288 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empress Has No Clothes
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...
Published on November 18, 2007 by Zinta Aistars
44 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, easy read that doesn't completely satisfy.....
Ariel Levy is a journalist, and her book "Female Chauvinist Pigs" reads like it was writtten by someone accustomed to fitting complex issues into an article-length, palatable piece of writing. This is not necessarily a bad thing - her style is engaging and colorful, and the book can easily be read in a single sitting. But the conventions of writing for newspapers and...
Published on January 1, 2006 by Tricia Alicya
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288 of 305 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Empress Has No Clothes,
This review is from: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Paperback)
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? And how is imitating a stripper or a porn star--a woman whose *job* is to imitate arousal in the first place--going to render us sexually liberated? 'Raunchy' and 'liberated' are not synonyms. It is worth asking ourselves if this bawdy world of boobs and gams we have resurrected reflects how far we've come, or how far we have left to go."
As Levy describes our status quo, the trillion dollar industry of porn, the mainstreaming of porn into everyday prime time media, the popular style of dress among our youth, promiscuity not only among youth but also reflected in increasing incidences of infidelity (resulting in growing numbers of broken relationships) among older generations, the quixotic chase for everlasting youth in a narrowly defined mold of feminine beauty, and the general acceptance of objectifying women, it is difficult to see how this trend might be construed as a positive or liberating one. So why then would women become their own worst enemy?
Somewhere along the developmental line of feminism and women's liberation, as we fought for equal rights and opportunities, we achieved much in some areas while falling to our knees, literally and metaphorically, in the area of female sexuality. It is the one area where we are, perhaps, most vulnerable and shown ourselves to be needy of the approval of the opposite gender. And so, it appears, our line has become - if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Who wants to be viewed as a prude? Women have not gone on to explore the strength and power of the feminine gender; instead, we have fought to "become one of the boys."
What is the definition of "sexy" that is portrayed today? Levy interviews various nude models and popular porn stars such as Jenna Jameson to dig into the motivation behind the act. And act it is. When these women describe what they do, not once, Levy observes, do they use the word "pleasure." The predominant descriptive word, in fact, is "pain." The reason for doing their work? The common answer is "because I was paid to." And the predominant appearance in these photos and flicks? It is like looking at a wall of Barbie dolls, Levy writes, "distinctly poured from the same mold. Individuality is erased: It is not part of the formula."
If women's liberation was originally supposed to give us greater freedom to explore our individuality, to be free to be ourselves, at any age, size, or type, how did this become an expression of freedom for women? Quite simply, it is not.
Yet the need for a sexual revolution among women is real. Levy states alarming statistics: 70 percent of women do not orgasm during intercourse. The percentages, in fact, are getting higher rather than lower. If feminism was meant to be, among other things, an arena in which to develop a heightened sense of connection for a woman to her own body, the rise of raunch is built around male fantasy rather than female fantasy, the predominant theme being one of subjugation of the woman rather than her pleasure. Sex has become sport rather than a manifestation of affection or even of attraction. Levy quotes the "Hite Report" from 1976, a report of female sexuality that should have opened doors, but has become increasingly a prediction of today's abandonment of exploring what a woman really wants and needs, dominated instead by male wants and needs: "Female sexuality has been essentially a response to male sexuality and intercourse. There has rarely been any acknowledgment that female sexuality might have a complex nature of its own which would be more than just the logical counterpart of male sexuality."
The mystery of the new FCP is that while she shuns "girly-girls" from her social life, she is fixated on them for entertainment. Seeking power in the board room, she still looks to raunch (i.e. girly-girls) when she steps out of the board room. Does this make sense? Why is womanhood still being considered as something from which to escape, something less than manhood? As long as women emulate men in and outside of the boardroom in how they express their strength, their smarts, and their sexuality, they are still making a statement that to be a woman is to be inferior.
