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Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism Paperback – 4 Feb 2010
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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?)
This book marked a real feminist awakening for me . . . it might make you rage, but in a good, important way (Laura Bates Elle)
** '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)
From one of Britain's most impressive cultural and political commentators comes a controversial and much needed look at our highly sexualised cultureSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
Jeez, am I glad that I'm not a teenie nowadays, but I am deeply worried about the future of my 10 year old daughter!
I only have a couple of minor gripes with this book which prevented me from giving it five stars. Firstly, I thought too much of the first half of the book relied on anecdotal evidence such as chats over coffee with students and so on. I don't doubt that this could reveal some truths as to how teenagers feel but I also think that asking teenagers questions about sex in this context is likely to produce some random and not necessarily representative results. I'm not convinced that the emotionless view of sex is as monolithic as the book sometimes portrays so a wider range of viewpoints would have been interesting to take into account. Also, I sometimes felt the tone of the book was a bit wooly and I wondered if this was because Natasha Walter didn't want to come across as an old fashioned Dworkinite rad fem! It's a fair enough on her part not to want to revisit the old sex wars of the 1970/80s but it's obvious reading her work that her feminism is nothing like that so she could afford to be more bolder in places. Anyway, overall this is still an important and well written book including a very welcome and overdue annihilation of the biological deterministic nonsense that's rammed down our throats these days!
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. General interest books which highlight and exaggerate gender differences sell in their thousands but books citing scientific evidence that there is little difference usually sink without trace. Are the media bent on emphasising gender differences and promoting conventional stereotypes? This book shows they are.
`Living Dolls' is well written and the author's own reaction to the way our culture is changing for the worse as she sees it is clearly evident. This however does not prevent her from quoting research which is both for and against the theory that people are individuals and should not be stereotyped. I found it engrossing reading, with many references to follow up for more information. There is an index and comprehensive notes to each chapter - though no separate bibliography. There is also a list of women's organisations which are continuing the fight for equality.
Anyone who thinks our capabilities are biologically determined at birth needs to read this book as it shows clearly how gender stereotypes are promoted in a subtle and insidious way in everything we see, hear and read from an early age. If you don't want to be pigeon holed as a glamour model with a large chest or as a 1950s housewife in a Cath Kidston apron baking cupcakes then this is the book for you.