Friday, January 26, 2007

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women & The Rise of Raunch Culture, by Ariel Levy

(pb; 2005: non-fiction)

From the back cover:

"Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig -- the new brand of 'empowered woman' who embraces 'raunch culture' wherever she finds it. In her groundbreaking book, New York magazine writer Ariel Levy argues that, if male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, Female Chauvinist Pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women -- and of themselves... Female Chauvinist Pigs makes the case that the rise of raunch does not represent how far women have come; it only proves how far they have left to go."

Review:

Levy's book, lean and direct, states that many women in their twenties, who came of age after the '60s and '70s -- "raunch feminists" -- have "perverted" the forward-looking precepts of early feminist thought by carrying on, sexually and otherwise, like teenage boys: they place a premium on being "hot," make fun of "girly-girls" (who hold them in ironic, sneering thraldom), and extol the virtures of mainstream porn (in what seems to be a misguided "beating the boys at their own game" gambit). Even lesbians, specifically bois (previously labeled transgendered or FTMs, Females To Males), who are "young, hip, sex positive, a little masculine and ready to rock," have embraced these regressive pseudo-macho attitudes.

Levy's backs her charges with points regarding the popularity and social effects of the Girls Gone Wild videos, the increase in vaginoplasties ("cosmetic operations to alter the labia and vulva so they look more like the genitals" of porn stars and Playmates), and the mixed social-sexual messages that teenagers (especially girls) receive (which, of course, may very well set them on the path of raunch feminism).

Eminently entertaining, this is a smooth, indispensable polemic, one that should be read by anyone who's alarmed at how our acelerated society is converging once-X-rated concepts into mainstream daily life.

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