Customer Review

28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed reaction, 25 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (Paperback)
I had a mixed reaction whilst reading this book. As an early 20-something female who was born and grew up in London I have both personally experienced and witnessed some of the changes over the past decade from when I was in secondary school (single sex) to the things my younger sister tells me goes on now (we went to the same school). For example first time sexual experiences brought down from age 15/16 to 12/13! The increasing number of young girls who aspire to be models and put the greatest emphasis on outward appearance (boob jobs and the like) and securing 'rich guys' - this is actually also something I witnessed in South Africa (5 year olds with highlights too!), rather than challenging themselves and using their brains to advance in careers they may otherwise be good at.

Now I'm not really one to criticise as I was indeed one of these girls out in tiny skirts clubbing in the middle of winter at 16 - a phase which lasted about a year. I took the higher education route, and even had a brief stint doing modelling test shoots, but at the same time I've always had an interest in politics and big ambitions to pursue a successful marketing career and one day own my own Tourism business (with Photography work on the side). I therefore find some of Natasha Walter's critique a little simplistic.

A topic which is most upsetting to me today is the belief (discussed by Natasha Walter) that women in authoritative positions are perceived in a certain, often negative way. Hillary Clinton for example. For those who followed the US presidential candidate/ presidential race, many were appalled by the sexual innuendos attached to Sarah Palin and the insults directed Mrs Clinton's way. In fact I think women in London are being particularly affected by this. You only have to experience rush hour to see that its most often the women who have the least manners and feel they have to act aggressively to get ahead.

I bought this book after seeing a review in Stylist magazine (in rush hour funnily enough). Although I agree with a lot of the argument put forth in the book - reporting good science as one example, it also occurred to me that women and the media are primarily responsible for this backward trend. What also occurred to me whilst reading Living Dolls was that having spoken friends and other women in their 30s, many have made the choice to forgo successful careers for 'more meaningful options' be it raising a family or pursuing low-paid passions - which they are often able to do because they have partners in well-paid jobs for support. Having also spoken to men, it surprised me that many would be only too happy to relinquish breadwinning pressures and in fact, be stay-at-home dads.

What seems to upset men with regards to feminism from personal observation is that they think women today get to 'have it all' if they want whereas they still feel society's pressure to conform to male stereotypes, i.e. apparently its much 'easier for women' crossing boundaries if they so wish. Therefore I don't feel that all the arguments put forth in this book are necessarily valid, which leads me to the topic of Biological Determinism.

The topic of biological determinism and the nature/nurture debate has been of great interest to me since studying A Level Psychology and I found this text particularly interesting with regard to this. Its definitely made me think twice about reinforcing certain sex behaviours if/when I eventually have children of my own.

The next decade should be an interesting one.
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