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Female chauvinist pig-ism in action
As it's such an important day in politics today, let's start with a more or less political subject... This weekend I've been reading Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy, a very interesting, eye-opening and clever book about the current tendency among quite some women to present 'behaving like a bimbo' as the summum of being an independent, even feminist woman. The 'female chauvinist pig' is a woman who incorporates the stereotypical male fantasy-image of what a sexy woman is like and presents it as her own statement of independance, like the woman who poses for Playboy 'because it makes her feel so strong and powerful'.
Though I enjoyed the book very much, I ended up asking myself: is our society really this bad? Aren't the subjects Levy writes about mainly an American thing? But I didn't have to look for female chauvinist pig-ism in action that very long...
When I opened the gossip section of one of the main dutch news sites today (yes, I always read that section!), I saw a report about the presentation of the Cosmopolitan Award, an award given by dutch Cosmopolitan readers to a woman they admire. The magazine had presented their so-called  'Fun Fearless Female Award' to Lieke van Lexmond, a soap-actress who's recently posed naked in Playboy Magazine twice. 'She's an example to all of us,' jubilated the jury rapport.
Uh... Ahem? It's not that I have anything against her or something, and she's free to do whatever she wants with her body, but why is she an example to all of us? Because she's fearless enough to pose in Playboy? Is that something you should be rewarded for by other women?
But the jury report showed the real reason why the actress/playboy model had won the award: 'Lieke is a beautiful, strong and independent woman. She knew how to transform bad experiences in her love life into something positive. Therefore she's an example to all of us.'
Oh, now I get it... The girl and her boyfriend broke up, she posed in Playboy and she found new love again... How empowering!
So, have had any bad experiences in your love life? You now know how to transform them into something positive! I know we usually only talk about art, craft and design here, but if I'm allowed to influence you just a tiny bit on other subjects: go buy yourself a copy of this book!


holly on 2008-11-04 16:50
I find it entertaining that you say with the caveat, " isn't that an American thing"--that seems to generally be the attitude that Europeans always take. You all seem to be too heavily influenced by the American media and shows--but forget to realize there are only a few thousand stars, but that there are another 301,120,000of us. With probably 275,000,000 of us that are intelligent, kind and respectful human beings. It is often easy to point the finger--but not easy to get pointed at.
Nina on 2008-11-04 17:47
@ Holly: I can see your point, feeling that Europeans have a wrong or negative view about all Americans. However, that's not the point I was trying to make.My remark 'isn't that an American thing?' mainly referred to the fact that the book is written by an American woman who's describingher view on thesituation as she sees it around her in America.Not every situationin America is the same here in Europe and the other way round. But I think I made clear in the rest of the article that I don't feel that we're doing any better on this subject.
Ifyou read my blog more often, you must havenoticed that I'm a strong supporter of Obama and very much engaged with the elections that are currently held in your country. If I'm a supporter of Obama,together with about half of the American population, what makes you think that I don't consider most Americans as nice andintelligent human beings? I wouldn't be supporting Obama's movement if I wasn't thinking that!
holly on 2008-11-04 20:47
Thank you for clarifying. ;)
Andrea Vander Kooij on 2008-11-07 19:07
I read this book last year, and thought it was an excellent analysis of the way popular culture has co-opted the rhetoric of Feminism, and has begun using it to its own ends. I think its a sad, sad day when the Pussy Cat Dolls are proclaimed as Feminist Icons. So weird. Its just the same old story, we are told over and over again that for women, the best, if not only way to get recognition is through presenting an appearance that conforms to mainstream expectations of beauty and sexiness.
liz langley on 2008-11-11 17:51
yes, although we have come a long way, we still have a ways to go and sometimes i think women today are more complacent about this issue than those who came before us and had to struggle more. it is still difficult for a woman to find an acceptable "role", both because there are so many options and because there are still those old tired expectations of what it means to be a woman...but i do think that this is an attitude perpetuated by the mainstream media especially--of course you are going to read something like that in cosmo magazine, it's cosmo, and for that magazine, sexy=powerful. i don't think the two are mutually exclusive, but, i also believe that a majority of women think of themselves in a more realistic light and take pride more in their accomplishments than looks or who their boyfriends are? i hope so,'s just sad that there are not more women out there in the limelight who are celebrated for what they are doing, rather than just their perfect figure or who they are dating. and then the attitude that women who are powerful are derided for being too aggressive, yet too emotional (like hillary clinton), or reduced to the sum of what they are wearing (talking about michelle obama's dress being horrible). i mean...yeah, the main thing i'm trying to say is we still have a ways to go!
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About Ninainvorm

My name is Nina, I'm a ceramics and paperwares designer and mom of Rosa and Julie. This blog is about making, living, liking, loving and so much more!

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