political, economic and ecological chaos? What is certain is that women will have to invent their own way of life, will have to experience freedom, and "freedom frightens us." But "women will not seek to eliminate all systems in favour of their own. However diverse their solutions may be, they will not necessarily be irreconcilable because women will not be tyrannical." Germaine Greer has divided her book into five parts: Body, Soul, Love, Hatred and Revolution, themselves divided into chapters, each on a specific theme. The Body: "Every time we reduce the female body to an aesthetic object, with no other function than to please, we damage its physical integrity and the physiological balance of the woman. » In Chapter 6, The Matrix, Germaine Greer adopts very clear and unexpected positions, that may have shocked and may still shock, which, personally, have disgusted me a little, but which have the interest of the audacity, the excess of the author who wants to make women and men react. She concludes: "Menstruation does not make us crazy or disabled, but we would gladly do without it." Chapter 7, The Stereotype, is best summed up in this quote by Mary Wollstonecraft: "The mind of the woman, which has been taught since childhood that beauty is a woman's sceptre, conforms to the body and, wandering in its golden cage, it seeks only to adorn its prison. » What is remarkable about this book is the way Greer deconstructs and analyses the behaviours of women who have not freed themselves and men who are not feminists. That is very true and I have seen in these types of women: my mother, my grandmother and, I must admit, a little bit of myself when I was lost between the education I had received, the attack I had suffered and who I was deep inside me and that I was hiding for obscure reasons at the time. I liked Chapter 8, Energy. "Energy is the driving force of every human being. The efforts we make do not dissipate it but maintain it because it has its source in the psyche. It is perverted by obstacles and repression." When a woman's energy is destructive (most often to herself, but also to her husband or children), it is because "this destructiveness is only creativity turned against herself as a result of constant frustration." In chapter 9, The Baby, Greer, talks about Maria Montessori and it's exciting. Then the next chapter deals with the differentiated education given to girls and boys. I have a son and a daughter myself. I think (I hope) I raised them both the same way. They are now 18 and 20 years old, and I think I have succeeded. My daughter is no more afraid than my son of the outside world and she feels as free to be who she is as her brother. If they differ completely, it is only because of their characters! At this point in my review, I realize that I have put marks on one page out of two of the book! So, if you want to know more, you'll have to read the book yourself! 😊 What I can still tell you is that, if some things are dated, some are still very present in our society ; that there is a chapter about the horrors suffered by women on the part of some men, I would rather say: monsters, that I could only fly over so much it is raw and unbearable. Pros, in addition to all I've already written: Greer condemns consumerism, she doesn’t admit that a woman has to transform herself into an ideal and unrealizable beauty that is not herself. Cons: Greer thinks family is not a good thing. IMO, it's a generality. Some people oppress and tear themselves apart in the family, others find love, support and fulfillment in it. Greer recommends marijuana use! I don’t. I believe that, like alcohol, you must know how to use it with GREAT MODERATION. Or not using marijuana at all… If one needs to escape reality, a good book is better ! Greer, unless I have not understood the meaning of her sentences, disapproves of homosexuals and transsexuals. There is neither to approve nor disapprove, each nature is part of nature. Greer also thinks communism is a solution. I think communism is a failure and some countries have already proved it! While everyone must have the same rights, we are not equal in nature: some are more hardworking, smarter, more creative, more relentless. The results of our lives conducted so differently cannot be the same and it would be unfair to ask the one who cut his wood all summer to share his wood, when winter comes, with the one who spent his summer sleeping on the beach. Greer also disapproves of romance novels and their Princes Charming. I understand her reasoning: these novels make women believe in the myth of the ideal man, of the unique love, of marriage as a condition for a dream life. Yes, I suppose so. But if we go beyond that, romance novels are necessary for any "normal" life made of doubts, routine, unsatisfactory work, chores, misfortunes. Most women who read a book whose lover is a charming, caring, even romantic man do not despise their husband. Everyone needs to dream. Some of a wonderful lover, others that they are invincible heroes. It does not matter what form the dream takes, as long as the dream makes it possible to bear the reality that often lacks flowers and courage. I know nothing about Germaine Greer except this book I just read. I wouldn't judge her by what she wrote 49 years ago and I wouldn’t dare to judge her at all! Twice in the book, Germaine Greer briefly mentions her childhood, which was not a path paved with rose petals. So, one can only admire the path she has traveled in thought. If humanity progresses at a snail's pace, human beings, during their lives, can change and evolve radically. Isn't that wonderful?

