“The Female Eunuch,” Germaine Greer

Mariam Cook
24 November 2005

The female eunuch

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“The Female Eunuch”
by Germaine Greer
Flamingo | March 1999 | ISBN 0586080554

This book has been living in my book case for more than a few months. I finally decided to challenge my lifelong (ignorance-based) aversion to feminism by picking up what is widely regarded as a classic, landmark text, a blasphemy to the movement, or a collection of perversions (depending on your perspective).

Germaine Greer takes the reader through often nail-on-head, often shocking, and often hilarious insights. She also carves a path through a variety of feminist writing, stretching over centuries. For anyone whose interest is deepened there are many pointers on where to go for further reading, whether in agreement with her, or diametrically opposed. I should imagine the seasoned academic would also enjoy comparing their own with her particular take on the theories and literature she dissects.

The book lays bare the nature of gender inequality, thus exposing potential strategies for those that seek to redress it. It also dissects modern society (well, society in the 1970s) looking at its origins and how it developed, and illustrating to the 21st century reader that many of the questions faced then, remain with us now.

The notion and caricature of the “feminine stereotype” is a useful point of reference, which I will remember. During the exploration of this however, the criticism of transsexuals seems dated and unfair, as does the often archaic language surrounding race. These rare uncomfortable spots should not put off the reader, as the remainder of the text more than justifies perseverance with Greer’s ideas.

I haven’t quite reached the end, but I would certainly recommend it. Who should read it? Anyone looking for an entertaining route into feminist philosophy; any woman who would welcome an examination and contextualisation of their own place in society; any man looking for some insight into how women feel in what may still be largely termed a man’s world; any person who is struck by the speedy morphing of society, and sees gender and gender-based roles in modern times as challenging and unresolved.

* * *

Germaine Greer

About the author: Germaine Greer is an Australian writer, academic and broadcaster. Her most famous work is The Female Eunuch, her first book published in 1970. Other works include The Madwoman’s Underclothes (1987), Slip-shod Sibyls (1996), The Whole Woman (2000) and The Boy (2003).

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