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The Female Eunuch

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The clarion call to change that galvanized a generation.

When Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch was first published it created a shock wave of recognition in women, one that could be felt around the world. It went on to become an international bestseller, translated into more than twelve languages, and a landmark in the history of the women's movement. Positing that sexual liberation is the key to women's liberation, Greer looks at the inherent and unalterable biological differences between men and women as well as at the profound psychological differences that result from social conditioning. Drawing on history, literature, biology, and popular culture, Greer's searing examination of women's oppression is a vital, passionately argued social commentary that is both an important historical record of where we've been and a shockingly relevant treatise on what still remains to be achieved.

400 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1970

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About the author

Germaine Greer

80 books568 followers
Germaine Greer is an Australian born writer, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century.

Greer's ideas have created controversy ever since her ground-breaking The Female Eunuch became an international best-seller in 1970, turning her overnight into a household name and bringing her both adulation and criticism. She is also the author of Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility (1984), The Change: Women, Ageing and the Menopause (1991), and most recently Shakespeare's Wife (2007).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 420 reviews
May 1, 2021
This review is about two issues that seem unrelated. Menstruation and Black women's hair. What links them is attitude.

"Women still buy sanitary towels with enormous discretion, and carry their handbags to the loo when they only need to carry a napkin. They still recoil at the idea of intercourse during menstruation, and feel that the blood they shed is of a special kind... If you think you are emancipated, you might consider the idea of tasting your menstrual blood--if it makes you sick, you've a long way to go, baby."

Really? Speak for yourself Germaine. When I go to the loo to refresh my lipstick I don't take it out of my bag and carry it alone, who does? The bag goes too! (Also if it is a social occasion so do my friends. We might change our tampons and put on our lipstick but we don't hide it from each other and we are really there to gossip anyway).

The blood I shed at menstruation is a very special kind of blood indeed. It is as if a house is prepared and loving furnished in hope of a special kind of new tenant, a fussy one, but one who is going to be much loved so everything has to be perfect. Then the news comes. Not this month. So wanting everything to be fresh and lovely for this new tenant, this teeny fetus, we clean it all out and start afresh. Special indeed.

Sex during the heavy days of menstruation is sticky and icky and needs preparation, nothing spontaneous about it, and then there is the laundry. But on the light days, I'm up for it if he is.

Why would I want to taste my menstrual blood, pee, poo or any products of my body (with the exception of extremely discreet nose-picking done oh, many many years ago . But actually I have. It's metallic. Like the blood you suck from your finger. It's not a big deal.

What planet did Germaine Greer come from? One that wanted to instil guilt as much push for some kind of equality?

She reminds me of those black women who think that all black women ought to have locks or a natural or at worst/best an afro. That every other hairstyle a black woman has is her being ashamed of her race and aping white women. And white women who get tans and frizz out their hair are expropriating black women's assets without realising what an insulting political act they are doing. Actually white women just like getting tanned, they think it looks better (it does, I'm a red head, I'm jealous) and like messing around with their hair.

But not as much as black women. Or not West Indians anyway. I live on a black island. Every week, every Friday almost, my clerks have to get their hair done. This week it's straightened hair worn sleek to the shoulders, next week it's waist-length braids. Another time it's maroon, bronze or blonde extensions, another time it's the big bun. Sometimes it's a pixie cut and oh, goodness sometimes it's a blonde pixie cut or blonde flowing extensions. And next week it's a weave of fake little braids cut chin length. And then there are the nails... Just style and fashion. The three most popular businesses on any island? Rum shops (bars), mini-markets and hair salons. Getting your hair done is a woman thing, it's a joy, it's self-decoration, it's fun, it's not a political act at all.

One more thing on hair. Hair straightened for the office because it is more acceptable than a wild afro. All of us who work with others have to conform to the looks culture of the workplace. An afro might not be acceptable but natural hair brushed back into a bun certainly would be. My wildly ringleted red locks were just as unacceptable and had to be tamed for work before I was the boss.

Look back to Ancient Egypt. At one time when I was younger I can remember people insisting that the Pharoahs were white. After Egypt was conquered in 305 BC there were definitely white pharoahs but by the time of the last one, Cleopatra they were all mixed if not black. Look at the faces on the sarcophogai. The extended almond eyes, the full lips and most of all the hair. Masses and masses of braided hair extensions. This is a full-on black look, a beautiful look that the Egyptians so loved, this look became the standard for royals and for all sarcophagi whatever their racial status. It's still a high-fashion look, just the weave got toned down and more varied.

So Germaine and you black racists who are always looking to separate blacks and whites, always looking to see if you can find offence to make noise about, you have a lot in common, and not the good things either.

Just for the record, I'm not a feminist. I was. I've gone past that. I think that all people should have equal opportunities in life. Men and women are totally different though, with different strengths and abilities that could be used for all our good for a better society rather than applying a single 'template' of education and achievement and calling that equality.. But this is a review of Germaine Greer's book on feminism not on my own personal somewhat anarchic views.

This review was entirely inspired by reading Leo's review of The Female Eunuch

When is a review a review and when is it a rant? When is a rant making a real point or when is it really just an excuse for anecdotes? Does it matter?

