Politics & Policy

“Female Chauvinist Pigs”

The pornification of feminism.

The next big thing in cell phones, the New York Times reports, will be pornography. As more advanced phones feature full-motion Internet video, they will become portals for X-rated content. This is in keeping with a technological dynamic as important as Moore’s Law, which says computer chips roughly double in power every 18 months–to wit, every technological advance serves the more efficient delivery of pornography.

We live in a world seemingly designed to gratify the teenage boy in the movie Animal House who is looking at a copy of Playboy when miraculously a cheerleader is thrown through his window and onto his bed. “Thank you, God!” he exclaims. Our “raunch” culture, as author Ariel Levy calls it, abounds in such moments for lascivious male teenagers of all ages. Among the forces supporting this pornified culture that gleefully objectifies women, according to Levy, are women.

In her Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, Levy asks how it is that if feminism won, so many unenlightened, bimbo-loving guys are so happy. She reports from the front lines, traveling with the crew of Girls Gone Wild, which films young women flashing the camera for videos sold on late-night TV. They are eager to perform. “It sounds like a fantasy world dreamed up by teenage boys,” she writes. “Any hot girl you see will peel off her bikini top, lift up her skirt … all you have to do is ask.”

“A baseline expectation that women will be constantly exploding in little blasts of exhibitionism runs throughout our culture,” Levy argues. “‘Girls Gone Wild’ is not extraordinary, it’s emblematic.” Women strive to look the part. Breast-augmentation procedures zoomed from 32,607 a year in 1992 to 264,041 last year. A gruesome-sounding surgical procedure to make women’s genitalia look like those of porn stars is increasingly popular.

It wasn’t so long ago that pornography was disrespectable: “Think of Vanessa Williams, crowned the first black Miss America in 1983, and how quickly she was dethroned after her nude photos surfaced in Penthouse.” In contrast, Paris Hilton’s sex video rocketed her to stardom. Hookers and porn stars are mainstream figures.

This isn’t quite the liberation feminism promised. “Raunch culture is not essentially progressive,” Levy writes, “it is essentially commercial. By going to strip clubs and flashing on spring break and ogling our Olympians in Playboy, it’s not as though we are embracing something liberal–this isn’t Free Love. Raunch culture isn’t about opening our minds to the possibilities and mysteries of sexuality. It’s about endlessly reiterating one particular–and particularly commercial–shorthand for sexiness.”

No lustful man would have looked at Gloria Steinem in the 1970s and thought, “She is going to help fulfill my most absurd voyeuristic fantasies.” But the currents unleashed by feminism, especially the drive to have women behave like men, have done just that. The mother of the hyper-sexualized pop star Christina Aguilera has said of her daughter, “She’s a wonderful role model, trying to change society so that a woman can do whatever men do.” Since women don’t have the same interest in seeing members of the opposite sex expose themselves and dress in skimpy bunny costumes as men do, acting like men effectively means objectifying women, too, playing along with the sweaty teenage fantasies. Levy describes going to a gathering of a group called CAKE, devoted to female sexuality” and experiencing “feminism in action.” It devolves into women performing Sapphic sex acts for the men in the crowd.

All of this isn’t healthy for anyone, guys or gals. But men–at least men without daughters–will have very little interest in changing it, and as long as the feminist Left associates sexual restraint with outdated prudery, there won’t be pressure for change from that quarter, either. So Levy cries in the wilderness, while all around her lascivious men ogle the movable bimbonic feast of American culture and lift their voices to the heavens: “Thank you, God.”

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.

(c) 2005 King Features Syndicate

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