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    If I met someone at a party who described herself as a speculative anthropologist (which Greer does not, btw), I'd be hard put not to snort in her face, let alone offer to read her unscientific speculatively anthropological text. So many paragraphs of ungrounded but somewhat believable "men act this way, women are made to act this way", it's tiring and not insightful enough for me to continue. Which is disappointing, because if anyone was ready to feel ashamed of the antics of his own gender, it If I met someone at a party who described herself as a speculative anthropologist (which Greer does not, btw), I'd be hard put not to snort in her face, let alone offer to read her unscientific speculatively anthropological text. So many paragraphs of ungrounded but somewhat believable "men act this way, women are made to act this way", it's tiring and not insightful enough for me to continue. Which is disappointing, because if anyone was ready to feel ashamed of the antics of his own gender, it was me!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nick Imrie

    It's so strange reading this again for the first time since I was a teenager. Greer is amazing: witty, funny, spookily perceptive on some things, and hilariously wrong on others. She wastes no time hemming-and-hawing around an idea, but she's pretty humble about how wrong she might be too. She's definitely in my top ten for who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone at all.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Madhulika Liddle

    When it was first published in 1970, Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch drew flak, derision—and accolades for its bold stance on feminism. In her introduction to the 21st century edition of this best-selling book, Greer writes that she wondered back then whether the book would be outdated by the time the 21st century came round. Not, sadly, to much of an extent. In some ways, women are better off than they were nearly half a century ago. In most ways, though, we seem to be stuck pretty much wher When it was first published in 1970, Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch drew flak, derision—and accolades for its bold stance on feminism. In her introduction to the 21st century edition of this best-selling book, Greer writes that she wondered back then whether the book would be outdated by the time the 21st century came round. Not, sadly, to much of an extent. In some ways, women are better off than they were nearly half a century ago. In most ways, though, we seem to be stuck pretty much where we were in 1970. The Female Eunuch explores how a male-dominated Western society has, over the centuries, conditioned women to regard themselves in certain stereotypical ways (ways, needless to say, in which most men too regard women). Greer examines womanhood from different perspectives: biological, mental, psychological, social, and so on. She explores everything from how women have been expected to behave from medieval times to now; how women have been represented in literature and art; to how—very importantly—'the personal is political' (although Greer was not the one who came up with that particular statement). I found this to be an odd book, which seemed at times to have been written by two completely different people. The initial 100 pages or so (which are about the female body and psyche, but more about its perception) are dominated by a dry, bookish style that bored me stiff. The following chapters—until about the last 50 pages, which focus on the feminist movement—on the other hand, made for informative, interesting and even at times delightful reading. The highlights for me, in the middle section (the most readable part of the book) were her sections on romance (hilarious, since she quotes extensively from romance novels—especially Barbara Cartland's—and adds her own pithy comments); on the synonyms for woman (I found this an interesting lesson in linguistics), and the history of love and marriage in the West. In the course of The Female Eunuch, Greer manages to emphasise the fact that women—from the moment of their birth—are conditioned by society to act, dress, speak, work, etc in a certain way, and that that way is designed to subjugate women. She quotes people across the ages on women (and the majority of those quotes show just how terribly women have been regarded and treated). She urges revolution, she pokes fun, she is ruthless in her attack. But she dilutes that attack by being swayed by her own righteous indignation at the wrongs women suffer. What I found most annoying about the book were the many sweeping generalisations Greer makes. "Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.", for example; "Women do not champion their own sex once they are in positions of power... After all, they get on better with men because all their lives they have manipulated the susceptibilities, the guilts and hidden desires of men" and "Violence has a fascination for most women; they act as spectators at fights... women are always precipitating scenes of violence in pubs and dance-halls.", and “…in too many cases female intellectuals are arrogant, aggressive, compulsive and intense. They place too high a value on their dubious educational achievement, losing contact with more innocent recreation.”, to quote just four of many instances. Greer appears to have taken, as her stereotypes for women (and men) the most conditioned, most extreme representatives of society. I suppose that’s to help drive home the point (and I do agree with most of the points she makes, since even 45 years later, there are too many wrongs mentioned in The Female Eunuch that still continue to flourish in the world). But I’d have expected a more balanced, level-headed view from an academician like Greer.