Rewritten 7th Nov. because some troll took exception to this review. I made it harder :-)
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
559 reviews7,420 followers
March 8, 2018
Disclaimer: Ignore this review. Greer hates trans people.

The Female Eunuch is one of the touchstone texts of second-wave feminism. I'll admit, I'm terrified of Germaine Greer. She's on telly quite often and my god she scares the shit out of me. However, through reading her most famous book I now see that she and I are quite similar. We're both very angry and hate a lot of things. I adore her humour and incredibly condescending prose, it's quite a refreshing read for a text that was written 45 years ago.

This book basically Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Feminism (But Were Afraid to Ask). While it is dry at parts, overall the book is enjoyable and informative. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to know more about second-wave feminism and feminism as a whole really.
Profile Image for Nandakishore Mridula.
1,242 reviews2,256 followers
February 10, 2017
Luckily I read this book after I got married, otherwise I wouldn't have married at all. After reading it, I sat down to discuss it with my wife (it was immediately after marriage, and I had high hopes that we two could have long intellectual discussions in our life together). After I gave her a précis of the book, I suggested that she read it.

What she suggested I do with the book was not entirely polite.

However, I learnt one thing: women's freedom consists of NOT choosing to read feminist literature too.
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews503 followers
May 7, 2017
As the new "American Healthcare Act" comes to light, one thing that strikes many of us is how many pre-existing conditions on the list are specific only to women: pregnancy, C-section, hysterectomy, just to name a few. There's also rape and domestic assault which are also pretty specific to women, but I'm not naive enough to believe that only women and raped and assaulted. It's ridiculous to consider those pre-existing conditions in any case, and I would bet good money that the reason for their inclusion is a group of old white males consider them an issue that only women have to deal with, and it's clear that the GOP has an issue with women.

Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch in 1970. It was ground-breaking at the time, this woman coming out and saying "Hey, everyone, men hate women, and they're making women hate women too! Wake up!" For a lot of modern readers, Greer's raunchy humor and occasional language is hardly ground-breaking or even surprising, because we have a whole slew of women writers like that now. But it wasn't as common in 1970, and women did start to pay attention in part thanks to Greer's book.

Greer discusses the many ways women have been taught to hate themselves. This is not as easy as just recognizing this and moving on - this is some insidious shit, and it surrounds all of us. Men are susceptible too, just so I don't have any men pop to be all "But it's so hard to be a man..." Yes, yes, sure it is, but we're not talking about you right now, so step off.

If you watch commercials on TV today, you are still inundated with ads for things that tell men that their women want diamonds in order to feel loved... and women often still believe that themselves. There are ads for weight loss supplements that are geared towards women. They are reminded that as they age, they put on weight, their skin sags, their hair dries and thins out. There's a magic fix for everything that happens to women. (Spoiler: It's snake oil, all of it.) There are commercials for feminine products of a wide variety. These commercials have changed over the years, and now we have those that say it's okay to play sports and be active because there's a product that allows you to do those things even while you're on your period, which is still saying that your life cannot be completely while you're on your period, or that you should in some way change the way you live your life while you're on your period. Women do not feel comfortable (in most places, even when working solely with women) taking a tampon out of their bag at work and walking down the hall with it in their hand; less so with a maxipad in hand. It's a part of life, everyone is aware of it, and yet women feel they need to be somehow subtle about it, they don't want to broadcast they're on their period, it's still an embarrassment.

Then there's the topic of taxing of these items.

What I'm saying is there's a lot still in our media about how women should behave, how we should age, how we should protect ourselves (especially when talking about rape or assault - we need to watch what we say, watch what we wear, watch where we walk, watch who we talk to, watch how we behave, and on and on and on), how we should dress, how we should talk, how we should live our lives (it's still not 100% the norm to choose to not get married or have children). When someone is told from day one that they're not good enough the way they are, it has a damaging effect on how a person lives their life, whether they're aware of it or not.

Greer talks about a lot of the obvious ways women are told they are not good enough, the one most can relate to, probably, is on Body. Very few women I know are truly 100% happy with the way they look, 100% of the time. Social media now plays a factor on this, where so many of our friends are training for a marathon and posting pictures of their workouts, and some are too sick (physically or mentally) to get off the couch most days, and therefore they feel worse about themselves and their physical appearance. (That's just one example.) My point is that social media is this place where we go to only talk about how amazing our lives are, and of course it's only a small fraction of our lives, but it's hard not to compare and contrast to one another, that's natural. Women, especially, however, are shown constantly on TV and in magazines what a "natural" woman looks like (which is hardly ever actually "natural") and if we don't look like that, then something must be wrong with us. Intellectually we know that filters exist, and PhotoShop, etc., but it's a pervasive issue.

Greer also touches on topics of women hating on women, a problem that still exists today. Women rarely (in Western society) pick each other up and work together. That's a trend I see whispers of changing in the media, but then I see just as many other instances where that's still not the case. And in my own experience, I can tell you all sorts of examples about competitive women instead of supportive women. It's something that we're told is innate to being a woman, that women are just "naturally" catty, but that's one of those lies that has been told to us for so long in history that we just take it at face value. It's not actually true. It's not in our genes. It's been built into the culture over so long a period, but that's something that can change, which starts with each of us.

