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Germaine Greer

  • The essence of pleasure is spontaneity.

  • The struggle which is not joyous is the wrong struggle. The joy of the struggle is not hedonism and hilarity, but the sense of purpose, achievement and dignity.

  • Every time a woman makes herself laugh at her husband's often-told jokes she betrays him. The man who looks at his woman and says 'What would I do without you?' is already destroyed.

  • The first kiss ideally signals rapture, exchange of hearts, and imminent marriage. Otherwise it is a kiss that lies. All very crude and nonsensical, and yet it is the staple myth of hundreds of comics called 'Sweethearts,' 'Romantic Secrets' and so forth. The state induced by the kiss is actually self-induced, of course, for few lips are so gifted with electric and psychedelic possibilities.

  • The hero of romance knows how to treat women. Flowers, little gifts, love letters, maybe poems to her eyes and hair, candlelit meals on moonlit terraces and muted strings. Nothing hasty, physical. Some heavy breathing. Searing lips pressed against the thin stuff of her bodice. Endearments muttered into her luxuriant hair. 'Little things mean a lot.' Her favorite chocolates, his pet names for her, remembering her birthday, anniversaries, silly games. And then the foolish things that remind him of her, her perfume, her scarf, her frilly underthings and absurd lace hankies, kittens in her lap. Mystery, magic, champagne, ceremony, tenderness, excitement, adoration, reverence — women never have enough of it. Most men know nothing about this female fantasy world because they are not exposed to this kind of literature and the commerce of romanticism.

  • A woman is never so happy as when she is being wooed. Then she is mistress of all she surveys, the cynosure of all eyes, until that day of days when she sails down the aisle, a vision in white, lovely as the stefanotis she carries, borne translucent on her father's manly arm to be handed over to her new father-surrogate. If she is clever, and if her husband has the time and the resources, she will insist on being wooed all her life; more likely she will discover that marriage is not romantic, that husbands forget birthdays and aniversaries and seldom pay compliments, are often perfunctory.

  • Lifelong monogamy is a maniacal idea.

  • Freedom is fragile and must be protected. To sacrifice it, even as a temporary measure, is to betray it.

  • We live in a true chaos of contradicting authorities, an age of conformism without community, of proximity without communication.

  • If the present economic structure can change only by collapsing, then it had better collapse as soon as possible.

  • Love, love love — all the wretched cant of it, masking egotism, lust, masochism, fantasy under a mythology of sentimental postures, a welter of self-induced miseries and joys, blinding and masking the essential personalities in the frozen gestures of courtship, in the kissing and the dating and the desire, the compliments and the quarrels which vivify its barrenness.

  • The notion of a curve is so closely connected to sexual semantics that some people cannot resist sniggering at road signs.

  • Loneliness is never more cruel than when it is felt in close propinquity with someone who has ceased to communicate.

  • ... love is the drug which ... makes sexuality palatable in popular mythology.

  • Energy is the power that drives every human being. It is not lost by exertion but maintained by it, for it is a faculty of the psyche.

  • Freud is the father of psychoanalysis. It had no mother.

  • Security is when everything is settled, when nothing can happen to you; security is the denial of life.

  • Most women still need a room of their own and the only way to find it may be outside their own homes.

  • Bringing up children is not a real occupation, because children come up just the same, brought or not.

  • War is the admission of defeat in the face of conflicting interests: by war the issue is left to chance, and the tacit assumption that the best man will win is not at all justified. It might equally be argued that the worst, the most unscrupulous man will win, although history will continue the absurd game by finding him after all the best man.

  • Revolution is the festival of the oppressed.

  • Women have very little idea of how much men hate them.

  • The consequences of militancy do not disappear when the need for militancy is over.

  • Mother is the dead heart of the family, spending the father's earnings on consumer goods to enhance the environment in which he eats, sleeps and watches the television.

  • Probably the only place where a man can feel really secure is in a maximum security prison, except for the immminent threat of release.

  • The only causes of regret are laziness, outbursts of temper, hurting others, prejudice, jealousy and envy.

  • Men ought to be more conscious of their bodies as objects of delight and women less so.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • in Time ()
  • The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • "My Mailer Problem," in Esquire ()
  • Pigs may like honey, but that doesn't stop it being sweet.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • in Playboy ()
  • The management of fertility is one of the most important functions of adulthood.

  • Human beings have an inalienable right to invent themselves; when that right is pre-empted it is called brain-washing.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • in The Times ()
  • Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, unorgiastic, reliable, deep and long-lasting. In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.

  • Aging is the most idiosyncratic of all human processes and predictions cannot be made about any individual's aging career.

  • The older woman's love is not love of herself, nor of herself mirrored in a lover's eyes, nor is it corrupted by need. It is a feeling of tenderness so still and deep and warm that it gilds every grassblade and blesses every fly. It includes the ones who have a claim on it, and a great deal else besides. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

  • After centuries of conditioning of the female into the condition of perpetual girlishness called femininity, we cannot remember what femaleness is.

  • Menopause is a dream specialty for the mediocre medic. Dealing with it requires no surgical or diagnostic skill. It is not itself a life-threatening condition, so a patient's death is always somebody else's fault. There is no scope for malpractice suits. Patients must return again and again for a battery of tests and check-ups, all of which earn money for the medic ...

  • Eligible men live in a sellers' market, and they know how to exploit the fact. Ineligible men are just that.

  • Awareness of time as flying has some advantages; it precludes boredom, for one thing. It matters little that younger people find older people boring or slow. Older people have a right to resist being rushed, to stand and stare at the fragile world that has become so unspeakably dear to them. For the lucky ones, who will not have to leave while they are still in love with life, there will come a later time when that passion too will fade, but while one is still possessed by that great tenderness, it must be yielded to.

  • Nobody who is asked the question, 'How old do you think I am?' ever answers the question honestly. The question that is answered is, 'How old do you think I think you think I am?'

  • With the onset of menopause one thing becomes clear, that is, that we must work at being healthy. We can no longer abuse the organism and get away with it.

  • A garden is a kinetic work of art, not an object but a process, open-ended, biodegradable, nurturant, like all women's artistry. A garden is the best alternative therapy.

  • ... continuing sexual interest and perfect sexual adjustment between partners who have been together for thirty years is so difficult and rare that no one should feel guilty or inadequate for not having managed it.

  • ... it is probably a truism that the end of one's sexual career is as incompetent as the beginning ...

  • People who are really happy do not concern themselves with convincing others of the fact.

  • No sex is better than bad sex.

  • Our whole lives are lived in a tangle of telling, not telling, misleading, allowing to know, concealing, eavesdropping and collusion. When Washington said he could not tell a lie, his father must have answered, 'You had better learn.'

    • Germaine Greer,
    • in Christine Wallace, Germaine Greer: Untamed Shrew ()
  • A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • quoted by Bob Mondello, "Libraries' Leading Roles," All Things Considered ()
  • Yet if a woman never lets herself go, how will she ever know how far she might have got? If she never takes off her high-heeled shoes, how will she ever know how far she could walk or how fast she could run?

  • Reality television is not the end of civilisation as we know it; it is civilisation as we know it.

    • Germaine Greer,
    • Germaine Greer, in The Observer ()

Germaine Greer, Australian writer, educator, journalist, feminist

(1939)