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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we have an equal society?
Arranged in the form of progress through a typical day - the book starts with appearance and eating disorders. Anorexia and Bulimia are primarily women's diseases and over 90% of sufferers are women. Even young girls are expected to go to school wearing makeup and with their hair done properly and to diet until their bodies conform to the generally accepted ideas of...
Published on 5 Mar 2010 by Damaskcat

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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing
Compared to the many 5-star reviews and the media hype appearing to surround Banyard's book, I found the contents of the book itself rather disappointing.

In truth, most of the official descriptions of the book ("Banyard reveals the uncomfortable truth about men and women ... ", "A dose of feminist common sense ... ", "A global perspective ... ", from the back...
Published on 21 Nov 2011 by Alexander Sokol


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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we have an equal society?, 5 Mar 2010
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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Arranged in the form of progress through a typical day - the book starts with appearance and eating disorders. Anorexia and Bulimia are primarily women's diseases and over 90% of sufferers are women. Even young girls are expected to go to school wearing makeup and with their hair done properly and to diet until their bodies conform to the generally accepted ideas of beauty. For women a great deal of time must be spent ensuring they are fit to face the world. Appearances are all important and women will be judged on them throughout the day. Unlike men they can't just shower and throw on a few garments.

The book highlights the way women are still regarded as bodies first and foremost rather than people. Women are judged on what they look like, what they wear and how they behave rather than being judged on their capabilities. The author raises some of the same questions as Natasha Walter in 'Living Dolls'. Is it really empowering to take up a career in the sex industry? The women the author talks to show clearly that being a lap dancer is not glamorous or even very well paid and that most women involved do it because they have been unable to find any other work which fits in with their other commitments.

At work or school women and girls run the risk of being harassed and criticised for their appearance. I was horrified to read about the schoolgirls who suffer sexual abuse - both physical and verbal. Even if they complain they are just told `Boys will be boys'; which is hardly a constructive attitude. At work similar things happen and women are rarely judged on their ability to get the job done. Women are still in a minority in Parliament and in the top 100 companies. One fact which stuck in my mind is that Rwanda has more than 50% women in its government and that the position of women in that country is improving tremendously as a result. If they can do it why can't the First World? Anti-discrimination laws cannot change people's attitudes and even though legislation in the 1970s made overt discrimination illegal changing the law will not change people's attitudes so covert discrimination will still exist and is very much more difficult to identify.

There is no doubt domestic violence of any sort is a serious problem in modern Britain but the book fails to discuss women's violence against men and children. It concentrates on male violence against women. Obviously this is important but I would have liked to see some mention of violence where women are the aggressors rather than the assumption that where women use violence it is always in self-defence.

I thought the section on pornography and the sex industry in general was very interesting and conveys the way pornography is becoming ever more extreme. Aggression towards women is commonplace and women are treated as objects which men use for their pleasure. Lads mags are freely available - not even on the top shelf in newsagents - though their content is ever more pornographic and misogynistic. Pornography is almost exclusively heterosexual and strongly influences fashion and beauty - most notably in the way women are expected to remove all traces of body hair.

This is an extremely interesting and well written book which raises many questions about the state of gender equality today. It contains a comprehensive list of organisations fighting for gender equality, together with notes on each chapter and a short list of useful reading. There are many references which can be followed up for more information and an index. As this book has `The Truth about Women and Men Today' in its title I would have liked to see a bit more about the way stereotypes and expectations affect men as well as women but that does not detract from the overall message - the fight for equality has a long way to go.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Depressing reality, 25 Mar 2010
By 
Mr. P. R. Stanbridge "Stan_The_Man" (Gloucestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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It is very difficult to enlarge or improve on the review of Damaskcat who provides a useful detail of the books contents. This book is very depressing, particularly as I realise that its synopsis of Women & Men today is shamefully true and while in some areas life is easier for women and their opportunities greater than earlier generations (women drivers, accountants, lawyers, trades women etc.) we are easily deluded into thinking that everything is OK now. But we need to think and act again and Kat Banyard and other authors like Natasha Walter have exposed a very ugly world and has put us back to the drawing board when it comes to working out anew how to respond. Part 2 of the book offers many ideas here, but I am not sure that activism alone is sufficient - there has to be major inner changes in peoples understanding and views of fellow human beings. This must be possible (I cannot hold the defeatist attitude of Ulrome in his comments on Damaskcat's review) and we owe a lot to those like Kat who are dedicated to this task.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars honest and unapologetic, 7 May 2012
This review is from: The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today (Paperback)
This book is one of my favourite feminist publications. It has an interesting structure, and is so crammed full of arguments and statistics to back them up that it can be very hard to put it down.

