Picks and Pans Review: Sex and Destiny

UPDATED 05/21/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/21/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Germaine Greer

"I, a veteran of 10 years campaigning for sexual freedom, found myself blushing. Then I realized that sex was in the air that Rosetta breathed: She was ripe and the ripeness was all.... The virgin Rosetta, with her sturdy, hairy legs...had more confidence in her female sexual power than I would ever have." Germaine Greer has discovered peasant sex. It is always dangerous when intellectuals start going barefoot in impoverished villages, and Greer is no exception. (The Australian writer divides her time between a London apartment and a farm in Italy, where she observed Rosetta.) The author of the 1970 best-seller The Female Eunuch, which celebrated sexual freedom, now glorifies motherhood and proposes coitus interruptus and the rhythm system as the best, most natural forms of contraception. Greer believes the sexual revolution of the '70s has failed horribly because the West has transformed sex into a consumer item, stripping it of passion. She turns to the traditional practices of the Third World for guidance, seeing them as more humane and loving. When the childless Greer sticks to her complaints about Western society, she scores valid points: She deplores the lack of respect given motherhood and the U.S. medical establishment's bias toward the sterilization of low-income women. As a curative for the exploitation of women in our culture, Greer suggests we learn from less developed cultures about forming relationships and parenting children. Unfortunately she hurls her extensive research at the reader in huge, indigestible chunks. Her solutions are never detailed. And she rarely suggests that the oppression of women, which she sees as rampant in the West, also extends to the Third World. Greer is singing a different tune today, but it remains a quirky, often strident call to arms. (Harper & Row, $19.95)

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