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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A State of the Nation address on sexism, 19 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism (Paperback)
I found it interesting that the subtitle of this book is "The Return of Sexism" as I believe, and the book seems to demonstrate, that sexism has never gone away - it has just reared up again in a different form over the past decade due to the direction in which society has been moving. Push it down in one place and it just pops up somewhere else.

Living Dolls feels like the latest "state of the nation" despatch from the front line of the battle against sexism and joins earlier despatches such as "The Female Eunuch" and "The Beauty Myth" in pinpointing "how we live now". And wow, is it a depressing picture. The focus of the 1970s and 1980s on the fight for equality in life, in the workplace and in politics seems to have faded, and now we're battling a world in which women and men are thought (incorrectly) to be victims of their genetic destiny, and where conforming to porn-like standards of appearance and sexuality is seen to be the only road to success for many women. The political has very much become the personal, and you can't get much more personal that dictating to women how they should look, right down to very intimate personal grooming.

The book is divided into two parts. The first deals with how women are now pressured into being hyper-sexualised beings, living as pink and sparkly princesses who must measure up to a narrow range of physical standards in order to be seen as acceptable. The second looks at the way scientific and sociological research has been wrongly interpreted to come down on the nature side of the "nature v nurture" debate on the differences between men and women. On our journey through the book we hear about the impact of the internet (in particular readily-available pornography), reality TV, the Spice Girls, lads' mags and why everything you can buy for little girls is now pink and glittery.

I found the first half of the book, The New Sexism, more successful than the second as I felt it related more to real life. It is more anecdotal and demonstrates more obviously the result of the application of today's sexism to real women's lives. The second half is also interesting, but is more abstract and I found it harder to draw conclusions from the information it gave me.

In the main, I found that the book observes what is going on and does not attempt in any major way to account for the reasons for where we are or to tell its readers how to fight back. This felt a little disappointing to me, as at various points I would have liked more discussion on, for example, the class issues that may be contributing to the glorification of lap-dancing and overt sexuality in young women, or how the politics of the past twenty years may have contributed to the idea of female empowerment lying in sexualised behaviour.

These points apart, I found Living Dolls an interesting read and much more accessible than I thought it would be. I don't think it answers many of the questions it poses, but in truth there may not be very many ready answers to these huge issues. In the end, just bringing them to our attention may be enough.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Jan 2016 12:33:30 GMT
bad dog! says:
I was deeply affected by the beauty myth too and spent a lot of time telling my friends that women didn't see the pinups in the light hearted way that we did.I do not know where the demand for women to dress and behave and generally self destruct in the modern way comes from nowadays..not any of the men that I speak to.
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