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Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  8,570 Ratings  ·  834 Reviews
An eye-opening work on gender culture exploring how the women’s movement has evolved to “Girls Gone Wild” in a new, self-imposed chauvinism. In the tradition of Susan Faludi’s Backlash and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth, journalist Ariel Levy studies the effects of modern feminism on women today.

Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig--the new brand of “empowered woman” who wears the
Paperback, 224 pages
Published 2005 by Schwartz Publishing
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Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
I'll start with the weak parts. Throughout the book she takes a half-anecdote/interview half-detailed analysis approach. She's a journalist so the first part is understandable. There is one part of the book where she interviews Christie Hefner, daughter of Hugh, about her job as the CFO or something like that of Playboy (she's the one that runs the enterprise.) Christie has a really interesting response to one of Levy's questions. She says, "So I think people who choose to pose for the magazine ...more
Ever since I heard--or rather, speculated on--the premise of this book, I wanted to support it. Wanted to get behind the woman who was willing to lay bare all the ways in which females so often 'ruined it for the rest of us.' And yet, Levy takes this theme very close to my heart and makes it almost impossible to take her seriously as anything short of a prudish, porn-hating, sexually reticent sapphist.

It's not that her discussion shoulnd't include interviews with women who proudly sport Playboy
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is a female chauvinist pig (FCP)? "If Male Chauvinist Pigs were men who regarded women as pieces of meat, we would outdo them and be Female Chauvinist Pigs: women who make sex objects of other women and of ourselves."

Levy observes the mainstreaming of raunch, and women, including feminists, falling obediently into line promoting it. "But I could never make the argument add up in my head," she writes. "How is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to bani
Asher Huey
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I consider myself liberal and open-minded but over the past few years I have been shocked by how sexually charged society has become. It is a relief to read that there are like-minded people who agree. I've said for years that lipstick feminism is not feminism and this book clearly lays out that argument. By using their sexuality as power women have begun re-objectifying themselves and succumbing to the stereotypes they fought so hard to break away from.

Everyone should read this book.
Mar 25, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I would not recommend this book.
While Levy's analysis of the ways in which some women participate in and uphold raunch culture is, at times, quite apt, this book as a whole brushes past the true root of the issue (patriarchy) and in doing so places blame at the wrong placemat. Rather than critiquing the dominant paradigm of power and control, or focusing on oppression, racism or class, Levy focuses on the ways in which women (and sometimes men, who she inacurately identifies as women) can harm other women by perpetuating raunc ...more
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Women who don't get other women.
From my blog:

Let me start out by saying this is definitely not something I would normally pick up, and I'm feeling a little weird writing a review of a book so overtly about sex. But over the last few years I've become fascinated with teenage girl culture (I attribute this to working with the high school youth group at my church). Watching these girls navigate the murky waters between girlhood and womanhood has been so interesting to watch. While the majority of my girls have left the youth grou
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People have criticized this book in many ways, one of which is by saying that Ariel Levy suggests that girls or feminists can't be sexual beings or enjoy sex, but I saw it completely differently. Levy is saying that womyn and girls shouldn't be sexual for the sake of men or for the sake of our society, because being sexual has become about how womyn look through the eyes of men, or other womyn. Levy reminds us that being sexual should be about sexual pleasure for womyn, which girls gone wild, st ...more

What’s so wrong with “sex positivity” today, with “Girls Gone Wild” videos, with strip tease fitness classes? As it so happens, a lot. Female Chauvinist Pigs is a provocative and well-reasoned exploration of “raunch culture” and how it undermines feminism. The concept of feminism has changed since it first came about, to the point where what qualifies as feminism today is markedly different from the feminism of the 1970s.

Levy made a solid case for why women still don’t have the
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saw Ariel Levy on The Colbert Report, and thought she sounded really bright. She has several really important things to say in this book, and it's a good, easy read. Firstly, she notes how stripping and pornography, formerly on the fringes of society, have been mainstreamed to the point where middle class suburban women take poledancing courses at the gym. She takes issue with the idea that this acceptance of objectifying women is in any way healthy. There's a whole generation of women who are d ...more
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Thomas by: Dubious
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism
In Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy deconstructs the idea that sex always empowers women. She argues that the sexualization of women sets them back in terms of equality and that they only hurt themselves by using their bodies as bargaining chips. For the sake of simplicity, I'll divide my review into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: Levy creates a compelling argument against overt female exhibitionism and sexuality. She interviews a variety of people - from businesswomen to sex worker
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book had an interesting premise, and for that and the ideas discussed and questioned raised, it is worth reading. Unfortunately, I listened to the audiobook version and the narrator had no inflection/charisma and this made the book feel a bit of a chore after a while. Still, I read it for a book club, and the discussion surrounding it should be very interesting!