Levy explores the culture of raunch among youth, those scantily clad young women dressed as Levy calls it, "the slut uniform," and the paradox of dressing to be gawked at and touched, even while that is the last thing these young women crave. When asked, it is not promiscuity they crave, but acceptance, popularity among peers, and as youth will, they are simply reflecting the raunch their parents have allowed to infiltrate mass media. One female teen expresses it this way: "To dress the skankiest, I know that sounds terrible, but that would be the one way we [girls] compete... I wanted guys to want me, to want to hook up with me, I guess, even though I *didn't* want to hook up with them. I always wanted the guys to think I was the hottest one."
As a feminist, I read that statement and once again wonder, along with Levy, is this progress? The greatest achievement for a young woman today is to be considered "hot"? To seduce, even while dreading the result of that seduction? Because as Levy examines this line of thinking to its ugly end, these girls do, far too often, give in to the boys who want to "hook up" to them, but rarely is sexual gratification returned. More times than not, the pleasure is one-sided. Indeed, the girls don't even seem to want a return 'favor.' They simply want to be accepted.
This shockingly similar attitude appears among sex workers, those women today's pop culture wishes to emulate. "The cultural dominance of the porn-star fantasy is that it defies control. Porn stars are quite firmly under various controls. Most obviously, they are under corporate control. Sex workers are *workers.* They are having sex... because they are paid to, not because they are in the mood to... sex is supposed to be something we do for pleasure or as an expression of love. The best erotic models, then, would seem to be the women who get the most pleasure out of sex, not the women who get the most money for it."
Levy explores the theory that most sex workers are victims of sexual abuse, and finds basis for the estimates that as many as 90 percent have suffered sexual trauma, two-thirds suffer from post-traumatic stress, a number twice as high as Vietnam vets. "There is something twisted about using a predominantly sexually traumatized group of people as our erotic role models." Even Jenna Jameson writes, "To this day, I still can't watch my own sex scenes." In describing what she does, Jameson writes about sex: "It was a weapon I could exploit mercilessly."
Levy concludes that the raunch culture is not a pursuit of female sexuality, but an abandonment of it. "No matter how much porn you watch, you will end up with a limited knowledge of your own sexuality because you still won't know how these things *feel.* That will depend on who you do them with, what kind of mood you're in when you do, whether you feel safe or scared." Looking at porn, Levy writes, is like looking at a chart of the food pyramid and claiming that you have enjoyed a feast.
"The proposition that having the most simplistic, plastic stereotypes of female sexuality constantly reiterated throughout our culture somehow proves that we are sexually liberated and personally empowered has been offered to us, and we have accepted it. But if we think about it, we know this just doesn't make any sense. It's time to stop nodding and smiling uncomfortably as we ignore the crazy feeling in our heads and admit that the emperor has no clothes."
I couldn't agree more with Levy, that "sex is one of the most interesting things we as humans have to play with, and we've reduced it to polyester underpants and implants. We are selling ourselves unbelievably short... Our national love of porn and pole dancing is not the byproduct of a free and easy society with an earthy acceptance of sex. It is a desperate stab at freewheeling eroticism in a time and place characterized by intense anxiety. What are we afraid of? Everything... which includes sexual freedom and *real* female power... there are other choices... options as wide as the variety of human desire."
In her Afterword, Levy mentions "many letters from men confirming my gut feeling that reducing sexuality to a commercial formula is no better for them than for us." One can only hope so. But, either way, it is time for women to stop behaving like bottom-of-the-barrel men, and get back on track exploring what it means to be a strong and competent, confidant and fully sensual woman. Now, that's revolutionary. And sexy.
112 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent and relevant look at gender politics,
This review is from: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Paperback)
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? Men don't have to undress to become powerful beings -- and we certainly aren't under as much aesthetic pressure as women. Instead of liberating themselves, these women are trapping themselves in the very same system that has degraded them for centuries. Wanting to act like a man implies that there is something unpleasant about womanhood that must be escaped from.
