- Paperback: 138 pages
- Publisher: Pathfinder Books Ltd; Reissue edition (April 1986)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0873486595
- ISBN-13: 978-0873486590
- Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 13.3 x 21.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,489,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Cosmetics, Fashions and the Exploitation of Women Paperback – Apr 1986
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How do the wealthy owners of the cosmetics and fashion industries play on women's insecurities to sell products and rake in profits? How are the standards of beauty determined in capitalist society? Why do the employers, the media, the government, and the schools and churches promote "the feminine mystique" and glorify the family? How has the growing participation of women in the labor force changed their view of themselves and their potential? How has it affected the attitudes of men toward women? What does all this say about the relationship between the capitalist system and the oppression of women? These are some of the questions that emerge from a lively 1954 debate over the relation of the marketing of cosmetics and fashions to the exploitation of women. The controversy was sparked by a short exposé of the cosmetics industry in the 'Militant', a socialist newsweekly. That article, written by 'Militant' editor Joseph Hansen and entitled "Sagging Cosmetic Lines Try a Face Lift." is included in this collection. Also published are other articles from that debate by Hansen and Evelyn Reed, providing a Marxist analysis of the pressures bearing down on women - and men - in capitalist society, especially during periods of political reaction or retreat.
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Reed's essay sums up the political debate at the center of the book (see other reviewers' summaries of this) and, like Waters, launches a factual, scientific examination of the roots of the oppression of women and how our concepts of beauty, fashion, and cosmetics are tied to the rule of a handful of capitalists over the majority who toil for a living. A must for women (and men) who want to understand why sexism exists in our society and how to fight it.
You get a serious look at the roots of the oppression of women in capitalist society, including the powerful psychological pressure exerted through mass media, marketing, and bosses to compel women to "need"--and hence buy-- the "right" clothes, cosmetics, and so-called beauty treatments. The discussion takes up the changing relations between men and women as human society has evolved from earliest times to today's class-divided society, debunks the notion of an eternal standard of beauty, and much more.
It's also a wonderful example of how to analyze and understand political and social questions from the standpoint of the interests of working people and not succumb to the prejudices and fetishes of capitalist society. You see how political activists can thrash out sharp differences over tough questions in the framework of an open exchange of views.
An extensive introduction covers the impact of the capitalist crisis of the 1980s on women and the decline of the mass women's rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
This books clarifies a lot of things that we let just seep into our minds from this society without understanding where they come from, why they exist and who is to blame.
While this book may not be available from Amazon from time time, it is always available from booksfrompathfinder, a vendor you can rech by clicking on new and used toward the top of this page.
This dispute, which became a debate within the Socialist Workers Party, took place well before the rise of the 1960s women's liberation movement. It took place at a time generally regarded as one of bland social conformity. Obviously, social attitudes towards, and by, women were much more complex than met the eye. An introduction by Mary-Alice Waters puts the book in its modern-day context
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