I have been watching this hypersexual culture getting fiercer and stronger, and co-opting the language of choice and liberation.”
- Natasha Walter, Living Dolls
After the Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke VMA performance some time ago I read a comment by a friend that asked the question: “Why is it that the man is always fully clothed while the woman is always half-naked?” Great question and an example of the double standards that are so rife in our society. This book does a terrific job in addressing sexism in society; feminism was supposed to empower women but unfortunately a lot of women have a false sense of empowerment. Women still feel the need to conform to the image that society has prescribed for them, an image which is more and more defined by the sex industry.
The book challenges how we think, especially about the sex industry becoming so mainstream. Walter dissects arguments and shows us how problematic the sex industry is. Very problematic, even for women not involved in it : “The highly sexualized culture around us is tolerated and even celebrated because it rests on the illusion of equality.”
Walter's tone is not judgmental at all. Her candid interviews with various women working in the sex industry, as well as the very disturbing opinions several British teenagers have shared with her about sexuality help cement her argument that there is really a problem here. Women are not empowered at all, violence, rape and the pressure to be perfect are things women still have to deal with.Women still experience sexual bullying, even women in positions of power and women don't have income equality with men.
The book also addresses myths about women such as the opinion held by many that women aren't good at math. Is it biologically determined or is it a result of socialization?
My feelings after reading this book: disgust at the fact that we have let this hypersexualized culture become so prevalent, yet relative optimism due to the fact that there is a lot of dialogue and more awareness these days.
This is a must-read for everyone.