The proliferation of sex is particularly troubling to Levy, and in her interviews it becomes astonishingly clear that the women who are pursuing empowerment through a sort of sexual revolution are feeling very empty about their sexuality. Almost all of the women she speaks to admit that they don't get much pleasure out of their intimacies, but keep seeking out meaningless sex for various reasons (they don't want to be seen as a prude, they want to keep adding notches to their belt, they want bragging rights, etc.). What, then, is the point in increasing your sexual productivity if the results aren't gratifying to you? And why go to the extremes of mini-skirts, waxing, cleavage-and-midriff-baring tops, implants, lifts, tucks, and such to attract men if your goal is to develop a sense of self worth? A male interview subject points out that "what girls don't understand is guys always want girls. If every girl dressed casually, you'd still like girls. It's like, you don't have to exhaust yourself." And why emulate strippers and porn stars? Research shows that the vast majority of women in the sex industry are the products of sexual abuse, and in interviews they never mention deriving pleasure from their work so much as a feeling of revenge. Furthermore, strippers and porn stars are paid to simulate sexual gratification -- so how can anyone presume to find sexual liberation in imitating an imitation?
If I have a complaint with Levy's work, it's that she sometimes makes errors in her pop culture references and interpretations. She refers to rapper Snoop Dogg as Snoop Doggy Dogg -- a name he hasn't gone by for years. She also incorrectly identifies the first single from Paris Hilton's album (although I cannot fault her for not wanting to get more specifics on that abomination). These are relatively minor mistakes, but for a young woman like Levy they feel surprising to me. The big one was that I felt that she really misinterpreted "Sex and the City" big time. Yes, the show did start out with Carrie wanting to "have sex like a man" and dealt with sex as a commercial commodity -- but the genius of the show was that its multi-faceted, complex characters really grew and developed over the years, and in the end they all found themselves in serious relationships -- leaving the offensive aspects of raunch culture behind them.
Having said that, I am impressed with the depth of insight Levy offers to her research and her involvement in the subject matter. She makes a very clear, convincing argument (even if I was biased to believe it in the first place), and at the very least she is to be commended for bringing the subject up for discussion (indeed, her thesis is relevant not only to gender politics but to differences of race and sexual orientation as well). It's about time someone did, and thank goodness it was an author with the clarity, wisdom and open-mindedness of Ariel Levy.
94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What kind of culture are we marinating in?,
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.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buying it for my girlfriends, my boyfriend and my dad,
This is a great book to start a conversation among women and feminists, people who celebrate women's sexual empowerment, and people who deplore the coarsening of our culture. Levy picks apart the extent to which these things are (and are not) related. She has a gift for directly addressing things we've all been aware of but probably haven't thought to inquire into.
This book doesn't have all the answers and it doesn't address all the arguments, but it doesn't profess to: I found it valuable for *stimulating* thoughts on how feminism has (apparently) morphed, what our obligations are to ourselves and to women generally, and the potential larger impact of our individual choices. (I've worn a Playboy-logo T-shirt, thinking of it as shorthand for, or 'taking back' a symbol of, female sexuality...but I was ambivalent about it at the time, and now I wonder whether the actual effect was to undermine my own convictions - what exactly was the point of emphasizing female sexuality anyway?)
Ariel Levy identifies a culture-wide cheapening of female attributes at the same time that we see women succeed as individuals in "non-traditional" fields. She suggests reasons why women and girls are buying into the coarsening messages, suggesting that their motivation is largely selfish - to advance individually in a world that (still) caters to men's desires even at the expense of other women generally, who necessarily continue to get the short end of the stick (in order to maintain the paradigm that's so effective for those exceptional women). Surely that kind of female success cannot be sustainable, since it puts women just as clearly into boxes as did playing by the old rules. When *every* woman seeks to stand out by stepping on top of other women, it's just a jumbled mess.
The first half is better than the second half, when Levy moves from mainstream shifts to fringier elements, but even those are interesting illustrations of a weird, subconscious-seeming, univeral acceptance of the superiority of what we consider to be male.
It's a quick read, but you'll think about it for a while.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Paris Hilton sex video,
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.
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Someone dares question the status quo,
I love it when people lose their minds when someone comes out of nowhere and dares question the status quo. I also find critics' responses hilarious as, vast majority of the time, they completely miss the point (or concoct their own conclusions) and "Female Chauvinist Pigs" was no exception.
