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Louise Livesey reviews another guide to life as a modern woman which blithely ignores everyone who isn’t white, middle class and straight

The Modern Maiden_s Handbook <modernmaiden>.jpgThere is always a fundamental problem, I find, when authors deny association with feminism but then rely on feminism’s achievements as the basis for their books. Even the guest intro writer for this book, Julie Burchill, warns: “In recent years there has been an outbreak of shameless sucking up to the sad old ways of sexism, which has taken the shape of women who have benefited from all the blessings feminism has wrestled from the hands of patriarchy.”

The Modern Maiden’s Handbook: The Shameless Girl’s Guide to Blameless Living by Nina de la Mer, however, does just that. As early on page two, de la Mer is demanding that we “wave good bye to these feminist… legacies” of the contraceptive pill and “bra-burning”1 to become “modern maidens”. But so much of this “handbook” is reliant on the gains of feminism, that the repeated distancing and avowal that it has no worth is grating.

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