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on 13 July 2006
It's about time somebody wrote a book like this...for a while it's been becoming more and more obvious of the cultural shift in how many women (particularly young women) are portraying themselves - as the author herself puts it, "Only thirty years ago our mothers were `burning their bras' and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we were getting implants and wearing the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation."

The author identifies this trend throughout western culture (with particular emphasis on the USA), and has a pop at "Girls Gone Wild" (a particular bugbear), Hugh Hefner and his "playmates" and the increasing social acceptance of the porn industry. The author's argument (broadly speaking) is that living and acting like a "porn star" is not "liberating" women, but is in fact a huge step backwards - whilst giving the male of the species plenty of free entertainment at the same time.

The author is very good at identifying the problem, but I would have liked to have seen more proposals towards a solution (or an alternative) -it does raise many questions that it doesn't answer, but hopefully this author (or others) will carry forward the debate in the future.
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on 6 January 2007
I want to send a letter of thanks to Ms Levy for finally giving some academic weight to a subject I have long ranted about. Now I can tell people to go read this when I get tired of trying to explain why nine year old girls in playboy t-shirts freaks me out.

It is such a shame that girls of my generation and younger (I'm 23) are being taught that sexy comes in a one-size-fits-all (blonde hair, big tits, short skirts, willingness to bend over or make out with your girl friend for attention). The media has well and truly hit on the lowest common denominator here and is running with it.

Several of my male friends have flipped through this and agree that blow up doll girls are not sexy if you've got half a brain and neither, might I add, are the sorts of guy who go for them.

I think there is a bit too much focus on lesbian culture in the book, though I understand how it adds to Levy's argument.

The most important statement for me was the idea that as long as women believe they need to 'have balls' and 'be like men' to succeed in our culture, then being a woman is still not seen as good enough. Too true and also completely wrong...
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on 15 August 2008
I found this book incredibly illuminating. I have experienced, as a young person growing up, both my parents views on sex etc and my friends- both highly contrasting. This book has helped me to understand why nowadays somethings are accepted that would have been seen in a worse light years ago.
Levy writes in an easy to read prose (unlike me) and the book works in chapters linking together different ideas.
I definitely will be looking at this one again. Highly recommended!!
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on 21 January 2006
This is truly a good book - I recommend it - it was all I hoped it would be. Let’s face it there are aspects of this world that are a mess and one such section - feminism, sex, dating, media portrayals of women and sex, pornography, teenage pregnancy, - is openly analysed by the author. The book is a good smooth read as well as being very informative. Well done.
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VINE VOICEon 10 March 2008
Few things in life bug me more than twentysomething women sneering at feminism. Because they're usually doing it over a glass of wine in the pub, on their way home from work, and looking forward to a bit of strings-free 'how's your father' at the weekend. We ought to run some kind of boot camp where they can all go live as fifties housewives for a fortnight, and THEN decide if feminists were all dungaree-wearing, moustachioed lesbians who did nothing but sit about braiding their leg hair. Hello, girls? That job you've got, that pub you're sitting in, the university you went to, the contraception in your purse... in a world where feminism never happened, you'd be home every night baking apple pie and starching your husband's underpants.

But even more galling are the 'new feminists', or female chauvinist pigs as Ariel Levy calls them. Under the magic umbrella of feminism, any kind of behaviour (yes, really, ANY kind) can become 'empowering', that catch-all word that's somehow come to mean you can make shedloads of money out of it. This is the 'new' feminism, and anyone who doesn't actually think it's that cool for women to sell their bodies needs to get with the programme, grandma. Yes, that's right, it's actually 'feminism' in action on those 'music' videos and late-night TV 'programmes' that your boyfriend is probably sorta partial to. That's funny because it used to be degradation, but the adult industry has got one mother of a marketing programme going on. As Levy points out in this well-paced readable book, young women today are afflicted with Uncle Tom syndrome, joining their male friends in the strip clubs and sex shops, and idolising adult stars like Jenna Jameson. Levy reminds us that women like Jameson, glamorous as they might be, are actually prostitutes. No girl in a million years would want to emulate a crack-addled backstreet whore, but plenty of them want to live as brainless blow-up dolls for some reason. Men have once again sold us an image of ourselves, and we women are falling over each other (and maybe pushing and shoving a bit) to buy it.

