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Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism [Paperback]

Natasha Walter
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Feb 2010
Empowerment, liberation, choice. Once the watchwords of feminism, these terms have now been co-opted by a society that sells women an airbrushed, highly sexualised and increasingly narrow vision of femininity. While the opportunities available to women may have expanded, the ambitions of many young girls are in reality limited by a culture that sees women's sexual allure as their only passport to success. At the same time we are encouraged to believe that the inequality we observe all around us is born of innate biological differences rather than social factors. Drawing on a wealth of research and personal interviews, Natasha Walter, author of the groundbreaking THE NEW FEMINISM and one of Britain's most incisive cultural commentators, gives us a straight-talking, passionate and important book that makes us look afresh at women and girls, at sexism and femininity, today.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Virago Press Ltd (4 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084845
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 15.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 169,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'If anyone doubts the need to protect girls from the toxic, hyper-sexualised, disempowering environment they're now growing up in, they should read LIVING DOLLS' Maggie Hamilton, author of WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR GIRLS?

Book Description

* A controversial and much needed look at our highly sexualised culture, available now in paperback - 'A must-read' Viv Groskop, Guardian --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
160 of 165 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Is this empowerment? 3 Feb 2010
By Damaskcat HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Feminism and the sexual revolution was intended to give women choices about their lives so that they didn't have to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Natasha Walter's controversial book shows women have instead been placed in a straightjacket which dictates how they look, how they behave and what ambitions they have. The first half of the book is taken up with extracts from interviews she had with teenagers, sex workers, people at the top of the glamour magazine and film industry and with a user of pornography. Was female empowerment meant to be about behaving like a man - and the worst type of man at that?

To me the thoughts of the teenagers she talks to make tragic reading. They are only interested in how many men they can sleep with and what they look like. The contrast between them and the few girls she talks to who don't want to win fame and fortune by posing nude in a lads' magazine is stark. Walter also recounts conversations with young women who earned money while at university as escorts and prostitutes. Some see nothing wrong with it and regard it as a simple and fun way to earn enough money to support themselves. Others had clearly thought deeply about the work and felt it was not the best way to deal with a financial crisis. Is becoming a prostitute or a pole dancer really how female empowerment looks today?

The second half of the book deals with the trend in the media to exaggerate sex differences and to point to studies showing men and women have different capabilities because of their gender. As Walter points out there are many studies which show there is very little difference in the capabilities of men and women but these are rarely reported.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book amazed me. It totally challenged my idea that we finally live in an equal world.
I am a living doll - I diet, I bleach my hair, I wear makeup. And all this makes me feel more valid in society... why is it ok for me to feel like I have to do this to feel like I have achieved? I have two masters degrees, lots of friends and a great job...
Read this book if you have ever felt guilty about eating a cookie, or bought a new handbag to cheer yourself up. IT will change the way you wee the western world!

I am also enjoying 'the equality illusion' which takes these ideas further.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very important book 5 April 2010
Format:Paperback
I have never reviewed a book before, but I felt I had to with this. I feel this book encompasses everything I have been saying to people I know for years. It's both reassuring and worrying to know that you're not the only one, and other people notice these things too.
I wish the issues in this book were highlighted more, so girls know that it's not right to judge one's whole self worth on the way they look.

Thank you so much Natasha Walter!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A State of the Nation address on sexism 19 Jun 2011
Format:Paperback
I found it interesting that the subtitle of this book is "The Return of Sexism" as I believe, and the book seems to demonstrate, that sexism has never gone away - it has just reared up again in a different form over the past decade due to the direction in which society has been moving. Push it down in one place and it just pops up somewhere else.

Living Dolls feels like the latest "state of the nation" despatch from the front line of the battle against sexism and joins earlier despatches such as "The Female Eunuch" and "The Beauty Myth" in pinpointing "how we live now". And wow, is it a depressing picture. The focus of the 1970s and 1980s on the fight for equality in life, in the workplace and in politics seems to have faded, and now we're battling a world in which women and men are thought (incorrectly) to be victims of their genetic destiny, and where conforming to porn-like standards of appearance and sexuality is seen to be the only road to success for many women. The political has very much become the personal, and you can't get much more personal that dictating to women how they should look, right down to very intimate personal grooming.

The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with how women are now pressured into being hyper-sexualised beings, living as pink and sparkly princesses who must measure up to a narrow range of physical standards in order to be seen as acceptable. The second looks at the way scientific and sociological research has been wrongly interpreted to come down on the nature side of the "nature v nurture" debate on the differences between men and women.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended: obligatory reading 5 Nov 2010
Format:Paperback
Outstanding book: excellent commentary on the state of society today regarding women/ girls, the pressures they face, the nature of 'choice' regarding those who enter the sex trade or glamour modelling and the regression to pre-feminist beliefs and patterns of behaviour. An easy read but no less detailed and incisive for it. I have been lending my copy to anyone who will read it.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must for mothers of daughters 14 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm still reading, but I have to say that this one of the most important books on gender issues that have been published lately. I cannot praise Walter enough for raising these topics into public awareness, getting the discussion in the media going (e.g.Irish Times), so many points I have been thinking myself, wondering whether I am the only one to get upset, e.g. the ridiculous sexualised fashion for little girls in this country, the semi-pornographic music videos I would rather not let my kids watch, but feel I have to or I appear to be an oldfashioned spoilsport. Or the way british and irish teenage girls "dress" when going out, what is emancipated/liberated in tottering about in stilettos, boobs and bums barely covered in freezing temperatures...is that it? Is that the result of what generations of women struggled for, got verbally (and otherwise) abused for ....ah, don't get me going.
Jeez, am I glad that I'm not a teenie nowadays, but I am deeply worried about the future of my 10 year old daughter!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars SPEAKING THE TRUTH
In the info for this book its talking about womens sexual allure being the passport to success .

Im going to tell how it REALLY is .. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Miss S
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Everyone - women and man should read it. I think it could be even a mandatory reading for teenagers and their parents alike. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Hanna
5.0 out of 5 stars fast delivery. great condition. well received gift.
bought as a gift for a friend wanting to start learning more about new wave feminism. a fantastic place to start- not too pretentiously written. Top condition. Speedy delivery
Published 1 month ago by Ester
5.0 out of 5 stars favourite book
i read this book over and over again!

Walter is insanely truthful and this book is divine. Absolutely fantastic book.
Published 2 months ago by Clare
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read !
This is a book that you should read.. if you are a woman..like women.. have daughters... or just want a cleverly written piece of social commentary. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Tea_Talks
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, depressing, enlightening
This is, I find, a depressing book. Depressing because the author shines a light of feminist awareness onto a male dominated society which has created sexist narratives of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Self-help junkie
5.0 out of 5 stars Living Dolls book
I bought this for my sister as she is a die hard feminist, and I can already tell that she will love it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Emma Lizzie
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary feminist classic
I never write reviews usually but this book has compelled me to talk about it to anyone who'll listen. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Marissa Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye-Opening
This book was a real eye-opener into the situation of our world in regard to the gender divide. Obviously it shouldn't be taken as pure fact without extra research, but the insight... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Briony
5.0 out of 5 stars essential reading for the millenium feminist
Simply one of the best books on womens studies that had been published this century. Written in an easy language, not boring, it is impossible to put down. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Ruth L.S.
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