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    Germaine Greer is probably the first name that springs to mind when anyone brings up the subject of feminism, whether you know much about the movement or not. I'll admit that this was the case for me anyway, but I have to say that I did not know too much about her. In fact, I believed her to be one of the 'feminazis', man-hating and bra-burning amongst other things. I decided to pick up her seminal text The Female Eunuch because it came on my radar in the last month or so through YouTube, and I Germaine Greer is probably the first name that springs to mind when anyone brings up the subject of feminism, whether you know much about the movement or not. I'll admit that this was the case for me anyway, but I have to say that I did not know too much about her. In fact, I believed her to be one of the 'feminazis', man-hating and bra-burning amongst other things. I decided to pick up her seminal text The Female Eunuch because it came on my radar in the last month or so through YouTube, and I figured I'd see what she had to say. So I was surprised when I discovered that my initial impressions through hearsay Greer were not really accurate at all. Germaine Greer does not hate men, and she does not advocate bra-burning in the slightest, in fact finding it detrimental to the cause. Surprisingly, what I took from this book was a certain level of irritation and disgust aimed more so at the female population. There were a great many sections in this book where I found Greer's words to be angry and dripping with disdain when she talked about things like excessive mothering of children, and the ever-present fairytale notion of love. Greer splits her book into four sections: Body, Soul, Love, and Hate, along with a chapter entitled Revolution at the very end. Within these sections, she tackles a myriad of subjects, including marriage, work, body hair, jealousy, even resentment. I found certain sections to be more readable than others (the Hate section was particularly difficult and depressing), and I fluctuated between moments being intensely bored, moments being very intrigued, and moments where I found her words incredibly funny. It certainly evoked a range of emotions in me. Due to the fact that The Female Eunuch was published in 1970, there are certain aspects of the book that I feel are not quite as relevant anymore, and I think that male/female equality has come a long way since then (despite not being perfect). However, there were a lot of points that Greer made within her book that really stuck out to me, particularly notions of love and the rearing of children. It makes me wonder, is the biological clock a real thing or is it just conditioning in our society for most women to feel the need to prolong the human race? But I digress. If you are at all interested in the feminist movement, I would strongly suggest that you pick up this novel. Although I didn't necessarily enjoy all of the book, due to the writing being a little wordy at points, I am very glad that I finally got around to reading this book. I think that it is an important book, no matter what detractors of Greer say, and even if I don't agree with absolutely everything she says, it's definitely a great talking-point.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    The problem with reading a book like this decades after it was written is you aren't a part of that time, and the Female Eunuch was very much a part of that time. Some of it still stands up, but other parts are the statements of a youthful movement, confident in the absolute correctness of its untested positions. Since Greer wrote this, parents have attempted to raise children in a neutral way and seen boys blowing up dolls and nursing fire trucks, suggesting things are a bit more complex than o The problem with reading a book like this decades after it was written is you aren't a part of that time, and the Female Eunuch was very much a part of that time. Some of it still stands up, but other parts are the statements of a youthful movement, confident in the absolute correctness of its untested positions. Since Greer wrote this, parents have attempted to raise children in a neutral way and seen boys blowing up dolls and nursing fire trucks, suggesting things are a bit more complex than one might have thought. Still, Greer's theory that women are forced into a self-perpetuating mold was a good one, and she makes a strong case that women's limitations are, to a great extent, man-made. Unfortunately, Greer comes across as the stereotypical feminist, humorless, angry, elitis, and certain to a fault. She wants to upturn society, rewriting economics, marriage laws, and the very concept of love and affection (which she seems to either disbelieve in or disapprove of). She doesn't just hate the way women are treated in society; she hates society and the entire structure of humanity, and would, it seems, throw out every law and tradition in a second if she could. And this, along with her tendency towards Freudian-style psychobabble (even though she criticizes Freud, the language is of Freud) and the pretentious language of the intellectual makes her increasingly annoying. Ultimately I gave up on the book, because I found it so unlikable. It was the right book at the right time, and said a lot of things that needed saying. And perhaps only someone as arrogant as Greer could have said it. But it's not something I found enjoyable to read.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mkittysamom

