Adventures in Reading


Revisted Reviews: Female Chauvinist Pigs by Andrea Levy

Female Chauvinistic Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture: Perhaps the biggest let down for me of 2007? First I would like to come right out and say it: just because you write as a journalist, even if you’re a good journalist, does not necessarily mean that you can write a book. Now that this is said, within newer feminist texts the authors more often than not wrote magazine articles and their books read as a series of magazine articles with the hope of some sentences or paragraphs to connect ideas. My suggestion for this new group of “authors”: just give us the damn articles with an intro and conclusion to wind it together because you’re attempt at a book is disappointing.

Each chapter leads the reader on a rather exciting journey until you reach the top of the metaphorical hill and realize there’s no other side, there’s no conclusion, there’s only paste and plaster. When reading the book I loosely gained the idea that Levy was discussing the idea of women representing a false front – whether it’s to claim “I’m a man,” “I dislike girly girls,” faking orgasms and posing, etc – and that this idea has beccme highly symbolic in the U.S. as culturally we worship porn stars and strippers – people who “fake” their sexuality (okay, perhaps not all of them) and are performing sex rather than enjoying real sex.

However, in her conclusion Levy says the book is about “what the sex industry means” (199) and she completely lost me there. As an introductory reader to feminism the book is interesting: she puts a new spin on some old ideas, introduces some marvelous case examples and language, and massive kudos to you for remembering your feminist foremothers and giving them their due. As a serious feminist text that contributes to the body of feminist literature it was a bit of a let down. As a loosely, knitted veil of ideas I wonder if this is all “my” generation has to contribute?

Something I have discovered during my years of feminism is that it is mighty difficult to waltz into your local bookstore and pick up the latest book of feminist criticism. (Unless we’re talking about the Half Priced Bookstore next to the Ohio State University.) More often than not, the books that do show up are a little feminist-lite and are okay intro guides. When I finally had arrived at Female Chauvinistic Pigs I was reading about it everywhere and Levy had even been on the Daily Show.

But as I read the book I realized it was very much another journalist/blogger turned nonfiction author. And I wonder how really earnest and passionate researchers and nonfiction writers feel about this sometimes. These books fill a certain niche and provide a certain perspective, but for lack of a better expression I have a difficult time taking these books quite as seriously. They read very much as blogs in that they’re snappy and witty but once they become books I keep wondering where the hell all of the footnotes are.

Perhaps I should just blame academics.

Some information on Levy from Bookninja and some thoughts from Book Addiction.

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1 Comment

I read this a few years back and accidentally stole it from a roommate. She was absolutely WILD about anything ‘edgy’ and ‘controversial,’ and she liked to think she was a feminist. I really wanted to learn something, but I was more irritated than anything else. I hear you: just give us your essays in book form. That’s all we want, really.

Comment by raych




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