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Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture [Paperback]

Ariel Levy
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 3, 2006 0743284283 978-0743284288 1
A classic work on gender culture exploring how the women’s movement has evolved to Girls Gone Wild in a new, self-imposed chauvinism. In the tradition of Susan Faludi’s Backlash and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, New York Magazine writer Ariel Levy studies the effects of modern feminism on women today.

Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig—the new brand of “empowered woman” who wears the Playboy bunny as a talisman, bares all for Girls Gone Wild, pursues casual sex as if it were a sport, and embraces “raunch culture” wherever she finds it. 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. They think they’re being brave, they think they’re being funny, but in Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy asks if the joke is on them.

In her quest to uncover why this is happening, Levy interviews college women who flash for the cameras on spring break and teens raised on Paris Hilton and breast implants. She examines a culture in which every music video seems to feature a stripper on a pole, the memoirs of porn stars are climbing the bestseller lists, Olympic athletes parade their Brazilian bikini waxes in the pages of Playboy, and thongs are marketed to prepubescent girls. Levy meets the high-powered women who create raunch culture—the new oinking women warriors of the corporate and entertainment worlds who eagerly defend their efforts to be “one of the guys.” And she traces the history of this trend back to conflicts between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution long left unresolved.

Levy pulls apart the myth of the Female Chauvinist Pig and argues that what has come to pass for liberating rebellion is actually a kind of limiting conformity. Irresistibly witty and wickedly intelligent, 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Ariel Levy’s debut book is a bold, piercing examination of how twenty-first century American society perceives sex and women. Writing vividly, she brings her readers to places she visited to make her assessment; the elevator of Playboy Enterprises with women auditioning to be Playmates in the fiftieth anniversary edition, a Florida beach where sunbathers urge a woman to take off her bathing suit for the camera crew of Girls Gone Wild, a San Francisco Italian restaurant where a lesbian worries she’s not dressed up enough for her date, a CAKE party in New York, with women grinding each other’s pelvises in time to pulsating dance rhythms, and outside a juice bar in Oakland where a beautiful high school student shares disappointment at her experiences with sex.

Levy cleverly leads us to explore the role models women aspire to emulate. We are not pursuing the confident, self-determined, powerful, free ideal the women’s liberation movement would have dreamed for its daughters. Instead, our icons are porn stars and strippers and prostitutes. Paris Hilton and Jenna Jameson flaunt their successes in the pornography industry, and in doing so seem to earn our adulation.

Levy relates our embracing of this raunchy culture to unresolved tensions thirty years ago between the sexual revolution and the women’s liberation movement, and amongst feminists; joy at discovering the delights of our clitoris conflicting with disgust at pornography’s objectification of women. She creates a convincing argument by analyzing a diverse spectrum of material; presents a fascinating palette of interviews with revolutionary women’s libbers, nouvelle raunchy feminists, and everyday women and men. Detailed facts and recurring names are sometimes cumbersome, albeit worth ploughing through for the ‘a-ha moments’.

The reality that we model ourselves on images whose "individuality is erased" is harsh, yet Levy’s work is imbued with hope – hope that women can celebrate their uniqueness instead of their ‘hotness’, explore their sexuality as delight rather than consume sex as currency, and succeed professionally because of their brilliant minds and personalities, not because of their brilliant bodies.--Megan Jones Ady --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. What does sexy mean today? Levy, smartly expanding on reporting for an article in New York magazine, argues that the term is defined by a pervasive raunch culture wherein women make sex objects of other women and of ourselves. The voracious search for what's sexy, she writes, has reincarnated a day when Playboy Bunnies (and airbrushed and surgically altered nudity) epitomized female beauty. It has elevated porn above sexual pleasure. Most insidiously, it has usurped the keywords of the women's movement (liberation, empowerment) to serve as buzzwords for a female sexuality that denies passion (in all its forms) and embraces consumerism. To understand how this happened, Levy examines the women's movement, identifying the residue of divisive, unresolved issues about women's relationship to men and sex. The resulting raunch feminism, she writes, is a garbled attempt at continuing the work of the women's movement and asks, how is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering? Levy's insightful reporting and analysis chill the hype of what's hot. It will create many aha! moments for readers who have been wondering how porn got to be pop and why feminism is such a dirty word. (Sept. 13)

Copyright© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (October 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743284283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743284288
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
281 of 298 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empress Has No Clothes November 18, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For years, as I have watched "raunch," as Ariel Levy rightly refers to it, go mainstream in American society, I have felt a sense of increasing discomfort and befuddlement, to say the least. In no small part, the befuddlement was born of watching my own gender betray itself, betray the cause of working towards women's rights in a male-dominated world. Yet I had no words for it. It was a gut feeling: this is wrong. This is nauseating. This is regression. Even - this is to the downfall of a woman's right and wish to explore her sexuality and seek its fulfillment.

When I saw this book's title, I immediately sensed I'd found something of importance. The day the book arrived in my mail, I sat down and read it - all in one sitting. It's been a long time since I have done that, but my sense was correct. At long last, I'd found the expression of that inner voice, put to coherent and rational words, ordered into a call for action. With utmost gratitude, I say to Levy: thank you.

What is a female chauvinist pig (FCP)? "If Male Chauvinist Pigs were men who regarded women as pieces of meat, we would outdo them and be Female Chaunvinst Pigs: women who make sex objects of other women and of ourselves."