    Amazing! All women should read this! Greer really explains how I have been feeling about life, the world, being married, suppressed, not listened to, dismissed, abused and so fourth. This is the first book I've read that says I'm not crazy! I have so much to say but I want to read this again, it was so life inspiring and opened my eyes!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    Despite the age of this book, I still think that most of the insights ring true even today. This book definitely stirred me to support the cause and I particularly admire the passionate way Greer writes. This book played on my mind for a long time after I read it, which I think shows its power even 40 years on

  24. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    It's a classic, which is why it should still be required reading for any feminist trying to educate themselves. But it's very, very much of its time, very much the work of a second waver with all the problematic attitudes towards sexuality, homosexuality and race that that implies. Worth reading as an historical record, but not something that I base my own thought on, really.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    It's validating, this book, from the first sentence. Talk of women breaking through the glass ceiling only to settle. Fighting for equality only to go to college to STILL shop for husbands. Great book. Sad nothing's advanced since.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Straton

    ...very compelling arguments on feminism, and a strong case the 'rational' of subjugation women. I would recommend this book to every woman, but importantly, to men.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    I apologize in advance for the length of this review. As a pivotal sociological/feminist work, I felt it was incumbent upon me to be thorough. Overall, I found the work to be about 1/3 spot on; about 1/3 very dated; and 1/3 to be questionable in its argument. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight and the importance of this work is in the fact that it was very much a call to action in 1970. In her introduction to the 1990 release, Greer notes that she had expected the book would quickly date I apologize in advance for the length of this review. As a pivotal sociological/feminist work, I felt it was incumbent upon me to be thorough. Overall, I found the work to be about 1/3 spot on; about 1/3 very dated; and 1/3 to be questionable in its argument. Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight and the importance of this work is in the fact that it was very much a call to action in 1970. In her introduction to the 1990 release, Greer notes that she had expected the book would quickly date and disappear. As an optimist, she expected social change to occur and invalidate her work. However, she points out (in 1990) that despite many changes, women still desire “freedom from being the thing looked at rather than the person looking back. Freedom from self-consciousness.” I question whether this is even possible. Can we, as humans, not be self-conscious? She argues (in 1970) that “Man demands in his arrogance to be loved as he is, and refuses even to prevent the development of the sadder distortions of the human body which might offend the aesthetic sensibilities of his woman.” I wonder about the development of “meterosexualism” (which has taken off in the 2000s) and the changes that have manifest in the relationships between men and women and the expectations that have developed. Instead of moving towards a society that is less critical of one’s appearance and developing fewer demands on bodily presentation, we have upped the ante with plastic surgery (and botox..the ease of an injection) and have simply equalized the playing field by requiring more of men. Rather than liberating anyone, we clearly have just suckered the men into our cage. Greer seeks for women “the right to express her own sexuality; which is not at all the same thing as the right to capitulate to male advances.” She argues that female libido is not merely responsive and pushes for freedom for women to pursue their own desires without threat of societal disapproval. Certainly, there have been many advancements in women’s opportunities for sexual exploration and more acceptance of female sexual curiosity since 1970. However, Greer’s astute chapter on labeling well describes the (still relevant) double standard that a male who sleeps around is a “stud” while a female who does the same is a “slut”. As long as the “female is considered as a sexual object for the use and appreciation of other sexual beings…her sexuality is both denied and misrepresented by being identified as passivity.” These arguments reminded me of Catlin Moran’s work (see my review on How to be a Woman), in which she reminds the reader that as of 2010, women still are not proud of their sexuality. Speaking of Moran, I was struck by her mimicry of Greer’s discussion on the usage of the word cunt: “The worst name anyone can be called is cunt. The best thing a cunt can be is small and unobtrusive: the anxiety about the bigness of the penis is only equaled by anxiety about the smallness of the cunt.” I’m not sure that is entirely accurate (I have yet to worry about the size of mine nor hear of any discussion with female friends about this issue. Women worry about the size of their boobs, butts, and thighs; men about their dicks). Further, I was disappointed to see that despite heavy citation, Moran’s discussion was not much different (with the exception of adding the thought that that cunt is divine, a