Chat up kidz, part uno

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.


2 responses to “Chat up kidz, part uno

  1. i admit, i totally shun the girly-girl stereotype because it’s just that–a stereotype. i see girly-girls as the worst representation of my sex–overly obsessed with image, shallow, consumer-driven, defer-to-my-man type woman. i don’t want to be associated with that and i don’t see that as a problem. men have the same over-the-top stereotype with manly-men–drink beer, fart, shoot things, stupid sexist/racist man. i know guys who shun that stereotype too. my shunning the girly-girl has nothing to do with my wanting to be a man, it has everything to do with me wanting to flesh out the options of what it means to be female. i lie between the girly-girl and the FCP, the two extreme options that are apparently currently allowed for me. and i’ll continue to reject both until popular culture stops painting in such large brushstrokes of dichotomies of either/or.

  2. Read this book a while ago. Really liked it, found it very enlightening.

    That said, the central concern the book raised for me was:

    I think Levy falls prey to the typically American syndrome of blaming on the individual what are actually systemic problems. Certainly, we as women have the option to embrace–or not–FCP-dom, but certainly feminism of all eras (and all civil and social rights movements, really) has taught us that it’s dangerous to blame oppressive behavior on members of the oppressed group. Sure, certain women are perpetuating the very stereotypes their predecessors worked so hard to combat. But whose fault is that in the end?

    On the other hand, I can see it as empowering to assign responsibility for good behavior to ourselves and not to an entity outside of us, because it allows us to take control over our situation rather than simply bitching about it.

    Hard to say. I’m glad to have read a book that makes me ponder such questions.

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