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67 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do we have an equal society?, 5 Mar. 2010
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This review is from: The Equality Illusion: The Truth about Women and Men Today (Paperback)
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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Showing 1-10 of 19 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Mar 2010 11:40:46 GMT
Ulrome says:
No we don't have an equal society and we never shall. That's because equality is an abstraction. It exists in mathematics and nowhere else.
The authors of these types of works and the people who read and believe that it's all true are either cynical manipulators, blinkered fanatics, incredibly gullible or just totally inexperienced in the way the world really works because they are (mentally at least) very, very young.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2010 12:17:43 GMT
Damaskcat says:
So you would say we should never strive to give everyone equality of opportunity? That girls and women should continue to be brainwashed into thinking that the only thing which matters in life is how they look? I would say - after nearly 60 years of experience of this world - that an ideal is always worth striving for - you presumably would say I am a gullible fool or a fanatic to even think that. But then I believe you are entitled to your opinion in a free society - just as I am entitled to mine.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2010 13:04:04 GMT
Ulrome says:
I think you're striving to do the impossible and that consequently, yes, unfortunately you are wasting your time.
It will never be possible to give equality of opportunity. Nor do I think it's actually desireable or fair either.
Nor do I think this is truly what most people actually want - for all the lip service paid to equality, democracy etc., etc., - most people are in favour of whatever favours them. They're not altruistic.

With regard to your comment about brainwashing :-
Please explain to me why women/girls are so extraordinarily susceptible to this sort of mental conditioning ? I'm constantly aware of people trying to influence me either to buy rubbish I don't need or want or to support self-serving causes whose only real intent is to promote their own careers. If I can see this why can't women ?
Females talk constantly about being "strong" but they don't seem to have the mental strength to resist the crudest cultural programming even where they must be well aware that the motives of the organizations responsible are either political or, more commonly, financial. It's extremely disappointing to me to find that, despite all the talk to the contrary, most females don't even seem inclined to make the effort to think for themselves but just follow the crowd.
(There is, incidentally, a rather plausible genetic explanation for this kind of oddly conformist female behaviour).

The political mentality is pretty obviously the religious mentality under a different name. As religious beliefs declined political beliefs appear to have filled the gap they left and in both cases the appeal seems to be primarily emotional. Certain types of personality seem to be more inclined to 'believe' than others.
I am not a believer.

I also distrust emotion. It is not, in my experience, a good guide in any area of life. On the contrary the irrationality which it promotes is the cause of many of the problems.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2010 15:15:38 GMT
Damaskcat says:
women and mental conditioning: where do I start? I don't think it is a wholly female issue actually as not all men are aware when they are being sold rubbish. My partner - for instance - is very susceptible to adverts - especially when it's something new out. I always say he's an ad-man's dream! The only things I buy are books so I'm hardly the sort of consumer in which the big guns of the consumer society are interested.

But as regards girls and makeup, clothes, behaviour etc I think peer pressure is very much greater now than it was when I was young. I can remember in the 1970s not feeling pressurised at all into doing anything or dressing in a particular way or holding particular beliefs - things were much more relaxed.
No one thought you had to dress in the latest fashion, wear lashings of makeup and act in a certain way to attract men. Now things are completely different. People seem to need to fit in and adopt the behaviour etc of their particular peer group because they think they'll not atttract boys and men if they behave like an individual. Men themselves help to perpetuate this of course in some ways.

Personally I have never felt this sort of pressure and as a consequence I don't conform and prefer to make up my own mind about everything. I don't therefore agree with all feminist theorists. I do agree that women should have the same opportunities as men and should not be excluded from any job because they are female.

I also think equality should work both ways and that men should not be excluded from jobs which have always been regarded as women's work. I see no reason why men should not bring uo children - after all they do so if their wife or partner dies. So gender equality would benefit both men and women though as I make clear in my review above laws will not change people's attitiudes.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2011 04:21:07 GMT
Last edited by the author on 2 Jan 2011 08:49:23 GMT
M. Lee says:
Ulrome you are simply a cynic and a misogynist (I saw that you apparently regarded women as parasites on your other comment on another feminist title, "The Female Eunuch"). By the way a great many males also fall for commercial ploys to get them to buy rubbish they don't need. That's the definitive phenomenon of late-20th century capitalism -- and women, just like men, are susceptible to these pressures and contrary to your assertions, there is no evidence to suggest that women are more lacking in mental fortitude as compared to men. Did you not realise that many feminist tracts who expose and criticise these commercial pressures are written by women themselves??? Did you also fail to notice that it was female suffragettes who battled tooth-and-nail to get women the right to vote? That single historical fact is enough to disprove your naive thesis that "the way of the world" has to be male dominated and could never ever change. Don't mistake your world-weary cynicism with genuine wisdom, but that's a mistake that a lot of cynical poseurs would make so you're not at all exceptional in that regard.

Damaskat, thank you for your excellent review as well as eloquent replies to Ulrone above, the likes of whom I have no patience for. Perhaps his type of males are used to having long-suffering females putting up with his cynical and self-serving treatises on the "ways of the world" but unfortunately for him I don't have such forebearance, nor many of modern day women to be honest, and for this positive change we have feminism to thank for.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jan 2011 09:35:48 GMT
Damaskcat says:
Thank you, M Lee, for your compliments. I find people like Ulrome extremely irritating because of their men are right and women wrong mentality. But they're the ones missing out on a lot in my opinion by not embracing equality and realising that there are advantages for them as well.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2011 00:25:28 BDT
Sniffey says:
Please explain the "rather plausible genetic explanation for this kind of oddly conformist female behaviour".

The women you describe are, overwhelmingly, young and at the most vulnerable time in their lives. Young men are equally influenced, but in different ways. Look at porn for example! A whole generation of young men have been brainwashed into having a problem with female pubic hair, when it was never an issue to previous generations. The porn industry is one of the most lucrative on the planet, and it's all based on brainwashing men to sexually objectify and require female subordination for the affirmation of their masculiniy. Issues of social location create the gender differences you describe - the different locations that men and women occupy within patriarchy. Your ability to resist certain cultural influences (e.g. buying cosmetics?) stems from your privilege. You ask women to resist, "make the effort to think for themselves" and not follow the crowd - such women are called feminists. The book you are critiquing is a feminist call to action. And yet you are not supportive of feminism. That seems contradictory to me, as does your description of yourself as "not a believer" when the biological determinist explantion of gender is about as brainwashed and conformist as a person can get?

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Apr 2011 09:43:35 BDT
Last edited by the author on 17 Apr 2011 10:00:42 BDT
Damaskcat says:
I agree with you! Good point about the pubic hair as well. In my twenties (1970s) it just wasn't something that anyone was bothered about and all porn films showed it on both men and women. In the 19th century it was only John Ruskin who was freaked out by it.

Posted on 29 Jul 2013 13:39:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Jul 2013 13:40:15 BDT
Kat Banyard's website proudly proclaims that "Kat featured in Glamour Magazine's 'The Glamour Power List 2011'". In the latest issue of Glamour you can vote for the "Sexiest Man" and see pictures of scantily clad celebrities. Double standards that render this book nothing more than a cheap cash in.

Posted on 22 Nov 2013 20:52:07 GMT
[Deleted by Amazon on 22 Nov 2013 20:54:21 GMT]
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