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The Female Eunuch (1970)
by Germaine Greer
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Published in 1970 (28)
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I was very young when I read this work by [Germaine Greer] and it didn’t so much enlighten me, but affirmed a number of my understandings on how women were viewed in the 20th century West. A must for the boomer generation women starting their journey. ( )
Better than a 3 1/2 star read? Not as good as a 4? I struggled with how I felt about this book throughout my time reading it. It has been a ground-breaker in feminist literature and I really held high hopes for it.
Much of its insight into women's conditioning still holds true: recent social media revelations about how young women view their bodies in a negative light are as relevant as when the tweens saw "perfect women" on the color glossy pages of 60's magazines. And hated their own bodies as a result. Women earning significantly less than men. Still. Women struggling in the arts and sports to achieve what their male counterparts have achieved (see: US Women's Soccer). Greer's references to studies of rural women in post-Elizabethan England, who married their husbands for love and were equal with him in running the household; we were right there, until the demands of family forced so many Western women to resign their jobs (see: 2020).
The cringe-worthiness of dated references to African-Americans or members of the LGBTQ community are on full display here. The publications and studies are now mostly obscure, though she does pull out good historical quotes by and about women.
But. The contempt with which Greer writes about and to housewives, her denigrations about their abilities, including her own mother, are revealing. By the end of the book I had to wonder: What was she trying to achieve? Her paternalism, her lack of compassion, and her general "snark" meant that. I. Just. Couldn't. Praise her more than as an ardent second wave feminist whose work did not stand the test of time.
A search into the author's past reveals the secrets of her father and how his life impacted hers. A compelling read that resonates with women everywhere.
In the 1970s this was a landmark book supporting feminist ideals. While the statistical data might be a little out of date, the rest of the narrative is sharp, funny, and in some cases, spot on. Even today. Through her seminal work Greer will take you through a sometimes sarcastic, sometimes sad, and always intelligent journey regarding every aspect of a woman's world in the 1970s. She begins with the obvious, the female body and moves onto soul, love and hate. She ends with a powerful chapter on rebellion and revolution.There were lots and lots of quotations to chose from. Here are some of my favorites, "In any case brain weight is irrelevant, as was swiftly admitted when it was found to operate to male disadvantage" (p 93), "Most likely a sued Other Woman would have to ask her husband undertake payments for her" (p 118), and "Genuine chaos is more fruitful than the chaos of conflicting systems which are mutually destructive" (p 234). Author fact: Greer is extremely funny. However, when she admitted to being groped in Female Eunuch it prompted me to do a little more digging about her life. I was a little surprised by her 2018 thoughts regarding punishment for convicted rapists. It's an example of how Greer thinks, always pushing boundaries.
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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The publication of Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch in 1970 was a landmark event, raising eyebrows and ire while creating a shock wave of recognition in women around the world with its steadfast assertion that sexual liberation is the key to women's liberation. Today, Greer's searing examination of the oppression of women in contemporary society is both an important historical record of where we've been and a shockingly relevant treatise on what still remains to be achieved.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)305.42Social sciences Social Sciences Groups of people Women Role in society, status
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