Greer, Germain. The Female Eunuch. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1971.
Reason read: Women’s Suffrage Law was passed in December.
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 While the statistical data might be a little out of date, the rest of the narrative is sharp, funny, and in some cases, spot on.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, 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.
Book trivia: Female Eunuch is chock full of various quotations, the most being from Mary Wollstonecraft’s oft-quoted work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (also on my list).
Nancy said: Pearl called The Female Eunuch an influential political book from the early ’70’s” (p More Book Lust p 121).
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “I am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 121).
So, by the end of November I was a blathering mess, wasn’t I? I know I was. Mea culpa. Three xrays, five vials of blood taken, one CT scan, and two therapy sessions later, here are the updates. The protruding ribs are being blamed on chiropractic appointments even though I felt the rib cage move before I started see Dr. Jim. The nerve pain is being controlled by medication. The spot on the lung and possibly tumor…no results as of today. White blood cell count still elevated. Possibility of cancer…still a possibility.
But. But! But, enough of all that. Here are the books: I have a week off at the end of the month so I am anticipating it will be a good reading month. Here are the books planned:
- Any Old Iron by Anthony Burgess (EB) – in memory of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th.
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin – in memory of Le Guin passing in 2018.
- Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund – to honor Alabama becoming a state in December.
- The Female Eunuch by Germain Greer – to honor women’s suffrage law.
- Cry of the Kalahari by Mark and Delia Owens (EB) – to honor the wedding anniversary of Mark and Delia.
- Lost Moon by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger – in honor of the moon landing.
- Stet: an Editor’s Life by Diana Athill (EB) – in honor of Athill being born in December.
- The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman (AB) – to continue the series His Dark Materials, started in November in honor of National Writing Month.
- The Unicorn Hunt by Dorothy Dunnett (EB) – to continue the series Niccolo House, started in August in honor of Dunnett’s birth month.
Early Review for LibraryThing:
- Squelched by Terry Beard.
If there is time:
- Black Tents of Arabia by Carl Raswan – in honor of Lawrence of Arabia.
- This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jelloun – in honor of Jelloun’s birth month.
Firestone, Shumlamith. The Dialectic of Sex: the case for feminist revolution. Tornton: Bantam Books, 1971.
I have to start off by saying something about the cover of this book. For starters, the woman. It is a photograph of a Degas painting called simply Tete De Jeune Femme. The face of this young woman is a subject for scrutiny; her expression, debatable. She looks passive, unconcerned. To the first glance she is an observer and not a feeler. And yet, there is something sad, worrying in her eyes. But, the photograph is not the only thing that makes this cover so interesting. It’s the text. “…a slashing attack on male supremacy…” This had me worried in all sorts of ways. I’m not looking to attack men. Hell, I married one, didn’t I? And then there’s this: “Chapter 6 might change your life.” Is that a promise or a threat? That led me to question things. Wait, does my life NEED changing? Then I read the book…
I have to admit, many different parts of Firestone’s book gave me pause. For example, the concept that war (specifically World War II) was a welcomed opportunity for women to be treated as equals was really interesting. The idea that women hired as the only available workforce during that time allowed them to be and feel necessary and not just in the “female” sense of family and sex. The second concept that feminism and Freud “grew from the same soil” (p 43).
Firestone does not leave any aspect of the case for feminist revolution uncovered. She even delves into the stages of fashion for children in medieval times. For the male child dress was not to symbolize just age but to also announce sex, social rank and prosperity, whereas the female child did not have stages of fashion. She went from swaddling directly to adult garments. There was no need to differentiate social rank and prosperity because women had neither.
Lines that struck me: “We can attempt to develop a materialistic view of history based on sex itself” (p 5), and “This radical movement was built by women who had literally no civil status under law; who were pronounced civilly dead upon marriage, or remained legal minors if they did not marry; who could not sign a will or even have custody of their own children upon divorce; who were not taught to read, let alone admitted to college…; who had no political voice whatever” (p 17). And the line that made me laugh out loud, “She then assuages his pricked ego by assuring him of her undying loyalty to his Balls” (p 123).
Reason read: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. We are in the pink once again. I have a whole slew of books dedicated to honor strong women fighting or surviving cancer. Shulamith is one such influential woman.
Author fact: I was shocked to discover Firestone passed away a little over a month ago.
Book trivia: Thanks to Wikipedia I learned a there is a documentary out there called “Shulie.” I have to look that up.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “I Am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 121).
Friedan, Betty. The Feminine Mystique. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, Inc. 1963.
I get my panties in a twist whenever I read books on feminism. I don’t know what it is. It’s not that I don’t believe in equal rights for women. It’s not that I’m in some sort of strange denial that for centuries women were kept practically under rocks. It’s not any of that. So, what is my problem? I guess I would rather see a woman make the most of her time fighting the inequality rather than bemoaning it. I’d rather see a woman trying to stamp out history rather than dredging it up, and reminding herself of exactly how unfair it has been. Not unlike those cigarette ads from the early 1980s – “You’ve come a long way, baby!” We know how far we have come. My gender, we know. And the sad thing is, we still have so far to go. But, enough about that – on with the review.
Betty Friedan uses The Feminine Mystique to remind women that, for decades, the only way for a woman to be feminine was to get married, have kids and keep a house. Having multiple children was the norm, and running a household was considered a career. There was room for little else. Friedan analyzes why women, brought up with these socially accepted views, are suddenly finding themselves wanting more. In the early 1960s, (when The Feminine Mystique was written) therapy was becoming all the rage. It was common for women to crowd clinics crying out for some kind of attention, demanding something better…although they didn’t understand why. If they had a husband, a house and at least two children (with a third on the way), society was telling them they had it all and they should ve grateful. Using the influences of the past like Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead Friedan is able to paint a cultural picture of how the ideals and goals of women have been shaped and reshaped over time. Friedan cites a multitude of magazines that have practically brainwashed women into believing a husband, house and kids were the best of all worlds combined. A great deal of the Feminine Mystique is made up of quotations from other people. Interviews, magazines, lectures, books, and even a commencement address are used to support her commentary on a woman’s position throughout history. Yet, her writing is angry and sharp. She is judge and jury for the problems women face, specifically in an American culture, especially if things do not change.
Telling line, “All they [women] had to do was devote their lives from earliest girlhood to finding a husband and bearing children” (p 16). This sums up the entire book.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called, “I am Woman – Hear Me Roar” (p 120).