Reading The Female Eunuch in midlife after 8 years of marriage....

(33 Posts)
tootsietoo Sun 24-Mar-13 17:26:11

....not a good idea is it really? I'm on the "Misery" and "Resentment" chapters at the moment, so perhaps it gets better. I'm hoping for some helpful ideas at the end!

Two people have used the same phrase when I've mentioned it to them - life changing. When did you read it for the first time, and did it change your life?

UptoapointLordCopper Sun 24-Mar-13 18:51:27

I haven't read it, but I've just read Delusions of Gender and it's making me see discriminations and social conditioning and strange assumptions everywhere and I have also harangued a good few friends about it since. May well read Female Eunuch at some point and become even more popular ...

tootsietoo Sun 24-Mar-13 19:59:19

Blissful ignorance is easier!

Zatopek Sun 24-Mar-13 20:04:11

I read it when I was late 20s. Shortly afterwards I got out of a relationship I had been in for several years. It was pre DC.

It certainly gave me a wake up call.

TheAccidentalEgghibitionist Sun 24-Mar-13 20:04:47

I read it when I was 20 and it was life changing for me.
I haven't reread it so I don't know how it's stood the test of time but I found GG to be such a powerful inspiring voice.
Might reread it now!

k2togm1 Sun 24-Mar-13 20:15:55

Is it still relevant? How do you feel about her discrimination for transgender and homosexuality? I haven't read it, just been put off by reviews!

I read the female eunuch when I was 17. It definitely shaped my feminist principles. The whole woman came out when I was around that age too, although I didn't agree with Greer's stance on transsexuals (and still don't)

What was her stance on transsexuals?

The chapter in the whole woman called The Pantomime Dame discusses it. Even the title gives you a good idea. Greer also left Newnam college when a transsexual was employed there.

KRITIQ Sun 24-Mar-13 21:03:44

Madwoman's Underclothes is better - shorter bits you can dip in and out of. With Greer, I agree with about 80% of what she says, but vehemently disagree with the other 80%, which therefore knocks her completely out of my Top of the Pops of feminism.

I'm finding it really difficult to get into, to be honest.

But ... she didn't just leave Newnham because a transsexual was employed there, it wasn't that simple. Newnham is set up to give women a place to work or study, with the recognition that it there are specific challenges women face to get a job in academia. And there are. Something like 6% of Maths profs are women, I was reading last week.

I don't think anyone doubts that there are also challenges for transsexuals getting into academia, but as I understand it, Greer's issue was that this person had made their career while living as a man, then transitioned when established in that career.

That means that Newnham was in the difficult position of having to decide whether to employ someone who'd encountered the challenges and setbacks of being transsexual, or someone who'd encountered the challenges and setbacks of being female.

I don't agree with a lot of what I've heard Greer saying, but I don't personally think it's wrong to worry about the women who did not get that job opportunity.

tootsietoo Mon 25-Mar-13 14:02:05

It did take me a while to get into, I find her language fairly opaque. Obviously a lot has changed and I feel that some of the social scenarios she describes are anachronistic. But equally so little has changed! For someone like me (i.e. very MC and conventional) there are not really any alternatives to the traditional domestic set up unless you stay single and child free and as she points out, that is fraught with judgement and discrimination itself. And still women have the burden of the domestic drudgery she describes, almost no matter what their job/career/earnings status. Still! It beggars belief. It is articulating so many of the nagging uncomfortable thoughts which I have had since way before I got married. Yet I don't know if there is any point those feelings having words. There's nothing I can do about them! The book I read before this one was Jude The Obscure. And it terrified me how little had changed in nearly 120 years as regards marriage. Must stop reading "important" books and stick to entertaining fluff.

UptoapointLordCopper Mon 25-Mar-13 14:21:51

Tootsie - I think it is important that these feelings are articulated. At least then you know that you are not going mad! Also I feel that I need to "inoculate" DSs about gender stereotype and expectations, constantly pulling them up on whatever the stuff you get in school, in books and on telly. I also find myself taking more of a back seat at home with cooking and housework on weekends when DH is around - it is good for the kids to see that a man can cook and wash up and do the laundry and it's normal. wink Sometimes it feels like a losing battle, but if we all just accept it we will never change anything. And I think things may not change at a drastic pace but I'll be damned if I don't make the effort to start at least something here at home. smile

Funnily enough I read Jude the Obscure before we got married too, and nobody seemed to understand why I did not want a wedding (we did magistrate-then-pub type thing) and why in fact I was so touchy about it. And I have blocked out of my memory someone asking me who was fucking "giving me away". WTF. angry (That's why I should continue to block it out of my memory!)

tootsietoo Mon 25-Mar-13 14:34:19

Baby steps! You are right, at least understanding the problems and having words for them will enable me to teach the DDs as much as I can. Although at the moment DD1 is doing very well by herself - she isn't going to get married or have babies apparently. I suspect most 6 year olds are feminists though, it's only as they get a bit older that the rot starts to set in. They both thought it was hilarious when Daddy was ironing his shirts last night and he kept sending them upstairs to tell me that I should be doing it. Me not find it so hilarious.