Why is a book dealing with womens' issues always labeled "controversial" when it doesn't accept popular culture's perception of how women should look and feel?
I'm proud that someone my own age has finally woken up and started throwing around some serious questions regarding how far women have regressed when it comes to true equality, liberation, and sexuality. I've long gotten tired of the argument that if women are "comfortable" with their sexuality they should do whatever they want. It's gotten old because being "comfortable" with your sexuality always runs along the lines of humping and dancing around a pole three-quarters or completely naked and being able to sleep with anyone and everyone without feeling the least bit shameful about it (I'm far from a prude but how about a bit of self-respect?).
It's bad enough there's the perception that it's okay for males to act like that but for women to sink to their level isn't doing or saying much for us.
Ariel's main argument was why women must act like men in order to be thought of as equals (when their salaries say something entirely different)? For all the talk from so-called "mother feminists," why is it in 2006 America women are still not paid the same as a man for the same work?
There are splits and divisions in every movement in this country (especially amongst right-wingers that the American media conveniently overlook) and the womens' rights movement fell victim to that in its heyday and with the so-called "second wave" of feminism today. It's not bad enough we have the odds stacked against us because of our anatomy but it's quite another to have to fight against other women who are nothing more than pilot-fishes for the patriarchy (Ann Coulter and Camille Paglia to give just a few examples), who put down anything feminine as "girly-girl" (Coulter, when she was axed from The National Review because of her extreme stances called the editors - neo-fascists themselves - "girly-girls" meaning they had no backbone to run her vitriol) and any attributes such as strength, guts, and working your way to the top is always acting like a man.
It was hilarious reading the criticisms of Levy's book as I don't think they read the same book I did. Levy never once stated that women who didn't fit into her "shallow worldview" are FCP's (Female Chaunvinist Pigs). Quite the contrary.
And I'm wondering why if a woman is supposedly "comfortable" with her sexuality does she have to be an exhibitionist about it? Why is it women are the ones who have to grind against and swing around poles, the ones who need plastic surgery so everything right down to our privates look "perfect?" Why do we have to prove we're intelligent by parading around in bikinis ("two piece bathing suits"), evening gowns, singing, and playing instruments while talking about wanting to save the world in shallow "beauty" contests for scholarship money? Why aren't males put through the same demeaning, demoralizing, and degrading routines? (And the women at the 1968 Miss America Pageant protest were protesting both against the women who bought into the stereotype and, moreso, the males feeding that stereotype to the public - something that's constantly overlooked because it's not convenient).
Ariel had me hooked when she started in on the moronic Girls Gone Wild crap that has become the punch line of many a joke in this country and become a part of the American lexicon. I'll never understand why a person would get half or fully naked for a damned hat and not even get paid for it! The pervert running the show (a complete dork who couldn't get a "hot chick" without running something like this) has homes in the most exclusive areas of the country and he doesn't have to do anything except edit the footage.
She brought up many points too numerous to put in one review: The fact that some of our lesbian sisters are aiming to be manly by having top surgery (double mastectomy) and taking male hormones (no, it's not everyone!) and especially how women executives in the world's biggest and most powerful corporations have degraded other women in order to prove their worth to fellow (male) executives.
And there's no shortage of them: Women are top executives and photographers at Playboy, women produced Comedy Central's "The Man Show," and a female executive at a major motion picture company actually bragged about the fact that she used her femininity to reach the top - wearing skimpy clothes and the like - and then when she reaches the top she makes it harder for other women by portraying them as pieces of meat as well (something that was demonstrated on VH1's series about Dallas Cowgirl cheerleaders. It was two women making comments about potential cheerleaders' weight and picking out every flaw in their bodies. I love how women like that really believe they're tough but it all eventually blows up in their faces when they find that they, too, will become just as disposable one day).
It gets tiresome having to fight against female stereotypes but when the people behind those stereotypes are other women, it makes it all the harder (and that's not playing "victim," it's called the deep, dark ugly truth).