concept of which I was fond). Quite accurately, Greer points out that “the implication that there is a statistically ideal fuck which will always result in satisfaction if the right procedures are followed is depressing and misled. There is no substitute for excitement: not all the massage in the world will ensure satisfaction, for it is a matter of psycho-sexual release. Real gratification is not enshrined in a tiny cluster of nerves but in the sexual involvement of the whole person.” She argues that the sex education of both men and women is lacking (and leads to guilt and hatred on both sides). In her discussion of love, Greer advocates for many things of which I approve. She finds love in healthy people to make “no really sharp differentiation between the roles and personalities of the two sexes. That is, they did not assume that the female was passive and the male active, whether in sex or love or anything else. These people were so certain of their maleness or femaleness they did not mind taking on some of the aspects of the opposite sex roles.” She uses Shakespeare’s example of the love between the phoenix and the turtle as “not the lifelong coherence of a mutually bound couple, but the principle of love that is reaffirmed in the relationship of the narcissistic self to the world of which it is a part. It is not the fantasy of annihilation of the self in another’s identity by sexual domination, but it is a spiritual state of comprehension.” Until we are capable of seeing the opposite sex as first and foremost a fellow human, as a potential friend or lover, we will not be able to break from the strings of social expectations about “male” or “female” behaviors. She also points out the problems with the (again slightly dated) female goal of “capturing” a man. As long as women are concerned with “catching” and men with “avoiding the ball and chain,” we have set up war-like terms for relationships. “If we could stop thinking in terms of capture, we would not have to fear the loosening of the captives’ bonds and our failing beauty, and he would not have ulcers about being outstripped or belittled.” As a fairly egotistical and (if I dare say) literal-minded, outspoken, and able woman, I have given my husband the “freedom” to take a girlfriend. I truly do not want someone in my bed who is not more than happy to be there; if he has interests elsewhere, I encourage him to explore (as Greer notes: “Lovers who are free to go when they are restless always come back; lovers who are free to change remain interesting”). I am of the mind that sex is simply sex, I am confident in the stability of our marriage and the structure of our family. I do not see any issue with exploration. Friends like to point out that this also has to do with my egoism: while I recognize that there are in fact many women who are more attractive than I, and there are many who are more intelligent, I maintain that there are very few that are both and as such I have the freedom to tell him to go with the full confidence that he will not find anything better. Whether I am correct or not, is quite besides the point. I think the fact that I am free from jealous grasping is testament to how far we have traveled since Greer’s writing. I was not convinced with Greer’s argument (and I’m not entirely sure that she convinced herself) that ultimately men and women are the same biologically. She points out that there are very few actual differences in genetic makeup and argues that the physical differences (curves, for example) are brought on by societal forces (wearing of corsets). Her emphasis is for a good purpose (there is no difference in our brain function); but clearly there are manifest physical differences between not only men and women but among men and women. Personally, I am rather small (about 5 ft. 2 in and 120 lbs); there are women who are much larger than me and there are men who are smaller. I agree and understand and have read about intersexual people (Eugenides’s Middlesex is a great fictional account); male and female is not the dichotomy that society has set up, we are created along a continuum. However, I am not able to buy into the concept that all of our differences are socially created. There are differences in the way men and women become aroused (for example men are more visual) which are hard to explain through socialization. Along these lines, I was thinking about Hogwild’s book (which is not recommended reading, but has some astute observations you can see my review for more details) Baby, You’re as Sweet as 3.14. He points out that men fall in love with the way a woman looks and then decides if her personality is acceptable (along the lines of “can he tolerate her”); his argument is that the better looking women are able to “get away with” more while the unattractive get less lee-way. Women, on the other hand (per his argument), fall in love with a man for his personality and are less critical of his physical attributes. I agree with this in part. I think for both parties there is an aspect of physical attraction; whether one is willing to “put up with” the other person’s undesirable features is in part according to their attractiveness, but in part according to the extent of the undesirability of the features. Greer gives a great description of what is more commonly referred to as a trophy wife: “Her value is solely attested by the demand she excites in others. All she must contribute is her existence. She need achieve nothing, for she is the reward of achievement…Because she is the emblem of spending ability and the chief spender, she is also the most effective seller of this world’s goods.” Greer argues that neither