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What Should We Tell Our Daughters?: The Pleasures and Pressures of Growing Up Female [Hardcover]

Melissa Benn
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
RRP: £20.00
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Book Description

26 Sep 2013

We have reached a tricky crossroads in modern women's lives and our collective daughters are bearing the brunt of some intolerable pressures. Although feminism has made great strides forward since our mothers' and grandmothers' day, many of the key issues - equality of pay, equality in the home, representation at senior level in the private, public and political sectors - remain to be tackled.

Casual sexism in the media and in everyday life is still rife and our daughters face a host of new difficulties as they are bombarded by images of unrealistically skinny airbrushed supermodels, celebrity role-models who depend on their looks and partners for status, and by competitive social media.

The likes of Natasha Walter and Katie Roiphe deal with feminism from an adult point of view, but our daughters need to be prepared for stresses that are coming into play now as early as pre-school.

This is a manifesto for every mother who has ever had to comfort a daughter who doesn't feel 'pretty', for every young woman who out-performs her male peers professionally and wonders why she is still not taken seriously, and for anyone interested in the world we are making for the next generation.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848546270
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848546271
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Praise for Melissa Benn's writing:

'Gripping' Guardian

'Brilliant' The Times

'Insightful, deeply affecting' Time Out

'Extraordinary . . . and emotional and political tour-de-force' Independent on Sunday

'You won't be able to put it down' Tatler


Benn grapples eloquently with character, self, confidence, anger, the unquantifiable but elemental traits that make us human...but it is her call to the mind and the soul that I will outright steal: I believe we owe our daughters curiosity: the chance to be, or become, strangers, even to us, as we inquire of, and show are selves willing to hear, wishes and dreams we may never have imagined (Financial Times)

A Bible for . . .

Any young woman who has ever doubted herself,

Any brilliant mind who has ever felt unworthy for not carrying off the latest faddy fashion trend or sexualised beauty look.

Any modern-day Goddess who feels destabilised and lost.

(All Walks blog)

An intelligent and captivating read . . . you'll want to lock yourself away and devour it from beginning to end (Psychologies)

Wide-ranging, thoughtful, even-handed . . . Her forensic approach adds valuable nuance (Guardian)

Benn's writing is profoundly reasonable, while infused with a spirit of creative rebellion, pleasure and fun. I particularly liked her reflective musings on her own pregnancy when she felt simultaneously 'dismembered' and 'energized', and her evocative account of repeating with her own daughters her mother's practice of waving her off to school. This is a good book for daughters, for sons, and indeed for all of us (Sheila Rowbotham Independent)

Book Description

A manifesto for modern womanhood - and a guide through the perils and pitfalls of parenting girls

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ FOR ALL PARENTS OF DAUGHTERS! 24 Oct 2013
This is a very well written, well researched and passionate exploration of the pressures facing young women and how parents - mothers in particular - might support their daughters. The book casts fresh light on familiar terrain such as the high educational expectations placed on girls and the 'pornification' of youth culture. It also looks at areas that haven't been examined before, such as the useful channeling of women's anger and what's missing from the (on the whole heartening) resurgence of feminism among young women. I read this book as the mother of a daughter and as a feminist and it 'spoke' to me on both levels. Melissa Benn weaves together anecdotes about her own parenting challenges (she has two daughters), a mass of weighty research and data, interviews with young and older women, sharp analysis and even literary references in an entertaining, thought-provoking read. She doesn't tell you what to think but poses some challenging questions, and even provides some heartening ways forward. I am going to recommend it as the next read at my book club. I also think it would provoke really interesting discussions between mothers and daughters themselves!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insight into a rather depressing world 2 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a woman of similar age to Melissa Benn, who also has two teenage daughters, I could quite imagine sitting down with her and discussing these issues over a cup of tea. Her gentle style leads you through the experiences of a young woman today, providing facts, figures, interviews and personal anecdotes that, on occasions, make rather depressing reading. At the end I was left wondering what I could tell my daughters to keep them inspired and motivated. Benn doesn't touch upon the role of religion in subjugating women with its antiquated belief system or how women can undermine each other - behaviour that often starts in the playground. However, if you want to keep up to date with the issues your daughter will be facing in 2013, its worth the read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking - for a dad 9 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a dad on an 8 year old dtr I wanted to understand her future challenges. This book has given me a good understanding. Preferred the sections where the author is giving her views rather than quoting at length from other sources.
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