Book Review: Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

Ariel Levy’s Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture argues predictably yet effectively that it’s time we put to rest the myth that in this pornified era of Girls Gone Wild, oral sex mania, and girl-on-girl hookup theme parties, that women are somehow liberated and that the current sex-soaked era represents a victory for feminism.

I’m intrigued by feminism and consider myself a feminist, if the definition is that you care about the historical oppression of women and now want equality in society. I’m particularly interested in the "glass ceiling" in the corporate world — why it exists and what to do about it. A final feminist interest is whether this new breed of "MBA Moms," women who earn an MBA and then stop working to take care of their kids: are doing a service (making a choice) or disservice (not showing the world they can lead) to feminism.

Female Chauvinist Pigs points a finger at women and says, "Why are you choosing to embrace this raunch culture?" Levy notes that many of the large sex/porn companies (Playboy, for example) are run by women. She interviews these CEOs as well as strippers who say their work makes them feel "empowered" and finds their rationale nonsensical. Same with teen girls. Why aren’t women standing up? Why is abuse and selling your body passing as empowerment? Why can’t you be sexual but not in such a degrading, public way?

The reason I say Levy argues "predictably" is that she’s not breaking new ground or offering novel solutions inasmuch as organizing a bunch of trends and interviews into a coherent text. Don’t get me wrong, these kinds of books serve good purposes, but I felt like Levy could have been more imaginative. That’s why I suggest you read other texts or articles on this topic if you’re well read on feminism, or treat this as a quick flip-through if you’re not.

One final note. I really picked up on Levy’s author photo in the cover jacket. It’s a head shot. Levy looks attractive and her facial expression struck me as, um, kind of sexual. I’m sure this was a conscious decision. Too many guys (and gals) are turned off by "yet another bitchy feminist" who more often than not ranks low on the physical attractiveness scale. Though I’ve neither seen or heard Levy in any other context, my guess is her strategy here is, "Hey, I’m a hot woman, I get around, and I think what’s happening is horseshit. Feminism deserves better. Women deserve better."

Related Posts:
Are Motherhood and Feminsim Mutually Exclusive?

Are Progressive Feminists Less Happy Than Traditionalist Wives?

Also see this Slate dialogue on this book and feminism in general

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