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Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  9,743 ratings  ·  935 reviews
Meet the Female Chauvinist Pig – the new brand of "empowered woman" who embraces "raunch culture" wherever she finds it. In her groundbreaking book, New York magazine writer Ariel Levy argues that, if male chauvinist pigs of years past thought of women as pieces of meat, Female Chauvinist Pigs of today are doing them one better, making sex objects of other women – and of t ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Free Press (first published 2005)
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Feliks I suppose you're right that it didn't have to be Pamela Anderson, it could have been any D-List pop-culture entertainment personality of this era. No …moreI suppose you're right that it didn't have to be Pamela Anderson, it could have been any D-List pop-culture entertainment personality of this era. No shortage of choices. Would the author's assertions have been any different if she had chosen ...Anna Nicole Smith?(less)

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Mike
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Larissa
Mar 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Zinta
Nov 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Asher Huey
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
...more
sylas
Mar 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Caroline
***NO SPOILERS***

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
...more
Cori
Jan 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Alyssa
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
Thomas
Aug 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: Dubious
Shelves: feminism, nonfiction
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
...more
Ngaire
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Vi
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
...more
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
...more
N.K. Layne
Oct 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, 2013, feminist
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
...more
Malia
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
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 http://www.princessandpen.com
...more
Rachel
Aug 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Jane
Apr 27, 2014 added it
Update: Ariel Levy's recent article on the Renee Bach case, which No White Saviors rightfully criticized, has me decided that she is not worth reading at all. She's like the Lena Dunham of journalism. So, don't read this book!

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 t
...more
Wryly
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Ceilidh
Apr 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Jessica
Jan 19, 2018 rated it liked it
One of a kind read. I read this in college almost ten years ago and I'll still never forget the lessons and enlightenment it brought to the table.. You don't have to agree with everything in this book, but it did not fail to challenge me as a young adult to question sexism and the meaning of chauvinism and my attitude towards myself, others, and my potential success as a female in this 21st century. ...more
Kara Babcock
Although I’ve been familiar with the concept for a while, I think I first came across the term Female Chauvinist Pig in Holly Bourne’s excellent How Hard Can Love Be? . In her novel, Bourne presents us with Melody, a stereotypical busty blonde who struts her stuff and embraces her sexuality and “hotness” because she believes that this is what makes her empowered in today’s society. It’s such an intriguing concept, something that interests me on multiple levels. My experiences growing up male ...more
Bill
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
Richard
May 04, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Sarah
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism, non-fiction
3.5 rounded up

Oh boy! This was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest.

I think it's hard to review this impartially in 2017, when so much has changed since this book was published in 2005. A lot of the popular culture and events Levy references are ones that took places in 2002 to 2004. 2002 is 15 years ago! We've had another wave of feminism since then! Yet I still think many of the points and arguments she makes are pertinent, even if the cultural references seem hopelessly dated. (There was a lot
...more
Zack Rock
Oct 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
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 nause
...more
jade
Aug 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, feminism
Female Chauvinist Pigs is an easily readable compilation of all kinds of different, problematic facets of contemporary raunch culture in the USA that Ariel Levy researched, especially in relation to today’s women (and girls). In this book, Levy puts forth that women these days seem to be using raunch culture in order to empower themselves. Aiming to rise above their own gender, women want to become ‘one of the guys’, accepting raunch culture just like the guys do (and often becoming an active p ...more
Shannon
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
...more
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
...more
Steelwhisper
A bit shellshocked after reading this. Review to come.
Lily Herman
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
One of the eerie parts of reading Ariel Levy's 14-year-old book Female Chauvinist Pigs was how utterly close she got to describing the Cool Girl™ a la Gone Girl's Amy Dunn years before the character ever existed. Some of Levy's larger concepts have never rung truer than they do right now.

But at the same time, Female Chauvinist Pigs, which was published in 2006, really functions as a time capsule of the pre-recession world of excess and riches that existed as a very specific era of the 2000s. If
...more
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Ariel Levy is a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where she has written about the swimmer Diana Nyad, the Supreme Court plaintiff Edith Windsor, the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, and the drug ayahuasca. She was the editor of The Best American Essays 2015. Her personal story "Thanksgiving in Mongolia" won a National Magazine Award for Essays and Criticism and is the basis ...more

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“The truth is that the new conception of raunch culture as a path to liberation rather than oppression is a convenient (and lucrative) fantasy with nothing to back it up.

Or, as Susan Brownmiller put it when I asked her what she made of all this, “You think you’re being brave, you think you’re being sexy, you think you’re transcending feminism. But that’s bullshit.”
51 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.” 31 likes
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