Ariel was so right when she said that we make heroines out of people who have been victimized - such as the vast majority of porn stars. Even Howard Stern (who got very uncomfortable a few times when male callers wanted to know when they could date his daughters) was able to get that story out of many a porn star who came into his old K-Rock studio: They would initially deny they were victims of sexual abuse but eventually admitted to it and some porn stars were up front about the incest, sexual molestation and rape they experienced in their lives (and it was interesting to see how Jenna Jameson was quick to knock Gloria Steinem. I would bet anything that Ms. Steinem is more comfortable with herself than the porn star who can't even watch any of her own sex scenes.).
Thongs (that have been knocked by every reputable gynecologist in this country as unhealthy) marketed to little girls, a high teen pregnancy and abortion rate (despite our tax money being dumped into these abstinence-only programs that just do not deal in reality. Too bad right-wing, and some Democrat, politicians can't practice what they preach considering congressmen have been married 2.5 times on average), and grown women constantly faced with unreal standards of "beauty" that don't apply to men - it's no wonder too many women have such low self-esteem that they find it necessary to get naked and make out with other women (even though they admit they're not lesbians) for a hat and 15 minutes of fame.
Truth be told, I feel very bad for young women today. Perhaps they'll wake up and demand more respect from themselves and from other people (both male and female), learn from the mistakes of their predecessors and become comfortable with themselves. I also feel bad for young men today who don't buy into all this frat, pseudo-macho male crap that's passed off as cool (and many men, both young and old, are getting a bit tired of the Barbie Doll stereotype. I notice it's the geekiest, dorkiest dudes who have unreal standards regarding women when they need to take a look in the mirror and do some perfecting of their own).
In the end, though, no matter how macho you act and think and no matter how much you think you're in with the boys, you still get paid less than them, you still get less respect and they still talk behind your back.
In other words: The joke's on you.
Instead of women demanding they be allowed to read Playboy, watch porn, or go to strip clubs like one of the guys, how about asking why we aren't paid the same as men, why we don't elect more female politicians to all levels of office and why this country gets indignant at the very thought of a female president?
Yeah, we've come a long way - we've managed to allow ourselves to be hoodwinked into thinking we've achieved equality and there's no need for those feminists when our paychecks and pop culture say something completely different.
114 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures a cultural trend,
Every once and awhile, a book brings together cultural trends that until then were rattling around unconnected in the back of our minds. This is one of those books. When and how did porn suddenly become mainstream and cool? It wasn't that long ago that it was a back-room thing, and now it's sexy and desirable. Girls don't want to be pretty anymore -- they want to be "hot," which apparently means something that used to be called "slutty." Read this book, and a lot of contradictory cultural trends suddenly come into sharp focus. A great analysis of modern American trends.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If It Walks Like A Duck and Quacks Like A Duck... (A Middle-Aged Male Perspective),
This review is from: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Paperback)
Speaking as an agnostic man who has been happily married for twenty-five years and raising two young boys (ages 10 and 8), Ms. Levy addresses an important issue which I have found very perplexing and disheartening. Raising our sons to respect woman and sexuality flies in the face of what they are exposed to on a daily basis. Short of our family running into the hills and living in a cave, this sexual objectification of women is the environment my boys will grow up in. Against this raunchy juggernaut, it makes our job as parents a whole hell of a lot more difficult.
Ms. Levy, in a highly readable, mildly sarcastic book, lays bare the pretzel-like logic used by women to find validation by being what is essentially a sexual trophy to men's libidinal fantasies. If depicting yourself as a quasi-prostitute is a statement of feminine empowerment, then Paris Hilton must be Betty Friedan...I don't think so. Ms. Levy's book is a sometimes whimsical but ultimately sad eye-opener on women being primarily valued as childish, superficial sex objects. A quick and thought-provoking read.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and simple...,
This review is from: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Paperback)
I consider myself an eco- liberal- sex-positive feminist, and Ariel takes a stance against the sex-positive feminist culture in this book. So why did I give it a 5? Because I totally agree with her. Here's why.
