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What Should We Tell Our Daughters?

We have reached a tricky crossroads in modern women's lives and our collective daughters are bearing the brunt of some intolerable pressures. Although feminism has made great strides forward since our mothers' and grandmothers' day, many of the key issues - equality of pay, equality in the home, representation at senior level in the private, public and political sectors - remain to be tackled. Casual sexism in the media and in everyday life is still rife and our daughters face a host of new difficulties as they are bombarded by images of unrealistically skinny airbrushed supermodels, celebrity role-models who depend on their looks and partners for status, and by competitive social media. The likes of Natasha Walter and Katie Roiphe deal with feminism from an adult point of view, but our daughters need to be prepared for stresses that are coming into play now as early as pre-school. This is a manifesto for every mother who has ever had to comfort a daughter who doesn't feel 'pretty', for every young woman who out-performs her male peers professionally and wonders why she is still not taken seriously, and for anyone interested in the world we are making for the next generation.
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A manifesto for modern womanhood - and a guide through the perils and pitfalls of parenting girls

About the Author

Melissa Benn is a writer, journalist and campaigner. She was educated at Holland Park comprehensive and the London School of Economics where she read history.Her early jobs included working at the National Council for Civil Liberties and as a researcher, under Professor Stuart Hall at the Open University. Benn's journalism has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including the Guardian, the Independent, The Times, Marxism Today, the London Review of Books, Cosmopolitan, Public Finance and the New Statesman. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and a columnist and blogger for Public Finance magazine.Benn has written five books, including two novels: Public Lives (1995), and One of Us (2008) which was shortlisted for Waterstone's New Writer of the Year award in 2008 and selected for the Richard and Judy book club.Her non-fiction works include Madonna and Child: Towards a New Politics of Motherhood (1998); Education and Democracy, co-edited with Clyde Chitty (2004) and most recently, School Wars: The Battle for Britain's Education (2011). In 1998, the Guardian included her in a list of Britain's leading feminist writers.A regular speaker and broadcaster, Melissa Benn has written and presented several Radio Four programmes, been a guest on Woman's Hour, Saturday Live, A Good Read, Richard and Judy, the Sky Book Show and Sky news programme, and was one of several writers featured in a one hour special on the representation of politics in the arts and fiction on Radio Four. She lives in north west London with her husband and two daughters.


Benn's writing is profoundly reasonable, while infused with a spirit of creative rebellion, pleasure and fun. I particularly liked her reflective musings on her own pregnancy when she felt simultaneously 'dismembered' and 'energized', and her evocative account of repeating with her own daughters her mother's practice of waving her off to school. This is a good book for daughters, for sons, and indeed for all of us -- Sheila Rowbotham * Independent * Wide-ranging, thoughtful, even-handed . . . Her forensic approach adds valuable nuance * Guardian * An intelligent and captivating read . . . you'll want to lock yourself away and devour it from beginning to end * Psychologies * A Bible for . . .Any young woman who has ever doubted herself,Any brilliant mind who has ever felt unworthy for not carrying off the latest faddy fashion trend or sexualised beauty look.Any modern-day Goddess who feels destabilised and lost. * All Walks blog * Benn grapples eloquently with character, self, confidence, anger, the unquantifiable but elemental traits that make us human . . . but it is her call to the mind and the soul that I will outright steal: I believe we owe our daughters curiosity: the chance to be, or become, strangers, even to us, as we inquire of, and show are selves willing to hear, wishes and dreams we may never have imagined * Financial Times * Praise for Melissa Benn's writing:'Gripping' Guardian'Brilliant' The Times'Insightful, deeply affecting' Time Out'Extraordinary . . . and emotional and political tour-de-force' Independent on Sunday'You won't be able to put it down' Tatler * Various *

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