sex will be satisfied as long as women aspire to and men desire such a shallow ideal. Clearly, I agree. As I frequently point out, true happiness comes from a feeling of self-efficacy and pride in accomplishment. “Catching” a man is far from accomplishing anything worthwhile. Personally (even in this late date of 2013), I know three women who are “kept”; all three have not worked since the birth of their children and all three are currently experiencing economic troubles. They believe that it is their husband’s job to provide for them and they are three of the most bitter and bored women that I have ever met. Instead of recognizing their own responsibility for their situation and taking action (most simply by going and getting a fucking job), they complain about his inadequacy and his shortcomings. Clearly, this complaint should never have been valid but most especially in current times it is not the job of man to provide for or protect women. It is the job of women to recognize her own needs (in every way) and take action on her own behalf: “Joy does not mean riotous glee, but it does mean the purposive employment of energy in a self-chosen enterprise. It does mean pride and confidence. It does mean communication and cooperation with others based on delight in their company and your own.” Coupled with this is the argument that children are still a mother’s duty. Clearly, we have come a long way since 1970, but as a working mother I am still the one who provides most of the child-focused duties (driving to and fro, signing them up for activities, scheduling doctor’s appointments, volunteering at the school). I encounter more “stay at home dads” or dads who participate in child focused activities now than I did when I was a new mom 11 years ago, but my husband will still say things like, “Do I have to go to this, I’ll be the only dad there.” Greer reminds us that: “If children are presented to women as a duty and marriage as an inescapable yoke, then the more energy they have the more they will fret and chafe, tearing themselves and their dependents to pieces. When children are falsely presented to women as their only significant contribution, the proper expression of their creativity and their lives’ work, the children and their mothers suffer for it.” Women need to have their own focus and purpose in life: living for one’s children is not enough: “Childbearing was never intended by biology as a compensation for neglecting all other forms of fulfillment and achievement.” Similarly, men need to keep striving towards taking an active role in the child-focused duties. As more and more men “take the plunge” it will be easier for others to follow. Further, we must all strive (and yes, some days it is an effort) to see parenthood as an adventure, rather than a chore: “Parents have no option but to enjoy their children if they want to avoid the cycle of exploitation and recrimination. If they want to enjoy them they must construct a situtation in which such enjoyment is possible.” I liked that Greer (despite the chapters on hate and war between the sexes) points out that men themselves are not free. I was less than convinced by her call for communism. She sets up the marital relationship as one of employee/employer: “the bargaining between married people generally works unevenly: the wife eventually finds that her life has changed radically, but not her husband’s” and she argues that marriage is akin to signing a life-long employment contract: “Women represent the most oppressed class of life-contracted unpaid workers, for whom slaves is not too melodramatic a description.” Despite the fact that men did (and still do) have power she notes that movements which focus on vindictiveness and characterizing men as the enemy will only lead to estrangement of the sexes. Despite arguing that “women ought not to enter into socially sanctioned relationships, like marriage, and that once unhappily in they ought not to scruple to run away” and suggesting “that women should be deliberately promiscuous” she still (rightfully in my opinion) states that “the correction of some of the false perspectives which our assumptions about womanhood, sex, love and society have combined to create” will require “the re-deployment of energy, no longer to be used in repression, but in desire, movement and creation. Sex must be rescued from the traffic between powerful and powerless, masterful and mastered, sexual and neutral, to become a form of communication between potent, gentle, tender people”. She points out that “as long as man is at odds with his own sexuality and as long as he keeps women as a solely sexual creature, he will hate her, at least some of the time.” And that “War is the admission of defeat in the face of conflicting interests: by war the issue is left to chance, and the tacit assumption that the best man will win is not at all justified.” Enabling social change means working together, not against each other. We must understand the social constructions and work to liberate both men and women from restrictive roles. This made me think of a discussion I recently had with my husband about the show Madmen (which I have yet to watch). The show is set during the 1960s and as such embodies many of the points that Greer is making (subservient women in the household given a “not-so-varied-option” of becoming a subservient woman in the workplace). Apparently one of the most misogynistic characters made a comment: “Everything is about sex except sex, which is about power.” I felt like this highlights Greer’s point about the attractive woman who is able to manipulate the male system. She argues that “women who fancy that they