30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written nearly 40 years ago but still relevant
This book needs to be read in the context of the time in which it was written - late 1960s - early 1970s. Were things different then? You could be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed today. Yes we have anti sex discrimination laws and equal pay laws but have things changed for the better? More married women work outside the home - some of them in better...
Published on 17 Dec 2009 by Damaskcat
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars TERF warning
I bought this as a few feminists I respect had talked about Greer, said how funny and clever she was. I knew I was in trouble when I didn't even get through the updated foreword without being offended. Her views on gay people and transgender people make me feel deeply uneasy and I would not recommend that anyone with modern sensibilities read this book. I've had it for...
Published 12 months ago by R Bradshaw
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Written nearly 40 years ago but still relevant,
This book needs to be read in the context of the time in which it was written - late 1960s - early 1970s. Were things different then? You could be forgiven for thinking that not much has changed today. Yes we have anti sex discrimination laws and equal pay laws but have things changed for the better? More married women work outside the home - some of them in better paid jobs than they did then. Married women are treated as individuals by the tax system - whereas their income was treated as belonging to their husbands back in the 1960s and taxed accordingly. In 1964 it was enshrined in law that married women were entitled to keep amounts left over from the housekeeping money. Divorce was easier than it had been and women were generally awarded custody of children - because they were the ones who brought them up anyway - not much has changed as far as that's concerned today.
Full of shrewd comments on life as lived by women, this is an invigorating read. Greer points out how many men hate women and would do without them if they could. She criticises patriarchal society which assumes men have a monopoly of knowledge and are the only people who have the right answer to every problem. But she does not spare women and there are many comments on how women see themselves as victims when some of the answers to their problems are in their own hands. She deplores the concentration by women on their appearance, clothes and make up and castigates the manufacturers who are peddling impossible dreams at extortionate prices. These chapters apply even more to today's woman with the accessibility of plastic surgery and the desire to resemble a Barbie doll. These themes are echoed even more strongly in Nina Power's book - `One Dimensional Woman' published recently.
Greer's last chapter postulates a different way for organising society with women banding together to co-operate on sharing the chores they dislike with people who like doing them and points out that the nuclear family is a means to divide and rule. She also suggests that equality will never be achieved until men see the household chores as their responsibility as well as the child rearing. She paints a graphic picture of families - mother, father and children - living in their little boxes in suburbia and not mixing with the neighbours so that they are isolated in their own little world.
She suggests there are other ways of organising society which could be more beneficial to everyone - not just women. Some of the things she advocates do happen today - such as the alternative currency schemes which involve people swapping their skills - but they are the exception not the rule. She also suggests clubbing together to buy basic unbranded foodstuffs in bulk at discounted prices - which should appeal to today's credit crunch strapped families.
Above all this is a book about remaking society so that it is fair to everyone and to do that it may be necessary to think the unthinkable. Just because society has been set up by men to suit them does not mean it should continue in the same way. She urges women not to fight men but to work co-operatively to achieve a society which ensures everyone can lead a fulfilling life. This book is still an inspiring read for anyone who is interested in an age old problem
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Book,
I've actually been reading this for the past week (a copy from the library) but decided, because it is such an excellent book, to buy my own copy. She wrote this when she was just 30 years old - I only wish that I could have had her insight so young - my whole life would have probably turned a lot easier insofaras as men are concerned. I did actually try and read this book in the 80's but unfortunately was too young to really grasp it.
42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Passion, Brains and Brilliance...,
It's important to remember that this book was written in the 1970s when the workplace didn't look the way that it looks now. Women now may complain that they still don't have equal pay for doing equal jobs - but in the 1970s they didn't even expect equal pay. We didn't have girls doing better in schools than boys - it was a world where women genuinely saw themselves as second class citizens and many had a feeling of inferiority to men that was deeply ingrained. Young women leaving university in 2007 have very little trace of this and are aware that a woman's brain is in many ways and in many subjects better for many jobs than a man's is. It isn't that either is better - they are just different.
