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Female Chauvinist Pigs


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About the Author

Ariel Levy is a contributing editor at New York magazine. This is her first book.


What does "sexy" mean today? Levy, smartly expanding on reporting for an article in New York magazine, argues that the term is defined by a pervasive "raunch culture" wherein women "make sex objects of other women and of ourselves." The voracious search for what's sexy, she writes, has reincarnated a day when Playboy Bunnies (and airbrushed and surgically altered nudity) epitomized female beauty. It has elevated porn above sexual pleasure. Most insidiously, it has usurped the keywords of the women's movement ("liberation," "empowerment") to serve as "buzzwords" for a female sexuality that denies passion (in all its forms) and embraces consumerism. To understand how this happened, Levy examines the women's movement, identifying the "residue" of divisive, unresolved issues about women's relationship to men and sex. The resulting raunch feminism, she writes, is "a garbled attempt at continuing the work of the women's movement" and asks, "how is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering?" Levy's insightful reporting and analysis chill the hype of what's hot. It will create many "aha!" moments for readers who have been wondering how porn got to be pop and why "feminism" is such a dirty word. (Sept. 13) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Female Chauvinist Pigs (FCPs), according to New York magazine columnist Levy, come in two species: the woman "open to a certain sort of attention" and her foul-mouthed female fan, willing and able to objectify "like a man." Though the reductive thesis imposes obvious limits, Levy nonetheless fortifies this original work with the boggling evidence of raunch culture's ubiquity. Defending their work variously as liberating, ironic, and humorous, influential triumvirate Christie Hefner (Playboy), Sheila Nevins (HBO), and Jennifer Heftler (former producer of Comedy Central's The Man Show) appear unreflective as they call the (compromising) hot shots. Community anecdotes also abound as lesbians (butch and boi) disparage their femme girlfriends or the straight dupes of the "Girls Gone Wild" juggernaut flash for a branded hat. Levy suggests that the motivation behind all this pole dancing and pose striking is fear of an uptight planet; she blames antiporn feminists like the late Andrea Dworkin and Elizabeth MacKinnon for this development. Her insights into preteens' confusion between feeling sexual attraction and simply desiring attention reinforce her argument for rehabilitation of comprehensive sex-ed programs. Levy's witty style entertains even as the facts disturb. Recommended for all public libraries. [See "Fall Editors' Picks," LJ 9/1/05.-Ed.]-Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

"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
"Reading Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy's lively polemic, gave me an epiphany of sorts. Finally a coherent interpretation of an array of phenomena I'd puzzled over in recent years.... Levy's argument is provocative -- and persuasive...a consciousness-raising call to arms."

-- The New York Times Book Review
"With the fresh voice of a young woman who grew up taking equal rights for granted while feminism was being perverted into a dirty word, Levy both shocks and sobers as she exposes the real cost of youth culture's 'Girls Gone Wild' form of status-seeking....A great choice for book clubs of either gender, it's a fast read and a surefire discussion sparker."

-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Witty and provocative, painfully it documents the rise of trashy, raunchy, really, really bad female behavior, Levy's newly published book may well provide the next 'aha' moment in how North American women see themselves."

-- Maclean's (Toronto)

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