Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Female Chauvinist Pigs
Last year about this time I heard an interview with the author Ariel Levy on NPR about her new book Female Chauvinist Pigs. I went right home and reserved it from the library. What she was saying fascinated me, and put words to vague concerns I had, but couldn't define, like how so many women were measuring their 'liberation' by how many clothes they took off in public.
She interviews teens in high school, she follows the crew of Girls Gone Wild, she attends sex education seminars and speeches by the leading women in magazine publishing. This article she wrote for the New York Magazine later became the basis of the chapter entitled "From Womyn to Bois" that detailed current ironically misogynistic trends in the lesbian community. And she connects the dots to draw a sobering picture.
Since she is much better words than me, I'll just give you a sampling of some of the ones she wrote that really struck a cord with me:
"Only thirty years (my lifetime) ago, our mothers were "burning their bras" and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we were getting implants and wearing the bunny logo as supposed symbols of our liberation. How had the culture shifted so drastically in such a short period of time? ... This new raunch culture didn't mark the death of feminism, they told me; it was evidence that the feminist project had already been achieved. We'd earned the right to look at Playboy; we were empowered enough to get Brazilian bikini waxes. Women had come so far, I learned, we no longer needed to worry about objectification or misogyny. Instead, it was time for us to join the frat party of pop culture, where men had been enjoying themselves all along." (that was a segment from the introduction, you can read more of it here.)
Some qotes that made into my journal:
"Raunch culture is not essentially progressive, it is essentially commercial... it is not as though we are embracing free love. Raunch culture is not about opening our minds to the possibilities and mysteries of sexuality. It's about endlessly reiterating one particular- and particularly commercial- shorthand for sexiness."
"If we were to acknowledge that sexuality is personal and unique, it would become unwieldily. Making sexiness into something quantifiable makes it easier to market... big boobs, bleached blond hair, long nails, poles, thongs... you can sell it. Suddenly sex requires shopping; you need plastic surgery, peroxide, a manicure, a mall."
Female Chauvinist Pigs is epic as it traces trends from second-wave american feminism to today's post-feminism... and also very intimate, and personal as it shares real life stories from real life girls and women navigating through this culture we live in.
Brava, Ariel. Brava!