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Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism Paperback – June 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
No, this book is not about the horrible and horrific oppression of women and girls in the third world. It never claims to be. That is a serious subject, no doubt, and everyone should read about that and "Half the Sky". But does that mean we should not devote any attention to the erosion of women's rights and issues in our own current society? I hope we're not so close-minded nor simple-minded.
It's easy to say, from the cover of the book, that it's nothing but fluff from a man-hater. (I'm surprise, actually, that someone who calls themselves theantifeminist would even buy or read this book). No, the book is not about "the sexual and reproductive interests of unattractive women". On the contrary, it's actually about the rights of the attractive girls -- their right to not be sexual at an early age, their right to be treated equally, their right to be given the opportunities they deserve.
Natasha Walter presents a serious, balanced and well-reasoned argument, backed up with hundreds of research and scientific studies, on why we should be wary of the current state of things. She points out that our culture is increasingly hypersexual. We've all heard about the marketing of sexy clothes for little girls (such as things with the Playboy bunny on it), the philandering sports stars (and the girls who throw themselves at them), and the "starlets" who are famous for nothing but how little they wear in public. That's nothing new.Read more ›
Natasha Walter begins her study with a brief survey of the way the feminist revolution became stalled during the Blair years in Britain and notes that although women have made progress in some areas, it really has been a question of two steps forward three steps back. Women are still hugely underrepresented in most domains relative to men; they remain underpaid and undervalued in society. Most disturbingly, they have become increasingly objectified as sex objects by the consumer society in recent years, and this is where the author takes her cue.
Living dolls explores the position of women as a sex commodity in the new consumer society, and the way female sexuality has been defined by the sex industry. Walter makes the crucial point that women have been complicit in this new sexism, they have co-opted the language of choice and empowerment to claim that sex is liberation. Hence the casual attitude to sex and acceptance of prostitution as a career option like any other, and the appearance of best-selling books that valorise the prostitute. The problem here is that emotion has been dissociated from sex, as it is in pornography, and the violence experienced by sex workers ignored, or suppressed. Women have in fact been put in a new box, claims Walter, one that sees them in terms of a narrow physical ideal. Women's non-sexual attributes have been devalued.
But prostitution is not empowering. Rather it is disempowering, as Walter's research and interviewee's testimony, clearly shows.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a valuable and well-written book. I especially liked the debunking of the so-called scientific evidence underpinning current sexist attitudes. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Alan
the first few chapter are fantastic, lots of research and data analysis as well as anecdotal evidence to back it up. Read morePublished on December 30, 2012 by Teresa
And I have read a LOT. I have a personal library of books on this subject, but this author writes about the subject so elegantly I can't put it down. Read morePublished on November 28, 2011 by SarahK66
Feminism is the history of unattractive, aging women, forever trying to play catch up in their attempts at closing the free sexual market as new technology continues to widen... Read morePublished on November 6, 2010 by Frank I.A.