For those who believe equality has been achieved, The Equality Illusion is a must. It exposes the myth that men and women are equal; that they have the same opportunities in the world, and that they are treated with the same amount of respect and consideration in all situations. Although sexism can be subtle now, it is most definitely still there, and Banyard opens the reader's eyes to it.

The chapter on the sex industry, too, is especially important, as it dismisses the nonsensical, 'freedom of expression and choice, man!' view of the issue and approaches it critically, providing lots of explicit examples proving that this is not an industry built upon women's right to freely express her sexual desires, but is in fact quite the opposite.

Although this book can be hard to read at times, the last chapter is dedicated to trying to come up with solutions to the problems, ending things on an optimistic and hopeful tone. If you don't already have this book in your possession, whether you consider yourself feminist or not, these are important issues that need to be discussed, and Banyard provides the perfect jumping-off point.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive Reading, 7 Jun 2010
By 
A. Woznitza (London) - See all my reviews
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I read this book in almost one sitting, and have now purchased multiple copies to lend out to my friends! Although I was aware of the latent sexist society I am part of, this book crystalized things for me and has really made me view the world differently. It makes good logical arguments and although is a little bit 'ranty' at times I had to keep reading. As it goes through many parts of our lives, there are so many different things I could relate to that were part of my upbringing as a girl in the UK that are just accepted as the norm, but in actual fact feed into the whole circus. Now I am on a mission to get all my girlfriends to read it and share the view. I highly recommend this book especially if you never thought you'd read a book on feminism!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be compulsory reading for everyone, 31 Mar 2010
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S. Steel - See all my reviews
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I cannot recommend this book enough - completely agree with what the other reviewers have already said. Kat Banyard is an inspiration, and I look forward to seeing how we can tackle the issues that she explores as an urgent matter of social justice.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this and you'll think differently about the world around you, 4 Oct 2010
By 
P. Courtney (UK) - See all my reviews
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As a young female who once worked in the chauvinistic financial district of London, I was inspired to read this book by an article about Kat Banyard and her impressive equality crusade in the UK.

This book will affect everything you see and do. Next time your boyfriend suggests a trip to the lap-dancing club, you'll think about the girls who pay to work there, often drinking themselves into a stupor in an effort to blot out the acts they're about to perform. When you look around the meeting room you will wonder why the male:female ratio is still so high. As you walk home at night, you will think about the shift-workers you see getting onto the bus, and why there are still so many women doing the poorest-paid jobs. I could go on.

The Equality Illusion spells out in powerful terms the sham that is our 'post feminist' society today, and what we can do to try and reverse some of the damage that continues to be done.
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat disappointing, 21 Nov 2011
By 
Alexander Sokol (Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today (Paperback)
Compared to the many 5-star reviews and the media hype appearing to surround Banyard's book, I found the contents of the book itself rather disappointing.

In truth, most of the official descriptions of the book ("Banyard reveals the uncomfortable truth about men and women ... ", "A dose of feminist common sense ... ", "A global perspective ... ", from the back cover and from reviews) do not say much about the actual contents of the book, so in that sense, it would be unfair to claim that the book is misrepresented by the media. It is, in fact, precisely what the media claims it to be: Polemical, name-calling and finger-pointing.

Banyard's book is about what she considers the unjust condition of women in modern society. She describes this condition across several chapters spanning the topics of body image, education, workplace conditions, domestic violence, the sex industry and reproductive rights. While all of these topics are certainly both interesting and relevant, I found that Banyard's treatment had several problems:

-First of all, Banyard comes off as constantly angry and finger-pointing, which makes the book feel lacking in objectivity.

