Walking, Talking

Living Dolls is another of those must reads for Feminists. It discusses the worrying backlash against feminism and a return to sexism.  Talking primarily about society in the UK it dissects the hyper-sexualisation of women and girls. Images from popular media to internet porn have reversed social taboos so that prostitution is glamourised and women once denied the right to a sexual identity are now ostracised as prudish and old-fashioned if they don’t claim their “rights” to  flaunt their sexuality.

Natasha Walter discusses how this narrow range of acceptable behaviour for women to behave as “ladettes” is just as restrictive as in the past. Now young women are seen as outsiders if they choose to dress conservatively and not be promiscuous, the ” ideal” woman is that of a Barbie doll.  The pressure to conform is so intense, that worryingly even some of the top academic students in the country (gaining firsts at Cambridge) feel more defined by their looks than their achievements.

Walter also discusses the recent return to the ideology of biological determinism. Whilst in the 1970s and 1980s, gender “appropriate” behaviour was thought to be learnt by social conditioning, recent “research” seems to indicate that there are inherent differences between girls and boys. Boys are said to be more aggressive and naturally better at logic, mathematics and spatial awareness whilst girls are better at language, empathy, and building relationships . In a manner similar to Ben Goldacre in Bad Science , Walter reveals many of these modern “facts” to be based on poor research and that studies showing the opposite or no effect are ignored by the media.

Arguing, that these “facts” affect girls own views of their abilities and life choices and lead to women as being thought of as ideally suited to be caregivers rather than chief executives. This book is a passionate call to arms for feminists everywhere to renew their fight.

Other recent feminist reads:

6 thoughts on “Walking, Talking

  1. Laraine 27 May 2010 / 5:30 pm

    I’m all for equality but what feminism did for my own generation (I’m 65) seemed to work AGAINST women: we held down full-time jobs to help pay the mortgage and we did all the household chores (barring, perhaps, lawnmowing and, if we were lucky, weeding the garden) and we brought up the children as well. Neither of my sisters-in-law worked (they belonged more to my mother’s generation than mine) but I was expected to do my share of looking after my MIL during her early Alzheimers while they looked for a home that could take her, and I landed up looking after my FIL after my MIL’s death despite the fact that my two sisters-in-law didn’t work while I did. That mortgage still had to be paid! It wasn’t going to go away just because neither of my FIL’s daughters wanted to look after him. Now I am looking after the elder of those two sisters. I loathe domesticity, BTW. I’m not sure whether this is learned (because of working for the reward of a paypacket all my married life) or whether I inherited this outlook from my mother. Thanks for a very thought-provoking post, Alice.

  2. joyce 28 May 2010 / 2:33 pm

    Like Donna, I read Female chauvinist pigs. It was a depressing read, as Thom Yorke of Radiohead yodeled “you do it to yourself, you do and that’s what really hurts”. Sigh…

  3. jane 28 May 2010 / 2:47 pm

    It all sounds depressing reading. I thought in the heady days of feminism that we were really going to change the world – the there was this very definate backlash against feminism, so perhaps books like this will help redress the balance?

  4. Lynne 30 May 2010 / 10:38 am

    Women have to be themselves, that’s all there is to it. You must be strong and be who you are, not the person that the media or society or your husband or your mother-in-law tell you to be. I’m 51, raunch culture isn’t a good look for me. The sexualization of women and girls is also inherently ageist; the eguation that old=ugly=stupid=invisible is a cruel one.

  5. Lynne 30 May 2010 / 10:39 am

    Sorry, that’s equation.

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