Synopsis (from Amazon)
Empowerment, liberation, choice. Once the watchwords of feminism, these terms have now been co-opted by a society that sells women an airbrushed, highly sexualised and increasingly narrow vision of femininity. While the opportunities available to women may have expanded, the ambitions of many young girls are in reality limited by a culture that sees women’s sexual allure as their only passport to success. At the same time we are encouraged to believe that the inequality we observe all around us is born of innate biological differences rather than social factors. Drawing on a wealth of research and personal interviews, Natasha Walter, author of the groundbreaking THE NEW FEMINISM and one of Britain’s most incisive cultural commentators, gives us a straight-talking, passionate and important book that makes us look afresh at women and girls, at sexism and femininity, today.
I wouldn’t call myself a feminist, that’s not to say I don’t want rights for women (I mean which woman wouldn’t?), or that I wouldn’t fight if my own rights were threatened, but I probably wouldn’t got out of my way to fight for women’s rights in general, this book did get me thinking though. I would never say that women get equal rights to men, I don’t think you can when you live in a country where a woman can’t be heir to the throne unless she has no brothers. In fact I’m surprised that that fact wasn’t mentioned in Living Dolls as it did talk about women getting equal rights in work, if one of the most well known positions cannot easily be held by a woman then what hope is there for the rest of us.
In a way the book is a little depressing because it points out how far we still have to go, and even suggests that we have gone back on what we had previously achieved. I found it very emotive, especially when reading about how young girls are trained to be the stereotypical homemaker woman, and to expect to be that before they are even old enough to think that isn’t right. I enjoyed reading the parts about science and statistics that showed how the popular view is not necessarily the right one, or even the one with the most evidence behind it. I did find that Walter stayed on this point a little too long and it began to feel a little over top, and very one sided.
There were a few other bits I was unsure of as well. Walter seemed to me to suggest in some points that women who didn’t choose to exercise their freedoms (e.g. by choosing to stay at home, or choosing to settle down with one man) were somehow worth less as feminists, she did put a few times that she wasn’t saying that but it still felt to me a little like she was, just that she didn’t want to offend anybody. I also disliked the cover, it made me feel embarrassed to read out and about (and that’s when I do most of my reading) although I can certainly say that it is attention grabbing.
Overall though it really made me think, and I do think that every woman should read it, whether you count yourself as a feminist or not