In 1973, Arianna Stassinopoulos published her anti-feminist tract, The Female Woman. Specifically formulated and marketed as a response to Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch (1970), the book went on to become one of the bestselling backlash texts of the 1970s. This article examines the impact of this opposition on popular understandings of Greer and second-wave feminism, through a case study of media coverage of Stassinopoulos’ visit to Australia in November 1974. Although The Female Woman capitalised on Greer’s celebrity for the purposes of backlash politics and Stassinopoulos’ own career, I argue that its invocation of Greer ultimately served to extend the mainstream media’s engagement with feminism. While one effect of the book and the publicity around it was to perpetuate a view of Greer as synonymous with women’s liberation, media coverage of the tour also helped to extend discussion about the nature of leadership and representation in feminist politics. Furthermore, Greer’s own popularity proved to be a key factor militating against Stassinopoulos’ appeal. In this instance, Greer’s celebrity – the very quality that Stassinopoulos sought to exploit for her own benefit – served as a powerful countervailing force to anti-feminism, moderating the traction that Stassinopoulos was able to achieve.
- Arianna Stassinopoulos
- Germaine Greer