Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Book Review: Female Chauvinist Pigs


I just finished a wonderful book and wanted to share my thoughts. Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs is a timely book (still extremely relevant after being out for over a year) and a must read for any feminist. Levy accurately and accessibly details the trend in our country since the late 1990s for girls to show their equality with men through doing formerly male only things like going to strip clubs or watching pornography.

Anyone following our current cultural trends must have noticed that so-called "it" girls who get all the headlines are raunchy, lack manners and are displaying a false sense of empowerment. Levy's book calls our attention to the fact that when women act like men in striving for equality with them, they are actually putting women down in the process. Instead, she argues, women should embrace being female, be proud of it, and not embarassed to act as women. Womanhood is to be celebrated, not shunned, and that is where true empowerment can begin.

I was particularly fascinated with her chapter on young girls, entitled "Pigs in Training." Levy and I are similar in age, and she notes in detail how different it is for adolscent girls today than it was for those of our generation. Girls today feel as though they have to dress slutty in order to get attention from boys, whereas if you dressed slutty when I was growing up, you were the talk of your school, and not in a good way. She also discusses how confused young girls become in their sexual awakening, being bombarded with sexual images and peer pressure to be sexually active at a young age.


One seventeen-year-old girl I intereviewed in Oakland...said her mother "doesn't really care how sexy we are. She was really involved in the women's movement, so she thinks whatever you do to feel secure and confident is fine." The tricky thing is that adolscents don't automatically know what to do to make themselves feel sexy or secure or confident. Adolescent girls in particular--who are blitzed with cultural pressure to be hot, or seem sexy--have a very difficult time learning to recognize their own sexual desire, which would seem a critical component of feeling sexy. 167-168
Levy's book is dead on in both her bringing our current "raunch" culture to our attention, and in telling women not to fall for it. This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it.

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