Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch is a second wave feminist classic. A Post Freudian account which argues that the development of a ‘female libido’ is the key to social liberation.
What insights does this iconoclastic work have to shine on the present?
As the prologue lays it out, the earlier – suffragette – wave of feminists had fought hard for civil rights of participation equal to those of men, and, according to Germaine, had largely won them, opening to women a world of possibility (equal access to the ‘ulcer and coronary’). And yet, this is still a ‘man’s world’ of hierarchical order and success or failure through competition and strain. She argues, therefore that fewer women than expected have chosen to enjoy such a ‘privilege’.
This is very different starting point to the contemporary focus on “patriarchy”, which it is said, either excludes or exploits women’s participation in society; but for Germaine, the reluctance of women to participate suggests a glimmer of hope for an alternative form of existence. It was the ‘chief function’ of this book to suggest a way to the alternative.