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Wednesday, May 6, 2020

LIVING DOLLS: THE RETURN of SEXISM by Natasha Walter



Published in 2010 by Virago Press.

Natasha Walter is an English feminist who is looking at how modern culture treats women. She has two main points that I will reverse the order of their presentation in my review.

Her second main point is the new belief in biological determinism, meaning men and women have areas that they are naturally better at - and that fact overrides everything.

She notes that the scientific studies that this belief is based on have never really
The author, Natasha Walter
been scientifically proven, meaning that they were limited and not replicated on a regular basis. Some have never been replicated even once.

The danger is that people just assume things like "girls aren't good at math" and "men can't take care of babies or children" and they become reality. I see it in the classroom all the time - parents tell their kid they struggled with a certain class and they understand if the kid struggles and the kid struggles. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The main point that she presents at the beginning of the book is more complicated and controversial. She laments that modern Western culture's willingness to affirm female sexuality has, all too often, been appropriated by men to promote male sexual fantasies. She interviewed a lot of women for this book and makes a compelling argument that men have co-opted this idea to encourage women to strip, pole dance, make porn movies and basically do over thing that used to be considered damaging to women -all in the name of feminism.

Her argument is not that female sexuality is a bad thing, but rather that it has become, for too many, the only tool that women have to get ahead. Or, going back to that theme of a self-fulfilling prophecy, too many women think that sex is their only way to get ahead in the world.

She hints at, but never quite labels another way these two thoughts go together. Could it be that the biological determinism theme is reinforcing her argument from the beginning of the book by taking options away from women so that they feel that they have to fall back on sex to get ahead?

This was an interesting book, even if I am reading it as an outsider (being a male). I flew through it. I rate it 5 stars out of 5. It can be found here: LIVING DOLLS: THE RETURN of SEXISM by Natasha Walter.

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