That's Greer's point here. We don't have to sit back and let others dictate what it means to be a woman. We don't have to let the media choose for us which products we use. You know how it's so expensive for women to get their hair cut? It's because the salons know that women will pay these exorbitant prices for beauty. You ever see in comparison how much a man pays to get their hair cut, even sometimes styled? It's a whole lot less because the industry found if they raised prices too much for men, the men wouldn't come in to have their hair cut. Women, however, still will, because we're reminded that if our hair doesn't look nice, then we look awful, and soon it's a personality flaw. It's a sick, sick cycle.

There are a lot of people who also don't believe any of this exists. They invalidate the experiences of others. It's easy for people to say "Women are being hysterical, none of this actually happens." (Also of note: hysterical was originally defined as a neurotic condition found in women and was thought to be caused by a problem with their uterus. That's an important thing to keep in mind, especially when looking at the new healthcare pre-existing conditions list.) People of color have an even harder time with invalidation by people of privilege because so often non-POCs want to be all "I don't recognize color, I'm colorblind!" which is just a fancy way of saying "I'm going to pretend like there's no social issue here whatsoever!"

This is a mess of a review, but I'm angry. Greer was angry when she wrote this book. Occasionally throughout her book she seems "too angry", which is another way we like to invalidate something someone says. I found myself having trouble following her words at times because her anger was so apparent and so seemingly over-the-top that finally I was like "If she wasn't so angry, maybe her point would come across better." That's unfair. Greer is allowed to be angry, and quite honestly we should all still be angry, especially in light of our current administration and these acts of hate against women.

I'd like to say that so much has changed since 1970 when this book was first published. It would great to be able to say that none of Greer's original thesis is still applicable today. But it is, sadly. So her point is that it's up to each of us to make things better. She calls for a revolution, wants to know what each of us will do. And that's exactly the right question to ask. It's a relevant question to ask today. Some of us have been working towards that goal for a while, and what happened in Washington, DC and across the world on Inauguration Day in January was the first step in which a lot of other people started to wake up and take a stand. Everything that has happened in the past few months has contributed, though maybe not on the same scale as the Women's March in January. But not everything has to be on the same large scale to make a statement. It's also up to us to listen.
Profile Image for Linda.
2,398 reviews
December 31, 2010
This book was fascinating and made me rethink being a woman. It deals with the suppression of the female intellect, identity, and psychological development. My soon-to-be-husband was NOT happy I read this - I really reacted to what I was reading. I simmered down eventually.
Profile Image for John.
23 reviews2 followers
August 5, 2008
Brilliant. This book should be required reading for everyone, not just women.
Profile Image for imane.
463 reviews390 followers
May 5, 2019
في روايات الرجال هناك بطلتان المراة الاخطبوط (مارلين مونرو) والمراة الملاك ذات الوجه الجميل (اودري هيبورن) في العلاقات القصيرة المدى يتم اختيار المراة الاخطبوط في العلاقات طويلة المدى يتم اختيار المراة الام ذات الوجه الجميل. في روايات النساء هناك بطل واحد الرجل الغني الذكي ذو الشخصية القوية شبيه مستر دارسي النساء انتقائيات جدا سواء في علاقات قصيرة المدى او طويلة المدى. اذا كان الرجال يجتمعون حول مارلين مونرو فان النساء يجتمعن حول اودري هيبورن.

ان العلاقة القائمة بين الجنسين هي علاقة صراع يمتلك فيها الرجل اليد العليا لانه اقوى جسديا وتدفع المراة ثمنا باهضا لربح كل معركة تخوضها
على كل النساء التعرف على تاريخهن والافتخار بكل النساء الشجاعات اللواتي ساهمن في تحريرهن من العبودية وتحسين وضعهن لكي يصبح كما هو عليه اليوم ومع ذلك لازالت هناك الكثير من الحقوق التي يجب المطالبة بها لذا كن يدا واحدة
ان استقلالية المراة واحتفاظها بحياتها الخاصة هي الضامن الوحيد للامان. ان كل انسان يضع مسؤوليته في يد انسان اخر في خطر
ان خرافة الحب وخرافة الرومانسية هي من الثقافة الانثوية كما ان الدين الجنسي من ثقافة الرجال. ما يقابل الهراء الرومانسي الذي يباع في الاسواق هو
الفن الاباحي
ان افتخار رجل بتفوقه على المراة يشبه ضرب رجل لرجل مقيد اليدين
ان الرجل يسقط عاره على المراة فهو يشبه ذلك الرجل الاسود الذي ينجذب الى فتاة بيضاء من باب الاعجاب لكن كل ما يشعر به تجاهها هو حقد دفين. فالرجل يعتقد ان المراة تستعبده بالجنس ومادام يرى فيها مجرد جسد ولا يراها انسانا فان كراهيته لها ستبقى
ان ما يجعل رجلا يطارد فتاة هو انه يكون في حالة عقلية لا تسمح له بالتحكم بنفسه وعندما يتضح ان تلك الفتاة سهلة وبعد الوصول اليها يشمئز منها ويهجرها في حين ان الفتاة تظن انها فعلت ذلك باسم الحب والعاطفة
الرجل يصنف النساء الى صنفين نساء طاهرات ونساء وضيعات ان افتتانه بالمراة صعبة المنال ليس سوى تعبيره عن رفضه للمراة السهلة
الجنس في البداية لم يكن شريرا فقط لكن ادى الى القتل وارتكاب الجرائم والى ارتكاب الرجال للذنوب...لذا تجد شتائم الرجال فيها المراة فهو يسقط عليها عاره هي من اغرته هو اكل فقط ثم ندم
ان رغبة الرجل في كونه اول رجل واخر رجل في حياة امراة نابع من خوفه من ان تتم مقارنته برجال اخرين
ان كل امراة تربط علاقة برجل تعرف انه سيخونها وكل رجل يعرف ان قلب المراة متقلب ولا يمكن الوثوق بحبها
ان المراة تفخر بقدرتها على الحصول على رجل جذاب ناجح وهذا يدخل ضمن الاصطفاء الطبيعي كما يفخر الرجل بحصوله على زوجة جميلة يرغب باقي الرجال بالحصول عليها
Profile Image for Praj.
314 reviews796 followers
May 13, 2011
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.
Profile Image for Lea.
458 reviews72 followers
May 16, 2018
I bought this book a long time ago, when I was living abroad and I had my first contact with feminism. I saw a "gender studies" shelf on a bookstore for the first time, and I went ahead and bought the works of the people I had heard of before. One of them was Germaine Greer.