1) Being sex-positive does not mean being a sl*t; being a sex-positive feminist should mean taking personal control of your sexuality for what feels good to you, and not being a sex toy to men (unless that's really your thing)
2) The game of turning women away from feminism through corporate culture and media hype is pretty obvious
3) The heartbreaking look at today's female youth and the glorification of what you see in gangsta rap and hip hop videos infected across the country in a festival of a**-shaking demeaning behaviour (please note I personally use the Gangsta rap as a source, Ariel did not, as I feel it is a main contributor to mainly white kids seeking to imitate that "culture" - this is not a racist remark - it is a simple sociological observation)
Now, as I said, I'm fairly liberal, more a moderate, and Ariel's argument is very dead-on. I expected to go into this book arguing with the pages against why women shouldn't be sexually oppressed and I just found myself nodding. Her case is very logical and clear, and I very much respect her non-abrasive style. I look forward to other writings.
Please, do yourself a favour and read this, then give it to your daughters and sisters. And I encourage the men to read it as well. This isn't feminazi male-bashing.
I really hope that women will remember the power of their minds over their plastic surgery, media-driven bodies after reading this, and also realize how they are really hurting themselves and future generations.
239 of 291 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The *reductio ad sexum* of feminism,
This is an interesting and well-written book. Ariel Levy makes some important points, ties together a number of significant trends, and provides a believable answer to the timely question of "Why the heck are so many women -- and young girls -- dressing and behaving LIKE THAT?"
In so doing, Levy makes some depressing discoveries about what the ideal of the "empowered" woman has been reduced to, and why strippers and "adult actresses" -- porn stars -- have been adopted as role models. The key conclusion is that it doesn't really have anything to do with sex, per se. Levy quotes Paris Hilton's remark, "my boyfriends say I'm sexy but not sexual." In other words, "being hot" is a pose, an act, a tool, and entirely divorced from either physical pleasure or romantic love. Levy quotes one adult woman who cannot understand why she cannot bring herself to have sex with a man to whom she's not attracted, and a teenaged girl who can't grasp how a woman can "get the guy" without dressing (and acting) like a "ho."
Levy does a great job explaining the costs and consequences of America's all-pervasive "raunch culture." Where she did an incomplete job was in explaining the causes. Levy traces a fairly straight line from the feminism of the Sixties and Seventies to the "post-feminism" of today, with the requisite nods to "Sex and the City" and "Playboy" magazine (causes or symptoms?). But as I was reading this, I kept thinking of a much larger web -- a litany of cultural and political failure of which raunch culture is just a part.
Why do so many young people seem incapable of creating a sense of self that isn't driven by the media? More than raunch culture, wouldn't a society that idolizes Pamela Anderson, Kid Rock, or the aforementioned Ms. Hilton be better described as "moron culture"? Isn't raunch culture an inevitable consequence of the effort to separate sex from ethics ("if it feels good, do it!" to quote the cliché)? What has rendered generations of fathers incapable of modeling to their sons *and* their daughters how a man properly and respectfully treats a woman? And -- as my wife asks every time we take a trip to the local mall and see teenagers dressed in "skanky" clothes -- "What mother would let their daughter dress that way?"
Indeed, parents are notably missing from Levy's analysis. I recall one mention early on of a mother who, I think, bought her daughter a "Brazilian wax" for her birthday, and a few passing references to Levy's own parents. But how do 14-year-olds get the money to buy themselves thong underwear? In the litany of failure, the failure of parents to set standards and model good behavior is the dog that didn't bark in "Female Chauvinist Pigs."
I suspect Levy wouldn't agree with that analysis. Given her dismissive opinion of abstinence-based education and obligatory disparaging comments about George W. Bush (can't get published without 'em!), I think the proposal that what we could use here are a few "traditional values" is not something she'd be interested in entertaining.
That's too bad, because "Female Chauvinist Pigs" is an interesting and important book as far as it goes. But at the risk of double entendre, it doesn't go all the way.
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Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy (Paperback - October 3, 2006)