Find more reviews and bookish fun at
Crystal Starr Light
It used to be that strippers and the Playboy Bunny were a "man's thing", but now many women are wearing the Playboy bunny proudly or going to strip clubs. And all this is done in the name of empowering women. But is it empowering - or is it the same old patriarchy in different clothing?

A lot of intro to feminist books I've read have referenced this book, so I had to check it out. And even though I sorta knew what to expect, I was stunned and felt I learned a lot.

Levy has a great, professional, e
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very well written.

There is some excellent research to be found and it's readable. In addition, the majority of it is done through interviews and speaking to women, which gives it a human element and really takes it into the realm of a cultural critique.

However, Levy only addresses phenomena that primarily affects white women, making it clear that the subject should be White Women and the Rise of the Raunch Culture. In addition to that, Levy seems to place the blame more on individual women than
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every single woman on the planet
I could read this book a million times and it would still be awesome.

If you are a woman and you "hate girls" and consider yourself "one of the guys" you better pick up this book.

If you think stripping is "liberating" and "empowering" you better pick up this book.

If you have or ever plan on watching one of those "Girls Gone Wild" tapes, do yourself a favor and pick up this book.

If you ever thought that the womens movement has lost considerable ground in the past few years, you better read this bo
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a must read for any feminist, young or old.

The structure sort of comes undone in the final 50 pages or so but the book's a refreshing and often merciless expose of the rise of raunch culture, where Playboy bunnies, porn stars and pole dancing classes are seen as signs of a post-feminist liberated woman. Levy effectively dismantles the notion that these are good things and shows how they do more harm than good. It was also refreshing to see the chapter discussing the lesbian point of
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
this book has some really important points that unfortunately are mired in condescending agency-minimizing sensational language. She often describes women who she's identified as sexualized with childish characteristics. At one point near the end writes off the sexuality of anybody who's worked as a stripper or sex worker. This came pages after cavalierly saying "but some of my best friends are burlesque dancers..."

Chapter four is one hefty transphobic chunk that brings down the whole book. I li
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Similar to Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism, which I also recommend, but much more accessible due to its sharp wit. Levy constructs a damning indictment of what she dubs "Raunch Culture," the ubiquitous blend of consumerism, pornography, and so-called sexual liberation that has infected every corner of American culture. As she says in the conclusion, "Our love of porn and pole dancing is not the byproduct of a free and easy society with an earthy acceptance of sex" but rather the obsession wit ...more
May 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readfromlibrary
Female Chauvinist Pigs was a difficult book for me to enjoy. Levy digs deep into our culture and finds a plethora of gender problems, and shows that feminism's relative successes in the job and education worlds have not translated to a healthy gender situation in America. These problems are fascinating, alternatingly intuitive and shocking, inspiring and lamentable. In the end, Levy doesn't propose any predictions, solutions, or unifying theories. The book ends as a laundry-list of the Chernobyl ...more
NK Layne
Incorrectly, this book was recommended to me because the queer chapter was supposed to resonate with me. Um.... that chapter did nothing but fill me with abhorrent rage. When I spoke to the previous reader, they were surprised with the way I read it. So I re-read it again, and this time I felt like spitting in the book. So, no that queer chapter didn't resonate with me. But okay, let me say something positive before I get too deep into that.

Despite the advert homophobia, transphobia, and whorep
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little undecided with this book. The premise of an in-depth exploration of this culture was very interesting to me but I don't feel like it quite delivered on it.

