Recommended Reading – Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture
November 1st, 2011 / 1 Comment » / by Madame Katarina
“There is a widespread assumption that simply because my generation of women has the good fortune to live in a world touched by the feminist movement, that means everything we do is magically imbued with its agenda. It doesn’t work that way. ‘Raunchy’ and ‘liberated’ are not synonyms.” – (Excerpt from Introduction)
I wish I had read this book sooner to be able to give a more informed & respectable answer to my mother-in-law when I was put on the spot one night at the bar. She basically said to me, ‘Why are you a feminist? That’s old school… We don’t need that anymore… We have been empowered to dress like a slut if we want to, be in porn if we want to, etc.’ But I fumbled and gave a lame answer suggesting my concern was more about insecurity with the threat of competition… I tried to redeem my credibility later, but it’s uncertain whether that impression can be redeemed. Regardless… Would it make a difference? She is one of the very women that the book describes as feeling we are empowered because we are “sexually liberated”… Or are we?
Female Chauvinist Pigs analyzes what has lead up to the “porno-ization” of our culture; the status quo (a bit dated, c.a. 2005… there would only be a larger number and more horrific examples if it were newer); and how it impacts all of us – men, women, transgenders, lesbians, teens… It draws attention to the commercial push of raunch culture and the dumbing-down of ourselves and our sense of sexuality as a result. It outlines what lead to the existence of different types of feminists and why they contradict each other’s goals. It points out the distaste that women convey for other women; the way they turn themselves into an enemy of their own gender in order to protect themselves. It of course analyzes the psychological reasoning of a female chauvinist in her justification of her lifestyle, in that she is “Uncle Tomming” it to get ahead. It covers subjects on teen-hood which I was most definitely affected by as one, and which partially defined the course of my life thereafter: The standard expectation of girls to sexually perform without regard for their own satisfaction ; the pressure to be sexually appealing as a girl (whether you actually want sex or not) because it gauges self-worth; the desperation most girls feel to be the “hottest one” with all of the attention, and the confusion they have in defining their own sexual identity (sexy vs sexual) as they are “blitzed with cultural pressure to be hot, to seem sexy” but “have a very difficult time learning to recognize their own sexual desire”.
Here is a particularly interesting topic for Mistress Ravine’s young female audience: “In total, this country has spent nearly $1 billion on abstinence education since 1996… By any measure, the way we educate young people about sexuality is not working. We expect them to dismiss their instinctive desires and curiosities even as we bombard them with images that imply that lust is the most impressive virtue. Somehow, we expect people who are by definition immature to make sense of this contradictory mishmash. Our national approach to the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy is predicated on the assumption that teenagers will want so badly to maintain their purity for marriage – despite the fact that half of their parents’ marriages end in divorce – that they will ignore their own hormones, ignore the porn starts on MTV and all the blogs and blow jobs on the Internet, and do as their teachers tell them. Unsurprisingly, teenagers are not cooperating with this plan.” (Excerpt from Chapter 5, Pigs in Training)
“As of 2005, federal funding was denied to all public schools except for those advocating abstinence until marriage. Consequently, a disturbing percentage of young people are equipped with nothing but G-strings and Jenna Jameson to guide them through the roiling sea of hormones they are entering, and all of the attendant dangers of STDs and pregnancies that are its sharks.” (Excerpt from Conclusion)
There is a LARGE variety of interesting points which remain unmentioned. It presents objective viewpoints from a variety of types of people. Although the author may have her own agenda, she seemed very willing to immerse herself in situations, such which she would disagree with, in order to obtain an informed picture and viewpoints from other types of people themselves. While the book is not ALL-encompassing, I commend Levy for managing to touch on such a variety of elements contributing to the bigger picture. It would take MANY separate books to really extensively cover the details of every subject presented. I think because this is an “easy read” that gives a well-rounded look at so many areas, it’s a good book for anyone to start with. I think it’s important that people of both genders are exposed to this sort of information; these issues cause problems for EVERYONE.
Now, if my previous articles are any indication, I enjoy being incredibly thorough in my perception on anything I am passionate about and presenting to you. This is because I often find that I focus on points neglected by others. However, I am going to restrain myself and strive to be a little more concise because I have very little time, and insisting on all articles being a vast undertaking has only hindered any updates (my last post being made a year and a half ago… ouch). Besides… why write a novel about why you should read a book?!
If you wish for further specifics on content, Amazon.com has a number of very detailed Customer Reviews that I would recommend having a peek at (such as the highest rated one titled The Empress Has No Clothes).
Personal note on pole dancing: While I disagree with the book’s repeatedly negative portrayal of the art of pole dancing as equating to stripping and “spinning greasily around a pole”, I understand why it is referred to in this matter within the context. The book was specifically discussing scenarios in which pole dancing was being used in the stripping manner, or as part of women desperately attempting to achieve the pornified ideal by embracing the “stripper-chic” influence that has infested our culture. The majority of us would refer it as a “stripper pole”, and automatically correlate pole dancing to stripping. HOWEVER, I am a pretty conservative feminist, I loathe pornography and stripping, and yet pole is one of the many forms of dance I practice. The book itself asks, “Why would [a woman] want to be on that pole herself?” I can assure you that while many women follow the less-than-respectable reasons in the book, those are not mine. Pole dance is similar to ballet in technique, it’s acrobatic, requires legitimate training and skill, and while embracing sexuality in it’s style it does not mean the dancer has to be sexualized/objectified. It doesn’t have to be performed as body-selling, onstage, for married men and “loophole” women… It can be reserved for the comfort of a studio or your home simply as a way to meditate, de-stress, tone up, connect with yourself, connect with your sexuality, and perform for friends or a significant other if you’d like … but it should always be primarily for oneself, and not because you’re trying to please another. The book itself discusses how many young women are clueless to their own sexuality; so if someone finds a classy studio that teaches pole dance vs. “cardio striptease”, this could be a way to help them learn to be comfortable with embracing their own body, as well as their sexuality as one of their many facets of themselves as a multi-dimensional person. (I wouldn’t be surprised if such a respectable sort of studio didn’t exist or was extremely rare when this book was written.) Lastly, I do not ‘only express my sexuality by spinning around a pole’; rather it is one of my ways express it; in this case combing two of my pre-established passions: the passion I already have for the art of dance, and my own embraced sexuality. This goes to show that while the ideas the book presents are often correct, you cannot always fit people into a specific category… For I am most definitely NOT a female chauvinist pig.
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