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Female Chauvinist Pigs

Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture

About The Book

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.

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 did the women's movement leave unfinished?

  10. What does it mean to you to be "like a man?" Or "like a woman?" Is there any such thing? Do you believe there are any inherently female or essentially male traits?

  11. What would you ask or say to a friend who had decided to "transition" from female to male?

  12. What are your thoughts on cosmetic surgery? Do you feel it is something people take too lightly? Is it an expression of a vain and shallow culture or is it something positive people can do to improve their looks and self image? Or does it depend upon the context?

  13. What can we do to make progress? What are some positive ways for women to pursue freedom and power?

About The Author

Photo Credit:

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

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (October 3, 2006)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743284288

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Raves and Reviews

"With Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy becomes feminism's newest and most provocative voice, brilliantly laying bare the contradictions and evasions and self-deceptions that pass for empowerment."

-- Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

"Reading Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy's lively polemic, gave me an epiphany of sorts. Finally a coherent interpretation of an array of phenomena I'd puzzled over in recent years.... Levy's argument is provocative -- and persuasive...a consciousness-raising call to arms."

-- The New York Times Book Review

"With the fresh voice of a young woman who grew up taking equal rights for granted while feminism was being perverted into a dirty word, Levy both shocks and sobers as she exposes the real cost of youth culture's 'Girls Gone Wild' form of status-seeking....A great choice for book clubs of either gender, it's a fast read and a surefire discussion sparker."

-- Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"Witty and provocative, painfully it documents the rise of trashy, raunchy, really, really bad female behavior, Levy's newly published book may well provide the next 'aha' moment in how North American women see themselves."

-- Maclean's (Toronto)

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