Apparently she's always been a controversial figure, probably more so today that social media has amplified her views. I'm being euphemistic - she's a repulsive attention-seeking troll who clearly takes pleasure in making inflammatory comments and generating outrage. I did not know any of this when I bought The Female Eunuch.

As it happens, this book has been languishing at the bottom of my to-read list ever since, while I have gone on to read several amazing feminist books, old and new, which shaped me as a woman and changed my life and outlook for the better.

And now I picked this up because I'm cleaning out my bookshelves and going through my unread books to see if I want to keep them. I am glad I only opened it after having been exposed to so many other feminist works (both good and bad) and could have a more informed opinion on its contents. I wonder if, had I picked it up at age 18, without knowing the first thing about feminism, I might have accepted some of its bullshit, or even been turned off of feminism entirely.

Now, on reading it, I instantly recognized The Female Eunuch for the trash that it is, and suitably disposed of it. It is dated, elitist, racist, homophobic, and has lots of pseudo-scientific or straight up hippie bs in it. It's also pretty damn misogynistic. In short: it's a no from me.

If you're still curious about this book, you could always google Greer and read about her defending female genital mutilation and child marriage, standing up for the fundamentalists who wanted to kill Salman Rushdie and the ones who wanted to burn Monica Ali's book, shitting on Meghan Markle, blaming victims of sexual assault and rape... I could go on. If that sounds appealing to you, then you'll love this book! I personally think that this is just not someone I (or anyone) should be learning feminist ideas from. Germaine Greer is better off ignored and forgotten.
167 reviews5 followers
November 30, 2011
I picked up this book not only because of it's historical significance but because a friend mad a blog post about it while having not read it basically saying Greer was an self-important idiot and I really hate ignorance.

Reading this book as a feminist in 2010 there are things about it I don't agree with. I definetley have problems with the blatant transphobia which is a theme through Greer's writings, and she has a rather patchy idea about homosexuality. Some of the things she talks abuot are outdated or becoming so which is touching in a way as it means we're making progress but many of them are still cuttingly relevant today. Young girls still grow up dreaming of romance and magical kisses while boys are taught to fuck. Women are still penalised in marriage and children are still forced inwards in a nuclear family.

This is a powerful book. At times too powerful. Greer also at time inadvertently makes me laugh by criticising accademic feminism in a highly accademic book and criticising the classism in feminism which dealing mainly with middle class issues.

Maybe one of the most interesting things I got from reading this book is a view of hoiw feminism itself has changed. Feminism today is much more accessible, both in it's texts and in the way it operates, and we are started to acnowledge a lot more intersection which I think can only be a good thing. Greer quotes an argument that isms such as racism and classism are unimportant and can not be solved until we solve racism but the truth of the matter is these things are all intimatley linked, something that the feminist movement is slowly starting to admit and the faster we get round to it and embrace it the better.
Profile Image for Zanna.
676 reviews945 followers
May 11, 2014
Greer cuts through our absurdly patriarchal fantasies of romantic love, diagnosing the misery and anxiety they cause, and draws a picture of the female stereotype as castrated - a passive receptacle for male sexuality. She also implicates capitalism in shaping and reinforcing patriarchy, with some great passages on the history of women in work. The book is also highly readable, non-technical and funny.

