Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women

Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women


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How big business plays on women's second-class status and social insecurities to market cosmetics and rake in profits. The introduction by Waters explains how the entry of millions of women into the workforce during and after World War II irreversibly changed U.S. society and laid the basis for a renewed rise of struggles for women's emancipation.

“A lively and surprisingly timely historical lesson in the ever-raging controversy surrounding women, beauty, and oppression.”—Ms.

Introduction by Mary-Alice Waters, photos, notes, index. Now with enlarged type.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780873486590
Publisher: Pathfinder Press GA
Publication date: 01/01/1986
Pages: 181
Product dimensions: 5.36(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.51(d)

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Cosmetics, Fashions, and the Exploitation of Women 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This entertaining and thought-provoking book had a curious beginning - a 1954 exchange of news articles and letters to the editor in the socialist newsweekly the Militant. The original article joked about the declining use of cosmetics and subsequent problems of the cosmetics industry. A reader¿s reaction quickly brought a discussion of the role of women in society, their increasing participation in the workforce, and the source of the imaging of women in culture. This dispute, which became a debate within the Socialist Workers Party, took place well before the rise of the 1960s women¿s liberation movement. It took place at a time generally regarded as one of bland social conformity. Obviously, social attitudes towards, and by, women were much more complex than met the eye. An introduction by Mary-Alice Waters puts the book in its modern-day context.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fascinating and instructive collection, this is the written record of a debate carried out in the pages of the socialist newsweekly, the Militant, in the mid-1950s. You get a serious look at the roots of the oppression of women in capitalist society, including the powerful psychological pressure exerted through mass media, marketing, and bosses to compel women to ¿need¿--and hence buy-- the ¿right¿ clothes, cosmetics, and so-called beauty treatments. The discussion takes up the changing relations between men and women as human society has evolved from earliest times to today¿s class-divided society, debunks the notion of an eternal standard of beauty, and much more. It¿s also a wonderful example of how to analyze and understand political and social questions from the standpoint of the interests of working people and not succumb to the prejudices and fetishes of capitalist society. You see how political activists can thrash out sharp differences over tough questions in the framework of an open exchange of views. An extensive introduction covers the impact of the capitalist crisis of the 1980s on women and the decline of the mass women¿s rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My two favorite sections of this book are the introduction by Mary-Alice Waters and the essay by Evelyn Reed, 'The Woman Question and the Marxist Method.' In the intro, Waters explains 1) how the status of women in the US has changed since WWII; 2) what the women's liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s accomplished; and 3) a scientific explanation for why this powerful and inspiring movement declined. This book is worth buying and reading and studying and discussing with others. Reed's essay sums up the political debate at the center of the book (see other reviewers' summaries of this) and, like Waters, launches a factual, scientific examination of the roots of the oppression of women and how our concepts of beauty, fashion, and cosmetics are tied to the rule of a handful of capitalists over the majority who toil for a living. A must for women (and men) who want to understand why sexism exists in our society and how to fight it.