Levy writes smoothly and well in a poppy, fairly lightweight style with some useful statistics (most sobering of all the high percentage of childhood abuse victims working in the adult industry, including Jameson herself). Your blood may boil at some points on reading this, but she's always level-headed and measured in her assessment of the situation. Levy herself is strikingly attractive (although admittedly not blonde, nor sporting mammary glands the size of basketballs) so the naysayers arguing that it's all sour grapes need to wake up and smell the... KY, or whatever. I have an 8 year old daughter and this is not the world I want her to grow up in. Buy this, read it, pass it around to your friends (male and female) and maybe get a bit of consciousness-raising going on like it's 1970 again. I hope Levy's working on a sequel though, because oops she somehow forgot to present a single, solitary idea about how to actually change any of this. So just read it as a straightforward, entertaining 'state of the nation' style book... and then maybe cancel that brazilian after all, if it's actually really painful and you're only doing it for your boyfriend's sake. One small step for womankind...
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on 30 August 2009
The book was a short but strong read. It contained very important points about human nature and gender. If there was a list of 100 books that we must read in our lives, I'd put this one on that list.
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on 1 August 2007
Generally speaking I thought this book was like a breath of fresh air. It is a no holes barred book and cuts to the chase, and even in several incidents uses languages which some feminists would find insulting. Just the day before yesterday I was walking in a nearby town and I was passed by a young woman wearing shorts the length of knickers and literally showing half of her gluteals. I thought that this book asks some tough questions even of feminists. However, one question it did not ask was too what extent are women influenced by the media? This is one of the most insulting things in my opinion about feminism, and I expected Levy to answer it. The fact that we are all programmed and not capable of independent thought, bars any woman who dresses like this from criticism.

I like the fact that the author mentions the history of second wave feminism. The era between the 1960s and 1990s, and how some of todays notions of female empowerment contradict the ideals of second wave feminism. Even so called Third Wave feminists. Whilst, the author criticises women who wear shorts so short they could be knickers and low cut tops. She also criticises women who dress and act like men. My questions to her would be with which women does she have the most sympathy, and which type is most threatening to the male patriarchy and why. Why when there is far more encouragement from the press and media is there not more encouragement for women to dress in male like tracksuits and act like men in a boardroom? Is the media encouraging one in hope to get rid of the other and if so why? The author in my opinion did not answer this question.

Despite this I give the book a high rating. It starts to ask some of the questions some feminists and other people want asked. I like the way it compares feminism of the 1960s and 1970s to modern day culture. The situation in the school is quite enlightening. Especially the part which involves the teachers trying to implement some sort of restrictions on what children can wear to school is very enlightening. I also would like to have read more history about feminism throughout the world. The fact that this book in it's entirety concerns feminism in the U.S.A, and nowhere else in the world. Ignores the history of feminism in other countries.
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on 3 March 2006
Bought this book with expectations of reading about why some women feel the need to express their sexuality in a way which many other women see as degrading and humiliating. The first half of the book tried to explain some of these issues but the second half seemed more to do with anecdotal evidence rather than analysis of the issues and left me feeling that pehaps Levy had lost her way somehow. I would have liked to have read more about why some women in certain sex industries can't understand how they are being manipulated by men. The book does make the reader think about society and female sexuality and does create a forum for discussion.
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on 31 January 2015
I did really try with this book. It's not often that I do choose to put a book down, but I find the slut shaming and transphobia revolting.
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on 18 December 2009
I am not sure this author did a whole lot of research when undertaking the task of writing this book. Issues were raised which needed to be explored but she did not go into any depth. I really did not learn much from this book.
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