Germaine Greer wrote a book that influenced her generation and a stunningly written book it is too. She is erudite and full of passion and, much to my surprise - not really anti men at all. It was the status quo that Greer hated - the two up two down slavery that she saw enslaving women. (Wouldn't it be good to have someone whose job is to keep your house clean, bring up your children, have a meal ready when you get home and 'provide' sex whenever you want it. This book needs to be read in that context.. the alarming thing is that so much of what Greer attacks so brilliantly is still around us today. Despite her warnings - in some areas we have made very little progress.
This is a classic - read it. And you may need a dictionary. I did. :-)
24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars TERF warning,
I bought this as a few feminists I respect had talked about Greer, said how funny and clever she was. I knew I was in trouble when I didn't even get through the updated foreword without being offended. Her views on gay people and transgender people make me feel deeply uneasy and I would not recommend that anyone with modern sensibilities read this book. I've had it for months now and am still only a few chapters in because I keep putting it down in disgust.
She has some valid points, if you can just get past her transphobia but I regret giving my money to support this hatred.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Value in 'retro' feminism ...,
Although the world and feminism has moved on since 'The Female Eunuch' was first published there is such a wealth of knowledge, experience and information in this book that is timeless. Germaine Greer remains to this day one of the more exciting and interesting feminist writers if for no other reason than she has not chained herself to only being a 'type a' or 'type b' feminist but written in all her eras of writing as herself.
Her chapter in 'The Female Eunuch' on 'Sex' is a sheer joy and pleasure to read ... of course we do now know that female ejaculation is not a myth albeit this discovery is still even in the 21st century open to the odd modesty and curious schizophrenia society, even a hyper sexualised society, enforces, almost without thought, upon the female sexual experience.
A book any contemporary feminist or budding feminist should read with an open mind, critical thought and a sense of humour as Greer's infectious writing sweeps over the reader and fills them with joy, disgust, outrage and again with humour.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Controversial albeit dated classic of feminism,
Reading The Female Eunuch now feels to a certain extent like reading a pamphlet from the Suffragist movement; the arguments are clear, but the backdrop is somehow distant and faded. How much that changed backdrop is a result of the efforts of people like Germaine Greer is for the historians to say, but this book clearly earns its place on the bookshelf as one of the most important works in the women's liberation movement.
Despite being written in 1970, there is nothing stale about this book. Greer's writing can be very punchy, at times witty, and the threads of her argument are clearly and logically set out. For a book that has sold over a million copies, she is extremely eloquent, at times even a touch grandiloquent, and her choice of words sometimes had me reaching for a dictionary. That aside, the book is fairly easy to read for its subject matter.
Nevertheless, it is not Greer's arguments or her choice of phrasing that are difficult to understand, but the context in which they were written. It is difficult for anyone born after that time to comprehend how much society has changed in that period, at the most fundamental, interpersonal level. In this light, Greer's arguments can seem overdramatised, perhaps even alien to someone reading them today, but there is plenty which bears relevance to understanding how we got where we are today, and perhaps knowing what we have yet to go.
Greer covers the whole gamut of the female experience, from birth and childhood, through sex and marriage, to the workplace and public sphere. In covering this massive range of subjects, from the most tangible in terms of jobs, wages and taxation, through to more esoteric notions of imagery in language and psychology, one gets a clear notion of Greer's ideal vision. Although there are far more criticisms of the status quo than overt recommendations for change, in questioning some of the core units of society, it leads all of us to critically appraise our modes and ways of life.
Many people who haven't read this book, and men in particular, assume it must be written by a man-hater, an irrational and fiery-hearted misandrist nailing her theses to the church of patriarchy. In truth, the book is a deep and basic criticism of that day's society, pointed as much at women as at men for perpetuating a system which essentially encouraged contempt for half of the population, in many ways treating them as second-class citizens. There is an important distinction here between sexual equality and women's liberation, for Greer argues for fundamental changes as a way to improve the lives of everyone. This is not a call to gender war in a Marxian vein; in fact, although Greer has a clear leftist bent, it seems she did not put faith in the class revolution to put society on the correct footing.
