In Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy brings to the forefront the issues society has been facing for decades; gender inequality, gender ideology, and gender construct. Levy focuses on women’s sexual empowerment, or lack thereof, starting with the passing of the birth control to Roe vs Wade to Hugh Hefner and Playboy.
Ariel Levy starts out by writing about her experiences with the crew of Girls Gone Wild and the girls they met during a night out taping. The women practically threw themselves to get a hat or a t-shirt. If they did not, the guys they were with would volunteer them and the girls would more often than not give into the peer pressure. The simple act of all the guys circling girls at the club or the beach and shouting at them to flash the cameras as if they were vultures and the girls are the delicious meal exemplifies the gender inequality society is used to. Guys are not pressured into taking off clothing and they are not pressured into doing anything sexual that they do not want to do. The message that scenes like that exude is women can be told to do anything and everything men what them to do. It goes back to men holding any and all power, while the women’s job is to be quiet and look pretty.
The 1950’s housewife image perfectly sums up the gender ideology American society have. The man is the breadwinner, and a forced to be reckon with and the woman is the doting wife. The feminist movement has tried to change that image and Levy writes about the progressive movement they have achieved. But the movement itself has split into two factions, the sex-positive feminist and the anti-porn faction “Everyone was fighting for freedom, but when it came to sex, freedom meant different things to different people” (Levy, 2005.) In Human Development 357, Dr Pentz argued in society there are a blue track and a pink track. The blue track has to do with more male dominant personality skills and traits, whereas the pink track has to do with female dominant personality skills and traits. Even though he himself advocated a purple track, doing it all, society tends to look down on males who do more pink track things or females who do more blue track things. This gender ideology is so natural that we as a society do not even realize we are doing it at times. It has been intergraded into vocabulary, thoughts and actions.
Babies are already put on a certain track before they are even born. Unfortunately, being overly sexualized and appealing to the mast sex appeal has become a norm on the ‘pink’ track. Porn has become a part of our culture (Levy, 2005). It is believable that a woman executive slept her way to the top instead of getting there base on skills alone. The gender ideology and gender construct is that a woman has to be a size 0-2, with 4 pushing it, big boobs and a big butt to be ‘successful’ in getting anything she wants. Levy furthermore supported it with more evidence about breast augmentations have gone up 700% since 1992. That statistic in itself shows society’s mentality of how a female should look like. The two factors of the feminist movement also play into the gender ideology and construct of society. The sex-positive feminist is about the ‘sexual freedom’ and doing everything they felt entitled to because men were able to do it. On the other hand, the anti-porn wanted to liberate women from degrading sexual stereotypes and male dominance. However they have both become two extreme sides of the spectrum.
The sex positive feminists are becoming their male counterparts, ‘Uncle Toms’, in order to fit in and ‘be one of the guys’. But as Levy argues that is not making any progress since being one of the guys insinuate that being one of the girls is not enough. Being a ‘girl’ or a ‘girly-girl’ is seen as something bad and one is being repressed, and to fit in is to be exactly who put such constraints on women in the first place. These women have to fit into the gender ideology of a male to succeed in life. The anti-porn feminists are condemming women for doing what they want and liking what they like. The gender construct they present is that since that is what ‘men’ portray and like, there is simply no way women should like the same thing if they want to be liberated. However they are going so far as trying to make themselves fit into an image they are not such as calling themselves lesbian when they are not. It is a catch 22 that cannot satisfy anyone. However, why can’t women, and men, be able to do a happy medium? Why can’t we do it all?
Which leads to the discussion questions I have for this section: 1. Ariel Levy said (pg 117) in regards to the loophole women, if you are the exception that proves the rule, the rule being that women are inferior, you haven’t made any progress. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel that it is true? How have we made or haven’t made any progress? 2. Do you think FCPs in today’s culture are being ‘Uncle Toms’? Have you ever had to give into stereotypes at your internships or in general? 3. Vanessa Williams was dethrone for her nude photos and struggled for a comeback, but Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian got famous because of their sex tapes; what are your thoughts on that and why did you think society accepted this shift in values?
Levy, A. (2005). Female chauvinist pigs. New York, NY: Free Press.