At the end of the book, the author states that it wasn't intended to be a history on prostitution but I think that would have been a really great foundation for her to start. Instead, she starts out with 'Girls Gone Wild' and girls showing skin or making out with each other to get free merchandise and snowballed from there. The w
Zack Rock
Oct 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS!
Pretty terrific analysis of the female contribution to "raunch culture." It's been frustrating to me, as a proponent of feminism (to the extent that it enables women to reconsider themselves as distinct individuals outside the bounds of traditional gender roles), to see so many women get on board with such demeaning activities as stripping, prostitution and the like. In facts, anecdotes and interviews, Levy addresses both the current shape of female raunchist, and reconstructs the history of the ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love the content; an excellent examination of the line between objectification and sexual freedom. I'll be following Ariel in the future, no doubt. Bonus points for attention to the gay community and examination of historical trends and the evolution of sex-based feminism leading up to the present day. Overall, this is a detailed and fascinating look at the damage "raunch culture" is inflicting by skewing feminism's original campaign for sexual expression and freedom.

Damn, do I like a piece of
Esteban del Mal
[Did you know that Barbie dolls are modeled after a German adult, quasi-sex doll named Bild Lilli? How do you like that, America?! You sick fuck!:]

Levy’s argument can be summed up in one sentence: “Rauch culture is not essentially progressive, it is essentially commercial.” I enjoy her analysis, but wish she wasn’t so persistently anecdotal. And I wish I had possessed the willpower to stop looking at her picture in the back of the book…the steely eyes, the soft lips ever-so-slightly parted as if
Literary Ames {Against GR Censorship}
Did you know Barbie dolls were modelled after blonde German sex dolls called Bild Lilli? Disturbing to know I played with a sex doll as a child. o_O

Chapter One: Raunch Culture
Published in 2006 one would assume Female Chauvinist Pigs would be fairly up-to-date, but it becomes obvious quite quickly that much has changed in the six years since this was written. Here, Levy focuses on the late nineties and early noughties, in the days of Sex and the City, Sexcetera, and Eurotrash, producing nauseat
Jul 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Feminists
FCP is very easy to read. She selects provocative topics such as: Girls Gone Wild, Sex in the City, “Bois” in San Francisco, Playboy, The Man Show, a supposedly feminist organization called CAKE, Jenna Jameson’s bio, and a crop of incidents of teens giving BJs on the school bus. She also offers a comprehensive history of the feminist movement that is quite informative for a “beginner.”

Her whole shtick is an attack on “raunch” culture a la Paris Hilton and stripper/porn star idolization. She comp
A bit shellshocked after reading this. Review to come.
Me da mucho pesar darle dos estrellas a este libro porque tenía muchas expectativas con él y mucha pena con las expertas feministas porque de verdad quedé muy confundida...

Me gustó mucho la parte en la que cuenta, supongo que a grosso modo, parte de la historia del feminismo y como llegó a confundirse con la revolución sexual.
Estoy completamente de acuerdo con todo lo que dice de la pornografización de nuestra cultura PEEEEEERO no me gustó, ni me parece adecuado cuando la autora (puede que por e
Read it, liked it. I don't think Levy necessarily attacks women "on top", pun intended, but rather states a different perspective on the gray areas that surround 3rd wave Feminism in the United States. As a young woman I grew up with many aspects of what Levy calls "raunch" culture, and as a 10 year old I remember constantly watching commercials for Girls Gone Wild, and watching MTV's spring break. Not so surprisingly I have many memories from my childhood that included watching girls go naked ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The basic point of this book is very very simple and can be summarized in one paragraph: the American cultural mainstream tells us there is only one (very narrow) way to be hot and sexy - you can play along or you are a prude, or repressed, or oppressed. Many women spend a lot of time, energy and money trying to fit in and end up feeling inadequate when they don't (or when they do and find it's not satisfying). But true sexual liberation, Levy tells us, is not found by everybody around a strippe ...more
Aug 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Ariel Levy articulates so many thought I've had about girls and women's use of hypersexuality as a means of "empowerment". She looks at everything from second wave feminism and the sexual revolution to Girls Gone Wild and strippercize classes. I want to give this book to every teenage girl I meet.
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Ariel Levy (born October 17, 1974) is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and author of the book Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Vogue, Slate, Men's Journal and Blender. Levy was named one of the "Forty Under 40" most influential out individuals in the June/July 2009 issue of The Advocate.

Levy was rai
More about Ariel Levy...
“You think you're being brave, you think you're being sexy, you think you're transcending feminism. But that's bullshit. - Susan Brownmiller” 50 likes
“Sex is one of the most interesting things we as humans have to play with, and we've reduced it to polyester underpants and implants. We are selling ourselves unbelievably short.” 29 likes
More quotes…