The whole wedding thing - http://cdnmn.com/emo/te/6.gif - so with you.

tootsietoo Mon 25-Mar-13 14:35:24

Baby steps! You are right, at least understanding the problems and having words for them will enable me to teach the DDs as much as I can. Although at the moment DD1 is doing very well by herself - she isn't going to get married or have babies apparently. I suspect most 6 year olds are feminists though, it's only as they get a bit older that the rot starts to set in. They both thought it was hilarious when Daddy was ironing his shirts last night and he kept sending them upstairs to tell me that I should be doing it. Me not find it so hilarious.

The whole wedding thing - angry - so with you.

tootsietoo Mon 25-Mar-13 14:35:56

aaargh, sorry, not got the hang of editing yet!

Zatopek Mon 25-Mar-13 21:14:37

It's partly because of "Jude the Obscure" that I decided not to get married

As Aunt Drusilla tells Jude the "Fawleys aren't made for marrying". I always felt that about my family too.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Mon 25-Mar-13 21:44:41

Bump

snowshapes Mon 25-Mar-13 22:47:53

>>It's partly because of "Jude the Obscure" that I decided not to get married<<

A wise, wise decision.

tootsietoo, you say >For someone like me (i.e. very MC and conventional) there are not really any alternatives to the traditional domestic set up unless you stay single and child free <, but I am not really getting what you mean. Why does being middle class mean that there are not alternatives to the traditional domestic set up? Or is it being conventional? I'd wager the latter, because being middle class surely gives you the financial means and the social confidence to carry off alternatives more easily (that is to say, I don't see the Daily Fail wasting its ink over the lone middle class mothers who can afford to raise their children themselves). Or am I missing the point? Do middle class and conventional go together?

Lottapianos Tue 26-Mar-13 19:01:36

DP and I have decided not to get married but would love a civil partnership. I've never been convinced by arguments that marriage isn't how it used to be and that patriarchal baggage is a thing of the past. I've not read Jude the Obscure but am very interested after reading this thread!

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Mar-13 19:03:38

Can't answer snowshapes's question to tootsie, but there are parts of Delusions of Gender that said, if I remember correctly, that certain stereotyped behaviour seemed more marked amongst the "white middle class". I remember wondering why.

Some books make you go shock. Jude is one. Tess is another. Also Kafka's the Trial and Conrad's the Secret Agent. Makes you go "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!!! shock shock" Note that I don't read that many "worthy" books. Mostly I read detective novels. Those are anomalies. grin

tootsietoo Tue 26-Mar-13 21:04:59

Snowshapes, no reason why they should go together particularly. I probably shouldn't have muddied the waters by throwing class into the mix. I mean being conventional then. Or maybe more to the point, being "a good girl". Someone who doesn't like to cause controversy! I have a friend who has three children with an on/off boyfriend who's not around anymore. Some people say she's mad/sad/bad. I say she's brave, and she's done the right thing for her. She works blimming hard, but she is mistress of her own destiny. I don't know if I could have so defied what was expected of me!

Lottapianos, I only read Jude because a friend refused to tell me the ending because she couldn't bring herself to talk about it! So of course I had to read it then. No doubt, it is thoroughly depressing (if you intend to read it DO NOT google it first, it really is shock) but very interesting on the subject of marriage and women.

Civil partnership does sound so very.... civil. And a partnership. So much better than marriage!

Jude and Tess are the only Hardy books I have read. Are they all as bleak?

Will get onto The Trial and The Secret Agent right away LordCopper! Only got a couple of chapters into Heart of Darkness - must try again.

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Mar-13 21:11:10

I did read Heart of Darkness, but only remember that I liked it, that it was miles better than Apocalypse Now. But reread. But reading Montalbano now. grin

UptoapointLordCopper Tue 26-Mar-13 21:11:34

Civil partnership does sound so much more civil!

Zatopek Tue 26-Mar-13 21:13:00

Far from the Madding Crowd has its moments but is quite uplifting at the end.

I love the beautiful symmetry of Mayor of Casterbridge but that does not end well.

I like the defying of convention in the non -happy ending in most Hardy novels

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