The Female Eunuch  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Female Eunuch is a book, first published in 1970, which became an international bestseller and an important text in the feminist movement. The author, Germaine Greer, became well known in broadcast media of Great Britain, the United States and her home of Australia. It has been translated into eleven languages. Its original illustration [1] was an indictment of the sexual objectification of women.

Arguments

Greer argued in her book, The Female Eunuch, that women don't realise how much men hate them, and how much they are taught to hate themselves. Christine Wallace writes that, when The Female Eunuch was first published, one woman had to keep it wrapped in brown paper because her husband wouldn't let her read it; arguments and fights broke out over dinner tables; and copies of it were thrown across rooms at unsuspecting husbands (Wallace 1997). It arrived in the stores in London in October 1970. By March 1971, it had nearly sold out its second printing and had been translated into eight languages.

"The title is an indication of the problem," Greer told the New York Times, "Women have somehow been separated from their libido, from their faculty of desire, from their sexuality. They've become suspicious about it. Like beasts, for example, who are castrated in farming in order to serve their master's ulterior motives — to be fattened or made docile — women have been cut off from their capacity for action. It's a process that sacrifices vigour for delicacy and succulence, and one that's got to be changed." (March 22, 1971).

Two of the book's themes already pointed the way to her later book Sex and Destiny, namely that the nuclear family is a bad environment for women and for the raising of children; and that the manufacture of women's sexuality by Western society was demeaning and confining. Girls are feminised from childhood by being taught rules that subjugate them, she argued. Later, when women embrace the stereotypical version of adult femininity, they develop a sense of shame about their own bodies, and lose their natural and political autonomy. The result is powerlessness, isolation, a diminished sexuality, and a lack of joy:

The ignorance and isolation of most women mean that they are incapable of making conversation: most of their communication with their spouses is a continuation of the power struggle. The result is that when wives come along to dinner parties they pervert civilised conversation about real issues into personal quarrels. The number of hostesses who wish they did not have to invite wives is legion.

Greer argued that change had to come about by revolution, not evolution. Women should get to know and come to accept their own bodies, taste their own menstrual blood, and give up celibacy and monogamy. But they should not burn their bras. "Bras are a ludicrous invention," she wrote, "but if you make bralessness a rule, you're just subjecting yourself to yet another repression."

While being interviewed about the book in 1971, she told the New York Times that she had been a "supergroupie." "Supergroupies don't have to hang around hotel corridors," she said. "When you are one, as I have been, you get invited backstage. I think groupies are important because they demystify sex; they accept it as physical, and they aren't possessive about their conquests."



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Female Eunuch" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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