There are just a couple of criticisms I have about this edition. The first is that there is no index, which I feel would have been a useful addition. Although Greer divided the book into well arranged and clearly labelled chapters, it is still difficult to find references without having to guess under which subheading you might find them. Secondly, as part of a Flamingo's Seventies Classics Series, this really should have come with an introduction. Printed over thirty years after its initial publication, with so much having changed in the intervening period, a simple outline of the society in which this book was written, and an overview of its reception and responses, would have been an extremely welcome addition.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Female Eunuch,
This book is product of its time, but still makes for a thought provoking read in this so called post-feminist age.
60 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated sensationlist and hate-filled,
By A Customer
This book only deserves attention because it is so sensationalist. When I first read it at the age of 18 I felt that, as a young woman, I was being mentally assaulted by the author for being female; she really does not seem to like the average woman who longs to feel secure in her femininity very much. It is a rant that makes interesting anecdotal points but has too little backup evidence. No historical point is traced thoroughly through documents. The basic assumption of the book is a pseudo-Marxist one; men and women are two political classes and the former has been oppressing the latter throughout history until along came the swinging sixties. Greer blames women for having been supposedly brainwashed by men and the patriarchal order into accepting femininity, which insofar as behaviour is concerned, she clearly sees as a social construct foisted upon women. No doubt there is real room for investigating this claim, because certain social norms of femininity (and masculinity) vary between societies, but Matt Ridley has shown in The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature, that these differences are less significance than universal similarities. Greer is too keen to take up the sort of view espoused from Rousseau to Margaret Mead et al.that it is western civilisation that has been most oppressive upon women, whereas there exist 'liberated' societies of 'noble savages' elsewhere. Again, evolutionary science and anthropology will show evidence to the contrary. It must be said clearly to Greer and all other western feminists that it is precisely western civilisation, and the fact that the notion of human rights and civil liberties originated in the Judeo-Christian tradition, that has provided the fertile soil for feminism in the first place. Everybody who reads this book should read the rejoinder to it, 'The Female Woman' by the Greek femal economist Arianna Stassinopoulos. That book contains much more accurate cross-cultural evidence and is much more realistic about the strengths and weaknesses of both women and men.
6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars If you are a fella, bare in mind that you are not the target audience,
Only so far into this, and I find a lot of the problems that she says women have to endure are not exclusive to women alone. I agree that what she is complaining about is a bad thing, but it is not misogyny. The problem is sexual oppression and the denial of the animals that we are. Subjects about grooming and sexualisation don't seem to be an issue that affects women alone any more. I was -12 when the book was published so I can not judge how relevant it was to 1970, but now, instead of repairing these issues for women, it has become relevant to men too.
It is rather dated, and does not come across as provocative or necessary as it was back then. I would say the best incentive of reading this book is to learn about the history of feminism, because it wont tell you much new stuff.
17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very difficult to get on with,
I found this book very difficult to get on with, as I just couldn't identify with a lot of what she was saying, I did try and imagine what it would be like in the 70s etc thinking about my mum but I just found her so-called wit was just irritating me. She spouted a lot of guff about everyone living in a commune or something at one point(I think that was what she was suggesting) and I just ended up thinking that living in a commune with people like her was my idea of hell. A lot of the time, I found she was just making rambling accusations at people (not necessarily men) left right and centre without coming up with any real solutions for anything, but perhaps the whole idea was just to make people think. The thing is, I work etc and would like to think of myself as emancipated but I find it very hard to get on with works by people who are so dislikeable. Sometimes I just felt she lives in cloud cuckoo land and was talking idealistically but with no practical examples of how people could live (eg the commune thing, there are so many people, we just don't have huge rambling commune facilities which would work in this country). She kept going on about sex and how she thought women should take their pleasure and I ended up wanting to ask her to bog off out of it and that I'll take my pleasure how I want it thank you very much without her telling me how I should be having it. All in all, I don' think it paints feminism in a very good light
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The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer