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|Genre||Feminism, pop culture|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005) is a book by Ariel Levy which critiques the highly sexualized American culture in which women are objectified, objectify one another, and are encouraged to objectify themselves. Levy refers to this as "raunch culture".
According to Levy, raunch culture is a product of the unresolved feminist sex wars – the conflict between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution. Another source places the beginnings of raunch culture in the permissive society of the 1960s, which in postfeminist perspective was less about female sexual liberation than fulfilling the male fantasy of unlimited female availableness. Levy also characterizes raunch culture as a backlash against the stereotypes of “prude” and “uptight” (women) applied to many second-wave feminists (e.g., anti-pornography feminists).Marcuse's intuition of the increased role of sexuality in advanced industrialism was thereafter increasingly confirmed by a pragmatic alliance between neo-liberalism and the commodification of sexuality.
The 1990s saw the ever-growing sexualization of the media, with raunchiness emerging in the overlapping interfaces of music, TV, video and advertising. By the close of the century, figures like Germaine Greer were talking critically of sex-positive feminism, whereby acknowledging one's inner "slut" (in a commodified context) was seen as an ultimate goal.
Levy claims that the enjoyment of raunch, or “kitschy, slutty stereotypes of female sexuality,” has existed through the ages, but it was once a phenomenon that existed primarily in the male sphere and has since become mainstream and highly visible. Raunch culture has penetrated “political life, the music industry, art, fashion, and taste.”
Citing examples ranging from the fad of Playboy Bunny merchandise for women to the moral panic of rainbow parties, Levy argues that American mass culture has framed the game so perversely that young women now strive to be the "hottest" and "sexiest" girl they know rather than the most accomplished. Despite the fact that raunch culture is focused on the sex appeal of women, it is solely image-based: "It's about inauthenticity and the idea that women should be constantly exploding in little bursts of exhibitionism. It's an idea that female sexuality should be about performance and not about pleasure." Levy argues that in a raunch culture, many women engage in performances of sexuality that are not expressions of their individual sexuality, but are designed for the pleasure of the male observer(s) – or appear as though they are trying to be pleasurable sex objects. Levy describes “hotness” as the degree to which someone is trying to be sexually attractive, regardless of how conventionally attractive they actually are.
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