I've recently found out that Greer's later work is explicitly cissexist and transphobic, so I'm not reading her any more.
Profile Image for Brian Griffith.
Author 6 books222 followers
April 8, 2021
I love how she shoots off her mouth and how it makes you think. I know lots of people take self-affirmation and self-righteousness to extreme lengths, and that can get tedious. But that's how it is with all good, healthy, entertaining things, and this classic rant is one of the most enjoyable on record.
Profile Image for J..
Author 7 books40 followers
May 27, 2015
To try to review a book this monumental would be somewhat ridiculous, so instead I'll report on what it's like to encounter it for the first time so long after it created the ripples that it did with its impact. I'm blown away by how much late Second Wave feminism is already present in this book from 1970 (still somewhat early in that movement). I'm also blown away by how diverse her argument is, cogently handling psychology as well as biology as well as literature. Even the structure of the book, i.e. a grouping of many short, tight essays on the subjects at hand rather than some of the more long-winded thinkers and theorists on these same subjects, is revolutionary.
All together, the best way to use this book now, when so many of these arguments she put into play have become fairly common fields of battle, is as an introductory text. So, if you have a young person in your life who has started to show some interest in thinking about gender (or if you are in that position yourself), this book would be a great place to start.
Profile Image for ghost.
42 reviews
November 6, 2007
When I picked this up out of the Women's Studies section this past January, I was really adrift in life. Greer's book caught me and refocused me, entire paragraphs eliciting a 'fuck yes' aloud.

Germaine underlines that uncomfortable feeling of what it means to be female in modern society, something I'd never noticed until falling into a heterosexual relationship. What does it mean to be expected to play traditional gender roles, to cater or ignore expectations?

A milestone.
Profile Image for Sam.
3,180 reviews235 followers
July 29, 2015
Forty five years ago, a softly spoken Australian published a delicate commentary on the position of women in the existing patriarchal society and how a small movement known as feminism has taken on a second attempt at evening things out a little. In reality this turned out to be a feisty, blunt and uncompromising assessment of where the first wave of feminism has gotten us (and yes I mean us, men as well as women) and where the second wave needs to focus and get changes made (basically everywhere). All done in Greer's now world famous to the point and straight talking wit. No stone or assumption is left unturned, no door or circumstance left unopened and no closet, assumption, opinion or excuse is left un-riffled as Greer not only shows where things were (and are) going wrong but also demands of the reader 'what are you going to do?'.

The subject of this book raises many emotions and responses from anger and disgust to glimmers of hope and optimism, a balance that I feel few authors would be able to manage with the skill that Greer shows in these pages. Having said that there are a few bits that get a little dry and others that are not as relevant as they once were (to me in my current circumstance anyway) and as such these have probably lost some of their impact. However despite the number of years between its original publication and now there is much within its pages that is still relevant if not more relevant today than they were then, making this as much an indictment of both society and the effectiveness of the second wave of feminism as much as it is a stirring call for a complete rethink of society. Be not afraid readers, this does not man-hate, call for arms, encourage war between the sexes, it asks simply for a complete reshaping of society for the benefit of everyone, men as well as women, so lets get to it.
Profile Image for Deirdre.
26 reviews15 followers
July 9, 2009
Greer can be brilliant, can be infuriating. She can shine and she can let herself down horribly. This is a book of its time and I read it when it was first published. Back then, it blasted the cobwebs off a totally patriarchal society but did it in a witty and winning way. This is Greer at her best.

It is sad that whilst this book is now somewhat dated, the battle it engaged with has still not been won. Today's young women in the main think feminism is passé and are complaisant about the superficial advances gained. Books like this are still worth reading and their arguments worth taking on board.
Profile Image for Nick Imrie.
287 reviews128 followers
April 18, 2017
It's so strange reading this again for the first time since I was a teenager. Greer is amazing: witty, funny, spookily perceptive on some things, and hilariously wrong on others. She wastes no time hemming-and-hawing around an idea, but she's pretty humble about how wrong she might be too.

She's definitely in my top ten for who would you invite to a dinner party if you could invite anyone at all.
Profile Image for laura.
31 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2021
i think the line ‘women are reputed never to be disgusted. the sad fact is that they often are, but not with men; following the lead of men, they are most often disgusted with themselves’ is going to haunt me forever
Profile Image for Siria.
1,792 reviews1,309 followers
August 25, 2021
It's a classic, which is why it should still be required reading for any feminist trying to educate themselves. But it's very, very much of its time, very much the work of a second waver with all the problematic attitudes towards sexuality, homosexuality and race that that implies. Worth reading as an historical record, but not something that I base my own thought on, really.
Profile Image for Mkittysamom.
1,467 reviews49 followers
April 6, 2014
Amazing! All women should read this! Greer really explains how I have been feeling about life, the world, being married, suppressed, not listened to, dismissed, abused and so fourth. This is the first book I've read that says I'm not crazy! I have so much to say but I want to read this again, it was so life inspiring and opened my eyes!
Profile Image for Madhulika Liddle.
Author 17 books408 followers
February 27, 2015
When it was first published in 1970, Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch drew flak, derision—and accolades for its bold stance on feminism. In her introduction to the 21st century edition of this best-selling book, Greer writes that she wondered back then whether the book would be outdated by the time the 21st century came round.

Not, sadly, to much of an extent. In some ways, women are better off than they were nearly half a century ago. In most ways, though, we seem to be stuck pretty much where we were in 1970.

The Female Eunuch explores how a male-dominated Western society has, over the centuries, conditioned women to regard themselves in certain stereotypical ways (ways, needless to say, in which most men too regard women). Greer examines womanhood from different perspectives: biological, mental, psychological, social, and so on. She explores everything from how women have been expected to behave from medieval times to now; how women have been represented in literature and art; to how—very importantly—'the personal is political' (although Greer was not the one who came up with that particular statement).

