Friday Feminist – Germaine Greer

If women are to effect a significant amelioration in their condition it seems obvious that they must refuse to marry. No worker can be required to sign on for life: if he did, his employer could disregard all his attempts to gain better pay and conditions. In those places where an employer has the monopoly of employment this phenomenon can be observed. It should not be up to the employer to grant improvements out of the goodness of his heart: his workers must retain their pride be retaining their bargaining power. It might be argued that women are not signed up for life in the marriage contract because divorce is always possible, but as it stands divorce works in the male interest, not only because it was designed and instituted by men, but because divorce still depends on money and independent income. Married women seldom have either. Men argue that alimony laws can cripple them, and this is obviously true, but they have only themselves to blame for the fact that alimony is necessary, largely because of the pattern of granting custody of the children to the mother. The alimonized wife bringing up the children without father is no more free that she ever was. It makes even less sense to sign a life-long service contract which can be broken by the employer only. More bitter still is the reflection that the working wife who has her income assessed as a part of her husband’s, and he on the other hand is not even obliged to tell her how much he earns. If independence is a necessary concomitant of freedom, women must not marry.

Germaine Greer, The Female Eunuch, 1970

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