-Banyard points out where men and women differ in society, but she takes very little time to reflect on the causes and reasons for such differences or what may be done to alleviate the inequality. For example, in the chapter on body image, she points out that many women suffer from low self-esteem as a cause of their perceived inadequate physical appearance, and she rages on about the unfairness and unacceptability of beauty norms and the fact that the same issues to not apply in the same degree to men, but does not reflect much about what could be done about it. Banyard speaks of the tyranny of beauty and the objectification of women, but her fury appears undirected. She offers little evidence as regards the causes of the problem, mostly blaming the modeling and the cosmetics industry in some way. She does little to argue who should share the responsibility for the suffering of the women afflicted by the issues. And finally, she offers few ideas for practical solutions.

-Banyard appears to use some rather cheap tricks to generate sympathy for the women discussed in the book, for example when considering a woman who is stressed because the buses are late and she forgot to recharge her bus fare card. Such personal stories are at most superficially relevant to the discussion of gender differences, and attempting to generate sympathy by anecdotal stories of this sort makes the author appear biased.

These issues aside, the societal problems discussed by Banyard are real, and particularly the chapter on the sex industry is worthwhile. In general, however, the apparent display of undirected indignation in the book, and the lack of reflection on causes and solutions, severely detracts from the quality of the book. For an example of a discussion of gender issues which appears more balanced and constructive, I would recommend "Delusions of Gender" by Cordelia Fine.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The harsh reality, 8 Jun 2010
I absolutely loved reading this book and I cannot recommend it enough! It's worth every penny I paid for it! It's a very interesting and enjoyable read and I recommend it to absolutely everyone! The book itself isn't too long and isn't too short, but you probably will wish it was longer so you can find the answers to the questions that the book leaves you asking. This book proves that we still have a long way to go on the road to a fair and equal society.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic intro for the unschooled pro-equality liberal, 15 Mar 2011
I finished reading this book two days ago, and I cannot begin to explain the sense of true empowerment it imparts. With equality issues it is often the case of not being able to see the wood for the trees, such is the labyrinthine nature of gender inequality. This book lays it all out, simplifying the lines of inquiry and making clear the battles we must all fight.

It makes clear that equality must begin in the grassroots - it cannot merely come from government legislation. I was already an out and out feminist before picking up this book, but an unschooled one, unable to truly hold my own in debates. The clear, level-headed style and approach that Banyard takes lays out the facts and encourages you to join the dots, realising new or different perspectives as you go.

Yes, it uses the 'f' word a lot, which I understand (although that's maybe not the right word here, because I don't really understand it) some people aren't comfortable associating themselves with. Think about it another way: Every time you see the word 'feminism', think 'anti-sexism', or better yet, 'pro-equality'.

Because pro-equality is precisely what this book is about (and if we're getting into technicalities, that is precisely what feminism stands for). This means pro-equality not just in the Western workplace, home or school, but worldwide. Banyard writes a lot on the successes and failures that women in both developed and developing countries have respectively enjoyed or endured.

The book is set out over the course of a day, so it becomes a sort of 'day in the life of' account, peppered with well researched and solid statistics which will stand up to even the most hardened sceptic. The best part of the book for me was the final chapter, entitled 'Tomorrow', where men and women who are working tirelessly for a more equal, less sexist world give their two cents on the current situation and ways in which they hope to improve it.

If you're interested in equality or deem yourself to be interested in liberalism, I recommend this book. Actually, I recommend it even if you're not. It's a great introduction to a very serious and widespread issue that affects men and women alike.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 12 April 2012
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This review is from: The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today (Paperback)
I think that this is a very important book, not just for those already interested in feminisms. It questions some fundamental flaws in our attitudes towards women. Some have crticised it for being written in an angry tone. I personally believe it is the right ammount of angry considering the injustices it discusses. Not just theorising, Banyard backs up her views with scientific evidence. Essential read.
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The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today
The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today by Kat Banyard (Paperback - 3 Mar 2011)
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