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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