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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 November 2015
It is a sad fact that sexism is still alive and well in our post-feminist world. True, women are no longer actively barred from participating fully in our society as they once were: women have the vote, women have the right to choose and pursue any field or career path they wish, they are not automatically condemned to a sheltered life as wife and mother. And yet perhaps the sexism that we see today is more insidious and even more pervasive. Women were once in a cage, but at least they could see the bars and know what they needed to fight against. The bars today are invisible and many deny they are even there, and that makes it all the harder to fight for the equality women are still denied.

Words such 'liberation', 'empowerment', 'choice' are bandied around very easily, and again, it is true that women are empowered, women do have a choice. But when the choices are limited by social pressure, by social conditioning, by a hypersexualised media, by stereotypes, by a culture set up by and designed for men, even by pseudo-science that claims the differences between men and women are down to biological determinism and not social and cultural factors, when the law may make the playing field even but when almost every aspect of our culture is set against this, what choice do women really have? This is the central argument of Natasha Walter's insightful, passionate and critical analysis of modern British culture and the so-called equality of the sexes.

Young girls today are growing up in a culture in which almost every depiction of women is hypersexualised, when even toddlers' dolls display an idealised, unachievable image of women, when many women are valued only for their faces, their breasts and their bottoms and not the content of their character or the level of their intelligence, and individuals such as Jordan and Jodie Marsh are seen as role models. Sexual equality has come to mean the freedom to behave promiscuously, to develop sexually ever earlier, in a society that encourages such early sexualisation and then condemns those who chose or refrain as sluts or prudes. Much of the first half of this book is devoted to case studies and interviews with teenage girls who consume the hypersexualised media that is so unavoidable and the magazine editors and pornographers who created it, and it makes for a disturbing, disquieting read. It makes me never want to have daughters, if this is the world they will grow up in.

The second half of this book is a fairly damning indictment of modern scientific studies that seek to reinforce the differences between the sexes and ascribe these differences to biological determinism and the media that latches on to these reports and publishes them far and wide. And yet studies displaying the exact opposite result are dismissed or even buried, denied publishing platforms, ignored in the media. For every study that shows gender differences are embedded in our genes is another which shows that there are no such differences, that gender roles and sexual differences are a result of nurture, not nature, of the social conditioning and expectations we grow up immersed in.

Going unspoken but no less present is the idea that biological determinism would be an easier answer, a more comfortable theory, because if the differences are age-old and written in our very DNA then there is no incentive to upset the status quo, no reason to try to change our unequal society, because things are clearly meant to be that way. Of course, even that argument is a fallacy: even if 'Nature' did hardwire men to be aggressive, dominant hunters and women to be the nurturing, caring, home-makers, there is nothing in our DNA that makes us value one characteristic over the other, nothing in our genetic code that says society must be set up for the benefit of the hunters and not the home-makers. That's culture, that's social conditioning. That's sexism, pure and simple.
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on 24 March 2015
Not that sexism ever went anywhere...this is accessible and a must read.
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on 22 February 2010
So so much of the stuff in this book is stuff I can totally relate to and agree with. Loses steam a little bit in the second half, but still altogether enjoyable and accessible reading.
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on 1 December 2014
Really enjoying this book. Since reading other books on feminism and fashion for a dissertation many years ago, I became more interested in this and sexism. This book has further opened my eyes on pornography, the sex industry as a whole and it was brilliant that they were interviews from ordinary people.
Definitely worth a read if only for the thought provoking quotes throughout.
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on 10 September 2014
This was a present for a relative & given the spirit in which it was received & feedbak given, it would seem that the purchase was a successful one.
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on 5 October 2015
Amazing book, a must read
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on 23 January 2015
it has some good points but it keeps making the same point again and again and works on the assumption women who wear make up can't think for themselves
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on 21 November 2012
This book it great - it encompasses all I've been saying for years about how the male establishment subjugates women
by playing on their need to be needed and loved. the media tells us that if we don't shave everything, look very thin; (at tescos a size 14, the average woman size is now large!!), wear make-up 24/7, wear the latest fashions and killer 6 inch heels, be a sex goddess anytime we're needed yet still to work full time and do most of the domestic chores. of course the bleakest outlook but this is how many women feel pressured to be.

airbrushing in mags and papers makes the situation worse as young girls think they too must be a size 6 yet have Jordan's breasts.

so a top 10 book for me as at last someone else has the same opinion as me!!

by the way if you object to bare boobs in the sun please `sign the petition here as the group is meeting with the Sun editors shortly.

[...]
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on 10 October 2016
I read this book on public transit each day on my way home on a 40 minute journey, it took about a week.
If you had wanted as prime an example of stereotyping and sexism being a two way street you could ask no better. If one woman gave me a filthy look, at least thirty must have and several added a shake of their head or sucking their teeth as they stood up to get off.
Why? Well the cover of course.
See a man reading a book with a cover like that and he must be reading porn or soft porn in public right?
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on 15 June 2014
Great book. Every girl and woman should read it. Nothing to do with being a feminist. Just a great read!
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