Controversial, but perhaps worth a read, of The Week: Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.
Publisher’s Weekly review (bolded for key concepts):
What does sexy mean today? Levy, smartly expanding on reporting for an article in New York magazine, argues that the term is defined by a pervasive raunch culture wherein women make sex objects of other women and of ourselves. The voracious search for what’s sexy, she writes, has reincarnated a day when Playboy Bunnies (and airbrushed and surgically altered nudity) epitomized female beauty. It has elevated porn above sexual pleasure. Most insidiously, it has usurped the keywords of the women’s movement (liberation, empowerment) to serve as buzzwords for a female sexuality that denies passion (in all its forms) and embraces consumerism. To understand how this happened, Levy examines the women’s movement, identifying the residue of divisive, unresolved issues about women’s relationship to men and sex. The resulting raunch feminism, she writes, is a garbled attempt at continuing the work of the women’s movement and asks, how is resurrecting every stereotype of female sexuality that feminism endeavored to banish good for women? Why is laboring to look like Pamela Anderson empowering? Levy’s insightful reporting and analysis chill the hype of what’s hot. It will create many aha! moments for readers who have been wondering how porn got to be pop and why feminism is such a dirty word.
I plan to get my hands on it within the next few weeks. It challenges currently accepted notions of simply not being allowed to question what “women’s empowerment” really is when it comes to sex and culture. Empowerment by form of consumerism and commodification? I certainly wouldn’t call that “liberated”. Does personal rights on pleasure allow us to ignore wide-scale objectification? Does beauty need to get a divorce from capitalism? And do some emulate the “raunchy” attitude because it makes them feel in control and not instead in a position of equality? Instead of seeing this as an attack on sex positivity, I think the likes of social justice/feminist advocates, and even the average reader, should take it to be a necessary and critical evaluation of our own actions, our reliance on consumer culture for human rights issues, and whether or not sexual intimacy has become sexual currency.
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