The Female Eunuch

by Germaine Greer

Paperback, 1972




Bantam Books (1972), Edition: Reprint, 374 pages


The publication of Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch in 1970 was a landmark event, raising eyebrows and ire while creating a shock wave of recognition in women around the world with its steadfast assertion that sexual liberation is the key to women's liberation. Today, Greer's searing examination of the oppression of women in contemporary society is both an important historical record of where we've been and a shockingly relevant treatise on what still remains to be achieved.


½ (293 ratings; 3.7)

Media reviews

Greer’s books may have self-contradictory elements, and I must admit that as a 21st-century reader, I’ve found that they can be choppy and manifesto-like, with off-putting wild generalizations and quasi-magical terminology... But then I turned to her chapter called “Family”... Bingo.

User reviews

LibraryThing member c_why
This book changed my life.
LibraryThing member maz111
Definitely a life-changing book when I read it in the 1970s. One I could hardly bear to pick up as a wife and mother in the 1980s. I wonder what I would think if I re-read it today?
LibraryThing member annbury
Back in the day, this book was very important to me; it helped me think about what being female really meant, and about how it should affect my life. Skimming back through it now, it seems awfully simplistic, too facile, and rather a rant. But that's looking at the book through "presentist"
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glasses. A key feminist work, which affected lots of lives.
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LibraryThing member keylawk
International bestseller and milestone in the re-thinking of the very basic facts which continue to hag-ride our behavior -- gender differences and similarities in the body, the soul, and what we love and hate. Greer chapters each of those topics, concluding with a call to revolution. With Notes.
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Greer presents a direct description of sexuality--not content with mere anatomy or indirection. Looking at how they are treated, she concludes that "men hate women", even though they do not realize it, and men end up hating themselves.

No actual eunuchs were injured in the analysis, but Greer invokes literary and consumerist evidence that "Women have been separated from their libido", and cut off from their capacity for action: castrati, sacrificed for fattening docilities. My reading is that Greer is all about elevating humans to a greater capacity for love, compounded by the joy of really being together. I think this book changed the lives of people in the 1970's, and not just in the English-reading world.

Curiously, the "supergroupie" demystifying academic author published a kind of sequel to this work, in 1999, entitled The Whole Woman.
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LibraryThing member m.a.harding
Part of any worthwhile education. Should be taught in all schools.
LibraryThing member estellen
It's a good read, but more relevant to my mother's generation than my own.
LibraryThing member gypsysmom
This is one of those books of feminist thinking that inspired me when I was young. I once saw Greer speak and she was magnificent. I think it is time for a revival.
LibraryThing member Fips
Reading The Female Eunuch now feels to a certain extent like reading a pamphlet from the Suffragist movement; the arguments are clear, but the backdrop is somehow distant and faded. How much that changed backdrop is a result of the efforts of people like Germaine Greer is for the historians to say,
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but this book clearly earns its place on the bookshelf as one of the most important works in the women's liberation movement.

Despite being written in 1970, there is nothing stale about this book. Greer's writing can be very punchy, at times witty, and the threads of her argument are clearly and logically set out. For a book that has sold over a million copies, she is extremely eloquent, at times even a touch grandiloquent, and her choice of words sometimes had me reaching for a dictionary. That aside, the book is fairly easy to read for its subject matter.

Nevertheless, it is not Greer's arguments or her choice of phrasing that are difficult to understand, but the context in which they were written. It is difficult for anyone born after that time to comprehend how much society has changed in the intervening period, at the most fundamental, interpersonal level. In this light, Greer's arguments can seem overdramatised, perhaps even alien to someone reading them today, but there is plenty which bears relevance to understanding how we got where we are, and perhaps knowing where we have yet to go.

Greer covers the whole gamut of the female experience, from birth and childhood, through sex and marriage, to the workplace and public sphere. In covering this massive range of subjects, from the most tangible in terms of jobs, wages and taxation, through to more esoteric notions of imagery in language and psychology, one gets a clear notion of Greer's ideal vision. Although there are far more criticisms of the status quo than overt recommendations for change, in questioning some of the core elements of society, it leads all of us to critically appraise our modes and ways of life.

