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The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)


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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. ( )
  Praj05 | Apr 5, 2013 |
I read this book at 14, and it was possibly the best thing to read for a vaguely angry but not entirely sure why girl who grew up in a strict religious environment with a serious problem with women being their own person. I still remember suddenly realizing just how screwed up my idea of my gender was, how out-dated the opinions of those around me even compared to a 70s book. I've not yet read it again, mostly because I expect it to let me down. Though it's been years, I still remember some very negative things about transgender people that I felt uncomfortable with even at the ( very uninformed) time. Still, I remember it very fondly. I think I wanted to be a bit like Greer after reading this book. I don't anymore, but I'm still very grateful for her giving teen me another idea of who I wanted to be - when the only idea of the "ideal woman" proposed by my family and their religion was that of an obedient, sexless, voiceless little wife. I don't expect it to have the same effect on many other people my age because most girl I know simply didn't grow up with such ridiculous elders. ( )
  Merinde | Mar 31, 2013 |
International bestseller and milestone in the re-thinking of the very basic facts which continue to hag-ride our behavior -- gender differences and similarities in the body, the soul, and what we love and hate. Greer chapters each of those topics, concluding with a call to revolution. With Notes.

Greer presents a direct description of sexuality--not content with mere anatomy or indirection. Looking at how they are treated, she concludes that "men hate women", even though they do not realize it, and men end up hating themselves.

No actual eunuchs were injured in the analysis, but Greer invokes literary and consumerist evidence that "Women have been separated from their libido", and cut off from their capacity for action: castrati, sacrificed for fattening docilities. My reading is that Greer is all about elevating humans to a greater capacity for love, compounded by the joy of really being together. I think this book changed the lives of people in the 1970's, and not just in the English-reading world.

Curiously, the "supergroupie" demystifying academic author published a kind of sequel to this work, in 1999, entitled The Whole Woman. ( )
2 vote keylawk | Feb 17, 2012 |
The Female Eunuch was written in the 1970's and parts of it have not dated well. Greer's hostile writing makes the text less-than accessible in places, as she attacks both the nuclear family and other feminists who want mere "equality." What Greer does want is not exactly clear, and perhaps because of the time when it was written her work contains elements of homophobia, transphobia and racism.

For a reader who did not grow up in the repressive 1950's there are many passages which will be relevant only in terms of history. After all, Freud and his ilk no longer hold the sway over popular opinion that they once did. However, reading the excerpts of Freud and other psychoanalysts' work of the period do serve to explain much of Greer's anger - who wouldn't be outraged by the thesis that women are intrinsically ethically inferior to men, and are really only incomplete men, who spend their whole lives longing for a penis? I think it is important to learn the historic struggles that feminists in this time period had to overcome.

Some parts of Greer's text do continue to ring disturbingly true. For example, Greer's writing on women in advertisements is as true today as it was in 1970:

"Every survey ever held has shown that the image of an attractive woman is the most effective advertising gimmick. She may sit astride the mudguard of a new car ... or dance through woodland glades in slow motion in all the glory of a new shampoo; whatever she does, her image sells. ... Her dominion must not be thought to entail the rule of women, for she is not a woman. Her glossy lips and matt complexion, her unfocused eyes and flawless fingers, her extraordinary hair all floating and shining, curling and gleaming, reveal the inhuman triumph of cosmetics, lighting, focussing and printing, cropping and composition. ... If ever she should appear tousled and troubled, her features are miraculously smoothed to their proper veneer by a new washing powder or a bouillon cube. For she is a doll: weeping, pouting or smiling, running or reclining, she is a doll." (p. 60)

And, while women are no longer restricted to the jobs of secretary, nurse or teacher, I think a lot of what Greer writes on the brainwashing of young women with romance novels is still in effect (one need only look at the current Twilight franchise...) and her chapter titled The Object of Male Fantasy is still relevant. "For boys broaching manhood the dominant fantasy of adventure simply expands to include women as exploit ... and seem to fall into two patterns, the Great Bitch and the Poison Maiden." (p. 190) Although I do think that at present we have more (better) books and movies and not all of them fall into these patterns and stereotypes, there are still plenty that do.

Greer's opposition to the nuclear family, which at first seems shocking, contains several good arguments - although some of them may be less relevant these days when mothers often lead careers and do hang out with their husband's friends, etc. Although when she makes the point about children emotionally blackmailing their parents to buy them things, or how infant girls are taught to be coy and sweet, in essence flirting with their fathers in order to get their way, I fear that some of what she says is still too true.

The Female Eunuch is a feminist classic, and a very important one. It is well worth reading for anyone interested in the history of women and feminism, as long as one is prepared for Greer's aggressive and sometimes offensive style. ( )
1 vote catfantastic | Apr 25, 2011 |
Back in the day, this book was very important to me; it helped me think about what being female really meant, and about how it should affect my life. Skimming back through it now, it seems awfully simplistic, too facile, and rather a rant. But that's looking at the book through "presentist" glasses. A key feminist work, which affected lots of lives. ( )
2 vote annbury | Sep 5, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
Greer’s books may have self-contradictory elements, and I must admit that as a 21st-century reader, I’ve found that they can be choppy and manifesto-like, with off-putting wild generalizations and quasi-magical terminology... But then I turned to her chapter called “Family”... Bingo.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0586080554, Paperback)

A new cover re-issue of the ground-breaking, worldwide bestselling feminist tract. Re-issued to coincide with Doubleday's publication of The Whole Woman, the sequel to The Female Eunuch. Probably the most famous, most widely read book on feminism ever. First published in 1970, The Female Eunuch is a landmark in the history of the women's movement. A searing examination of women's oppression. A worldwide bestseller, translated into over 12 languages.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:00 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

A new cover re-issue of the ground-breaking, worldwide bestselling feminist tract. A worldwide bestseller, translated into over twelve languages, THE FEMALE EUNUCH is a landmark in the history of the women's movement. Drawing liberally from history, literature and popular culture, past and present, Germaine Greer's searing examination of women's oppression is at once an important social commentary and a passionately argued masterpiece of polemic. Probably the most famous, most widely read book on feminism ever.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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