Living Dolls by Natasha Walter

I tend to read more from US writers, but I got interested in this book by a British feminist writer (and human rights activist) while surfing on Amazon. I bought it and I was proved right — this is an amazing book. It discusses certain phenomena in our hypersexual culture that affect women (and society) in a very bad way and reinforce old male/female stereotypes. It makes the reader think twice about things that we have already become accustomed to, things that we do not seem to question anymore: glamour modeling recently becoming a “dream job” for girls in today’s Western world, the Playboy bunny printed on pencils that are sold to young girls, the wide-spread belief that “girls like pink and boys like blue”, but even the (seemingly) more serious notions such as “women use the left side of their brain and men use the right side, hence the differences in language skills, spatial orientation, etc.” This latter, along with biological determinism (that is thought to account for differences in sexes as opposed to socialisation) is something that most people nowadays consider to be a fact. But Walter challenges this; and she does not just refute them with any argument, but she uses scientific studies and research to prove her point. And she does. (She even rips apart the famous “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus opus. Just watch.)

Let me quote something from the book, because whatever I write here will not stand as strong.

“The preference for research on the brain that seems to back up traditional sex differences over research that does not is not only seen in the media; some scientists have suggested that it occurs earlier on in the research food-chain, in the very decisions about which studies actually get published. Some have pointed out that, while  vast number of studies of brain activation are currently being carried out, those that show sex differences are much more likely to be published than those which fail to prove sex differences. This is a file-drawer problem; that the studies we have on record are a small proportion of the studies carried out, most of which show no publicity-friendly gender differences and are therefore languishing in academics’ file drawers.”

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