Female Chauvinist Pigs is everything I want from Women’s Studies: incisive, biting, well-informed, and filled with those “click” moments; needless to say, I loved reading this book. Thank you, Ariel Levy!
Before we delve into the nitty-gritty dissecting the minutiae of Levy’s assertions, I think I should ask that $40 million dollar question
Is she right?
more specifically, is she correct when she impugns women who use raunch sexuality to get ahead in business or attain social status or gain self-“empowerment”? Are so-called FCPs deluding themselves when they spout diluted forms of feminist principles and then gyrate suggestively wearing glorified underwear singing songs about “loosening up my buttons, babe?”
Thinly veiled criticisms of PCD aside, I must say, I tend to agree with Levy. Ok, more than “tend to”– I’d saint her if I could. The moment I converted was the moment she said
“There’s just one thing: Even if you are a woman who achieves the ultimate and becomes like a man, you will still always be like a woman. And as long as womanhood is thought of as something to escape from, something less than manhood, you will be thought less of too.” [my emphasis]
There was a consistent theme in her book, of women shunning the “girly-girl” and escaping the trappings of femininity (with an extreme loathing of nail polish I didn’t quite understand; why the fixation on something so….trivial, ladies?) and eventually evading one’s own femaleness long enough to become a new breed of “enlightened woman”– one who “gets it,” and understands that womanhood is something thrust upon oneself, and thus becomes something to escape, something to evade and simultaneously exploit, and it’s sad- because it’s true. Levy maintains that we are in a post-feminist world whose existence and function are contingent upon the death of feminism and, by extension, the death of female power. This aspect of her argument is contentious, but arresting; why else would women, of all orientations, be entering into a universal sort of “butch flight”- only this time, escaping not from biological organs, but from social constructions of femininity? why else would women be shunning and condemning the women who continue to espouse the traits that they’ve deemed useless; women seemingly can’t get ahead in this so-called man’s world, so, ipso facto one must become like a man. become either, as Levy calls them,
“a cartoon man–who drools over strippers, says things like ‘check out that ass,’ and brags about having the ‘biggest cock in the building’–or acting like a cartoon woman, who has big cartoon breast, wears little cartoon outfits, and can only express her sexuality by spinning around a pole.”
Have these two astoundingly limited choices become our only options? and that’s an honest question, because from my vantage point, Levy paints a very convincing picture. but if you’ve got other ideas–by all means, be my guest.