Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy
From Publishers Weekly:
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.
I thought this was a very quick and easy read, and also a very insightful look at today’s “raunch culture” as Levy calls it. In this book, she skillfully analyzes the ways in which women feel empowered now, and explains how the majority of them are not in any way empowering, such as going to strip clubs, getting fake breasts, reading, watching, or acting in porn, etc. Levy explicitly says several times throughout the book that she is in no way coming out AGAINST any of these behaviors, per se, just taking the position that all of these activities are done for the pleasure of men, and they are all based off men’s desires and men’s fantasies. She explains that in order for women to actually feel sexually empowered, we should figure out what WE like, what turns us on, what makes us happy, and what makes us feel good and proud of ourselves, and start looking toward that instead of feeling empowered simply by being a token of a man’s desire. I am having a little difficulty putting into words exactly why I enjoyed this book so much, but honestly, just read it. It’s pretty short but very concise and really speaks for itself.