I picked this book up on a whim. I was perusing the “New Nonfiction” rack at the library and, well, it was bright pink with a catchy title. After reading the inner flap, I decided that this might be an interesting read. In the past year, I’ve done quite a bit of feminist literary criticism, so the issue is at the forefront for me. Besides, it seems to jibe with something I wrote two years ago on this very blog:
- [I could do without people] who think female empowerment and sexual empowerment are the same thing.
- [I could do without people] who think sexual empowerment and exhibitionism are the same thing.
Levy treads dangerous territory. Feminism is a topic near and dear to the hearts of millions, and her look at modern “raunch” feminism is scathing, to say the least. Essentially, she proposes that the highly sexualized—objectified, “dressing sluttily is liberating”—culture so prevalent today is actually a slap in the face to the mothers of feminism and a major setback in the ongoing fight to redefine men and women in comparable terms.
It’s a short(er) book, divided into several main sections. It opens with a Girls Gone Wild shoot, something true representative of the problem as Levy sees it, wherein college girls (and sometimes high schools, if the litigation against the company is in good faith) flash their chests or genitals to the camera for millions of viewers to see. Not porn stars or strippers, but average Middle Americans with perhaps too much alcohol in the systems, thinking that their display of the goods is sexually liberating. But it’s really not—is it?
It’s a miserably complex topic, and sometimes Levy’s force eclipses the naunces, which elicited some criticism. To be honest, I think I’m even more conflicted—though I agree with the brunt of Levy’s argument—about current approaches to feminism than I was before.