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Customer Review

47 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fun, easy read that doesn't completely satisfy....., January 1, 2006
This review is from: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (Hardcover)
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 magazines seem to have left their imprint on Levy when it comes to delving deeper into her subject matter, which will probably be disappointing to anyone expecting to read the book and come away with in depth analysis. She occasionally touches upon truly refreshing insights, but seems to lack the ability or desire to pursue them to a point of thorough explication. There are also few, if any, remedies proposed for alleviating this cultural problem, and when they are, they are softened in an unappealingly cagey ("perhaps we ought") way. Why does Levy shy away from simply, clearly stating "we need better sex ed," when all the information she has presented undeniably supports such a conclusion?

Levy most grieviously falls flat when she comes to her chapter "Shopping For Sex" which, for me, dealt a major blow to her credibitility. I was devestated by her entirely uncritical embrace of radical feminist Melissa Farley's highly idealogy-contaminated research on prostitution, and Levy's confusing insistence that "most women in the sex industry have been victims of sexual abuse," despite the fact that she admits 1) this is a cliche and 2) it is a cliche largely unsubstantiated by studies not undertaken by "biased extremists." It seemed that Levy was willing to include sources here primarily because they readily lent themselves to her conclusion, and not because they were the most accurate or intelligent.

The book is posited as a serious feminist text (see the blurb on the back from feminist icon Robin Morgan and the cover jacket's attempt to put her in the ranks of Susan Faludi), but reads much more like a series of human interest stories. The entire book concept arose from her work on an article for New York magazine, and this also shows in the book's construction; it seems like it was cobbled together and rushed to press without serious revision and reflection. There are plenty of interesting anecdotes but the commentary and subsequent assertions don't always carry the weight they are intended to. You can actually google Levy and find some pieces of FCP published in various free online news sites (like Slate) to get a taste of her style, and the way in which she tends to let her accounts of personal exchanges and situations stand in for actual analysis.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 16, 2011 11:06:55 AM PST
Hennessy says:
Well said.

Posted on Mar 4, 2011 8:31:12 AM PST
This book popped as a recommendation for me, so I looked it over. I'm guessing it's because I ordered "Yes Means Yes", a truly useful book that discusses many of the same topics, but does so intelligently and insight-fully without a title that, for the millionth and one time, puts down women for the choices they are making about their sexuality in a relentlessly critical, non-supportive culture. Thanks for saving me the need for a further look, your review confirmed what my perusal indicated.

Posted on Feb 16, 2012 12:51:29 PM PST
Ankaa says:
Thank you for your review. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who feels that this book is shallow and doesn't quite take a 'stance'. She has a lot of good insight and I like her premise, but after reading the first chapter I started to get the feeling that she was never going to offer a fix, nor was she really going to get serious about what was (is) wrong with female sexuality today. I may not keep reading. I'll find something with a little more to it.

Posted on Aug 17, 2014 7:55:53 PM PDT
The book popped up as a recommendation as I was reviewing books on sexual assault, sexual violence and rape culture. Honestly, I was disheartened and completely saddened by the title and would gather the author in her perspective and stance felt somewhat justified in her criticism of other women, even to the extent of calling them pigs. That's where the book lost it's appeal to me. Maybe it's the sense of bias, or lack of compassion that the book seemed to be written in, that turned me away. I was completely surprised to see it was rated four or five stars by many women. Strong women in my mind have equal doses of courage, compassion and heart, and while Levy addresses her opinion of sexism and the sex industry, she did it with very little compassion or respect for other views or women. While Levy feels courageous enough to pin point the flaws of women in the sex industry like Jenna, she's never walked in her shoes. From my understanding Jenna was gang raped in high school, and than later raped by her boyfriend's uncle. While not all women in the sex industry are victims of sexual violence, some are. Something in the book description referred to the joke being on these women. Sexual violence is no joke and I find absolutely no humor in it. Is she referring to the results, affects of sexual violence on women or simply criticizing women in the porn industry, with no regard to how to how some of them got there in the first place? Somewhere she forgot that Jenna, as well as many other women are human beings. What of women that are not victims of sexual violence and simply do it because they choose to and they feel it is an expression of their sexuality? While I don't criticize Levy for her stance on sexuality, I disagree with some of it. Women are belittled and criticized more often than men are, when it comes to producing or acting in porn. Very few people question a man's credibility, education, and character as much as women and this book just seems to emphasize that. Women truly are villianized and very often by other women. Historically women have been. I rarely see a book denouncing men in porn or the objectification of men. Porn is porn. It carries somewhat of a neutral connotation in my mind, I would imagine like looking at a statue of David. There are many elements of porn I disagree with, yet don't find all of it offensive. While it appears that Levy is bringing up some valid points and arguments to how pornography, sexism, sexual coercion has taken itself to a new level and era with the internet and media, don't slam other women in the process. I remember an elderly man I used to work with that volunteered his time with a group through his church that brought meals to prostitutes. He simply explained, they're human beings like anyone else. I was quite amazed with his respect and compassion for people, all people. There's always someone that touches our lives, our souls in a very profound way and helps us to identify with the pain and suffering of others. Prostitution is violence against women, and yet it's the women in the industry that take a social beating time and time again. Many women get caught up in prostitution as kids. Kids as young as my daughter who is 12 years old, girls that have run away from broken or abusive homes only to find the world outside isn't any better. It's heartbreaking. I can't buy or even read this book because of the title and the context that it was written.
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