Gender and Sexuality
Abby and Ffion xxxx
• For this presentation we chose to read parts of Natasha
Walter’s book, Living Dolls – The Return Of Sexism.
• In her previous work she talked about the
objectification of women becoming less of a problem
however in her most recent work she describes how
this may not be true. Walter’s main stance throughout
Living Dolls is that there is hyper-sexulisation of mass
culture occurring across western society.
• She speaks about how women face an added pressure
in order to fit the unrealistic image of femininity and
what it is to be a woman today.
• Walter also talks about what it means to be a women and how the
feminine image is a social construction; there are many different
things that play a part in the construction, from being slim,
beautiful and even sexy are all becoming increasingly prominent.
• As mentioned in yesterdays lecture, Simone de Beauvoir, who also
agrees that gender is a product of social and cultural processes.
• ‘The image of female perfection to which women are encouraged to
aspire, has become more and more defined by sexual allure’ What
Walter means by this is that women are now valued in terms of
their sexual attraction and their appeal to men.
• Walter goes on to talk about the stereotyping of products and toys
targeted towards young people. This refers back to the title as she
argues that young women and children are increasingly encouraged
to aspire to look like dolls.
In this Rolling Stones
cover of Janet Jackson
we see an example of
what Walter was
talking about in her
book about sexualising
the female body for
Sexualisation and male gaze
• Walter then goes on to talk about the damaging effects
of current feminist discourse surrounding female
sexuality. She believes it is merely encouraging women
to accept a sexist and sexual culture, which largely
caters to the fulfillment of male fantasies.
• This is similar to the concept coined by Laura Mulvey,
the male gaze. She talks about the male gaze being
present in visual arts such as film, tv, advertisements
etc. Mulvey describes the tendency in visual arts to
depict the world and women from a masculine point of
• In her book, Walter talks about the current
feminists discourse has taken a step back,
instead of liberating and empowering women
to be sexual in their own right, it has instead
hyper-sexualised the female image to benefit
a male audience; it is as if women are taking
part in their own continual subordination.
• Walter does an excellent job of walking a
controversial line. She criticises the pornified
culture that pushes young women towards lap
dancing and topless modelling, but never
judges the women themselves.
• However a critique of Walter is that she
neglects the autonomy of the girls working in
the industries that some if not most are happy
working in these industries.
• Overall the reading gave us insight to the more
contemporary approaches to sexuality and
gender. Walter successfully explores different
aspects of society and focusing on how sexual
images are becoming increasingly dominant in
mass culture, she makes clear that sexism still
exists and calls for feminists to recognise the new
ways in which it exists today. "We have come so
far already. For our daughters, the escalator
doesn't have to stop on the doll's floor."
‘One is not born a woman, but becomes one’
- Simone de Beauvoir