manipulate the world by pussy power and gentle cajolery are fools. It is slavery to have to adopt such tactics” and sets up Marilyn Monroe as an example of the failed woman. Certainly Marilyn was not happy (and in more modern times we can point to all the current drug-addled starlets), but I am not quite sure that she is a supreme victim either. As an attractive woman who feels I am adept at manipulating the system to my advantage, I have fewer qualms with it than the unattractive woman with no advantage. However, I am astutely aware of Greer’s point that “pretty women are never unaware that they are aging, even if the process has hardly begun: a decayed beauty is possibly more tormented than any other female stereotype.” Some of the most dated pieces of this work were the sections on education and workplace. Historically, the glass ceiling has been in place and I am not going to imply that it has been smashed. However, there are notable exceptions: Meg Whitman of Hewlett Packard and Marissa Mayer of Yahoo are two that pop into mind. Women are also currently graduating college (and with science and math degrees) in larger numbers than men. I am not suggesting that we drop the ball, I’m just noting that the world has become a much more receptive place for women to prove themselves as capable and intelligent and the chauvinistic hiring tendencies which Greer describes as commonplace had decreased dramatically in recent times. I also found myself quite bored with the romantic literature section. I understand that Greer is trying to make a socio-historical analysis using romance novels, but there are many reasons why I do not read romance novels (most importantly because they are boring). I think she was long winded and unnecessarily repetitive with her discussion of “romantic” (i.e. as described in a romance novel) and “adventurous” love. Although, I see how the Fifty Shades (see that review for my disgust with the stereotypes) is simply emblematic and unfortunately not at all progressive with regards to male/female power and domination in sexual matters. Overall, this is a pivotal work. Published in 1970, we must forgive Greer for some aspects which are by now (thankfully) dated; however, her foresight was in many ways quite accurate and much is owed by my generation to women of hers for their labors on behalf of all women. Simply a must-read for all.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Thank Goodness, I'm finished. Such a hard book to review, though. Why? Because there are parts, that are: 1. Genial 2. Interesting 3. OK 4. Wierd 5. Silly 6. Terrible 7. Boring I'll give just a few examples, because I yearn to move on and read something good. 5. Silly - Greer states, that mother-child bond is one of the things responsible for most of the evil in the world. Also, she advises women to revolt by doing their housework "happily" and not as a chore. And, also, in the very end, Greer says tha Thank Goodness, I'm finished. Such a hard book to review, though. Why? Because there are parts, that are: 1. Genial 2. Interesting 3. OK 4. Wierd 5. Silly 6. Terrible 7. Boring I'll give just a few examples, because I yearn to move on and read something good. 5. Silly - Greer states, that mother-child bond is one of the things responsible for most of the evil in the world. Also, she advises women to revolt by doing their housework "happily" and not as a chore. And, also, in the very end, Greer says that reforms are for shit. So is rebellion. So we should do neither, but devise something else - and of course she doesn't say what it is. 6. Terrible - there are many transphobic, mysoginistic, homophobic and racist passages. It's the 70s, so I'm not that surprised by her transphobia and homophobia, but to see pure misogyny in a feminist book is unexpected.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Vibina Venugopal

    With international woman's day gaining much of global recognition, the word feminism is undergoing a whole radical shift in our thoughts and outlook..Now days being a feminist can lead to be labelled into certain class whose thoughts are largely ignored as being mental frustration.. but then what is really being a feminist mean??? In early days when women where refused their share of right, a group of women with similar thoughts, theories and philosophy on women decided to fight for themselves, With international woman's day gaining much of global recognition, the word feminism is undergoing a whole radical shift in our thoughts and outlook..Now days being a feminist can lead to be labelled into certain class whose thoughts are largely ignored as being mental frustration.. but then what is really being a feminist mean??? In early days when women where refused their share of right, a group of women with similar thoughts, theories and philosophy on women decided to fight for themselves, though largely shunned away in a male dominated society, women of today should be thankful to them...According to the history of feminism , feminism itself is divided into three waves..First wave was during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, second during the 60's and 70's the third and final wave began in 90's extending till date...The book The female Eunuch was one of the major work during the second wave of feminism.. The female Eunuch is one of the classic feminist literature..I was specially interested in this book to learn how things were back in 70's being a woman from a feminist angle...A time when gender equity was absent, women didn't dream of career and an independent life..This book is a comprehensive outlook on how women where looked upon in the despotic time when a woman's