Female Chauvinist Pigs

Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

Female Chauvinist Pigs

A classic 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, New York Magazine writer 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 Playboy bunny as a talisman, bares all for Girls Gone Wild, pursues casual sex as if it were a sport, and embraces “raunch culture” wherever she finds it. 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 themselves. They think they’re being brave, they think they’re being funny, but in Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy asks if the joke is on them.

In her quest to uncover why this is happening, Levy interviews college women who flash for the cameras on spring break and teens raised on Paris Hilton and breast implants. She examines a culture in which every music video seems to feature a stripper on a pole, the memoirs of porn stars are climbing the bestseller lists, Olympic athletes parade their Brazilian bikini waxes in the pages of Playboy, and thongs are marketed to prepubescent girls. Levy meets the high-powered women who create raunch culture—the new oinking women warriors of the corporate and entertainment worlds who eagerly defend their efforts to be “one of the guys.” And she traces the history of this trend back to conflicts between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution long left unresolved.

Levy pulls apart the myth of the Female Chauvinist Pig and argues that what has come to pass for liberating rebellion is actually a kind of limiting conformity. Irresistibly witty and wickedly intelligent, Female Chauvinist Pigs makes the case that the rise of raunch does not represent how far women have come, it only proves how far they have left to go.
  • Free Press | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743284288 | 
  • October 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Group Reading Guide

Female Chauvinist Pigs discussion questions:
  1. Try to define raunch culture. What are some examples you've noticed? What are the values expressed in raunch culture?

  2. Levy asserts that raunch is not essentially progressive, it's essentially commercial. Do you agree with her?

  3. To what extent do you, or people you know, participate in raunch culture? Has this book made you reconsider any of your habits or assumptions?

  4. Is there anything positive about raunch culture? Are there ways in which it demonstrates women's success?

  5. How does the rise of raunch affect teenagers? Can education help them cope with the messages about sex they find in media and entertainment?

  6. How do you think we should be educating young people about sexuality? Is this something best taught in school or at home?

  7. If you had a daughter, or if you have one, what would or do you tell her about sex? If you had a son, or if you have one, are those messages different?

  8. What does feminism mean to you and what influence does feminism have on your life? Has it always had the same value to you, or has it meant different things at different times?

  9. What do you think would be the single most empowering thing that could happen to women? Electing a female president? Seeing a female anchorwoman on television? The passage of the ERA? What
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About the Author

Ariel Levy
Photo Credit:

Ariel Levy

Ariel Levy is a contributing editor at New York magazine. This is her first book.