I found this to be an odd book, which seemed at times to have been written by two completely different people. The initial 100 pages or so (which are about the female body and psyche, but more about its perception) are dominated by a dry, bookish style that bored me stiff. The following chapters—until about the last 50 pages, which focus on the feminist movement—on the other hand, made for informative, interesting and even at times delightful reading. The highlights for me, in the middle section (the most readable part of the book) were her sections on romance (hilarious, since she quotes extensively from romance novels—especially Barbara Cartland's—and adds her own pithy comments); on the synonyms for woman (I found this an interesting lesson in linguistics), and the history of love and marriage in the West.

In the course of The Female Eunuch, Greer manages to emphasise the fact that women—from the moment of their birth—are conditioned by society to act, dress, speak, work, etc in a certain way, and that that way is designed to subjugate women. She quotes people across the ages on women (and the majority of those quotes show just how terribly women have been regarded and treated). She urges revolution, she pokes fun, she is ruthless in her attack.

But she dilutes that attack by being swayed by her own righteous indignation at the wrongs women suffer. What I found most annoying about the book were the many sweeping generalisations Greer makes. "Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.", for example; "Women do not champion their own sex once they are in positions of power... After all, they get on better with men because all their lives they have manipulated the susceptibilities, the guilts and hidden desires of men" and "Violence has a fascination for most women; they act as spectators at fights... women are always precipitating scenes of violence in pubs and dance-halls.", and “…in too many cases female intellectuals are arrogant, aggressive, compulsive and intense. They place too high a value on their dubious educational achievement, losing contact with more innocent recreation.”, to quote just four of many instances.

Greer appears to have taken, as her stereotypes for women (and men) the most conditioned, most extreme representatives of society. I suppose that’s to help drive home the point (and I do agree with most of the points she makes, since even 45 years later, there are too many wrongs mentioned in The Female Eunuch that still continue to flourish in the world). But I’d have expected a more balanced, level-headed view from an academician like Greer.
Profile Image for Gabrielle Dubois.
Author 47 books123 followers
June 24, 2019
I read this book in a French paperback book published in 1973, with a very small font, almost no margins, 450 pages long, no preface, and the most horrible bookcover in the world! How and why did I get this book? I can’t remember. What I do know is that I should have read it when I was young, it would have changed my vision of women, my vision of myself.
Today, after having read George Sand, Mary Wollstonecraft, Virginia Woolf, and so many other great women authors, Germaine Greer's book has reinforced the observations I have already made about the status of women, those of our mothers and grandmothers, or at least mines.
It is a very well researched and thoughtful book that I recommend to both women and men, although I do not agree with the author on topics that do not concern women directly, such as marijuana and communism.

This book is not a pamphlet against men, it is the author's claim for women’s right to exist. Of course, it released in 1970 and fortunately many things have changed since then, with regard to the lives of women, children and their education. But there is still a lot to do, hence the interest of reading this book.
In fact, equality of rights, especially in Western countries, is real. What remains to be done is to "correct perspectives distorted by our prejudices about femininity, sexuality, love and society," Greer says. This is what George Sand wrote in Indiana: "It remains to struggle against opinion; for it is opinion that delays or prepares social improvements."
(Let me remind you that I read this book in French and couldn’t find The original Englsih version, so Greer’s quotes are my personnal translation… far from being the best one !)

Greer therefore believes that "women, by freeing themselves, will also liberate their oppressors." (which means man or rather some men). "Men have reason to believe that as the sole holders of the universal sexual energy and protectors of women and children, they have undertaken the impossible, especially today when their creative genius has produced nuclear weapons." But, adds Greer, men are willing to share responsibility and are looking for a more satisfying role. But do women want to share, in the same way as men, the direction of a world that men have pushed to political, economic and ecological chaos?
What is certain is that women will have to invent their own way of life, will have to experience freedom, and "freedom frightens us." But "women will not seek to eliminate all systems in favour of their own. However diverse their solutions may be, they will not necessarily be irreconcilable because women will not be tyrannical."

Germaine Greer has divided her book into five parts: Body, Soul, Love, Hatred and Revolution, themselves divided into chapters, each on a specific theme.
The Body: "Every time we reduce the female body to an aesthetic object, with no other function than to please, we damage its physical integrity and the physiological balance of the woman. »
In Chapter 6, The Matrix, Germaine Greer adopts very clear and unexpected positions, that may have shocked and may still shock, which, personally, have disgusted me a little, but which have the interest of the audacity, the excess of the author who wants to make women and men react. She concludes: "Menstruation does not make us crazy or disabled, but we would gladly do without it."
Chapter 7, The Stereotype, is best summed up in this quote by Mary Wollstonecraft: "The mind of the woman, which has been taught since childhood that beauty is a woman's sceptre, conforms to the body and, wandering in its golden cage, it seeks only to adorn its prison. »
What is remarkable about this book is the way Greer deconstructs and analyses the behaviours of women who have not freed themselves and men who are not feminists. That is very true and I have seen in these types of women: my mother, my grandmother and, I must admit, a little bit of myself when I was lost between the education I had received, the attack I had suffered and who I was deep inside me and that I was hiding for obscure reasons at the time.
I liked Chapter 8, Energy. "Energy is the driving force of every human being. The efforts we make do not dissipate it but maintain it because it has its source in the psyche. It is perverted by obstacles and repression." When a woman's energy is destructive (most often to herself, but also to her husband or children), it is because "this destructiveness is only creativity turned against herself as a result of constant frustration."
In chapter 9, The Baby, Greer, talks about Maria Montessori and it's exciting. Then the next chapter deals with the differentiated education given to girls and boys. I have a son and a daughter myself. I think (I hope) I raised them both the same way. They are now 18 and 20 years old, and I think I have succeeded. My daughter is no more afraid than my son of the outside world and she feels as free to be who she is as her brother. If they differ completely, it is only because of their characters!

