Synopses & Reviews
"We live in a society where sex is used against women as much as its used by women. Sexy Feminism
calls foul on that (and other) double standards—and makes manifest my frequent observation that feminists are almost always the sexiest people in the room.” —Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Fem!: Goo Goo, Gaga, and Some Thoughts on Balls
Not your mothers feminism! A humor-filled action plan for an accessible, cool, and, yes, even sexy brand of 21st-century feminism
Feminism can still seem like an abstract idea that is hard to incorporate into our hectic, modern lives, but Jennifer Keishin Armstrong and Heather Wood Rudúlph show how the everyday things really matter. In an age when concern-trolling, slut-shaming, and body-snarking are blogosphere bywords, when reproductive rights are back under political attack, and when women are constantly pressured to “have it all,” feminism is more relevant than ever. For many young women the radicalism of the Second Wave is unappealing, and the “do me” and “lipstick” feminism of the Third Wave feels out of date. Enter Sexy Feminism. Its an inclusive, approachable kind of feminism—miniskirts, lip gloss, and waxing permitted. Covering a range of topics from body issues and workplace gender politics to fashion, dating, and sex, Sexy Feminism is full of advice, resources, and pop culture references that will help shape what being a feminist can look like for you.
“Genius! Sexy Feminism is a delicious primer for budding feminists (and the feminist-curious), as well as a sigh of relief for long-term third-wave feminists who long to be understood and are tired of explaining our beliefs. Jennifer and Heather do an outrageously good service to us all by bringing feminism into its sexy, confident maturity.” —Katie Goodman, feminist comedian and actress
"[Levy's] forays into a Girls Gone Wild shoot, several parties hosted by the neo-feminist group Cake, the lesbian subculture of New York and San Francisco, and the private lives of sexually active teenagers make for smart, acerbic reading." Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review
"An assertive blast, filled with punchy language and vivid images." Kirkus Reviews
"A piercing look at how women are sabotaging their own attempts to be seen as equals by going about the quest the wrong way, Levy's engrossing book should be required reading for young women." Booklist (Starred Review)
"Ariel Levy has become feminism's newest and most provocative voice." Cindy Adams, The New York Post
"With Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy becomes feminism's newest and most provocative voice, brilliantly laying bare the contradictions and evasions and self-deceptions that pass for empowerment." Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point
"Ariel Levy strips the Girls Gone Wild culture of its cuteness in her provocative Female Chauvinist Pigs, arguing that post-feminist poster girls such as the Playboy Bunnies offer only faux empowerment." Vanity Fair
"Female Chauvinist Pigs is smart, alarming, and extremely funny. With nuance and humor, Levy has written both a convincing expose of sex and desire in contemporary America and an important cultural history. I'm giving a copy to my mother. And my sons." Cathleen Schine, author of The Love Letter and She Is Me
"As everyone knows we people generally, Americans in particular let sex drive us mad. Female Chauvinist Pigs is a heroic (and smart and entertaining and disturbing) stab at looking very sanely at one rampant form the insanity is taking these days. Ariel Levy understands that while we may defend to death every woman's right to look and act like a whore, it doesn't mean we're prigs if we find it unfortunate." Kurt Andersen, author of Turn of the Century
"Ariel Levy has given us an important, lively, shocking investigative report about how and why in an age of HIV/AIDS and religious fundamentalism U.S. commercialism has mainstreamed pornography, popularized raunch images (and practices), and revived female 'bimbo' roles. This is a call to arms for women and girls who are being sold pseudo empowerment, phony liberation, and fake rebellion instead of the real thing: freedom. A must-read for young women and everyone else." Robin Morgan, author and activist
"The picture that Levy paints is more than a little grim: raunch culture, which is essentially misogynist, callow, simplistic and ubiquitous, breeds women-hating-women who angle for power with men and propagate more raunch under the deceitful guise of feminist empowerment." Christine Smallwood, Salon.com
(read the entire Salon.com review
"Sharp, witty, and utterly convincing, Levy's book is a call to arms for women who have fallen into the trap of phony feminism. The new Uncle Tom is a woman looking to the male chauvinist pig to find out who she is. If Levy's book has the impact that it merits, this won't be true for long." Larissa N. Dooley, Boldtype
(read the entire Boldtype review
In this passionate report from the front lines, a New York magazine writer examines the enormous cultural impact of the newest wave of post-feminism.
Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig the new brand of "empowered woman" who wears the Playboy
bunny as a talisman, bares all for Girls Gone Wild
, pursues casual sex as if it were a sport, and embraces "raunch culture" wherever she finds it. If male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, Female Chauvinist Pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women and of themselves. They think they're being brave, they think they're being funny, but in Female Chauvinist Pigs
, New York
magazine writer Ariel Levy asks if the joke is on them.
In her quest to uncover why this is happening, Levy interviews college women who flash for the cameras on spring break and teens raised on Paris Hilton and breast implants. She examines a culture in which every music video seems to feature a stripper on a pole, the memoirs of porn stars are climbing the best-seller lists, Olympic athletes parade their Brazilian bikini waxes in the pages of Playboy, and thongs are marketed to prepubescent girls. Levy meets the high-powered women who create raunch culture the new oinking women warriors of the corporate and entertainment worlds who eagerly defend their efforts to be "one of the guys." And she traces the history of this trend back to conflicts between the women's movement and the sexual revolution long left unresolved.
In the tradition of Susan Faludi's Backlash and Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth, Levy pulls apart the myth of the Female Chauvinist Pig and argues that what has come to pass for liberating rebellion is actually a kind of limiting conformity. Irresistibly witty and wickedly intelligent, Female Chauvinist Pigs makes the case that the rise of raunch does not represent how far women have come, it only proves how far they have left to go.
Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig -- the new brand of "empowered woman" who embraces "raunch culture" wherever she finds it. In her groundbreaking book, andlt;iandgt;New Yorkandlt;/iandgt; magazine writer Ariel Levy argues that, if male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, andlt;iandgt;Female Chauvinist Pigsandlt;/iandgt; of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women -- and of themselves. Irresistibly witty and wickedly intelligent, andlt;iandgt;Female Chauvinist Pigsandlt;/iandgt; makes the case that the rise of raunch does not represent how far women have come; it only proves how far they have left to go.
A rallying call for a new brand of twenty-first century feminism—a feminism that is doable, cool, and, yes, even sexy.
About the Author
Ariel Levy is a contributing editor at New York magazine. This is her first book.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS Foreword: Our Own Feminist Journeys vii
one Why Feminism Is Sexy 1
Two Our Poor Vaginas 17
Three Plastic Surgery: Can You? 36
Four Vanity Is Not a Feminist Sin 55
Five Is Dieting Antifeminist? 69
Six Being a Fashionista Can Be Empowering 85
Seven The Working-Woman Problem 100
Eight Be a Sexy Feminist, Not a Slut-Shaming One 114
Nine Flirting and Dating: The Rules, The Game,
and Real Life 132
Ten Feminism in the Bedroom 146
Eleven Feminist Relationships: from Long-Term
to Lifelong Partnership 165
Twelve Female Friendship: the Ultimate Feminist Act 184
Afterword: Activism Is Sexy 197
Appendix: Resources for Sexy Feminists 213
Reading Group Guide
Group Reading Guide
Female Chauvinist Pigs discussion questions:
- Try to define raunch culture. What are some examples you've noticed? What are the values expressed in raunch culture?
- Levy asserts that raunch is not essentially progressive, it's essentially commercial. Do you agree with her?
- To what extent do you, or people you know, participate in raunch culture? Has this book made you reconsider any of your habits or assumptions?
- Is there anything positive about raunch culture? Are there ways in which it demonstrates women's success?
- How does the rise of raunch affect teenagers? Can education help them cope with the messages about sex they find in media and entertainment?
- How do you think we should be educating young people about sexuality? Is this something best taught in school or at home?
- If you had a daughter, or if you have one, what would or do you tell her about sex? If you had a son, or if you have one, are those messages different?
- What does feminism mean to you and what influence does feminism have on your life? Has it always had the same value to you, or has it meant different things at different times?
- What do you think would be the single most empowering thing that could happen to women? Electing a female president? Seeing a female anchorwoman on television? The passage of the ERA? What did the women's movement leave unfinished?
- What does it mean to you to be "like a man?" Or "like a woman?" Is there any such thing? Do you believe there are any inherently female or essentially male traits?
- What would you ask or say to a friend who had decided to "transition" from female to male?
- What are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery? Do you feel it is something people take too lightly? Is it an expression of a vain and shallow culture or is it something positive people can do to improve their looks and self image? Or does it depend upon the context?
- What can we do to make progress? What are some positive ways for women to pursue freedom and power?