position in family was invisible and her status at work place was nil...A time when marriage and love were looked upon as a mode for financial and mental security rather than for companionship,she quotes from famous authors to support her arguments...Even today teen girls dream of magical kiss and romance when they should be thinking of lot many important things in life...Somehow women are sidelined as weaker sex and noticed for their beauty and glamour than for the essence of it, there are even quotes that say beauty and brains don't go together which is just not true......Even when a man is not good looking he always expects his wife to be glamorous and beautiful which he eventually succeed to find and that is because of the society that believes that women are supposed to look good with tonnes of make up products brimming up every single day... Though certain things went over the head for me, she does point out the sexual difference created by force of society than by nature are all around us...Her skepticism on women buying expensive cosmetics and apparel to look beautiful stands true even for today...He writing is fierce when fighting for equal legal rights for women...I can imagine the kind of stir it would have caused in those time. She even goes to the extend of nailing down the bestselling romantic fiction for instilling crazy, silly ,magical theme about love and status of women in family and society...According to her right from the day when a woman is born she is chained under the security of father later on oppressed by a husband.. She speaks about the psychological shaping brought in the upbringing that forces a woman to accept them without any question or regret and be happy in it living a life of an epitome of sacrifice and perseverance..No intellect in woman is appreciated, accepted leave alone valued but admired...I believe she is not speaking for women but also for men to make them look at women beyond the external texture and nurture the person in her for a better living..But at times I felt her take where too harsh on men, going too far generalizing her theory I'm sure that could have been avoided to strike a balance of her contemplation...I'm sure there were times when degree were just a better qualification for women in order to find a good husband..Education and academic degree really didn't serve the purpose of enlightening or enriching the lives ..In spite of having in depth knowledge and being a visionary Greer has never stated on how things could be changed..You might feel the heat of too much of blaming and cornering of men all through but I would like to appreciate her brilliance in it, she hasn't written the book to impress anyone or to mellow down her critic but hers is a solid work of her fearlessness clear and loud... This book also serves as a historical reference for the feminist outlook for reader of modern age ...Her views and points are clear and she doesn't waste her writing beating on the bush..Her insights are quite revealing yet witty at the same time..Though I may not be the right person to comment on the reality of the situations back then, but the very fact that the book is been celebrated over the years is the living testimony of the authenticity (really??)...There are boxed quotes which I didn't find it relevant to any particular subjects. Though many issues discussed by Greer just doesn't fit into the world we live now..I'm so glad that we live in this present era where I don't have to strive hard for my basic rights nor I'm discriminated because of being a woman...Though the contents seems quite outdated for people like us, still they make you think, some might hate it or love it ... Food for thought after reading is the need for clarity of thought and thinking as a woman upon most things around me.. From being bound to a male all her life , life of a woman has been through a long road of transformation. Today she has her own thoughts and ideas according to which she leads her life, at a time evenhandedly taking over an entire household keeping a good career front and a high social life with her friends and acquaintances..Though there are instances of cases were women are oppressed, we can say that things are on a positive note...I would strongly recommend this book for its historical significance and the revelation that makes us appreciate the life we are leading now...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Aseel

    What I liked: the section called Hate. I felt like she hit some key points about rape. What I didn’t like: the writing style. I found the sentences convoluted and filled with unnecessary jargon. I found her spending more time criticising ideas than suggesting any improvements, especially in regards to psychology. When she did suggest ways to improve the living situation for females, it was so odd, bizarre and wrong. The idea of just giving up things we like eg make up, clothes so we can have mon What I liked: the section called Hate. I felt like she hit some key points about rape. What I didn’t like: the writing style. I found the sentences convoluted and filled with unnecessary jargon. I found her spending more time criticising ideas than suggesting any improvements, especially in regards to psychology. When she did suggest ways to improve the living situation for females, it was so odd, bizarre and wrong. The idea of just giving up things we like eg make up, clothes so we can have money to leave husbands we don’t like?? What in the world did I read? I am glad to say that this is my first read from the second wave feminist movement and I feel more educated already

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