FEMALE CHAUVINIST PIGS by Ariel Levy

FEMALE CHAUVINIST PIGS

Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
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KIRKUS REVIEW

An attack on “female chauvinist pigs,” women who make sex objects of themselves and of other women.

Levy, a contributing editor for New York Magazine, has expanded two of her articles in that magazine and a piece for slate.com into this biting critique of the phenomenon of raunch culture (think Paris Hilton) in which women choose to present themselves as bimbos. Noting that “raunchy” and “liberated” are not synonymous, she questions the assertion by some women that dressing and acting overtly sexual is empowering. She argues that they are deluded, that raunch culture is not essentially progressive but rather focuses on one particular commercial view of sexiness. For the roots of this, Levy turns to the schism between the women’s liberation movement and the sexual revolution, with anti-porn feminists on one side and women who argued that freedom for women meant being free to look at or appear in pornography on the other. If grown women have adopted raunch as rebellion against the constraints of feminism, she asserts, teenage girls, growing up in a postfeminist era, are unaware of feminism’s history and thus have nothing to rebel against. To learn why raunch culture is so pervasive among the young, she interviewed teenage girls. Her finding, in a chapter titled “Pigs in Training,” easily the most disturbing part of her book, is that they are being blitzed with cultural pressure to seem sexy, to dress provocatively, to look as lewd as possible if they want to win social acclaim. Ironically, she notes that most teenage girls are being taught to just say no to sex before marriage rather than being educated about sexuality as a fundamental part of being human. It is, she asserts, a lack of understanding about the complexity and power of sexuality, an anxiety about real sexual freedom, that has produced the current unfortunate obsession with raunchy exhibitionism.

An assertive blast, filled with punchy language and vivid images.

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-4989-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2005