Sunday, February 25, 2007

Book Review: Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy 2005, 199pgs

Raunch culture is like a reflex these days and its everywhere. Breast implants, thongs, and the Playboy bunny are now seen as keen symbols of sexual liberation. But should they be?

Levy delves into not only the commercial side of raunch culture but also the feminist-side where she coins and defines Female Chauvinist Pigs as "women who make sex objects of other women" and of themselves. A good example of a FCP is Robin Quivers co-host of the Howard Stern show. Robin not only objectifies other women, she encourages it and has never spoken out against Stern's racy tactics. She has only benefited from it continuing to occur.

Levy also discusses how raunch culture is vastly becoming a litmus test of female uptightness. It is now a normal reflex for young women to flash their breasts when asked to. In an age of sexual liberation whats the big deal right? "It exudes confidence when people wear little clothes." It seems like for women to be noteworthy these days they must somehow be sexy or be linked to something sexual, i.e. Anna Nicole Smith's death, Paris Hilton, the lack of underwear on young actresses, etc. Britney Spear's can't exude confidence without long hair! Or can she?

If I choose not to bare my midriff will it really make me less sexy and confident? No!

My favorite part is Levy's conversation on the anti porn feminists versus the sex-positive feminists--or the pornography wars. I appreciated this topic because it seems like you can't agree with both sides of this feminist war and still be able to call yourself a feminist. If I am against porn then I must be a sexually repressed woman and therefore not a feminist. If I am in support of sex-positive porn, or stripping, or the increasingly visible stripper culture within the U.S. then I must be supporting sexual violence, the diminishing rights of women, and the control over our bodies--therefore not a feminist.

Also brought up is how many women struggle to escape womanhood and be more masculine, but the fact remains that they ARE genetically female! Condi Rice is an example. She has worked hard to "be just one of the guys" to the point where she is considered more masculine than feminine. She does not support women's issues, she doesn't have to since they don't pertain to her.

Great conversations arise from this book. It "is not a book about the sex industry; it is a book about what we have decided the sex industry we have held it up, cleaned it off, and distorted it. How we depend on it to mark us as an erotic and uninhibited culture at a moment when fear and repression are rampant."

Kim's Grade: A Makes you think about your stances regarding raunch culture!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Book News: Tracy Chevalier

Whoo hoo, Tracy Chevalier has a new book coming out next month!

I love her books, so I will definitely have to get this one.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Book Notes: Laurie R King

Yesterday I came across a piece of paper I haven't seen since 2000. I still am confused as to why it was in this stack of papers, why it wasn't filed away in my 2000 bin and why it was attached to an ATM receipt from London....oh well!

My dear friend Amy Davies suggested Laurie R King's books. That's her over there (--->). I remember Amy devouring these books and thinking whats the big deal?!

Well, they sound great! One of her first books, The Beekeeper's Apprentice (DO NOT CONFUSE WITH "The Secret Life of Bees") was named a 100 Favorite Mysteries of the Century.

"Her fiction falls into three areas. First in the hearts of most readers comes Mary Russell, who met the retired Mr Sherlock Holmes in the winter of 1915 and became his apprentice, later his partner, and eventually his wife. Starting with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and continuing through The Game (June 2005), Russell and Holmes move through the ’teens and ’twenties in amiable discord, challenging each other to ever greater feats of detection.

King’s other series concerns San Francisco homicide inspector Kate Martinelli, her SFPD partner Al Hawkin, and her life partner Lee Cooper. In the course of her four books, Kate has encountered a female Rembrandt, a modern-day Holy Fool, two difficult teenagers, and a manifestation of the goddess Kali.

King has also written three stand-alone suspense novels." (Taken from

Expect to see some reviews of King's work soon!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Book News: "The Higer Power of Lucky" gets Yucky

“This book included what I call a Howard Stern-type shock treatment just to see how far they could push the envelope.” --Dana Nilsson

The S-word? AND NO, IT AIN'T SHIT! Give me a break! This is ridiculous! If it was truly offensive Susan Patron's book wouldn't have won the Newbery Medal! Times are changing, six year olds are dressing like skanks and every library should have this delightfully sounding book.

An award-winning children’s book about a ten-year-old girl seeking answers about life has provoked an uproar in America because it uses the s- word on the first page.

Curious as to what the s-word is? Read the rest of the article here...

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Book Review: The Pirates! In An Adventure with Communists

The Pirates! In An Adventure with Communists by Gideon Defoe

This is a great book to read out loud! It is full of smart, quirky philosophical references and a ton of laughs! Its a short read, I read it in about three hours and I can't wait to read more Pirate adventures.

While this is a work of fiction Defoe's knowledge of Marx, Engels, and the ultimate philosopher-villain are somewhat accurate making the story all the more enjoyable.

Kim's Grade: A+

The illustrations are worth it too!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Book Review: Natural Born Charmer

I really like Susan Elizabeth Phillips's books. She's probably the best romantic comedy writer, and I appreciate that her books are always sprinkled with a healthy dose of comedy. Funny is fun, and it keeps things from getting too heavy and serious. But for the love of God, is it so much to ask that she write a book where at least one of the people in the romantic couple have a normal family life?

I understand that she likes to write about families, and things are more interesting when there is conflict and drama, but honestly it's getting a little old! (Although, now that I think about it, I can't remember anything too dysfunctional about the characters' families in Nobody's Baby But Mine. But still, there were some issues.)

But don't pay too much attention to my ranting. Like I said, conflict is more interesting. The characters in this book are Dean Robilliard (sp?), who is a professional football playing quarterback from SEP's earlier book, Match Me If You Can, and Blue Bailey, who's new. Both of them have screwed-up family lives which play prominently in the plot of the book. But I can overlook the predictable SEP family drama here because I really enjoyed Dean's eleven year-old half-sister. SEP does a great job of writing kids, I think. I wasn't crazy about Dean when he was in Match Me If You Can, mainly because I pictured him with bleached blonde hair and diamond earrings which is just tacky on a man, but SEP toned him down here so it was good. She also managed to make Blue appealing to me, despite the fact that my least favorite physical descriptions of romance novel heroines pretty much encapsulated Blue completely. (In case you're wondering it's short, shapeless women with short black hair.)

One of my absolute favorite things about SEP is that she writes romance novels. Not romantic suspense. Not romantic thrillers. Not romantic mystery. No sub-genres, which I like. And she does it without being boring. This book is about people going about their (questionably) normal lives and falling in love. It was a fun read.

Lindsey's Grade: B+