Monday, January 31, 2011

The Female Eunuch Opening Line

Well I am reading The Female Eunuch (up to p.32) and whilst it is a good idea to try not to over-anyalise and have opinion about things before getting further into a book, there is a minor issue that needs to be addressed.

This is the opening sentence of the book proper.

"It is true that the sex of a person is attested by every cell in his body."

Firstly, attested is an interesting word that is fun to say and means something along the lines of providing evidence. So we can put that a little less eloquently than Ms. Greer but in perhaps easier understood language.

"In every cell in his body there is evidence of the sex of a person."

Or:

"The sex of a person is in evidence in every cell in his body." (True story!)

Whatever. Interesting words aside, this is not the problem with the sentence the problem comes with the second last word

"It is true that the sex of a person is attested by every cell in his body."

His body? What is she on about?! This is supposed to be the preliminary feminist text of the second wave of feminism. It is said to have inspired generations of women to liberate themselves from oppression and move out of the shadow of men. And yet in the opening sentence of the book Ms. Germaine Greer sees fit to use the male to define sex. She is using not her but his as the platform for which everything relates back too. What?! Why?!

Disbelief. The rest of this book better make up for this inital setback. Seriously, I am hoping this is all part of a grand plan to really renounce the male-hegemony of our language. In one sentence the author has earned herself a sceptical reader. This is probably a good thing as at least the reader is active and learning and engaging with the text. Perhaps that was the motivaton. Still, why?