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Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility Paperback – Apr 1985

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Product details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Olympic Marketing Corp; Reprint edition (April 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060912502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060912505
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 14.5 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,084,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Jun 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is the best writing by Germaine Greer that I've ever read. It is clearly a cut above 'The Female Eunuch'. It is scientifically and historically accurate, and written with a great deal of wit and much-needed scepticism. Few other writers could pull off such a performance and make the case she is making, which is that western policies of population control in the developing world are highly questionable, if possibly culturally imperialist. Greer is the only high-profile feminist to have made this case; the rest have unequivocally embraced the cause of free contraception and abortion for all without caring what other cultures, or even our own, might think of these things. The Catholic Church also takes this stance, but Greer displays greater intelligence, less bigotry and more understanding of ordinary women in their attitudes towards birth control methods. She exposes western eugenics for what it is: a racist movement dedicated to weeding out the 'unfit' and destroy the social base of the lower classes so that they can never advance themselves in modern supposedly meritocratic society. Greer doesn't take a simplistic back-to-nature stance. She supports the right to make informed choices about birth control. She has a keen understanding of the role and consciousness of women in different cultures. Her chapter 'Chastity is a form of birth control' is a rare gem; how many feminists since the 1970s have seriously held this notion ? None. They've all turned against chastity and sniggered at it.
Greer's investigation of non-western cultures, and of British working-class culture before the Pill, demonstrates how more rudimentary birth control methods could in fact work tolerably well given spousal co-operation.
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Wonderful. Excellent seller.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
What a pity that this book is out of print 12 Jun 2001
By MS - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Germaine Greer takes no prisoners in this extensively researched, insighfully analytical account of human fertility - and the First World's influence upon fertility in the developing world. Unlike many progressive thinkers hesitant to criticize the family planning movement for fear of landing themselves in bed with the "radical religious right", Greer takes on Planned Parenthood founder, eugenicist Margaret Sanger; her cohort, Marie Stopes; UNFPA; USAID; and more. A caustically-written yet somber look at the harm incurred by both misguided and insidious meddling in foreign affairs.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The worst of the Female Eunuch expanded into a book 15 April 2006
By Elizabeth A. Root - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Greer worries at the beginning of this book that she may be overdoing it, and people may be alienated rather than persuaded. That's certainly true for me.

When people found this book to be an odd contrast to The Female Eunuch (which I also didn't like), Greer said that it is consistent, being taken from the bits of the earlier book that no-one liked. The parts where Greer, moved by loving close-knit Italian family life decides that it would be a great idea to buy an Italian farm and have her children raised by her tenants. Except for visits, she would continue her sophisticated life in decadent England. (She has denied this, but read the book.) The parts where she said she changed her style of dressing in order not to make a spectacle of herself in rural Italy, after urging the rest of us women in the Western-industrial cultures (WICs) to join her in making a spectacle of ourselves at home.

The greatest flaw in Greer's consideration of birth control is that she seemingly cannot see the difference between having two children, or twelve, or twenty-two. She argues as if one is for or against children, and cannot want a limited number of them. She is wildly indignant about the death of one woman from an IUD and oblivious to the much more common deaths of women from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. She incidentally defends selective female infanticide and argues that women may be responsible for rape, since men may need for us to appear to be afraid of them.

I can appreciate the need to accept other people's right to their own values, but why is Greer such a hypocrite about it? She is extremely intolerant towards anyone in WICs, even, or especially, if they seem to share the attitudes that she lauds here. She talks loving of the traditional cultures' warmth towards their children, although she mocks parental and marital devotion in WICs. Greer's thinking seems to be permanently warped by her bad relationship with her parents, especially her mother, but she refuses to consider that others in WICs may have found family life more satisfying. Throughout her writings, I cannot get over the feeling that one of her chief purposes is to offload responsibility for the Greers' problems outward to "society"; she seems to believe that in any other type of culture, she would have had a happy childhood. Perhaps that is why the woman given to sharp and incisive comments about her own society is so gormlessly naive about others, accepting everything at simple face value, assuming that everything functions according to those societies' highest ideals. All spouses are loving, all parents are devoted.

Beyond the stupidity and hypocrisy of her opinions, it's simply not a good book. As usual it is inflated with extraneous material, arrogant and illogically argued. Obviously, it is possible to do a lot of research on a subject without gaining much insight.
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