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You’ve gone the wrong way, baby: A Review of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women & the Rise of Raunch Culture

Erica Patino Feb 7, 2006

Free Press, 2005
By Ariel Levy

Try as they might, women will never be “one of the guys,” argues Ariel Levy, and women should not pretend that appropriating sexist behavior will give them a leg up.

In Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and theRise of Raunch Culture, Levy prods the definition of feminism, asking if women who align themselves with male chauvinism are really empowered, or if women who bare all for Girls Gone Wild, watch The Man Show, and go to strip clubs, are doing themselves a disservice and reversing years of feminist progress.

For those well schooled in feminist thinking, the book will be a reread in certain areas, such as the chapter on the history of the women’s movement and the splintering off of “sex-positive feminists.”

Levy herself is against porn, a bias that comes across clearly in an otherwise fairly even-handed chronicle of events. The other chapters cover milder but pervasive sexual trends entrenched so deeply in our culture that they have become a normalized part of the mainstream: 12-year old girls in thongs and t-shirts that declare “Feeling lucky?”; wielding casual sex as a power tool instead of a means of affection and pleasure; and the expansion of the Playboy empire.

In her chapter, “From Womyn to Bois” Levy delves beyond the mainstream
into boi culture in lesbian circles – adopting the look of a teenaged boy and an aggressive, noncommittal sexual ethos.

Female Chauvinist Pigs will make readers question the norms of our society, and how we arrived at a paradoxical point where Jenna Jameson writes a bestseller but teenagers are taught abstinence-only sex ed. Levy points a lot of fingers without pointing toward solutions, and men are left out of the picture – a man who does not agree with chauvinist thinking is never mentioned. Largely, though, this is a fast and thought-provoking slice of feminist lite.