Miles From Fenway

This Might Be An Unpopular Viewpoint
November 13, 2006, 7:22 pm
Filed under: books, misc.

I’ve recently been reading the book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy, and it’s made me think quite a bit about how we, as individuals, and as a culture, define ourselves.

Throughout the text, Levy questions the women of the world who wear revealing clothing, read Playboy, are interested in sports, or have visited strip clubs. Her stance, although this is simplifying it quite a bit, is that though the feminist movement gave women the freedom to work and play as they choose, most women today are still, albeit subconsciously, defining themselves in terms of the way men see them. Women who wear provocative clothing are using their sexual attractiveness as a way to gain power. Women who drink beer, watch sports, don’t object to strip clubs, etc. are supposedly trying to make themselves more like men in order to gain acceptance.

Again, I am oversimplifying, but what I ended up walking away from the book thinking was “Why is it that Levy seems to think that everything I do, every thought I have, every action I take, has to be taken in the context of my gender?” When I wake up in the morning, I don’t immediately think “Gee, it’s great to be a woman!” I mean, sure, it IS great, but it’s not an ever present thought. I’m a lot of things. I’m a woman, I’m a sister, I’m a daughter. I’m white. I’m a New Yorker, but I’m also a Bostonian. And a Rhode Islander. I’m a Red Sox lover. I’m a reader, a writer, an editor. I’m a friend, a girlfriend. I’m a whole mess of contradictions and similarities. And none of the things I could list myself as being are either mutually exclusive, nor dependent on one another.

I’m me. That’s it. That’s the only way I want myself defined. I applaud the feminist movement and thank them for giving me the opportunity to make my own choices in life. I have it better now because of them. I guess I am just hoping, and probably unrealistically, that we’ve progressed to the point that I don’t need to define myself as anything other than me. But after reading FCP, I’m wondering exactly how unpopular that idea really is …


3 Comments so far
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Ok so I’ve stopped and started a couple times responding to this but I think I have my thoughts sorted out now.

Feminism is about equality. But moreover it is about not letting your gender be an impediment to doing what you want to do.

Just like a woman shouldn’t be a housewife simply because “that’s a woman’s place” neither should she be a sexless career woman because “she owes it to women everywhere”.

It’s about defining yourself by making your own choices. It’s about doing what you want to do because you want to do it, not because you’re obligated to someone else’s notion of what a woman should be, of what a woman should or shouldn’t do.

Which is all a way of saying that you’re one of my feminist heroes because you embody all of that. Don’t worry about whether your opinion is popular or not and don’t let other people tell you how to be you.

Comment by BlackJack

oooooh i could go on about this one. but that doesn’t surprise you 🙂

i haven’t read FCP, i really should…lord knows i’ve read enough reviews and responses to it! she definitely touched a nerve. and there is certainly room for intelligent critique with her book, as her arguments (from what i understand) have a few loopholes and problems.

but to speak to feminism and the idea of just “being me,” i think the distinction has to be between how we wish things were and how they actually are, you know? i would love to be regarded as just me. unfortunately, that’s impossible, and on top of that we live in a society that functions in really unhealthy ways when it comes to how we regard each other. and i think (or maybe just hope) that levy’s criticism of “choice feminism” boils down to the fact that we need to be cognizant of context. nobody makes choices in a vacuum, you know?

ok, i’m stopping 🙂 glad you posted about this…maybe i’ll put FCP on my christmas list…

Comment by kate.d.

I haven’t read FCP either, but my friend Rachel Bussel has been critiquing it on her blog. I don’t think you drink beer or watch sports to get male attention FINY!!!

Comment by Derek

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