Today, it would seem that our society is obsessed with sex. It’s everywhere; television shows, commercials, and as a form of advertisement. Most importantly, we now see examples displaying unnecessary sex; for example, a Hardee’s commercial does not need to sell their burgers by marketing what is essentially soft-core porn, and it’s definitely true that these displays are more pornographic than they are actual sex, because displaying and exploring human sexuality through film, books and other media is fine and sometimes necessary, but we seem to have a culture that is obsessed with performing sex and sexiness, as we have a culture that is obsessed with performing gender. Modern culture is not obsessed with sex in itself, but a certain idea of what sex is and how it is performed. These are some of the issues that Levy wishes to tackle and attempts to explain. I will say that while I agree with Levy in most of her assertions, and she appears to correctly identify where our, “pornified,” culture has evolved from, she makes some insinuations and assertions that I don’t agree with, which is fine of course, as the book was not written just for me; however, these things, in my view, showcased an ignorance and a misunderstanding about certain topics.
The concept of a female chauvinist is intriguing, as many people may assume that sexism is exclusive to men. Levy defines a female chauvinist as a woman who has taken on the concepts of stereotypical masculine ideologies, especially those which perpetuate sexism and misogyny. This is the focus of much of the book, but in my view Levy places much of the blame in the wrong place. Instead of examining raunch culture, which is just another way of say pornified culture, as a consequence of a society that worships male ideologies and overtly embraces sexism, she blames the women for this, whose misogynistic behavior is a result of the culture, not the cause of the problem. Perhaps the author’s instinct to blame the overarching problems relating to gender and sex are an example of the very behavior that she is railing against. This is not to say that the women the author examines do not perpetuate these stereotypes, as they are most assuredly part of the problem, but again the keyword is part, not cause. The author, whose intention was a call to action, has more or less just written a book shaming people for their behavior instead of trying to remedy the problem, possibly because that remedy would require us as a culture to re-examine our views on gender, sex and sexual orientation, etc.
This is not to say that there are no accuracies in the book, but the problems seem to outweigh those, and one in particular is clear in my mind. That is chapter four, entitled, “From Womyn to Bois.” Here, Levy demonstrates an ignorance that does not fit with the rest of the book. This chapter focuses on the LGBTQ+ community, and Levy’s take on certain groups contribution to raunch culture. For example, when speaking about transgendered individuals, she misgenders all but one of the people in the chapter, and belittles their experience by referring to them as promiscuous lesbians caught up in the, “fad,” of having top surgery. Wow, there’s a lot to unpack with that. Firstly, how does someone have the gall to belittle transgender people by calling that a fad? The hubris is beyond me, not to mention misgendering the people you’re talking about. I can’t with that nonsense. For clarification, this chapter and many others are based on interviews with random people from various communities, which raises another issue; you cannot take one person’s experience and generalize it to describe an entire community. Overall, there are obviously huge issues and displays of transphobia in this chapter. If you’re looking for a book that champions progress and the march towards equality, this is not that book. It’s thinly veiled shaming and transphobia masquerading as feminism. While the author does make some effective points in talking about the advent of raunch culture and it’s roots, for me her ignorance and misdirection about those topics show an overall narrow worldview and completely negate and discredit her assertions. The worst part is, this book is intended to accessible to the general public, not an academic journal or some other nondescript dense writing. This is for people who are possibly just being introduced to feminism or transgender people, and this is the image you present to them?
Overall, Levy’s book is a no for me. It’s impossible to focus on the issues she discusses because they are overshadowed by her unnecessary and offensive views. This is not a feminist text, even though it is portrayed as one, and I hate to think of a younger person reading this and being influenced by it.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!