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Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism Paperback – June 1, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'If anyone doubts the need to protect girls from the toxic, hyper-sexualised, disempowering environment they're now growing up in, they should read LIVING DOLLS' Maggie Hamilton, author of WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR GIRLS?

About the Author

Natasha Walter is author of THE NEW FEMINISM. She is a regular contributor to the national papers and BBC Radio.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Virago Press (UK) (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084841
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084845
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #922,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a well-written and informative book about our current hypersexual and increasingly sexist society. Natasha Walter focuses on Britain, but as an American, I find a lot of her writing applies to America as well.

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.
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Format: Paperback
This important book has not been published a moment too soon in my view. It is part of a welcome backlash against the appalling new sexism in Britain today, and if the genre is stylised feminist, then feminism clearly has a lot to offer both women and men today.

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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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