To Levy's credit, she readily admits, more than once, that she, too, wants to "belong," to "get with the program," to seek acceptance among others, as is human nature to do. She observes the mainstreaming of raunch, and women, including feminists, falling obediently into line in promoting it. "But I could never make the argument add up in my head," she writes. "How is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish *good* for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering?
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110 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent and relevant look at gender politics November 18, 2006
I discovered "Female Chauvinist Pigs" when its author, Ariel Levy, appeared on an episode of The Colbert Report to talk about her book. I was deeply impressed with her -- an intelligent, funny, confidant, and down-to-earth woman -- and the subject matter of her book, compelling me to go out and buy it. Levy examines the current state of feminism in a society that has been infiltrated by "raunch culture." This term refers to the rise of porn and sexuality into the mainstream, whether through porn star Jenna Jameson becoming a prominent media figure and a bestselling novelist, the success of female-exploitation products like the "Girls Gone Wild" DVD series, women enrolling in cardio striptease classes at gyms across America, or the popularity of instructional lap dance videos and classes. Women have embraced their sexuality as the ultimate expression of empowerment, proclaiming that this is the new face of feminism. But Levy isn't so sure that raunch culture is as feminist as these women seem to think it is, and sets about debunking that belief through a series of interviews and research assignments going back five years. She aims to prove that the women at the forefront of this new movement are not the ultimate feminists but the result of a misguided mutation of the feminist movement that has produced female chauvinists instead of feminists: women who espouse the same stereotypical views about women and womanhood that a male chauvinist would have, sort of like a gay republican. Suddenly women seem to want to be one of the boys and are desperate not to get labelled a 'girly girl' -- the ultimate slander in raunch culture. The way to achieve this, Levy argues, is to dress and act like a stripper. But where is the liberation in this? Read more ›
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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What kind of culture are we marinating in? May 25, 2006
If you haven't spent time in teen/college culture lately, "Female Chauvinist Pigs" will wake you up to the direction we're headed. Young women now think it's normal to want to emulate porn stars. Those twisted values are starting to saturate our culture and reach younger girls each day through products like thong underwear made in girls' size 10. While boys and men are a key part of this equation, Levy's book focuses on females who have been co-opted into "chauvinistic" behavior toward other women.

I am proud to be a progressive feminist, and the saddest thing of all is that some young women think the "Girls Gone Wild" raunch is about empowermenet rather than exploitation. (Who knew I'd feel so old school before age 40?)

The writing in "Female Chauvinist Pigs" could use some polishing, and some ideas called out for more exploration. That said, Levy's work provides an important cultural critique. Still skeptical? A quick browse through the teen universe of My Space will validate Levy's ideas.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Paris Hilton sex video November 22, 2005
A Kid's Review
Despite its shocking pink cover, complete with a suggestive raunch-culture graphic, this book is not Nicole Richie's memoir. Rather, it seeks to exam exactly what our pious-idealism preaching culture idolizes about sex and appearance, and where the feminist movement has lead women. Why have we have chosen to mimic the likes of Paris Hilton and Christina Aguilera, who say they helped women earn the power to "be like men" by stripping and posing, forsaking women's movement idols Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Katie Stanton, who merely gave us the vote. The idols of today are fleshy Barbie dolls whom we don't even have to take the time to dress up; The media does that for us, encouraging that each female celebrity's daily attire includes jeans that ride low, camisoles that ride up, streaked blond hair and barely-their waists, presenting us with a fantasy that poses nude for Playboy and video tapes herself having sex. And every bleached and botoxed woman walking down the street anthropomorphizes that fantasy until we come to expect it, even demanding it of our female youth culture. Finally, here is a scholarly book that allows for the facts to speak for themselves: Until heterosexual men are posing near nude in mainstream US magazines and making out with eachother on camera, we have no achieved true equality of the sexes. Who are the Female Chauvinist Pigs? Every daring, vibrant, would-be Stanton or Anthony who is out stripping her clothes, picking out breast-implants, and settling for second-best.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener
Before reading this book, I wasn’t completely aware of what role some women played in the objectification of women. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Marcus Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars which is always a great sign of thought going on
Makes you think about how feminism is changing and how people are using the term to mean various ideologies... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book blew my Mind!!!
Wow.....what a great book!!! Should be required reading.....for ALL GENDERS... stop Raunch Culture now!! Read more
Published 24 days ago by Robert E Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Provocative and thoughtful
I'm in graduate school, and found Levy's argument (and evidence) to be interesting (and convincing). Read more
Published 1 month ago by ArtemisDeFeisty
5.0 out of 5 stars Love!
Must read for all women. If you don't agree with everything it still tells you interesting history about the progress and types of feminism and its transformation. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Courtney Garcia
3.0 out of 5 stars Review for female chauvinist pigs
it was a book for a college coarse. Easy read. Was easily relatable. she had good examples and key points
Published 2 months ago by jenny teeters
5.0 out of 5 stars Eye opening
I like that this topic has been covered in this book. Feminism has been put on the back burner in the last decade, and even if this book is almost a decade old, the information... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Kaye Whalen
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book but no page numbers
It's an awesome read. I want to give five stars because Levy is a genius.but there is no page numbers in the kindle edition which make it's hard to cite if you are reading it for a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by ima.unicorn
5.0 out of 5 stars how could i not have heard of this book for ten yrs!?
I loved this book, it has so many good points. its is fascinating sociologically, psychologically, and politically. it is a great book for both woman and men. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Hilary M.
4.0 out of 5 stars A very important read.
This book is important for many reasons. All women should read this and really start looking around at what society and our culture has become. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dianna Vurchio
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Topic From this Discussion
women and sexiness
<one explanation that ariel levy, whom i adore, makes in her book regards why women are going to the strip club or are attending the man show in such high numbers is because women do not want to be excluded any more. well why did they want to be excluded in the past and why do they not want to... Read More
Mar 29, 2007 by sigridpw |  See all 7 posts
Welcome to the Female Chauvinist Pigs forum
Does anyone have recommendations of other books on this topic or similar topics? This book was so indescribably refreshing. I want more!
May 21, 2012 by Nicole |  See all 3 posts
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