At this point in my review, I realize that I have put marks on one page out of two of the book! So, if you want to know more, you'll have to read the book yourself! 😊
What I can still tell you is that, if some things are dated, some are still very present in our society ; that there is a chapter about the horrors suffered by women on the part of some men, I would rather say: monsters, that I could only fly over so much it is raw and unbearable.

Pros, in addition to all I've already written:
Greer condemns consumerism, she doesn’t admit that a woman has to transform herself into an ideal and unrealizable beauty that is not herself.

Greer thinks family is not a good thing. IMO, it's a generality. Some people oppress and tear themselves apart in the family, others find love, support and fulfillment in it.
Greer recommends marijuana use! I don’t. I believe that, like alcohol, you must know how to use it with GREAT MODERATION. Or not using marijuana at all… If one needs to escape reality, a good book is better !
Greer, unless I have not understood the meaning of her sentences, disapproves of homosexuals and transsexuals. There is neither to approve nor disapprove, each nature is part of nature.
Greer also thinks communism is a solution. I think communism is a failure and some countries have already proved it! While everyone must have the same rights, we are not equal in nature: some are more hardworking, smarter, more creative, more relentless. The results of our lives conducted so differently cannot be the same and it would be unfair to ask the one who cut his wood all summer to share his wood, when winter comes, with the one who spent his summer sleeping on the beach.
Greer also disapproves of romance novels and their Princes Charming. I understand her reasoning: these novels make women believe in the myth of the ideal man, of the unique love, of marriage as a condition for a dream life. Yes, I suppose so. But if we go beyond that, romance novels are necessary for any "normal" life made of doubts, routine, unsatisfactory work, chores, misfortunes. Most women who read a book whose lover is a charming, caring, even romantic man do not despise their husband. Everyone needs to dream. Some of a wonderful lover, others that they are invincible heroes. It does not matter what form the dream takes, as long as the dream makes it possible to bear the reality that often lacks flowers and courage.

I know nothing about Germaine Greer except this book I just read. I wouldn't judge her by what she wrote 49 years ago and I wouldn’t dare to judge her at all! Twice in the book, Germaine Greer briefly mentions her childhood, which was not a path paved with rose petals. So, one can only admire the path she has traveled in thought. If humanity progresses at a snail's pace, human beings, during their lives, can change and evolve radically. Isn't that wonderful?
November 2, 2020
My full review of The Female Eunuch is up now on Keeping Up With The Penguins.

I just don’t think that The Female Eunuch has any value anymore. It’s not old enough, or well-written enough, to have the historical status and respect afforded to suffragette writing. It’s been too thoroughly debunked and overwritten to stand alongside later works of feminism. It’s out of date: scientifically, socially, and legally. It’s too deeply rooted in a colonial version of society to have any resonance or relevance in today’s world.

I opened my mind so much my brain nearly fell out, and it didn’t do any good. The Female Eunuch did not change my opinion of Germaine Greer at all – and if you’re looking for a strong feminist voice to teach you something, my suggestion is keep on looking elsewhere.
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 38 books435 followers
September 2, 2016
If I met someone at a party who described herself as a speculative anthropologist (which Greer does not, btw), I'd be hard put not to snort in her face, let alone offer to read her unscientific speculatively anthropological text. So many paragraphs of ungrounded but somewhat believable "men act this way, women are made to act this way", it's tiring and not insightful enough for me to continue.

Which is disappointing, because if anyone was ready to feel ashamed of the antics of his own gender, it was me!
78 reviews2 followers
August 27, 2013
The problem with reading a book like this decades after it was written is you aren't a part of that time, and the Female Eunuch was very much a part of that time. Some of it still stands up, but other parts are the statements of a youthful movement, confident in the absolute correctness of its untested positions. Since Greer wrote this, parents have attempted to raise children in a neutral way and seen boys blowing up dolls and nursing fire trucks, suggesting things are a bit more complex than one might have thought.

Still, Greer's theory that women are forced into a self-perpetuating mold was a good one, and she makes a strong case that women's limitations are, to a great extent, man-made.

Unfortunately, Greer comes across as the stereotypical feminist, humorless, angry, elitis, and certain to a fault. She wants to upturn society, rewriting economics, marriage laws, and the very concept of love and affection (which she seems to either disbelieve in or disapprove of). She doesn't just hate the way women are treated in society; she hates society and the entire structure of humanity, and would, it seems, throw out every law and tradition in a second if she could.

