The Female Eunuch Analysis - Essay

Germaine Greer

Analysis

The Female Eunuch deftly combines the depth and challenge of serious scholarship with the accessibility (and entertainment) of journalism. This reflects Greer’s background as doctor and professor of English literature, on the one hand, and as an “underground” writer and television personality (in Great Britain, where she emigrated after growing up in Australia), on the other. Classifying the nature of Greer’s feminism, however, raises difficulties. In some ways deeply radical, yet also rejecting certain radical solutions and approaches, Greer seems to occupy an ideological slot all her own, a situation which probably does not displease her in the least.

Greer might be categorized as a radical feminist because she rejects basic institutions such as marriage and the family and because she calls for revolutionary change. For Greer, reformism and moderation become essentially conservative in nature. Yet Greer also rejects many popular tenets of radical feminism. She believes that men are also victimized by modern institutions and therefore not to be understood merely as oppressors. She embraces biology, including sexuality, and eschews the kind of unremittingly dense scholarly approach of many radical feminists.

According to French scholar Ginette Castro, Greer may be classified as an advocate of androgyny. This means that Greer believes in the essential identity of nature shared by females and males. It also means that Greer envisions the full sharing by females and males in a liberated lifestyle featuring new forms of solidarity (for example, new forms of extended family and communal living), increased opportunities for creativity, guilt-free sexual pleasure, and perhaps even realistic forms of love (as opposed to romantic love, which is possessive and narcissistic). On the other hand, any category which lumps Greer together with Mary Daly, who has a distinctly religious perspective, may be of limited utility.

In the years after The Female Eunuch was published, Greer made no notable effort to clarify her exact place in the women’s movement or to elaborate and refine her theory. She remained active as a writer, lecturer, and quasi-celebrity, but she seemed to take pleasure in remaining a free-spirited, freelance critic rather than achieving a more advanced theoretical synthesis. Indeed, this inclination is reflected in the book itself. The Female Eunuch has an ad hoc, hastily constructed—perhaps improvised quality. Its coherence and force come from the consistent, gut-level convictions of its author rather than from scholarship or theoretical sophistication.