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Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism Paperback – 4 Feb 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (4 Feb. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084845
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 333,401 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?)

** 'In LIVING DOLLS, Walter makes a compelling case that we need feminism more than ever...this book makes a disturbing, passionate and compelling case for revisiting our notions of equality...Everyone who cares anything about the kind of society we are curre (Sunday Business Post)

** 'Walter does a brilliant job of demolishing their (scientists') arguments (Mail on Sunday, Susie Orbach)

** 'Required reading for everyone who cares about our humanity, and that means all of us (Katherine Sheridan, Irish Times)

Book Description

From one of Britain's most impressive cultural and political commentators comes a controversial and much needed look at our highly sexualised culture

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

173 of 179 people found the following review helpful By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 3 Feb. 2010
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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Hope on 28 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
This is very well-written, readable journalism and started a good discussion at my book club. A couple of members found it depressing, because the author concludes that despite decades of the Equal Pay Act and people believing feminism had won its battles, women are limiting themselves and their daughters with exaggerated stereotypes of roles and embracing the sex-object ideology of unreconstructed men.

Walter is good on debunking the "biological determinism" myth showing the dishonest selection and interpretation of research by journalists keen for headlines and articles showing that women are "hard-wired" for limited, passive, and domestic roles. The research, including research on brains, shows that people are individual and there are no significant biological sex differences at all.

A refreshing articulate voice in a culture that imagines pole dancing classes are empowering and lazily offers children nothing better than princess parties for girls and low expectations of the behaviour of boys, regardless of the reality in front of them.

My only reservation is that it repeats itself, so for an old-time feminist it could have trotted along a little more quickly. Maybe the repetition is good for newcomers.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By J. Bettany on 13 May 2010
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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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Lauren J. Ainsworth on 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alison on 8 July 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have been wanting to read this book for a while - I am becoming more engaged in my feminist beliefs and wanting to read more and more!
I am going to try to review this book on its structure and layout as opposed to its actual thesis, as I would hate to give someone a bad review just because they may not agree with me! This book is in two sections. The first is something of an opinion piece based on Walter's interviews with young women and deriding the aspirational status of the sex object in today's society. I found this section occasionally 'prudish' and a little moralistic. This could easily be my socialisation talking - that is what the society Walter discusses would want me to say! However, the second section is scientific, based on studies and evidence, and critically examines the concept of inherent gender difference. The second half of this book is rewarding, enlightening and interesting - not to mention quotable! I found myself wanting to highlight nearly every other sentence on my Kindle. The focus on critical examination of established "facts" as opposed to the more subjective first section was appreciated. I found Walter's style in the second half concise and focused, in contrast with the sometimes flowery first section, which personally I would have edited down somewhat. However, I did find some of the interviews to be accurate representations of some members of my peer group - I am 22 years old. They were depressing - but still accurate.

TL;DR - First half emotional - second half logical.
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