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The Whole Woman Paperback – August 8, 2000

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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: #391,673 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 1999
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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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 1999
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Richard Hawkins on October 10, 2004
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful 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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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Curiosity about Feminism is what prompted me to read this book and I am glad that this is the one I started with.
Greer takes you through all facets of feminism, never pausing to let you catch your breath. She wastes no time in wishy washy vagueries or the shallow and cliché versions of feminism. Each paragraph is loaded with strength and information that tells you what your gut already knows but society does not want you to believe.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
It is amazing how effectively Greer can belittle and expose the anglo-capitalist agendas of Talk Show-feminists clawing for that elusive "key to the executive washroom," of the recent crop of "bimbo feminists" like Naomi Wolfe and the Spice Girls, and of low-IQ liberal bigots in general. Greer correctly points out that these sorts feel no solidarity with "the Cuban feminists struggling to counter-act the crippling effects of the American blockade", nor for "the women who denounce cultural imperialism...donned the chador and howled the Americans out of Iran." There is not as much radically new material here as there was in her earlier work "Sex and Destiny" (- for example, the evils of Barbie and Silicon implants are already well publicised.) However, the chapters on the Womb, Pantomime Dames, Shopping, Sex, Daughters, and Girl Power, are revelatory. The book has an appeal that transcends cultures, gender and economic systems. As a muslim male banker, I found Greer's manifesto to be a truly invigorating read.
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