The Female Eunuch: This book should be taught in every school to every student

Book review: Germaine Greer’s voice reminds ourselves that things are still not okay

For women like myself, Germaine Greer’s non-PC candour is a tonic, and pressingly necessary, in this era of Twitter-fuelled censorship. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

For women like myself, Germaine Greer’s non-PC candour is a tonic, and pressingly necessary, in this era of Twitter-fuelled censorship. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

Germaine Greer is, a bit like J.K. Rowling, not very popular these days. She is known, to many, as a moderately outrageous TV personality. Recalling second-wave feminism today, people think, not of Greer’s writing, but of bra-burning and megaphones, followed, later, by “girl power!”, the vague-to-the-point-of-meaningless slogan of the ‘90s, popularised (unironically) by the singing, dancing sex puppets, the Spice Girls.

Of course, for women like myself, Greer’s non-PC candour is a tonic, and pressingly necessary, in this era of Twitter-fuelled censorship. The Female Eunuch should not only be read, but taught in every school to every student, regardless of gender or sexuality, or of whether it’s agreeable or not (comfortable ideas being anathema to real education).

The total warping and misappropriation of contemporary feminism (most notably, its subsumption by capitalism – just take “Because you’re worth it”) isn’t a problem that faces some abstract minority, other people, over there, with whom we have nothing to do.

We live in a time in which women are, still, painfully and often lethally, an underclass, continually bombarded and belittled and, worst of all, told that they like it

It is our problem, one that involves sexual, mental and physical suffering, be it in the name of love, beauty, power or more practical constraints, like trying to be a “good mother” (whatever the hell that is), to get paid fairly, or simply to be heard, without being dismissed as “mouthy” or “cerebral” or “difficult”.

Women are the last remaining slave class, and, in our first-world society, they are attempting to exercise, drink, birth, medicate, inject, chat, shop and clean-eat their way out of it. And they are failing. We live in a time in which women are, still, painfully and often lethally, an underclass, continually bombarded and belittled and, worst of all, told that they like it.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, articles proliferated about the astronomical rise in domestic violence, perpetrated, in the vast majority of instances, against women. Women are being destroyed, not in the streets, but in our own homes. And so returning to voices like Greer’s is crucial to remind ourselves that, whatever else might be happening, this is, still, not okay. As Greer herself so succinctly put it;

“What more could women want?

Freedom, that’s what.”

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