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on 15 January 2016
This is an awesome book that anyone should read. The part about how what women think as "choice" can easily be an opinion imposed upon them by male-dominant culture was eye opening. Really good.
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on 17 October 2017
What can I say about Living Dolls, well first it isn't fiction. With the growth of the Me Too campaign it is an excellent read. There are critical reviews about this book, it is an emotive subject and they make interesting reading in themselves.
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on 22 September 2017
Bought this for uni course to further my reasearch, just what I needed an great insite
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on 6 October 2017
feminist reading- all good
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on 26 August 2016
great book for gender / media studies
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on 21 April 2017
A must read for a worrying trend.
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on 8 June 2011
This is an important book which eloquently describes the return to gender stereotyping which began in the 1990s and has unfortuneately only exacerbated since then. I actually feel lucky that I was a teenager in the 1980s which, although far from being a post feminist paradise, was a time when it really felt that some of the cruder (both sexual and non sexual!) gender stereotypes would soon become as anachronistic as The Black and White Minstrel Show! It's a shame that actually the opposite has happened with girls these days being presented with an increasingly sexualised and narrow view of their worth. For instance, the fact that Adele can make it to Number One without taking off her clothes is seen as some kind of radical achievement - no one ever said Bananarama were radical because they were successful and managed to wear clothes in their videos! You only have to glance at the Zoo/Nuts type culture and their self loathing female equivalents (Heat etc) to see that something's gone horribly wrong somewhere.

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!
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Feminism and the sexual revolution was intended to give women choices about their lives so that they didn't have to be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. Natasha Walter's controversial book shows women have instead been placed in a straightjacket which dictates how they look, how they behave and what ambitions they have. The first half of the book is taken up with extracts from interviews she had with teenagers, sex workers, people at the top of the glamour magazine and film industry and with a user of pornography. Was female empowerment meant to be about behaving like a man - and the worst type of man at that?

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.
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on 13 August 2013
This book was a real eye-opener into the situation of our world in regard to the gender divide. Obviously it shouldn't be taken as pure fact without extra research, but the insight into statistics and the media was astounding. I feel a lot more knowledgeable about the issues covered in the book, and will no longer sit quietly when people say the world is equal for men and women or talk about the sexual imagery we are exposed to as normal. As a teenage girl I often feel excluded by my peers when they discuss many topics covered within this book, but reading Living Dolls has supported my own beliefs and reinforced that I shouldn't be afraid just because I don't fit into their female ideal of normal. Fantastic book.
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on 7 April 2015
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it. As a married middle age man with a teenage daughter I found it very thought provoking. I thought the author has treated most subjects in an even handed manner. Many men will be put off by the word Sexism in the title of a book but I would urge them to ignore any preconceptions as the author remains positive about men while highlighting the issues facing young and working . women. I agree with all the main themes of the book, they are well set out and it is good to see the worrying situation our modern world is facing now, being so eloquently highlighted. I would love to think the changes that were suggested could be enacted but I think it will a long struggle. One negative note would surround the chapter covering childcare and child rearing. I quite agree that man should be able to have greater involvement and responsibilty in these areas but the author, for example, ignores the very significant long term bias in the legal system and courts that drastically favours women over men when it comes to custody of and access to children. written by Andrew (husband of account owner)
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