Many people who haven't read this book, and men in particular, assume it must be written by a man-hater, an irrational and fiery-hearted misandrist nailing her theses to the church of patriarchy. In truth, the book is a deep and basic criticism of that day and age's society, pointed as much at women as at men for perpetuating a system which essentially encouraged contempt for half of the population, in many ways treating them as second-class citizens. There is an important distinction here between sexual equality and women's liberation, for Greer argues for fundamental changes as a way to improve the lives of everyone. This is not a call to gender war in a Marxian vein; in fact, although Greer has a clear leftist bent, it seems she did not put faith in the class revolution to put society on the correct footing.

There are just a couple of criticisms I have about this edition. The first is that there is no index, which I feel would have been a useful addition. Although Greer divided the book into well arranged and clearly labelled chapters, it is still difficult to find references without having to guess under which subheading you might find them. Secondly, as part of Flamingo's Seventies Classics Series, this really should have come with an introduction. Printed over thirty years after its initial publication, with so much having changed in the intervening period, a simple outline of the society in which this book was written, and an overview of its reception and responses, would have been an extremely welcome addition.
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LibraryThing member gypsysmom
This is one of those books of feminist thinking that inspired me when I was young. I once saw Greer speak and she was magnificent. I think it is time for a revival.
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
In the 1970s this was a landmark book supporting feminist ideals. While the statistical data might be a little out of date, the rest of the narrative is sharp, funny, and in some cases, spot on. Even today. Through her seminal work Greer will take you through a sometimes sarcastic, sometimes sad,
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and always intelligent journey regarding every aspect of a woman's world in the 1970s. She begins with the obvious, the female body and moves onto soul, love and hate. She ends with a powerful chapter on rebellion and revolution.There were lots and lots of quotations to chose from. Here are some of my favorites, "In any case brain weight is irrelevant, as was swiftly admitted when it was found to operate to male disadvantage" (p 93), "Most likely a sued Other Woman would have to ask her husband undertake payments for her" (p 118), and "Genuine chaos is more fruitful than the chaos of conflicting systems which are mutually destructive" (p 234). Author fact: Greer is extremely funny. However, when she admitted to being groped in Female Eunuch it prompted me to do a little more digging about her life. I was a little surprised by her 2018 thoughts regarding punishment for convicted rapists. It's an example of how Greer thinks, always pushing boundaries.
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LibraryThing member Praj05
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member threadnsong
Better than a 3 1/2 star read? Not as good as a 4? I struggled with how I felt about this book throughout my time reading it. It has been a ground-breaker in feminist literature and I really held high hopes for it.

Much of its insight into women's conditioning still holds true: recent social media
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revelations about how young women view their bodies in a negative light are as relevant as when the tweens saw "perfect women" on the color glossy pages of 60's magazines. And hated their own bodies as a result. Women earning significantly less than men. Still. Women struggling in the arts and sports to achieve what their male counterparts have achieved (see: US Women's Soccer). Greer's references to studies of rural women in post-Elizabethan England, who married their husbands for love and were equal with him in running the household; we were right there, until the demands of family forced so many Western women to resign their jobs (see: 2020).

The cringe-worthiness of dated references to African-Americans or members of the LGBTQ community are on full display here. The publications and studies are now mostly obscure, though she does pull out good historical quotes by and about women.

But. The contempt with which Greer writes about and to housewives, her denigrations about their abilities, including her own mother, are revealing. By the end of the book I had to wonder: What was she trying to achieve? Her paternalism, her lack of compassion, and her general "snark" meant that. I. Just. Couldn't. Praise her more than as an ardent second wave feminist whose work did not stand the test of time.
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LibraryThing member kjuliff
I was very young when I read this work by [Germaine Greer] and it didn’t so much enlighten me, but affirmed a number of my understandings on how women were viewed in the 20th century West. A must for the boomer generation women starting their journey.


Original publication date



0553121952 / 9780553121957
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