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!

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