Monday, August 29, 2005

naked truth

Levy, Ariel. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Sept. 2005. Free Press. c240p. notes. index. ISBN 0-743249-89-5. $25.

for Library Journal

Female Chauvinist Pigs (FCPs), according to New York magazine columnist Ariel 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.” Levy rigorously argues that women not only participate in, but also perpetuate, today’s oversexed raunch culture. Levy challenges Christie Hefner, Sheila Nevins, and Jennifer Heftler, for example, as they position their brands—Playboy, HBO, and The Man Show, respectively—as the fun, ironic realization of post-feminist liberation. Community anecdotes abound, with butches and bois in the lesbian community disparaging their femme girlfriends and the straight dupes of the Girls Gone Wild juggernaut flashing for a branded hat. Levy views the drive to pole dance and dress in tiny, glittery swatches of fabric as a fear of being labeled uptight; she suggests the bad rap of early anti-porn feminists like Dworkin and MacKinnon precipitated a reactionary spring into exhibitionism. Insightful interviews in which preteens fail to distinguish between the desire for attention and sexual attraction reinforce Levy’s argument for comprehensive federal sex-ed programs. Recommended for all public libraries.—Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA