Monday, November 28, 2005

TITLE: THE FEMALE EUNUCH
AUTHOR: GERMAINE GREER
PUBLISHER: FARRAR STRAUS & GIROUX

NEVER make a brilliant woman angry. Someone obviously did because in
1970, Germaine Greer came out with a book entitled The Female Eunuch.
It was an overnight success. All the women who had always wanted to be
liberated fi nally found their icon. Those men who caught a glimpse of
Greer were aghast. "Who's this creature?" they asked.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1939, Greer was labelled as one of the
most powerful voices of feminism in the 20th century. Till today, this
professor of literature at Warwick University in Britain is a
controversial figure.
The Australian political journalist, Christine Wallace, who wrote a
biography of Germaine Greer described her as "hegemonic heterosexuality",
"anachronistic passivity", and "grooviness personifi ed".
In reply, Greer called her a "flesh-eating bacterium" and "dung-beetle".
This woman of socially-shocking proportions began her academic career back
in 1956 when she won a teaching scholarship. During her varsity years, she
acquired the nickname "Germainic Queer".
Life never became the same after she joined the Sydney Push, a bunch of
intellectual left-wingers who practised non-monogamy.
The six-footer Greer was a natural at academic pursuits as her peers
found out because, in 1963, she picked up an MA at the University of
Sydney.
Her sterling achievement gained her a Commonwealth scholarship that she
used to finance her PhD programme at the University of Cambridge. Five
years later, she accepted a lecturing post at the University of Warwick.
In The Female Eunuch, all the years of growing up as a woman restrained
by societal norms and restrictions allegedly created by man in general
manifested in expressions of anger and repressed frustrations.
Greer talks about the hostility of men towards women and how women were
conditioned to hate themselves from cradle to grave. She pounced on the
nuclear family system and suburban existence for enslaving women, thus
making them "eunuchs".
It was a most controversial conclusion reached by a feminist with a
brilliant academic background. The book triggered a runaway sale and, by
March 1971, it almost exhausted its second edition. Countries in other
parts of the developed world quickly took notice of The Female Eunuch and
it was soon published in eight languages.
In this landmark book, Greer's rallying cry was "subjugation". She
points an accusing fi nger at the Western concept of female sexuality
which she said made women ashamed of their bodies and sucked the joy of
life out of them. Any member of the male clan who has read this book will
be surprised that a woman can speak so frankly and in such strong terms.
The book is almost flamboyant in its intellectual rhetoric and nerve-
wrecking in its passionate arguments, especially to the men.
At best, Germaine Greer has done women worldwide a service by openly
revealing what have been their heart's deepest secrets but were socially
suppressed until it found expression in a proper avenue. At worst, she has
widened and deepened the misunderstanding between the roles of women and
men as cast by the Western society for centuries.
Today, the postulations and pronouncements of The Female Eunuch are no
longer an issue. Perhaps it is due to the groundwork laid down by
headstrong women like Greer and her admirers.
Whatever the personal opinions may be, this book was a wonderful read
three decades and five years ago, as it still is today. You may not agree
wholeheartedly with Greer but you certainly cannot help but admire her
intellectual depth and deep convictions.
A final recommendation: all women on the threshold of early adulthood
should spend some time with this book. All the young men, too, should read
it, if they want to be someone else's life partners of admirable social
intelligence and cheerful disposition.

1 comment:

Car Insurance Center said...

Hi Thanks for your interesting blog. I also have a blog/site, covering auto insurance quote related stuff. Feel free to visit my auto insurance quote site.