And this, along with her tendency towards Freudian-style psychobabble (even though she criticizes Freud, the language is of Freud) and the pretentious language of the intellectual makes her increasingly annoying. Ultimately I gave up on the book, because I found it so unlikable.

It was the right book at the right time, and said a lot of things that needed saying. And perhaps only someone as arrogant as Greer could have said it. But it's not something I found enjoyable to read.
Profile Image for Sarah saied.
499 reviews80 followers
May 11, 2022
كتاب عظيم وصادم وكاشف للكثير، وقراءة متأخرة لواحد من أهم الكتب في تاريخ الحركة النسوية تحديدا موجتها الثانية الصاخبة في ستينات وسبعينات القرن الماضي، ويوازي في أهميته كتاب اللغز الأنثوي لبيتي فريدان
Profile Image for Vanessa.
868 reviews1,095 followers
February 23, 2014
Germaine Greer is probably the first name that springs to mind when anyone brings up the subject of feminism, whether you know much about the movement or not. I'll admit that this was the case for me anyway, but I have to say that I did not know too much about her. In fact, I believed her to be one of the 'feminazis', man-hating and bra-burning amongst other things. I decided to pick up her seminal text The Female Eunuch because it came on my radar in the last month or so through YouTube, and I figured I'd see what she had to say. So I was surprised when I discovered that my initial impressions through hearsay Greer were not really accurate at all.

Germaine Greer does not hate men, and she does not advocate bra-burning in the slightest, in fact finding it detrimental to the cause. Surprisingly, what I took from this book was a certain level of irritation and disgust aimed more so at the female population. There were a great many sections in this book where I found Greer's words to be angry and dripping with disdain when she talked about things like excessive mothering of children, and the ever-present fairytale notion of love.

Greer splits her book into four sections: Body, Soul, Love, and Hate, along with a chapter entitled Revolution at the very end. Within these sections, she tackles a myriad of subjects, including marriage, work, body hair, jealousy, even resentment. I found certain sections to be more readable than others (the Hate section was particularly difficult and depressing), and I fluctuated between moments being intensely bored, moments being very intrigued, and moments where I found her words incredibly funny. It certainly evoked a range of emotions in me.

Due to the fact that The Female Eunuch was published in 1970, there are certain aspects of the book that I feel are not quite as relevant anymore, and I think that male/female equality has come a long way since then (despite not being perfect). However, there were a lot of points that Greer made within her book that really stuck out to me, particularly notions of love and the rearing of children. It makes me wonder, is the biological clock a real thing or is it just conditioning in our society for most women to feel the need to prolong the human race?

But I digress. If you are at all interested in the feminist movement, I would strongly suggest that you pick up this novel. Although I didn't necessarily enjoy all of the book, due to the writing being a little wordy at points, I am very glad that I finally got around to reading this book. I think that it is an important book, no matter what detractors of Greer say, and even if I don't agree with absolutely everything she says, it's definitely a great talking-point.
Profile Image for Fern Watson.
75 reviews
May 19, 2021
I wish I had read this earlier but really, I was saying many of the same things in the 1970s! This book is a powerful "call to arms" to women to wake up and realize that they don't have to accept being treated as second class. In 1971, the year it was first published, men generally, in most jobs, made twice as high a salary for the same work as women!! Now, 50 years later, we have still not achieved equality but we have come a long way, and Germaine Greer was one of the first to sound the alarm. She is 6 feet tall, Australian, and beautiful. She got married once but it only lasted three weeks. :) I enjoyed the essays about her at the end of this edition. It made me want to read another of her books, as so often happens when I enjoy a book.
Profile Image for Myriam M. Hanna.
104 reviews40 followers
May 28, 2018
كتاب فريد من نوعه..
أفكار لاذعة، لكنها تستحق التأمل.
على المرأة التي تحاول أن تقرأ هذا الكتاب أن تتأمل روحها في مرآة هذا الكتاب، بعد كل فصل!

يحتوي هذا الكتاب على قدر أكثر مما ينبغي من الكشف..
Profile Image for Mona El-Agder.
45 reviews31 followers
January 31, 2018
هل أنت متحررة كما تدعين؟؟

العنوان صادم، والكتاب نفسه مؤرق ويدعو للتفكير؛ هل أنت متحررة كما تدعين؟ أم أنك تقومين بمحاولة للوصول إلى صورة القالب الموضوع لك، كي تصبحي امرأة مخصية؟ فالقالب المطلوب منك التشكل عليه يمكن تحقيقه أيضا بإخصاء ذكر وحقنه بالهرمونات، وزيادة هذه المنطقة وتلك، وتنحيف هذا الجزء وذاك، و تنعيم الصوت، وإطالة الرموش، وبعض الخنوع، أو الكثير منه، والعفة المدعاة، والكثير من الشعور بالذنب.. هكذا يمكنك التنكر لجنسانيتك ورفضها، بأن تصبحي القالب المطلوب منك..

"لسنا بحاجة إلى أن نتحدى أحدا حتى نبدأ المعركة، لأن الطريقة الأنجح هي ببساطة أن نمتنع عن التعاون في بناء نظام يقمعنا، أن نسحب عملنا على نحو صحيح، ويمكن أيضا أن نحرض هنا وهناك.."

كتاب مهم طبعا
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