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The Whole Woman


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The blithe spirit of The Female EunuchÄa tart, irreverent feminist screed that crackled across the Western world in 1971Ähas 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 biteÄ"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"Äbut 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. (May)

" Compulsively readable." --"San Francisco Chronicle" " Right on." --"Los Angeles Times" " She is deliberately irate and humorous, challenging and disarming as she seeks to undermine firmly held beliefs." --"Newsday"

Although Greer calls this a sequel to her 1970 feminist classic The Female Eunuch, it is more a reprise. The structure is parallel, and some content is repeated. Her rationale is "It's time to get angry again"; but if readers are to become "whole women," we need not only this strongly worded reminder of remaining societal barriers but also hope springing from the progress, however limited, of the last 30 years. There is little hope within these pages. There are also some surprising inconsistencies: "Men will not buy cosmetics" vs. "In 1996 male cosmetic surgery was a $9.5 billion industry nationwide." The meaningless (and offensive) generalization from The Female Eunuch that "all men hate some women some of the time" is not only repeated here but reinforced. Libraries should retain the earlier title for historic interest, but this book will serve as a replacement.ÄBarbara Ann Hutcheson, Greater Victoria P.L., BC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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