25 Women to Read Before You Die

Sunday, March 26th, 2006


Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

by Ariel Levy


A review by Larissa N. Dooley

In an age when porn star Jenna Jameson's memoir climbs the best-seller list, Olympic athletes pose naked for Playboy, mothers bring their daughters to "cardio striptease" classes at the local gym, and primetime TV features the Victoria's Secret fashion show — that is, in an age of raunch culture — women are claiming to be more liberated than ever.

In her first book, Ariel Levy exposes this sense of liberation as being as phony as the breasts that over 260,000 women in this country had implanted in themselves last year. Instead of working to elevate the status of the female, Levy argues, women have opted to become "one of the guys." In a particularly "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality, the new brand of chauvinist pig is female, and she exploits herself, as well as other women.

Observe the (heterosexual) female chauvinist pig's two key modes of behavior: she fulfills the stereotype of a woman herself, flaunting big boobs in little outfits that she obligingly peels off for the crew of Girls Gone Wild; or, she's acting "like a man" and inflicting this stereotype on other women -- going to strip clubs (to see female strippers) and reading Playboy (not Playgirl). When she's successful, she brags -- as publishing powerhouse Judith Regan did when she proclaimed, "I have the biggest cock in the building!" and referred to her adversaries as "pussies."

Raunch is in. Because it has traditionally been embraced by men and rejected by women, it offers a special opportunity for women to prove how tough, how unassailable, and how savvy they are. In a lazy act of self-justification, Levy asserts, women have labeled this new chauvinism "liberation."

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.

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