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on 5 March 2002
Book review: Gemaine Greer, The Whole Woman
"You've come a long way baby!" Remember the cigarette ad from the 70s? To hear Germaine Greer tell it we haven't, unless progress is having won the right to smoke thin cigarettes in public and take our chemotherapy like a man.
Since writing The Female Eunuch, Dr. Greer is still angry after these thirty-two years--with good reason. In The Whole Woman, Greer carefully and wittily lays out excruciating truths. Women still earn 60% of a man's salary and shoulder most of the household tasks including child rearing. When fathers abscond it's the single impoverished mothers who bear the blame for rearing the maladapted children that contribute to the ills of society.
Greer also states that the incidence of rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence is much higher than it was thirty years ago. In all cultures, women (especially when pregnant) continue to be insulted, threatened, molested, beaten, raped and murdered by men with impunity.
So just how far have we come? Are the starved, hobbled, high-heeled, battered celebrity babes with their lifted faces, tucked tummies and liposuctioned hips our new role models? Has boob inflation replaced bra burning as the symbol of liberation?
Erudite, witty and unapologetic The Whole Woman is better than a shot of HRT. Read it and weep.
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on 19 January 2002
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It ought to be compulsory reading for all complacent women (and men) who, for some inexplicable reason, believe that we live in an egalitarian society.
The goals that feminism set out to achieve have not yet been realised. In "The Whole Woman", Greer forces readers to face up to this fact with a venom and passion that cannot fail to inspire. You may not agree with all her arguments, but there is no avoiding the fact that Greer will force you to examine your stance on feminism and equality.
I know many women my age (27)who cannot bear the word feminism and its connotations. To them I can only say one thing: sit up and take notice. This book ought to change your life.
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on 17 May 1999
Poor old Germaine! Just when you're thumping the page and crying a quasi orgasmic "yes! yes!" she lets you down in the next chapter with a diatribe on some imagined male conspiracy against women. Hers is a brain that takes logical arguments to such an extreme that, eventually, she loses the plot entirely. It's a shame, because when she gets it right there is no-one to compare with her. I was disappointed that she has done such an about turn on the subject of female circumcision, and amazed that her usually well-toned encephalon didn't grasp the glaring truth. It's so blind to justify the act on the grounds that women themselves perform the operation. Of course they do! They have no choice. They are impoverished and uneducated and if they don't mutilate their fannies they won't find a man to rescue them from the gutter. Now THAT is the kind of invidious sexual injustice that I would expect Germaine Greer to challenge. Instead, she concentrates her energies on implying some Orwellian subjugation lies behind health screening for women in this country. Women, she says, are being falsely alarmed about their bodies and this fear is disempowering. I would have thought women can only be empowered by improved healthcare. Isn't it more alarming that testicular cancer is one of the greatest modern killers, but we hardly dare mention it because, well, it's embarrassing! The chapter on fathers is great, and Greer at her best. She shows a softer side here, and one we always suspected was lurking under her pissed-off exterior. In spite of the mass of contradictions, I'd still recommend this book. It is intelligent (rather than academic) in an appealingly chaotic way and, even if your disagree with most of what is written, at least it fires you up.
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on 29 October 2003
This is a book no female should be without. More importantly one that should be passed onto our daughters. To read this book is to realise that the freedom you think you are living is false. As a free woman, or so I thought, I am now empowered to move myself into freedom and take my daughters with me. The words written in this book will open your eyes and make you realise just how oppressed modern women today really are, and the irony of this is they think they are free willed and have chosen freely in living the lives they have chosen. You don't have to be a feminist to read this book, read and be empowered! Yours in sisterhood.
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on 20 August 2002
So many things I'd never even thought about are considered and discussed. It's opened my eyes to the wider issues of being female and what the consequences are for those around us. How womankind has changed in attitudes over the last few decades alone, and how there are a number of factors that encourage, trick or force women to think, behave and believe in a certain way. A tip of an iceburg overview that will probably leave you pondering thoughtfully and possibly angry at the world.
Ms Greer has an approachable style that isn't laden with the usual academic jargon and that covers topics in an easily accessible manner ensuring you spend less time trying to understand what she is trying to say (like some feminist books) and more time thinking about the subject matter.
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on 22 April 2000
Traipsing round my (yet again!) redesigned local supermarket, not able to find anything easily and wasting my time looking at a route map, I could feel my blood boiling. Asked the staff who was in charge of the makeover and there was not one mention of a woman! In disgust I walked out with nothing but this book. Wonderful read - made me realise just how complacent I am about my life as a female. It cheered me up, made me laugh but most important of all made me think!
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Its hard to fault most of Greer's arguments. Despite being a man I can relate to most of them. This book is both depressing and inspiring. It convinces me that there is another way and that refusing to accept things as they are can maybe change things.
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on 10 July 2000
Reading this prompted me to go back to The Female Eunuch. If anything, this latest is an even more accessible, readable and witty book and makes a greater impact for that. We should all share the author's frustration at what has happened, and failed to happen, since those heady days of hopeful feminist struggle. So much for post-feminism. This book should be required reading in all schools, for young men as much as young women.
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on 26 May 2016
Feminist is a very commonly used word, with many different connotations, sometimes an insult, sometimes a declaration of personal identity. Greer made me sit up and think about what this meant to me, and consider deeply what our feminist contemporaries of past decades had won for us in their long drawn out battles. I found Greer’s expressive narrative to be refreshing, and her wit and humour, rather than lightening the mood, emphatic of deeply felt and well rendered arguments. Greer’s forthright polemic is a long awaited call to arms.
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on 7 June 2000
Excellent. A well written book that as well as being historically informative it gives women the tools and understanding to "turn and fight". It gives a cold insight into the world that women live in today, it is harsh and unforgiving, but i wouldn't expect anything less from Germaine Greer. This book made me cry, it also made me laugh, most of all it made me strong. I recommend that every woman should read this book and keep it in place of her bible.
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