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The Whole Woman Paperback – August 8, 2000

3.8 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For women born in the immediate postwar period, there were the years BG and AG--"before Greer" and "after Greer." It's all too easy to underestimate its influence, but the fact is that in 1970 every self-respecting woman on the Left owned a copy of The Female Eunuch. Thirty years later, Germaine Greer is ready to get angry again. In The Whole Woman, she analyzes, among other issues, the invasive ways in which the health industry persuades women to have their bodies and reproductive systems "managed." Greer lays out the facts about the high failure rate and devastating side effects of in vitro fertilization and the incongruence between the "success" of breast implants in achieving the "perfect" mammary to please men and the continuing failures in detecting and treating increasingly prevalent breast cancer.

Greer's polemic has the confident virtuosity of wit and maturity. Celebrating women's successes, The Whole Woman is a more positive book than The Female Eunuch. Her unique combination of outrageous humor and assertiveness continues to lead the way forward for women who want to take control of their lives. --Lisa Jardine, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

The blithe spirit of The Female EunuchAa tart, irreverent feminist screed that crackled across the Western world in 1971Ahas given way to the surprisingly curmudgeonly temperament of Greer's latest effort, with its dim view of humanity and our capacity to change. After 30 years and many books, the Australian-born polemicist who lives and teaches in England has attempted to recreate and update the formula that brought her international acclaim. Like its predecessor, this new work is a loosely connected series of short, idiosyncratic, Menckenesque essays larded with statistics, slangy erudition and disembodied quotations set off in half-tones. This time around, the author gambols over such disparate subjects as female circumcision in Africa (Greer urges tolerance for cultural practices so different from our own) and transgendered people (she blazes with antagonism against sexual reassignments). In one of her pet peeves, she excoriates housewives who waste hours in shopping malls in search of the latest prepackaged foodstuffs while remaining immune to the joys of baking a cake from scratch. At her best, Greer argues passionately for the mystic virtues of ecofeminism and stirringly calls for a return to the values of a simpler life, minus its egregious sexist assaults. Occasionally an aphorism sparkles with the old wit and biteA"One wife is all any man deserves"; "The power of Hillary Clinton's well-trained brain is principally demonstrated to the American public in her spirited defenses of her husband against the charges that he has cuckolded and humiliated her"Abut too often the effect is labored and strained. Greer has grievances aplenty with present-day society, but she offers few prescriptives for improvement besides demonstrations of support for embattled Iraqi and Palestinian women. Agent, Gillon Aitken. 100,000 first printing; seven-city author tour.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (August 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385720033
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385720038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I love this book. It is amazing, and, it has to be said, very few people still write anything like this. I don't agree with everything Greer says, but then i don't have to: she is forty years older than me and if her book inspires someone of my generation to write the next 'Female Eunuch' then it will have served its purpose. When I read her first novel, the Female Eunuch, it wasn't so much as a piece of feminist literature as a primary historical source. Yet I feel I owe a debt to Greer and her contemporaries for writing such works and creating the workd in which I grew up.
Many criticisms of The Whole Woman have centred on Greer's discussion of 'Pantomine Dames' and supposed defence of female genital mutilation. Whether or not you agree with her conclusions, I think she raises some extremely valid points surrounding these topics, such as, do we construct the Female negatively (ie. by the omission of a male genitalia rather than the possession of female genitalia?) - and, of course, the post-colonial relationship between Western women and women in developing nations. Whilst I will support any woman, anywhere, in her struggle for recognition and emancipation, Greer points out that it isn't my job to tell her how to do it. The West has been doing that for far too long.
This isn't, to me, a book of answers. It's a book of questions which I haven't heard asked before. My greatest problem with Greer is that I still find her somewhat dismissive of men. After all, men are our lovers and our sons, and I think few women want that to change. But she reminds us that we have a long way to go in reconstructing our society and redefining the gender roles within it to improve life for men and women.
To all those twenty year olds out there: our mothers did a hell of a lot for us. We owe it to them to do a hell of a lot more!!!
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Format: Paperback
Germaine Greer is back and she's still angry. The Whole Woman is the self-proclaimed sequel to 1971's The Female Eunuch, a sequel she had said she would never write. She took up the cause again because "the fire flared up in her belly" when the feminists of her generation said that feminism had gone too far and the "lifestyle feminists" (whoever they may be) said that it had gone far enough.

For Greer, almost everything about being a woman today is terrible, because she sees that all women are cruelly manipulated by the media and society's constructs to become "disabled" beings. So "a woman's first duty to herself is to survive this process, then to recognize it, then to take measures to defend herself against it." Mass culture has spread the "gospel of salvation according to hipless, wombless, hard-breasted Barbie" to the rest of the world with terrible efficiency so that even the "whole women" of the third world (including, presumably, the "infibulated woman who taught her about sexual pleasure") are being transformed into the dreaded stereotype. "If only all women were like me!" Greer seems to be saying.

It is this apparent solipsism that infects all of Greer's writing. She has, in one of her many well-documented tirades, accused her mother of having Asperger's syndrome but now Greer herself seems to be heading towards the same affliction.

Nevertheless, the fierce polemicism of all of Greer's writing (evident even in the autobiographical Daddy We Hardly Knew You) is stirring. She has the prodigious ability to irritate, to get under the skin, and not just of men.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greer returns to tell the 'muddle crass' what a load of tripe and codswallop feminism has become in the nineties. Sure, its full of hyperbole, and short on coolly considered politically-correct solutions. She gives women's 'progress' the lie in stunning rhetorical form. She is a feminist Swift, or perhaps Wyndham Lewis(!!) quaranteed to piss off conventional wisdom of any ilk.
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By A Customer on July 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
First, Do No Harm. This should be a code for all human beings...no just doctors.
I am a member of the AISSG (Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group. It is absolutely criminal to be allowed to write damaging untruths and get them published. How many lives will you affect? What good are you doing in the world? Is there any more noble purpose to our lives than to affect people in a positive way?
The "facts" on AIS presented in The Whole Woman are absolutely FALSE! And what is more troubling is that they are damaging and an insult to injury thrust upon a group of women who have suffered enough abuse at the hands of the ignorant.
Poor Show.
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Format: Paperback
I found The Whole Woman more antagonistic and needlessly controversial than enlightening. Greer makes it quite clear that there is exactly one feminist left on the planet, and she is it.

I'm hard-pressed to think of any third-wave feminists who live up to her standards. To do so, you would have to be an earth-mother living in a separatist commune with her lesbian lover. There's nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but it's not one to which most feminists would aspire. It's not one to which I aspire.

Also, it's as limiting a construction of womanhood as the patriarchal one she deplores. What do you do if you are heterosexual? It's all very well for her to say that you can reconstruct yourself as a lesbian, but that's as insulting as the implication that homosexuals just need to try hard enough and they can be heterosexual.

In a similar vein, I found her views of men particularly unpleasant. She suggests in no uncertain terms that they're all potential adulterers, rapists, child-abusers, wife-beaters, misogynists, etc . . . etc . . ., and that any woman who wants an equal, non-exploitative relationship had better become a lesbian. It's hard to see it as anything but pure slander, backed up by the flimsiest of anecdotal evidence. Just because you can cite a few cases of sickos who get turned on by their baby daughters in their nightgowns does not mean that all fathers will inevitably turn to abuse.

The rest of the book is no better. It's very poorly researched and argued, and parts of it verge into the insane. She seems particularly taken with the idea of "primitive" women as whole women, because they aren't bound by Western concepts of femininity.
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