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    Contributors | September 15, 2015

    Mary Karr: IMG Memoir Tutorials with Mary Karr, Lena Dunham, and Gary Shteyngart

    Editor's note: It's been 20 years since the groundbreaking memoir The Liars' Club sent Mary Karr into the literary spotlight with its phenomenal... Continue »
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1 Burnside Gender Studies- General
1 Local Warehouse Feminist Studies- General

The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality


The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Can women be equal to men as long as men are physically stronger? And are men, in fact, stronger?

These are key questions that Colette Dowling, author of the bestselling The Cinderella Complex, raises in her provocative new book. The myth of female frailty, with its roots in nineteenth-century medicine and misogyny, has had a damaging effect on women's health, social status, and physical safety. It is Dowling's controversial thesis that women succumb to societal pressures to appear weak in order to seem more "feminine."

The Frailty Myth presents new evidence that girls are weaned from the use of their bodies even before they begin school. By adolescence, their strength and aerobic powers have started to decline unless the girls are exercising vigorously--and most aren't. By sixteen, they have already lost bone density and turned themselves into prime candidates for osteoporosis. They have also been deprived of motor stimulation that is essential for brain growth.

Yet as breakthroughs among elite women athletes grow more and more astounding, it begins to appear that strength and physical skill--for all women--is only a matter of learning and training. Men don't have a monopoly on physical prowess; when women and men are matched in size and level of training, the strength gap closes. In some areas, women are actually equipped to outperform men, due partly to differences in body structure, and partly to the newly discovered strengthening benefits of estrogen.

Drawing on extensive research in motor development, performance assessment, sports physi-ology, and endocrinology, Dowling presents an astonishing picture of the new physical woman. And she creates a powerful argument that true equality isn't possible until women learn how to stand up for themselves--physically.


Declaring physical equality to be the crucial final goal of women's liberation, a renowned feminist writer challenges the belief that men are "naturally" stronger than women. NPR sponsorship.


Includes bibliographical references (p. 267-303) and index.

About the Author

Colette Dowling is an internationally known writer and lecturer whose books have been translated into twenty languages. She is the author of numerous books, including Maxing Out, Red Hot Mamas, You Mean I Don't Have to Feel This Way?, and The Cinderella Complex, which has been in print since it was first published in 1981. Her articles have appeared in many magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, New York, and Harper's. She lives in Woodstock, New York.

Product Details

(women approaching physical equality )
Dowling, Colette
Random House Trade
New York :
Women's Studies
Gender Studies
Sex role
Sex differences
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Trade Cloth
xxvii, 319 p.
9.54x6.40x1.15 in. 2.50 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies

The Frailty Myth: Women Approaching Physical Equality Used Hardcover
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Product details xxvii, 319 p. pages Random House Trade - English 9780375502354 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Declaring physical equality to be the crucial final goal of women's liberation, a renowned feminist writer challenges the belief that men are "naturally" stronger than women. NPR sponsorship.
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