Reading Journal Entry: Female Chauvinist Pigs, by Ariel Levy

Female Chauvinist Pigs has a great cover and contains a lot of anger, so it's probably going to be a big seller.

Ariel Levy examines the genesis and validity of what she calls 'raunch culture' - a world in which women make out with each other or flash their breasts to get 'Girls Gone Wild' hats, and middle-schoolers dress like porn stars. The key element that she examines is why and how women buy into this glorification of exploitation. Why are strippers cool? Why did Jenna Jameson's best-selling book sell to so many women? Why do women want to act like people who are pretending to feel sexy?

The proximate reason is that women want men to want them. The ultimate reason - in a post-feminist culture - is far more obscure. Sadly, she doesn't really come up with an answer. What she does supply is an abundance of titillating anecdotes about women playing up to the 'raunch' expectation, and an abundance of angry, scornful criticism.

The strange thing is that Levy heaps scorn on just about every facet of society that she discusses. From old-school feminists (every faction) to new-school feminists, to lesbians to accountants to porn stars to producers, she doesn't seem to approve of anyone. Good old-fashioned vitriol makes for a satisfyingly blood-boiling read, but it's not very filling. What's the answer? You won't find answers to the questions she asks or to the problem she exposes. You won't even find out if porn is bad or good.

I also wonder who the hell she's interviewing. Jesus Christ, I am hanging out with the wrong crowd. Most of the women (or girls) that I see and know aren't dressed like hookers. They aren't taking off their tops for the cameras. They aren't attending wild sex parties in Manhattan. They don't feel pressured to sleep around so they can brag and feel like 'one of the guys'. So even though Levy bolsters her observations with a lot of reporting, her analysis feels contrived to me. Except when she discusses the media (will Paris Hilton please die already?) it simply doesn't match my experience.

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